I hear the word "Pattern" used a lot in permaculture in a way the goes beyond talking about dendritic branches, spirals, and tessellations. I've heard permaculture authors and instructors use the word pattern to seemingly describe anything. A tree with some shrubs around it is a pattern, a pond is a pattern, the wind is a pattern. I think I have a firm understanding of the holistic permaculture design approach but I haven't been able to wrap my head around why we are defining pattern so broadly and how it applies to permaculture design directly. Can anyone shed any light on this?
I like Bills quote (I believe it was him who said this) "Pattern is where two edges meet"
There are tons of patterns around us all the time. Typically when Permies talk about pattern they are talking about "nature established" pattern. That is mimicking what patterns you find naturally in nature. This isn't to say this is the only way to use "pattern" in permaculture but it is most likely the more widely used one.
At the permaculture convergence last weekend there was a lot of talk about pattern as it applies to social permaculture for example. Pattern is many things, just like edges are many things.
Me responding to you right now is forming an edge which has a pattern. I wouldn't get tied up in precise definitions from broad concepts as you might miss something in the process.
When I was taking notes at the convergence I rarely wrote exactly what was said. If I could think of a permaculture "truism" I would write it instead and put in parenthesis the substitute word in place of things like, system, edge, inoculate, etc.