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Why did you become a permie?

 
pollinator
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I think for me it started with foraging for wild foods as a child -- not just cranberries and blueberries and wild currants and wild raspberries in the Interior of Alaska, but also the hunting and fishing, and having a garden; we raised or foraged/hunted/fished for most of our food.  Then we moved back to Oregon and my brothers and sisters and I and a whole bunch of cousins who were neighbors all ran wild all over the place, and we helped our mothers pick fruits from the old orchards planted by our great-grandparents, and we made applesauce, and canned apple pie filling, and froze some of it; we canned plums, and pears, and drove over to the Willamette Valley from the Coast where we lived, and bought boxes and boxes of peaches to can, and green beans.  We picked the little wild blackberries, enough to can fifty quarts of blackberry jam every summer.  We didn't have a cow anymore (we did have one in Alaska), but Mom bought raw milk from a neighbor who had a dairy, and what we didn't drink fresh was made into cottage cheese and butter.  We picked some salmonberries, too, and the wild huckleberries (which are not really huckleberries, but are in the vaccinium family along with blueberries).  My grandfather sometimes had venison for us, or steelhead from the river, and once in a while in the summer us kids would take some rotting meat and catch crawdads out of the river and we'd boil them up and have a crawdad feed. About once a year, too, we would go to the mud flats at the mouth of our river, where it emptied out into the main Siuslaw River, and dig clams, and make clam chowder and fried clams, and clam fritters.  Then we'd freeze the rest for the winter.

When I went to college (in Sitka, Alaska), my majors were forestry and fisheries; I met my husband there (he was majoring in forestry).  We picked up a copy of J. Russell Smith's Tree Crops early in our marriage, and agreed that we wanted a place where we could plant crop trees.  Along the way, whenever we found something useful, we used it.  The first house we bought was in downtown Tacoma (he had joined the Air Force and was stationed at McChord AFB) but it had a big old pear tree and an old plum tree in the back yard, and a quince at the corner of the front porch, and we used the fruit from those.  We planted a garden in the back yard, kept a few ducks, and raised meat rabbits in the garage.  Later we were back in the Willamette Valley (husband was stationed at a little radar site west of Dallas, OR), and again, we gardened, and foraged.  We picked up a bunch of acorns from some Oregon white oaks and made flour out of them, and baked with it (it was good, too).  

It wasn't too long after that that we found Bill Mollison's Permaculture: A Designer's Manual (and I just had to look that up to make sure I had the title right, and am wishing I'd kept our copy when my marriage broke up, LOL!  Wow!  That book has gotten expensive!).  We loved all the ideas in that book, and learned so much more than we already knew.  I've moved too many times since then, but just about every place we've lived, we've planted fruit trees and berries and other things, and tried to apply as much as we could from the permaculture principles.  It's getting harder as I get older and my back is a hard stop some days, but I still want to plant and grow as much as I can.  One reason I chose Kentucky to move to was because here we have soils and precipitation that help us rather than hindering.  

I have a theory that permaculture is an attempt to recreate the Garden of Eden.  Or at least that childhood of roaming and rambling, building forts, climbing trees, and feasting on both wild and domestic plants and their fruits as we found them.

 
Posts: 117
Location: Australia, Now zone 10a, costal, sandy, windy and temperate.
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In 1975 the BBC in the UK aired a show called ‘The good life’  and at the age of 14 I was hooked...Since then it’s been a journey of learning and experimenting. I was clearly ahead of my friends and work colleagues in understanding about working with nature instead of against it...I was called a hippie a lot! Even though I wasn’t one. But finally it seems the world has worked it out.... you do less work, for more gain!

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00732tl
 
gardener
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I was always into exploring nature, gardening, hiking, and bicycling, even though no one else in my family was.  I saw an orchard at someone's house when I was a kid and vowed to figure out how to do that when I was an adult.  Later, while doing that, I was doing research on growing fruit trees in a healthy way.  I noticed that all of the best orchardists that I respected the most,  all espoused permaculture ideas.  All of the ideas just made so much sense to me and fascinated me.  It was like I was meant to go in this direction. I found this site and never looked back.  I have learned a ton here and I love being part of a group of people who are discovering things together and sharing ideas.

John S
PDX OR
 
pollinator
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If you can call yourself a permie when you start advocating and practicing the techniques developed by Mollison and company, then I'm just into it since last year. But I've always had a long for 'permanence'. I'm more the technician, I intuitively understand mechanics and usually fix things around. Not exactly a geek, but I love to toy with computers and smartphones, and efficient long-lasting machines. I must say that I'm not really fond of animals or plants, and my major interest of them is for the food.
But I do care about ecosystems, precisely because I care about permanence, sustainability. And this led me to care about pollution and waste. So, I was trying to reduce my ecological footprint while living the urban life, step by step, maybe without much success. Whenever I could I purchased for durability and resilience and tried not to buy things I didn't reaally need.

