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Permaculture: A Designers' Manual - Preface and Chapter 1 - INTRODUCTION

 
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Eva Taylor wrote: It's resource intensive to raise farm animals



It doesn't have to be though. Watch Geoff Lawton's video on feeding chickens compost!

Also, I am so glad Matu Collins brought up the "sundering of parts". This was one of the first ideas I really latched onto after reading Intro and some of the PDM. Current education systems in the U.S. and elsewhere split everything into its parts without any thought of how those parts coincide with each other to create a whole, whether it be a person, an ecosystem, a community, even the world! We take everything apart and study all the pieces but we forget to put it all back together when we are done. It's no wonder we become consumed with "specializing" in things throughout our lives.

I'm right there with Matu when it comes to diversity in education and experience. We all need to have several areas of study and allow others to know as much as we do about these topics. Like Bill Mollison says "Cooperation, not competition". When we all work together to make a better widget, we all win because the product is of high quality and low cost!
 
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Thanks so much for thinking of this idea. Heard about it from Paul’s daily-ish email I read this morning. Have had and referenced the book for many years but have never read it straight though. Will be fun to do as a group.

For me, what was of most value in chapter 1:
“A basic question that can be asked in two ways is:
‘What can I get from this land, or person?’ or
‘What does this person, or land, have to give if I cooperate with them?’ “

This , I think, relates to what Joel Salatin refers to as letting the pig express it’s “pigness” (in it’s rooting nature for example and loving it to do work for you) and letting the chicken express it’s “chickeness” (in it’s ability to scratch , eat bugs, etc. and loving it to do work for you).

Every person, creature, place has a gift to give with pleasure. Working with, instead of extracting from, could be the difference between peace and plenty, or war and waist.
 
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Long post - for responses to thread and book, you might jump down quote by quote.

Cj Verde wrote:This leads us page 46, Figure 3.6 Options and Decisions - Doing nothing is definitely a choice.
...
Thoughts?


I think it will be a dense enough discussion chapter by chapter, without introducing fascinating diagrams from 3 chapters ahead.
Can we agree to focus on the current chapter, to make the most of our weekly discussions?

I do respect doing nothing as a valuable choice. Many of the elders and teachers I respect the most, have used silent stillness to great effect. Or a little, penetrating question, in lieue of an easy answer. Doing too much leads to tunnel vision, and debilitating ignorance of the very effects you are seeking. Doing too little can also be a cause for regret, but I think in general most of us try to do too much.

I found a quote on p. i of my edition - before the table of contents and author bio:

" ...in the near future we will see the end of wasted energy, or the end of civilization as we know it."



The latter seems guaranteed. The former, unlikely or physically impossible.
I have never seen a civilization without any wasted energy at all (the laws of thermodynamics suggests nobody else has either).
Even a civilization with substantially less waste would be very different from the one we know.
And our civilization today would probably seem un-natural to most historic or pre-historic cultures. We fly home for the holidays at 30,000 feet, for Pete's sake; how long is that going to last?
"Civilization as we know it" is a very fleeting thing.

My biggest questions as I read this book have to do with these sweeping statements and their implications.
To what extent is all this true?

Mollison calls for sweeping changes that sound very attractive on first encounter, and seem to produce specific beneficial results. Yet I've seen a ton of people on the permaculture path who fail Paul Wheaton's 'eco-test': they waste more energy than the average American. (which is a pretty loose standard when you think about it.) I look at my own $9000 fuel bill from last year's workshop tours, and wonder what the "bigs" are spending on airfare for their teaching and design careers. That's a lot of fuel pumped into the start-up phase of these techniques; they better be worth it.

Maybe it's just that thing where someone too far over your head just sounds crazy; but I like to fact-check the theories of this brash new science called "Permaculture" against cultures that have succeeded in becoming some approximation of permanent.
I will be looking for evidence that ideas have been tested, and are consistent with practices I've observed in longer-term sustainable societies. I have limited data: a few European, north and south American, and Pacific data points
(England, Germany, Italy, Peru; the American Northwest, Great Lakes, New England, Canadian Maritimes, New Zealand, and Australia). I have reports from older cultures, that are supposed to be 'purer,' like the San Bushmen, or the Aborigine, or the North American tribes like the Yipuq, Haudenosaunee, or Chinookans. What we want to see has been struggling to survive repeated encounters with a destructive civilization-patter for millenia, and has taken a real beating in the last three centuries. But these glimpses beat nothing. If permaculture is not consistent with one of these older cultures, it's worth questioning both sets of assumptions for perspective.

When in doubt, I tend to default to "what would grandma think," my late grandmother's stories being my most intimate glimpse of the longer term. Would Jon Young, Ianto Evans, and both my grandmothers agree?
From Mollison's bio, he has the land-care, teaching, and anthropological background to be a very good generalist, but he also seems like he might be prone to dramatic exaggerations and charisma rather than evidence. But hopefully the evidence will build chapter by chapter.
Don't misread me, he has vast and impressive experience, I just have some concerns that his sweeping statements may exceed even his expertise.

Regarding the three ethics:

Note that these are points of similarity with many cultural and religious ethics, but they are also points of distinction from our current (non-permaculture) ethical assumptions.

"Earth Care" distinguishes our goal from the more selfish ones of "self care" or "control / dominion." There have been religions founded on the idea that the earth itself was a corrupt and evil thing, and espousing every possible extreme of behavior as human virtue (e.g. greed as 'control', random violence touted as bravery, asceticism / riches, fertility / austerity, solemnity, logic, melancholy beauty, manic gaeity). Permaculture is founded on the idea that we work with, not against, natural laws and processes.

"People Care" distinguishes permaculture from the types of environmentalism that pit nature against humanity, or assume that all human beings are worthless and destructive. If we believe that it's wrong to be a human being, how is that better than believing that wolves are evil, or locusts? Plus, people are powerful agents in the environment; any system that embraces wildlife but ignores people will soon have to reckon with the human neighbors. Putting people second acknowledges that we are dependent on the earth, which is therefore primary. Promoting people at the expense of the earth is unsound. Promoting both together is better.

"Limits to Growth / Reinvest Surplus" is a bit trickier, as evidenced by various controversies. In order for 'people care' and 'earth care' to balance out, one must invoke some level of moderation.
The third ethic distinguishes permaculture from economic models based on unlimited growth or unlimited inputs (like petroleum power); and from those based on extreme hierarchies. It's similar to the fourth principle in The Natural Step. (The first three are: preserve biodiversity, avoid increasing concentrations of mineral and persistent chemicals in the biosphere; then there's this weird 'social justice' thing because injustices perpetuate the abuse of the other principles.)

So is the third ethic about moderation / limits, or about surplus?
Before we can say "share the surplus" - we have to realize there must BE a surplus.

This is a surprisingly non-intuitive concept for most Western citizens.

Moderation is not the absence of surplus. Surplus, or 'slack,' in a system is a necessary feature of abundance. (Scarcity: Why Having Too Little Means So Much)
A system without surplus is not sustainable. If all resources are too-tightly used, then one small bump tips the system into famine. The system must produce surplus, and it's irresponsible to spend/sell all your surplus without making provisions for future scarcity.

Surplus should be enjoyed, and a large share set aside against future need. The 'surplus' share can be shared (building social credit or paying off favors owed). It can be sold, traded, or given away, as long as reciprocal inputs are received back. Surplus can be offered for gleaning (reducing starvation, theft, and social injustices). It can be plowed under, fed to wildlife or livestock, or sheet mulched (renewing soil fertility). It can be invested in long-term futures like a trust to pay taxes on your conservation easement, or education to improve your tool kit, or a community enterprise or political activism. You can protect your family by using surplus to keep yourself stable and solvent, or fling yourself into big-picture projects and trust the community to care for you in case of need. The point is, there are a lot of good choices.

Surplus is a result of good choices. Surplus is a result of moderation. Good choices make surplus more likely, and shortages less so.

If surplus is always siphoned off, and the system kept at starvation levels of inputs, then it will be vulnerable to shock and collapse. This is what we do to our modern conventional farms, fisheries, etc.
If surplus is siphoned off by someone outside the local system, or in excess of the renewable limits of the system, then collapse is inevitable. This is what we do with colonialism, mining, and most international corporations.
There's a good argument that this is also what is being done when people use pirated editions of permaculture resources - siphoning off someone else's surplus is not ethical, no matter how much you want it.

If there is no surplus locally to barter for needed inputs, the first step should be local limitation of population or consumption. It's hard to read the third ethic any other way.
Limits result in a slight surplus, which can bootstrap the system back into productivity.
It makes little sense to blame others for personal or local scarcity. The grass is always greener - especially where it's tended. 'Fair share' does not imply a personal right to someone else's surplus - but it does encourage being a good neighbor and building reciprocally-beneficial relationships.
Political action may be needed to limit the removal of local surplus by distant interests, or by exploitative social hierarchies.
(Mollison cites Chinese feudal society as a system propped up by endless labor; European feudalism and modern agriculture are worse in terms of soil fertility.) Industrial agriculture promises food security, but it delivers extremes: population booms, greater social inequalities, poorer nutrition with increased risks of obesity and famine (compared to physical evidence of previous hunter-gatherer peoples in similar climates - who were mostly in better health).

We are aiming for a culture in which local abundance indicates good management, not exploitation. And where status is based on excellent husbandry - the thriving of one's entire social network and ecological region - rather than on power to make others suffer. We know any backyard can be husbanded into abundance. So let's assume it's possible, and move forward from there.

A very large number of us currently live a life with more inputs than outputs: modern agriculture uses 10 calories of fossil fuels to generate 1 calorie of food. More debt than savings.
We desperately need to return to a sense of thrift, of moderation as the path to abundance.
This mental transition is one of the most valuable things we can do to help our culture transition from over-spending our energy resources to a system that is sustainable on current solar gain.
Building Eden in our own backyard, rather than flying to Thailand for a getaway and then complaining about the tourist industry.

I love when a system is set up so that letting go of waste feels generous. Making soup, then giving the scraps to pigs and chickens feels like this. Burning dried trash, and harvesting weeds, feels like this. Giving away old clothes feels like this. Breathing on plants (or peeing on them) feels like this. Clearing a building site by respectful harvest and relocating of timber, topsoil, and medicinal plants feels like this; as does tearing down a building into re-usable components. I love it when my nature itself is useful: my being a human being, and not even a particularly brilliant one, is still valuable to something out there. I'm a valuable being: I transport nitrogen.

Regarding politics vs. ethics:

I like the distinction between ethics as internal guidelines, and politics as the public attempt to regulate ourselves as a society.
I also like the idea that we share our own personal experiences, rather than arguing about abstract principles as if agreement would settle the question.

It seems to me that Americans have a particularly dysfunctional way of approaching politics. We are prone to polarize, to regard a difference of opinion as opposition, rather than respecting and seeking out different opinions for the useful perspective they offer.
Agreement is not the goal, or the 'win', in politics. It's pleasant, but not necessarily good.
Agreement between all parties in a diverse system is a good indicator for immediate action - like discovering that all the plants in your garden are simultaneously suffering from lack of water.
Disagreement can be a sign of health: if some plants have too much water, and others too little, we may be very close to optimal.
More often disagreement is a sign that we are asking the wrong question: Arguing about the watering schedule is a waste of time if some plants are already getting to little, and others too much. Maybe there is agreement about some other common need, like better water transport (fungi or organic matter), or better placement of plants relative to their needs. Maybe the limiting factor is a leak in the hose.
American politics today seems about as productive as turning the hose off and on, when the water is drowning one plant and not reaching the other.

I hope that here, we can discuss political aspects of permaculture (social systems and such), as pertains to the chapter at hand, without devolving into adversarial foe-bashing.

I think it's particularly important to recognize that universal answers are not our job. Abstract "truths" without local feedback create destructive governance.
In permaculture, we are promoting an adaptable, locally responsive and responsible culture. This means we don't always know the answers; and the answers can change. Even giving good advice requires deep information and an ongoing relationship with the local situation and goals. We can share relevant bits of our own experience, at best - if we are correct about the relevance. Perhaps this is why my best elders usually respond to questions with more questions - they don't bother to dictate answers, but ask me things that often as not make my whole set of assumptions shift into a more useful perspective.

I glance down at page 3 and Mollison writes,

For the sake of the earth itself, I evolved a philosophy close to Taoism from my experiences with natural systems. As was stated in Permaculture Two, it is a philosophy
of working with rather than against nature;
of protracted and thoughtful observation rather than protracted and thoughtless action;
of looking at systems and people in all their functions rather than asking only one yield of them;
and of allowing systems to demonstrate their own evolutions.

A basic question that can be asked in two ways is,
"What can I get from this land, or person?" or
"What does this person, or land, have to give if I cooperate with them?"
Of the two approaches, the former leads to war and waste, the latter to peace and plenty.

Most conflicts, I find, lay in how such questions are asked, and not in the answers to any question. Or, to put it another way, we are clearly looking for the right questions rather than for answers. We should be alert to rephrase or refuse the "wrong" question.



Amen to thoughtfulness, and seeking the right questions. And to observing, and appreciating, and using, the contributions that are most in line with the nature of each thing (the pigness of the pig, as you said).

It's an awkward set of thoughts to phrase in English, though. Perhaps that's why the book is so long.