I was introduced to permaculture after a discussion I had with a friend about soil erosion. The IPCC had released a document on soil erosion (Land report?) and I was commenting the report to friends, when they told me that there were no soil loss in the land, that for the major part it was completely flat and that the soil remains mostly there, so how could that be an issue at all?. So I researched. I learned that soil and dirt were different things. And I learned about some regenerative farming techiques, and finally got to Geoff Lawton's Greening the desert project. Common sense, low tech but scientifically sound practices. That opened a whole new world of hope and possibilities (not meant for me, of course, since I am too urbanite to get my hands dirty). But still... I missed the flavour of mature fruit and vegetables, not the plastic taste they seem to have now.
Then I took the step. I wanted to grow some food in my appartment terrace, but my wife was against it, she wanted just flowers, not bad smells or anything. I started slowly composting very small kitchen scraps in a small bucket. It turned out well. Then I tried some veggies in pots, and that worked bad, I killed pretty much everything I tried to grow (I suspect too much irrigation). Then I looked for some place to do this on a bigger scale and found that our local urban garden was already doing some compost and were very open to let me place a trash can to make my own tumbler composter. I saw lots of possibilities within this garden.

Suddenly all the pieces came together.

I had the need to make something meaningful with my life. I had the desire to bring some positive change to the ecosystem. I had the permaculture videos for inspiration. I had the semi-abandoned garden ten minutes from home. They needed help, so I joined as a gardener. Me, who had never bent over to get potatoes and who could barely help my family with an olive orchard due to allergy, I am now digging beds, planting seeds, foraging wilds and prunning trees as a hobby twice a week. Trying to bring back enthusiasm to the other gardeners. Changing their collectivistic organic farming into permaculture gardening. And they are coming back despite the restrictions and the pandemic fear to help me turn this into a lively dryland garden. That in turn brought me joy.

So I could say that now I am into permaculture.


 
pollinator
Posts: 668
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Pearl Sutton wrote:

Tyler Ludens wrote:"Why did you become a permie?"

For me, permaculture presents a clear path to a positive future, for me, for humanity, and for the rest of the living world.



Awesome! We need shirts made that say that!



I’d buy one! Maybe even two haha.

That simple statement really embodies what got me into permaculture as well. I was overworked, depressed and stressed out several years ago. It led to a bit of a mental blowout/breakdown and as I came out of that state I had a vision of my wife and I in what I can only describe as the biblical Gadden of Eden. I realized that we can (re)create that place and in doing so, better our lives and the lives of everyone and everything around us. Shortly after, I came across the book Gaia’s Garden (very highly recommended!) and that book was my introduction to permaculture as an official concept and lifestyle. Now, literally everything I do is filtered through a sustainability lens and permaculture is always on my mind. I very honestly feel that embracing this lifestyle is why we are here on this planet as a species. To embody oneness with our friends, family, food and environment. To be one love!
 
Brody Ekberg
pollinator
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Kathleen Sanderson wrote:
I have a theory that permaculture is an attempt to recreate the Garden of Eden.  Or at least that childhood of roaming and rambling, building forts, climbing trees, and feasting on both wild and domestic plants and their fruits as we found them.



Yes! My thoughts exactly! My dream is to recreate our own little zone 4 piece of Eden here in Michigan’s upper peninsula.
 
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My story: We bought a second house with a garden (we live in a town, in an apartment). I went into a garden shop on my holiday in Holland (my favorite garden shop in Groningen) and asked the owner, whether she knew of a great way to keep a vegetable garden when you are not living at the same spot as the garden. She said: Perhaps permaculture? sold me a book and it made sense.
We're still in the process of transforming the lawn to a permie garden, but it already is a big difference!
 
steward & bricolagier
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Catherine Brouwer: Welcome to permies! There's a LOT to learn here! Fascinating info. Check this page to make it easier to find what you are interested in All Forums on Permies.com

:D
 
master gardener
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I have not drunk the KoolAide yet.  While I do engage in a number of Permie practices, I do not consider myself to be a Permie.  This, of course, raises another question ....
What is a Permie?  How will I know when I am one?
 
pioneer
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John F Dean wrote:While I do engage in a number of Permie practices, I do not consider myself a Permie



I'm in the same boat as you. I have a garden that's never seen 'cides of any sort, herb or insect. I try to work with nature instead of attempting to conquer it. I do stuff like keeping a couple of corn feeders going all year long to keep the wildlife close and not mowing my yard and meadows too early so bees have a good shot in the spring. I deploy hummingbird feeders for mosquito control. Basically, I do a lot of stuff that is Permie-like but I'm just not a full blown Permie.
Having said that I applaud you Permies who took this concept as a life style. Takes a hell of a lot nads to buck the system, swim upstream and make your own life. It takes backbone to actually live off grid and raise a family by standing entirely on your own two feet.

 
Abraham Palma
pollinator
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I think you don't have to compete in the Olympics to call yourself a runner, if you do running.
By the same rule, you don't have to live completely off-grid and wild to call yourself a permie.
To my eyes, you both are permies, want you to name it or not. You might not be among the hundreth most influential permies (our Olympics), but that's fine.
 
Brody Ekberg
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Abraham Palma wrote:I think you don't have to compete in the Olympics to call yourself a runner, if you do running.
By the same rule, you don't have to live completely off-grid and wild to call yourself a permie.
To my eyes, you both are permies, want you to name it or not. You might not be among the hundreth most influential permies (our Olympics), but that's fine.