In Chinuk-wawa, they borrow the phrase for ownership from classical Chinookan:
"Mitlayt," meaning "Sits with." Talapus, yaka mitlayt kupa naika: That dog, he sits with me.
All sorts of implications - most important to me, once upon a time in the place where I live now, the relationship we call "ownership" was mutually voluntary, and reciprocal.
Even physical possessions like a blanket would "sit with me" - are they owned by the maker, the buyer, the gift recipient, or the tribe whose art is both meaning and substance of the design? When worn out, Chilkat blankets were often ceremonially cut into pieces and given to tribal members as material for smaller blankets or keepsakes.
Like a Samurai's sword, these things I call "mine" are gifts that I guard for a heritage larger than myself. My own life and energy will be sacrificed, in some measure, to their care and maintenance. "My" things are the ones watching me, to see if I live up to the relationship.

Anybody else know a language in which some Permaculture principle goes without saying?

p. 7, section 1.3, 12th paragraph if you count bullets and numeral groups as one unit:


" Everything will, in time, either become extinct, spread more widely, or evolve to new forms. Each of these processes is happening at once. But the rate of extinction and exchange is accelerating."


I would suggest that the evolution process may also be accelerating slightly, both as a result of being in the midst of a mass extinction, and as a result of some human-contributed increases in radiation that may induce new mutations at faster rates.
We are at the transition between epochs, and on evidence from past mass extinctions, we as a species are big enough that we ought to be very, very careful to preserve as much intact territory that resembles our ancestral lands, as possible. Smaller things like rats and lizards tend to survive extreme extinctions better, as they can maintain a viable breeding population in much-smaller fragmented territories during ecological collapse.
I saw a study around 2004 that said an ordinary mammal (the size of us, deer, or cheetahs) requires something like 300,000 square kilometers to maintain a diverse breeding population, and something like an apex predator or scavenger the size of T-Rex would require territory the size of the north American continent. No nation can afford this size of nature preserves; we must cultivate lifestyles that foster overlapping human and wildlife territories. Gopi 2100 project is a nice image.
We can't stop the world changing; but we can act consistently with our best interest by helping it maintain continuity with the world of our ancestors. The 'world as we know it' is the one that favors us.

I like the diagram on p. 8. The last few paragraphs describe design -

"Permaculture as a design system contains nothing new. It arranges what was always there in a different way, so that it works to conserve energy or to generate more energy than it consumes. What is novel, and oven overlooked, is that any system of total common-sense design for human communities is revolutionary!"



I think it's very, very important to respect the 'nothing new' portion of that paragraph, and not get carried away by the revolutionary portion.
I want a peaceful transition to a healthier and healthier mainstream way of life, that does not involve bloody experiments or backlash. So I want to make sure that my permaculture initiatives respect existing, local traditions - I let my in-laws grow their garden their way, and practice my methods in a piece of ground they can spare, until I am supplying them with food instead of vice-versa. Mutual is nice too.
I wanted to see permaculture with old trees - too many projects I've seen are all vision and not much established polyculture to look at.
I spent two years as my grandmother's caretaker, and she had old fruit trees (one or two of each kind) in her back yard.
Before 'permaculturing' Gran'ma's backyard, I did a survey using the tables in the back of Gaia's Garden (written by an author in the same bioregion). It turned out there were no functions missing - every plant I could identify had soil-building, wildlife, or food values, and the lawn itself had multiple species for nitrogen, tap root, edible greens, edible flowers and fungi, and other functions. If I had started with the beginning of the book, I might have sheet-mulched away all the existing diversity, and offended my aunts and uncles in the process. Instead, I planted a little polycrop garden with a tidy fence (fences keep the lawn guy from mowing the garden, he's not that bright but Grandma and others like her keep him gainfully employed) and mulch border, and enhanced the wilder polycrop shrubberies at the edges of the lawn. There was more fruit than we could eat, and probably more greens too; and Grandma's family and Grandpa's retirement meant that there was more food coming in the front door than we could eat as well. Gran'ma and Grampa's resources might not be available to my generation - and the aunts and uncles might look down on Gran'ma's house as too small or plain - but it sure felt abundant to me. (She was a great storyteller and writer, too, so I have secondhand memories of things that happened as far back as the 1920's, and third-hand wisps of poetry and memory from connections to Wisconsin pioneers and Civil War veterans.)

I want my permaculture to listen to the locals, to historic predecessors in this place, and to my own European ancestral patterns - not reinvent the wheel at every step.
I call historically ignorant, compulsively revolutionary permaculture 'square wheel permaculture'. When reinventing human waste management, or heating and shelter, or gardening - it really pays to look at past systems before reinventing the wheel.
Design principles are very good - but as with art, they should inspire us to look again at old masterpieces and appreciate new things about them. A good artist or engineer trains by studying previous work, and emulating it, before developing a unique or 'revolutionary' style. For anything more 'perma' than the 40 years since the 1970's, we need to look further back in history during our training period.

Your grandparents may not have been as cool as mine. But I bet they had a lot of insights they haven't yet shared, just waiting for you to ask the right questions. And even if they're a downright mess, you might find that trying to understand their perspective gives you valuable insights - warnings, pitfalls to avoid, assumptions to be worked around when it comes to public opinion.

Long-winded as usual. Ideas too big. I guess I'm trying to shoehorn my own introduction to permaculture in these responses to Mollison's introduction chapter.
Hope you liked it anyway.

Thanks,
Erica
- edited to clean up quote format, and for clarity, and because long posts make me compulsive about editing...
 
Erica Wisner
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wayne stephen wrote:My personal opinion regarding the Third Ethic - for the sake of this Book Club Forum - is to focus on "Setting Limits to Population and Consumption " as written in this book . This chapter alone is monumental and we will certainly digress onto many side roads by discussing the latter evolutions of this topic . We have enough to discuss without bringing up topics which will quickly become heated political debate . Those discussions are reserved for the Ulcer Factory and related forums . One of my New Years resolutions is to focus on Permaculture related subject matter more and more on permies.com - and less and less of politics and religion . The vessel is weak . Peace !



Apologies for entering the ulcer factory again. I do agree that it's been a sore point for a long time on the forums.
- but I am fascinated by the ethics, and their evolution, and this intertwining of limits and surplus seems pretty critical.

Someone shared Toby's reflection on "Sharing the surplus" - can't find the post right now, but thanks. http://www.patternliteracy.com/125-finding-a-sense-of-surplus

He makes the point that economics is based on scarcity, but neither nature nor traditional societies had any kind of strict 'barter.' Abundance in nature is literally thrown to the winds. Societies run on gifts, and the desire to reciprocate and be seen as useful. He gets into cyclical time vs. linear time - the perception that we rest in renewable cycles of abundance, vs. at a point on a line that will never return to the past.

I want deeper insights into this scarcity / abundance distinction.
I think it's critically important to note that our current economic model is built on scarcity - and that the only 'rational' people who actually follow current economic theory are the desperately poor. Everyone else makes 'irrational' decisions - they weight the dollar value of something against all kinds of irrational side tangents, not on strict value exchange.

Arguably, the way people behave in abundance - they give gifts - is far more rational than the way we behave in scarcity. (That book I linked above, Scarcity, details the research.)

A good (ethical and effective) economic model must acknowledge scarcity, but promote abundance.

Permaculture is all about creating abundance with limited resources.
I think this concept of limiting consumption is important, and how we do it is important.
If you limit consumption with metrics, like the One Child Policy, or a diet that involves counting calories, you invoke the sense of scarcity. Which makes people focus on the percieved lack or limitation, and causes all kinds of resistance, loss of mental bandwidth, and tunneling in on the problem instead of the big picture.

If you limit consumption with an understanding that living within your means creates reliable abundance, and giving back creates more abundance than you know what to do with, you can actually undertake the third ethic (limits to growth and consumption) without feeling like it's a death sentance.

Giving matters to success all over the place.
It ties into intrinsic value rather than external value - and to appreciating the nature of things rather than expecting them to act according to symbolic logic.

Doing work that calls you or needs to be done, rather than focusing on the wage or title of a job, tends to give better quality results.
Natural surplus - the kind that renews itself, anyway - is not infinitely storable. The bountiful freezer or medicine cabinet becomes waste within a year or three.
Surplus reinvested - kept in flow - goes out into our community and landscape, returns tenfold, and reduces our storage bills even if it never returns.
Durable goods, given away, become treasures that may return after one's house burns down.
(I never expected giving back a ratty old work shirt would mean so much to my aunt, but it was the one piece of familiar gear in a wardrobe full of insurance-supplied new clothes.)

This year's New-Year resolution:
To let go of at least one item for every one I receive. Maybe I'll make it two items for each one I receive, just to see what happens.

The original phrasing - setting limits to population and consumption, so we can reinvest -
does seem to imply this next step, of letting go.

Hoarding is consumption. The more you hold, the more you waste.
Letting go is abundance.

Feels like '1984' backward-speak somehow.

And I still think we're responsible for ourselves, to set aside the needed abundance for the routine winters and gap years.
But the 'security' package may not be infinite money or hoarded supplies - it may be to be so generous and useful during our working life that the future can't help but be abundant.

Maybe the third ethic is controversial because it's attempting to sum up the entirety of the rest of ethics, and all you actually need is in the first two.
Care of earth + care of people = reciprocity; infinite growth of population and consumption is not compatible with either of the above.

So the third ethic becomes a catch-all for "what are we forgetting?"
and that differs from person to person.

-Erica again.
 
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Lucas Harrison-Zdenek wrote:

Eva Taylor wrote: It's resource intensive to raise farm animals



It doesn't have to be though. Watch Geoff Lawton's video on feeding chickens compost!



Yes! But this is what I am speaking of, chickens can be pastured, fed compost etc. but you are still disturbing more land than you would to harvest what's there already, and you still have to keep the fox out. Every farm animal takes some kind of energy input, wild animals take no input, Yet there seems to be no encouragement to include wild animal meat into our design? Why are we opposed to harvesting wild animals? Could this be part of our need/ habit to control where our food is, overriding our common sense?
Where I live there are too many deer, and bear, as the food supply increases ( my chickens my garden) so do the groundhog, raccoon, and fox population. These are part of my ecology, I am part of it. Shouldn't I try to be a balancing factor in the place I live? How do I insert myself as a predator without throwing the balance? And what animals are appropriate, according to where I am, to bring into my design? Mollison says "i believe we should use all the species we need or can find to use in our own settlement designs..", but I'm thinking he is only including plants. Why?
Are we keeping native fauna out of the picture because we are only trying to offer new ways to farm the same things? This question pulls at my brain every time I spend time thinking of a new way to pasture my chickens so the hawks and eagles won't eat them. Or how high does my electric, razor wire fence need to be to keep the sheep safe from the bears?
Of course all of this is assuming you live in a mostly rural place, no one expects urban dwellers to live off of what they can shoot in their back yards...

Am I alone on this line of thinking?

 
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Eva, I don't think there's opposition to harvesting wild animals. Bill tells lots of stories about harvesting deer or fish on the way to teaching a PDC - only to have the vegetarians eat it all.

Harvesting wild plants or animals is fine in zone 4 - that's what it's there for!

Actually, Bill seemed opposed to having people set up their homestead in the middle of a forest (which mine is BTW) because it pits people against the natural elements they love - which is why they wanted to move their in the first place.
 
Cj Sloane
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Erica Wisner wrote:
My biggest questions as I read this book have to do with these sweeping statements and their implications.
To what extent is all this true?



There is one statement of Bill's that I flat out refuse to believe. Something along the lines of "the yield of a system is infinite." If only he had used a different word like unknowable. I'm sure we'll get into it next week - there's a large sub-chapter just on yields.
 
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Eva Taylor wrote:
Yes! But this is what I am speaking of, chickens can be pastured, fed compost etc. but you are still disturbing more land than you would to harvest what's there already, and you still have to keep the fox out. Every farm animal takes some kind of energy input, wild animals take no input, Yet there seems to be no encouragement to include wild animal meat into our design? Why are we opposed to harvesting wild animals? Could this be part of our need/ habit to control where our food is, overriding our common sense?

Of course all of this is assuming you live in a mostly rural place, no one expects urban dwellers to live off of what they can shoot in their back yards...

Am I alone on this line of thinking?



I absolutely agree with you. I was simply commenting on the fact that using common sense about animals can allow them to be managed without huge amounts of resources. Joel Salatin is a big name in low cost, low maintenance animal care. He talks a lot about using mobile pasturing methods to get animals like pigs to clear and fertilize a large area in a small amount of time with minimal set up and minimal materials. I love the video clip where he tractors chickens across a huge field and he talks about how they move the birds everyday so they fertilize a new section and have a fresh "salad bar" each morning.

I am not a hunter. Personally, I don't eat meat at all for many reasons. Most of it comes from the unethical management of animals in factory farms as well as the desire to have more control over the food I put into my body. But I can see the merits of hunting for survival and if you use a permaculture method, there would be no waste. I fully agree with you that the use of animals that exist within your system can be beneficial to that system and help reduce the reliance on animals that require higher levels of energy to maintain. Geoff Lawton mentioned this a bit in the PDC this summer. I can't remember his exact wording, but it had to do with harvesting the animals on your property to fill a need for meat.

I plan to keep animals one day. I don't plan to use them for food, but it would be nice to harvest my own wool for yarn and have an unlimited supply of high nitrogen fertilizer from a small flock of chickens to help keep my land fertile.

And finally, IF I could shoot, there are plenty of animals here in the city that I could "hunt". Squirrels are more abundant than rats and we have a couple of possums and a giant raccoon that lives somewhere in the neighborhood. We also found out this summer that a family of rabbits has taken up residence somewhere within about 4 houses from ours.
 
Lucas Harrison-Zdenek
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Erica Wisner wrote:
Feels like '1984' backward-speak somehow.



People, especially my father, give me hassle about the stuff I talk about all the time. My dad's favorite phrase right now is "Lucas, if (insert idea here) is so great, why isn't everyone doing it?" And my response usually (to avoid a huge argument) is "You tell me! It is great, why isn't everyone doing it?"

It seems to me that, at least here in America, we have been convinced that sticking with the status quo is the only good way to do things. Those who choose a path of their own are kooks, or dreamers, or idealists and they will never succeed because they have no large government assistance. Sadly, we have a government that not only refuses to help the people who really need it, but also attacks those people to keep the favor of the corporations that keep feeding their pocketbooks. As much as I try to keep Bill Mollison's words in perspective about the infinite nature of potential yields and the revolutionary ideas that haven't had time to be truly tested, I can't help but get excited when reading these pages and imagining an ideal world where we live and consume in moderation so that our neighbors may all enjoy the abundance we create together. I know that I'm an idealist and I accept that I will most likely never see these kinds of results within my lifetime. But as Mollison says on page 1, the Prime Directive of permaculture is to "take responsibility of our own existence and that of our CHILDREN". I may not be able to enjoy the systems I am helping create, but if we do it correctly we are leaving a better place for our children. That is my hope at least.
 
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Lucas Harrison-Zdenek wrote:
I know that I'm an idealist and I accept that I will most likely never see these kinds of results within my lifetime. But as Mollison says on page 1, the Prime Directive of permaculture is to "take responsibility of our own existence and that of our CHILDREN". I may not be able to enjoy the systems I am helping create, but if we do it correctly we are leaving a better place for our children. That is my hope at least.



"A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in."
- Greek Proverb (other versions are attributed to others as well)
 
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Erica Wisner wrote:
I want deeper insights into this scarcity / abundance distinction.
I think it's critically important to note that our current economic model is built on scarcity - and that the only 'rational' people who actually follow current economic theory are the desperately poor. Everyone else makes 'irrational' decisions - they weight the dollar value of something against all kinds of irrational side tangents, not on strict value exchange.

Arguably, the way people behave in abundance - they give gifts - is far more rational than the way we behave in scarcity. (That book I linked above, Scarcity, details the research.)

A good (ethical and effective) economic model must acknowledge scarcity, but promote abundance.

Permaculture is all about creating abundance with limited resources.
I think this concept of limiting consumption is important, and how we do it is important.
If you limit consumption with metrics, like the One Child Policy, or a diet that involves counting calories, you invoke the sense of scarcity. Which makes people focus on the percieved lack or limitation, and causes all kinds of resistance, loss of mental bandwidth, and tunneling in on the problem instead of the big picture.
-Erica again.


Jack Spirko's video on the third ethic greatly influenced my thinking, by taking it down to the very simplest starting point: as designers you have to respect the carrying capacity of the land. How nature limits population is fierce competition for the limiting resource. You can't let your herd breed indefinitely without culling excess and be true to ethic #1. Return the surplus as inputs to enrich the whole system.

I think Erica's right, that how you define your system enlarges as you feel safer with a reliable source. It's easier to kill the fatted cow when there is a fine crop of yearlings in the same field coming along for next year. The third ethic is a challenge to trust in that abundance as it manifests and not be solely driven like animals by the instinctive fear of scarcity that shaped our evolution.

(edited to add link to the video)
 
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Jennifer Wadsworth wrote:

wayne stephen wrote:Page 3 : "Although initially we can see how helping our family and freinds assists us in our own survival , we may evolve the mature ethic that sees all humankind as family , and all life as allied associations. Thus we expand people care to species care , for all life has common origins . All are "our family".



As an urban permaculturist with little land, I find this quote to be particularly poignant. If you have a buffer of land around you, you can be more self-sufficient. In a city, one may have little land and may rely on municipal systems to handle things like energy, water and waste. By definition an urban permaculturist must become a collaborator and must see these systems and the people who run them and work in them as part of our system. I have to admit to being fascinated by how permaculture plays out in the urban arena and how we can address these places where the majority of the populous lives, in a more ethical and earth-friendly way. In contemplating this, I've come to realize to, at least here in the SW, how dependent we are on our broader landscape, especially our watersheds. We don't have the luxury of running streams and rivers - at least not anymore. There is a great need to revitalize these systems for the benefit of all.

So my focus right now falls out like this:
--10% about me and my own sustainability (this was more at one point but I have several good systems in place, so now it's less - it's been an evolving process)
--30% about my immediate neighborhood and surrounding 'hoods (organizing classes, talks, hands-on opportunities, cleanup events, social gatherings)
--20% about my city - working to change policy, etc
--40% about the broad landscape in which I live - working to change policy (in talks with the former mayor about proposed desalinization plants for Arizona/Mexico, care of wild lands w/Sierra Club, restoring riparian areas, etc)

For me, permaculture HAS to go beyond my property by necessity.

What do others think?



Jennifer, have you read Peter Bane's "The Permaculture Handbook"? His focus in this book is on suburban small holdings and he speaks to self-reliance as opposed to self-sufficiency. Very much aware of the interdependence of people living in the suburban to urban environment. If you have not read it yet, I recommend it. I'm almost finished, and while I find his extensive discussion of "pattern language" not terribly helpful, there is lots that I do find useful, and others might get more from the pattern language discussion than I do.

I think that for anyone who is not living in total isolation, permaculture reaches beyond their own property. I think Mollison makes that clear by addressing socio-legal elements - things that only exist in the larger realm. Even if you only look at those elements as "sectors" (am I the only one who thinks that word was supposed to be "vectors"?), they are something you have to consider in your designs.
 
Peter Ellis
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Frank Turrentine wrote:To be fair, I don't know that you can altogether leave politics out of this text without it simply becoming a technical manual. Right off the bat he says we must replace nation states with villages. He also says on page one that to accumulate wealth, power or land beyond one's needs is truly immoral. Those are pretty profound political statements.

Yet having said that, my interest in this manual arose from my desire to be a good steward of this property, to figure out how to manage the water and other resources, such that the systems around me increase in abundance every year, and to be able to extricate myself from a technological trap I can neither comprehend nor afford. I think in an urban environment there has to be a collective will to create regenerative systems, while individuals work toward a point where there is no need for trash pick-up, because there is no trash. I can't see urban permaculture working, however, without urban centers being broken down into a collection of neighborhoods that act as permaculture villages. I think in the end the cities have to die away of their own entropy as people leave them behind.

Honestly, I embrace the donkey cart as the transportation of the future.



I think if you leave politics out, you've missed the entire point Bill is a revolutionary, but not a violent one. Choosing to follow a permaculture path puts us in the revolutionary camp as well. But, that does not mean that our actions need to be politicized, even if they carry profound political significance.

I think it works rather well for people to take actions that reduce their dependence upon the entire fossil energy system without making a lot of noise about the political impact of such actions, until eventually the cumulative effect of many people having acted becomes evident.

Think of it as function stacking - the political elements are there in all of the things we do to follow the permaculture path. It's just that most of the time the political function is down the list after many other, more evident, functions.

 
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Peter -- right there, with you, on the "vectors" point! Mariamne
 
Peter Ellis
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Lucas Harrison-Zdenek wrote:

Erica Wisner wrote:
Feels like '1984' backward-speak somehow.



People, especially my father, give me hassle about the stuff I talk about all the time. My dad's favorite phrase right now is "Lucas, if (insert idea here) is so great, why isn't everyone doing it?" And my response usually (to avoid a huge argument) is "You tell me! It is great, why isn't everyone doing it?"

It seems to me that, at least here in America, we have been convinced that sticking with the status quo is the only good way to do things. Those who choose a path of their own are kooks, or dreamers, or idealists and they will never succeed because they have no large government assistance. Sadly, we have a government that not only refuses to help the people who really need it, but also attacks those people to keep the favor of the corporations that keep feeding their pocketbooks. As much as I try to keep Bill Mollison's words in perspective about the infinite nature of potential yields and the revolutionary ideas that haven't had time to be truly tested, I can't help but get excited when reading these pages and imagining an ideal world where we live and consume in moderation so that our neighbors may all enjoy the abundance we create together. I know that I'm an idealist and I accept that I will most likely never see these kinds of results within my lifetime. But as Mollison says on page 1, the Prime Directive of permaculture is to "take responsibility of our own existence and that of our CHILDREN". I may not be able to enjoy the systems I am helping create, but if we do it correctly we are leaving a better place for our children. That is my hope at least.



Lucas, you bring to my mind a couple of thoughts here. First, in response to "why isn't everybody doing it?" the answer is "because they don't understand how great it is". It isn't all that long ago that the horseless carriage was a horrible contraption and that if man had been meant to fly he would have been given wings. It's normal for ideas, no matter how good, to take time to gain traction and become accepted. And it's normal for people to oppose change, too.

It makes me laugh/cry to think about modern Americans and their resistance to change, when our Founding Fathers were - wait for it - a bunch of Revolutionaries!

This nation is a great experiment, but we've definitely lost track of the ideals of those who started it.

Idealism is a wonderful thing, don't let anyone beat it out of you. Just temper it, on your own terms, with a bit of pragmatism and consideration for others.
 
Cj Sloane
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Peter Ellis wrote:Even if you only look at those elements as "sectors" (am I the only one who thinks that word was supposed to be "vectors"?), they are something you have to consider in your designs.



Sector seems appropriate because a fire sector makes sense and a fire vector would be something you would not design intentionally - a type 1 error.

I like to think of a vector as where a certain sector meets a certain zone making it the ideal spot (vector) to place an element.

But, again, I'm jumping ahead. What can I say - it's -4°F and snowing like mad!
 
Peter Ellis
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Eva Taylor wrote:

Lucas Harrison-Zdenek wrote:

Eva Taylor wrote: It's resource intensive to raise farm animals



It doesn't have to be though. Watch Geoff Lawton's video on feeding chickens compost!



Yes! But this is what I am speaking of, chickens can be pastured, fed compost etc. but you are still disturbing more land than you would to harvest what's there already, and you still have to keep the fox out. Every farm animal takes some kind of energy input, wild animals take no input, Yet there seems to be no encouragement to include wild animal meat into our design? Why are we opposed to harvesting wild animals? Could this be part of our need/ habit to control where our food is, overriding our common sense?
Where I live there are too many deer, and bear, as the food supply increases ( my chickens my garden) so do the groundhog, raccoon, and fox population. These are part of my ecology, I am part of it. Shouldn't I try to be a balancing factor in the place I live? How do I insert myself as a predator without throwing the balance? And what animals are appropriate, according to where I am, to bring into my design? Mollison says "i believe we should use all the species we need or can find to use in our own settlement designs..", but I'm thinking he is only including plants. Why?
Are we keeping native fauna out of the picture because we are only trying to offer new ways to farm the same things? This question pulls at my brain every time I spend time thinking of a new way to pasture my chickens so the hawks and eagles won't eat them. Or how high does my electric, razor wire fence need to be to keep the sheep safe from the bears?
Of course all of this is assuming you live in a mostly rural place, no one expects urban dwellers to live off of what they can shoot in their back yards...

Am I alone on this line of thinking?



I certainly think Mollison is thinking about more than plant diversity. I also think it's a misconception to say that wild animals take no energy input. Sure, an untended piece of land may very well have wild animals on it and no human putting energy in for their benefit. But we are not talking about untended lands here, rather we're addressing areas where people are very much involved in stewardship of the land. And in that situation, the wild animals are feeding on our plantings right along with the naturally occurring stuff we did not plant. So they're taking our energy input there, whether we planned on it or not.

Then, if we choose to harvest these wild animals, we're putting energy into that process. More energy to hunt a wild animal than to slaughter a domestic one. Equal energy to process each. Again, getting the meat on the table takes energy inputs from us.

Now, if our domestic animals are pasture raised and eating some waste/surplus on the side - just how much different is this than the wild animals living on the same land, eating much of the same pasture? Or, eating our pastured animals - in which case remember that all the energy we put into our animals just got taken by the bear - meaning we just made a Big energy input to that wild animal.

I am quite sure Mollison sees us utilizing the wild elements of our design environment, not only the ones we introduce. One of the things that can make permaculture difficult is the extent to which it requires us to observe and consider each situation and then work for an optimal design for each one. No one can give us a set of directions that cover every possibility in any kind of detail, and we have to avoid the pitfall of thinking that because something was not explicitly included, it is implicitly excluded.

Permaculture is a broad concept - so broad that we need to be constantly evaluating whether an option fits within the parameters of the ethics and working from there. If it falls within the boundaries, use it if it looks viable in the situation. If it does not fall within the boundaries, then don't use it.

 
Eva Taylor
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Cj Verde wrote:Eva, I don't think there's opposition to harvesting wild animals. Bill tells lots of stories about harvesting deer or fish on the way to teaching a PDC - only to have the vegetarians eat it all.

That's pretty funny! That's why I love Mollison! I guess I just keep seeing this conflict with the wild and domesticated parts of my property and I feel like there is a way to balance the two without lots and lots of fencing. I just don't know what that is yet and reading this first chapter makes me feel renewed determination to find it...

 
Cj Sloane
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Eva, sneak a peak at pages 49/50. Read about Zone 4 in particular. There is no conflict between wild and domestic. Zone 4 is a productive edge combining both.
 
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...
Then, if we choose to harvest these wild animals, we're putting energy into that process. More energy to hunt a wild animal than to slaughter a domestic one. Equal energy to process each. Again, getting the meat on the table takes energy inputs from us.
...

Sigh, starting behind already. Story of my life ...I will catch up my reading (re-reading) tonight I guess. I do have a small thought on the wild animal discussion. I would debate that the wild animals take any energy inputs from us. I live in the central US and things that I plant for nitrogen fixing/cover crop (clover, alphalpha, vetch, rye, etc.) are all strong attractants for wildlife. I would argue that I'm able to harvest more/larger deer as a stacked function of nitrogen fixation admittedly there may be an additional step or two in harvesting said animals vs. one raised inside the electric fence! but at the same time I didn't have anything to do with the stocking/breeding of said animals either. They just 'showed up'.
 
Eva Taylor
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I certainly think Mollison is thinking about more than plant diversity. I also think it's a misconception to say that wild animals take no energy input. Sure, an untended piece of land may very well have wild animals on it and no human putting energy in for their benefit. But we are not talking about untended lands here, rather we're addressing areas where people are very much involved in stewardship of the land. And in that situation, the wild animals are feeding on our plantings right along with the naturally occurring stuff we did not plant. So they're taking our energy input there, whether we planned on it or not.

Then, if we choose to harvest these wild animals, we're putting energy into that process. More energy to hunt a wild animal than to slaughter a domestic one. Equal energy to process each. Again, getting the meat on the table takes energy inputs from us.

Now, if our domestic animals are pasture raised and eating some waste/surplus on the side - just how much different is this than the wild animals living on the same land, eating much of the same pasture? Or, eating our pastured animals - in which case remember that all the energy we put into our animals just got taken by the bear - meaning we just made a Big energy input to that wild animal.



That's my point! What if I had just eaten the bear? I had to buy my sheep, build a barn, fix fencing, water, hay in winter. There was way more input in the sheep, The bear was already there. The hunting wasn't very hard. I made it hard on myself by not just observing that point before buying the sheep. Now I can put an orchard in the sheep pasture!
There is a lot of emphasis on bringing in animals in most permaculture books. If we apply the third ethic to limiting the population of domesticated animals and limiting our consumption to reasonable amounts of wild game we can increase our efficiency as land stewards.

 
Cj Sloane
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Eva Taylor wrote:What if I had just eaten the bear? I had to buy my sheep, build a barn, fix fencing, water, hay in winter. There was way more input in the sheep, The bear was already there. I made it hard on myself by not just observing that point before buying the sheep. Now I can put an orchard in the sheep pasture.



If you are practicing permaculture you would've already noticed the bear before buying the sheep.
 
Cj Sloane
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I just fed my sheep, LGD, and pigs (it is brutal out there!!!)

I'd like to add that I'm quite certain you'd notice the bear before buying your sheep even if you weren't practicing permaculture - I know I did!

20 years ago, someone killed a bear on our property. We then got a dog and there was no sign of bear... until 14 years later when the dog died. We then got a livestock guard dog and chickens and other livestock including sheep. Now you're asking, "why go to the trouble of raising sheep when you could hunt bear?"

Because I'd rather let the bears have access to my zone 5/4 and keep them out of my zones 1, 2, 3. Harvesting bear is not as simple/reliable as harvesting eggs/chickens/sheep/blueberries/raspberries/honey and I prefer eating all those things to eating bear!

I don't need to fence out the bears. The LGDs convince the bears (and coyotes and fisher cats) that there are easier meals elsewhere.
 
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Cj Verde wrote:

Eva Taylor wrote:What if I had just eaten the bear? I had to buy my sheep, build a barn, fix fencing, water, hay in winter. There was way more input in the sheep, The bear was already there. I made it hard on myself by not just observing that point before buying the sheep. Now I can put an orchard in the sheep pasture.



If you are practicing permaculture you would've already noticed the bear before buying the sheep.



hrmmph...already with the 'if it's not the way i would do it then it's not permaculture stuff...maybe the bear wasn't there to observe before the sheep arrived for it to feed on. My reading says permaculture is NOT a destination, but the journey. You're going to architect your system and never ever change it because Nature is oh so static right?
 
Cj Sloane
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If the bear came after the sheep then that negates the previous statement.
 
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Bill Mollison on page 3 wrote: "What can I get from this land, or person" or "What does this person, or land, have to give if I cooperate with them?" Of these two approaches, the former leads to war and waste, the latter to peace and plenty.

I think this is one of the most important pieces of permaculture, and one where we can't go wrong. There are many examples in history of societies that stopped caring for the trees and soil. Most of those societies crumbled within a hundred years. In contrast, starting from the position of feeding the soil ensures there will be enough production for our needs. I would even take this principle farther than Bill does, by presenting a third alternative question:
"How can I serve this person, or land." (leaving out the question of personal gain and trusting that the benefit will return)
It is far better to give than receive. Especially because, in natural systems or functional societies, giving more means receiving more.
 
Eva Taylor
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Cj Verde wrote:Eva, sneak a peak at pages 49/50. Read about Zone 4 in particular. There is no conflict between wild and domestic. Zone 4 is a productive edge combining both.


I wasn't referring to the zones mollison talks about, rather the wild parts of my property including deer,bear groundhogs ect, and how they interact with what i have - domesticated animals and plants. They don't seem to observe wether they have entered zone 1 or zone 4. Sorry I'm having such a hard time relaying what I want to say...

As for the bear issue, no one on the mountain has had problems with their sheep, I just happen to be in the middle of two apple orchards. My sheep were a lucky snack on the way to eat some apples...
 
Cj Sloane
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Wait, are you saying the bears ate the sheep or the sheep ate the apples? Or really, I thought you wanted to eat the bears!

I'm quite sure we can figure this out... eventually.
 
Eva Taylor
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The bears ate my sheep on the way to eat some apples and then I ate the bear with some apples....consequently deciding it was easier to just eat the bear and grow some apples...
Heh, heh, heh...
 
Ann Torrence
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Eva Taylor wrote:

Cj Verde wrote:Eva, sneak a peak at pages 49/50. Read about Zone 4 in particular. There is no conflict between wild and domestic. Zone 4 is a productive edge combining both.


I wasn't referring to the zones mollison talks about, rather the wild parts of my property including deer,bear groundhogs ect, and how they interact with what i have - domesticated animals and plants. They don't seem to observe wether they have entered zone 1 or zone 4.


What's the objection to a fence between zones 5 (that's the only appropriate place for bears, for their own safety) and 1-4? Or between 1 & 2 to keep the chooks off the porch? Or x and y?
 
Cj Sloane
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Eva Taylor wrote:The bears ate my sheep on the way to eat some apples and then I ate the bear with some apples....consequently deciding it was easier to just eat the bear and grow some apples...
Heh, heh, heh...



Wow!

Bears around here generally aren't that aggressive - though one did attack a pig a few years back (not mine).

Back to the original question - sort of. Did you know there were bears around before you got sheep and then in hindsight realize you could've take a more direct approach to baiting the bears?

I'm still happy with my approach - use dogs to keep the bears away.

ps
Sheep also like apples but they don't like bear...
 
Peter Ellis
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There is going to be a huge amount of material to cover here folks, and it will get very difficult if we burden this thread with digressions.

Getting back to Ch. 1, Mollison argues for us to abandon both majority rule and consensus, leaving a gaping hole for the question of how do we make group decisions. majority rule has problems, consensus has problems, but for people to get along there have got to be mechanisms for making group decisions and dealing with conflicts among people.

Expecting people to just make good choices together and avoid conflict...is it enough to point out that this hasn't worked out yet within the permaculture community?

So, how to work together and make decisions? Thoughts?
 
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Peter Ellis wrote:Getting back to Ch. 1, Mollison argues for us to abandon both majority rule and consensus, leaving a gaping hole for the question of how do we make group decisions. majority rule has problems, consensus has problems, but for people to get along there have got to be mechanisms for making group decisions and dealing with conflicts among people.

Expecting people to just make good choices together and avoid conflict...is it enough to point out that this hasn't worked out yet within the permaculture community?

So, how to work together and make decisions? Thoughts?



"People interactions" is the hardest part, I think. And there isn't just one answer - or there shouldn't be just one answer if we are to respect the principle of "each element supporting multiple functions and each function being supported by multiple elements".

I disagree with Mollison on the whole "majority rules and consensus" issue - yes - they both have problems. All systems have problems - to which I say "so what?" For me personally, I'm not looking to live in a utopian culture where we first have to tear down all existing systems - it seems like a waste of resources. I'm looking to do just a little better than we're doing now (which is still HUGE) using some of the flawed tools already at hand - majority/consensus.

For me, to get too caught up in defining the "perfect system of making group decisions" is to create some kind of perfectionist ideal or dogma around the issue that just doesn't need to be there in order for us to move ahead with our imperfect systems. However, I get that sometimes argument feels safer than moving ahead and trying something new. Over time, we may evolve better ways of making group decisions. And perhaps in more traditional societies, there are alternate ways of communicating effectively. The only problem is, that in many traditional societies, only the ruling elders made decisions and becoming an elder is often limited by status, age or gender. So...we're back to our current systems...

How was that for a circular self-argument?
 
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Peter Ellis wrote:
Getting back to Ch. 1, Mollison argues for us to abandon both majority rule and consensus, leaving a gaping hole for the question of how do we make group decisions. majority rule has problems, consensus has problems, but for people to get along there have got to be mechanisms for making group decisions and dealing with conflicts among people.

Expecting people to just make good choices together and avoid conflict...is it enough to point out that this hasn't worked out yet within the permaculture community?

So, how to work together and make decisions? Thoughts?



This is definitely a difficult topic to handle. It seems simple enough, but everyone has an opinion and many times those opinions conflict. The way I see it, if you have a small enough group, I'm sure some sort of regular method of compromise can be reached in any conflict. The larger the group, the more difficult it will be to make everyone happy. I like to think that Jacque Fresco from the Venus Project is correct that we only believe there will always be people who don't want to pull their weight because we've all been conditioned to believe that. I tend to be skeptical of this idea though. As I've said before, I'm an idealist…but above that I'm a realist and I know that people often have differences that they cannot put aside, even for the greater good.

Perhaps instead of majority rule or consensus we could establish a sort of charter based in principle and open to rational amendment. Dealing only with facts and attempting to avoid opinion, perhaps it would be possible to come to decisions based on science and reason? It's nice to imagine at least.
 
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I think what Mollison was getting at was that if everyone approached problems with a common knowledge base the need for consensus and majority rule would be negated, and spreading the common knowledge base is what should be focused on. Some giant dude once said something along these lines and it struck a chord with me. I think that there would be no need for the flawed consensus and majority rule paradigms if this were the case. Somebody would notice a problem bring it up then someone else would offer a solution(or they would just fix the problem) and since the community is operating with a common knowledge base and ethics there would be little chance of serious conflict. No consensus or majority rule votes just problem solved.
 
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{ I think if we want to stay focused on Chapter One we might need to ignore that Wayne Stephen guy !}

Those quotes I posted from Mollison about consensus and politics were from later interviews not from the manual . However on page 8 , Table 1.1 Permaculture Design includes Socio-Legal elements as part of the flow chart . " The result of a unique assembly of constructs , species , and social systems into a unique pattern suited to a specific site and set of occupants ."
So , as I understand it we work with humans and plant / animal species as individuals and small groups forming a unique bio/social microclimate . A circle of freinds . Our unique circle overlaps with other unique bio/social microclimates . Eventually we form a unique social bioregion . Then a global family . Reminds me about what Skeeter said in his PDC about having freinds within a short distance from wherever he was in the PNW .I bet Skeeter has tree freinds all over the PNW too .
 
Eva Taylor
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Toby Hemingway

This is a link to Toby hemmingways page, in this essay he speaks about how the transitions movement is like a Trojan horse for permaculture. The transitions group uses something called open space technology- no hierarchy. I read the book open space technology and recommend it to anyone interested in a possible structure for what Mollison spoke of for group consensus with no hierarchy. It's an awe inspiring read, but in order to make it work you have to have to let go of your own ego and ideas of control. It definitely allows space for people who would normally fall into the crowd to disappear, to feel the freedom to participate. The book is great and easy to read, and I got a used copy on amazon for a penny...
 
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Ann Torrence wrote:
Jack Spirko's video on the third ethic greatly influenced my thinking, by taking it down to the very simplest starting point: as designers you have to respect the carrying capacity of the land. How nature limits population is fierce competition for the limiting resource. You can't let your herd breed indefinitely without culling excess and be true to ethic #1. Return the surplus as inputs to enrich the whole system.


(edited to add link to the video)



I agree. His series was a big help for me (a newbie) to get a better understanding of permaculture principles/methods/etc. I'm very glad that it was the first series that I watched because I would have had a hard time understanding the 3rd ethic. Others explanations of the third ethic have not been as clear to me.
 
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RE: FACTS -"Truth" can be subjective, so it's darn near impossible to base everything on facts. If we can base our interactions on mutual respect and unconditional positive regard (permies calls these "be nice" and "all permies are perfect") we can get somewhere. Maybe we could get to a place where everyone can be this way. If not, there has to be a way to exclude those who won't or can't. This is tricky.

I am part of two faith communities, the Quakers who make decisions by consensus and the Unitarian Universalists who use democracy. It is very interesting to see how both systems work. I see the benefit of each in its own way. Both communities have respect and love as foundations, which is key to their success. The UUs make more decisions much faster. The Quakers are really solid as a community.

I have enjoyed using open space at conferences and workshops. I wonder how it would work in a day-in-day-out community.

Leadership development is really valuable.

 
Acetylsalicylic acid is aspirin. This could be handy too:
It's like binging on 7 seasons of your favorite netflix permaculture show
http://permaculture-design-course.com/
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