Well said, and I agree 100%. Nobody is “there” and nobody is done. I feel that permaculture is an ideal to work towards, not an actual place to arrive at. We likely wouldn’t even know about the ones who actually do meet that idealistic goal either, because aside from bumping into them face to face, how would we meet? They wouldn’t be using phones, tablets or computers to connect with us. Permaculture is the closest thing to a religion that I follow. I definitely consider myself a permie based off of beliefs, values and ideals, but I’m nowhere near that ideal. I work for “the man”, I have a modern house, I drive a car and occasionally go out to eat... And these things do bother me relatively often, but I have to consciously remind myself that I’m making progress and working towards a goal that I may never reach this go around. Good thing that as a permie, we aren’t going anywhere and may get endless tries to reach this idealistic goal!
 
Catherine Brouwer
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Thanks for the welcome!
 
pollinator
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I had perused superficially on permaculture before buying property (2013), but had been a seasonal National park ranger, trail worker, and restorationist so I was traveling a lot until then. As I started to deep dive into permaculture on my own property, i simultaneously became extremely disenchanted with the bureaucracy of the federal government, and felt like at best I was helping to keep natural places from getting more fucked over. I saw hope and inspiration in actually becoming a beneficial member of my ecological community with permaculture. I’ve been diving deeper ever since.
 
Posts: 35
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I think I have always been a Permie, like I've always been a libertarian.  I took the "World's Smallest Political Quiz" in 1996 and found I was 100% in the libertarian segment of the political spectrum.  I just hadn't had a word to describe my views.  The same with Permaculture.  Until I read Mollison and watched a bunch of Geoff Lawton videos, I didn't have a word to describe my love of nature and natural systems.

I grew up in the woods of Maine and carefully observed Nature's ways of dealing with weather events, life cycles of plants and animals, and how Mother Nature managed to feed and shelter all the wildlife in that region.  I knew at an early age that pumping man-made chemicals into the ground to kill "weeds" and spraying DDT and other poisons to kill bugs indiscriminately was not natural and was downright disastrous.

Supposedly, Einstein said that if bees disappeared, man would have only 4 years to live.  I recall reading someone else who said that if insects were eradicated, all life on Earth would end soon after; but if humans became extinct, all the rest of nature would thrive.  Without man's continued destruction, the Earth would heal itself quite quickly and would maintain a natural balance of species in the food chain without assistance from humans.

My 30 acre farm was abused and neglected for over 15 years before I bought it.  Using what I've learned about Permaculture, I'm trying to work with nature to heal the land, stop the erosion, retain rainfall, and grow deep-rooted native plants that will break up the hard pan and add humus to the depleted soil.   Meanwhile, I'm using raised beds with purchased topsoil and composted chicken and pig manure to grow a variety of veggies, berries, fruit and nut trees, and improve the pastures for future ruminants.  I've fenced off small areas where I'm growing stuff for my own sustenance, but allow the wildlife free access to the rest of the property.  During deer hunting season, the deer congregate here to browse my woods and fields in safety.  During the rest of the year they spread out and I see only a dozen or so at a time browsing.  Lots of birds, squirrels, marmots, possums, a few rabbits, and other critters are thriving.  Racoons, turkeys, grouse, quail, and pheasants have been hunted to extinction in this region, so I don't get to enjoy their presence in my small sanctuary, but if the right habitat returns, maybe they will too.

Anyhoo, I love Permies.com for gathering information on various subjects and picking up new ideas.
 
pollinator
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Sonja Draven wrote:I agree completely, Greg.  But he is not a very adventurous person and he has no intention of changing so....

I'm so excited about my planting adventures too.  I'm going to plant a bunch of seeds and pits I've collected this year and see if they come up and if they do, if they survive.  I also ordered a few bare root apple trees - most just based on the description and fit for my area - that looked fun.  I should be planting them next month - weather depending.  And some berry bushes to add to the blueberries I already have established.  I plan to plant some more stuff in the spring and see what comes up.  

I have lots of bad, not-to-scale sketches of current and (upcoming) future state plans.  The only down side of the excitement is that coming back to the city from my homestead gets more difficult every time.

What are your favorites?  What are you planning to try next?



I whole heartedly endorse getting Gravenstein apples. My grandparents had a tree in Seattle and they remain my favorite variety of apples to this day. They're kind of hard to find but well worth the hunt.
 
pollinator
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Why did I become a permie?  And how did I know that I was one?

I became a permie organically, gradually over the last decade or more.  I took my PDC 6 or 7 years ago, but I had already been practicing permaculture for a few years by that point, just for myself.  I honestly don't recall exactly when or where I first heard the term "permaculture," or even when I first began to understand what it was about; it just grew in my awareness over a period of time, and then I started dedicating research to learn more about it.  A lot of that research was on these forums.

It is actually rather unfortunate that I learned about permaculture when and how I did.  I needed a more complete understanding just a few years earlier.  For a great many years now, I've been in the process of building a suburban-scale permaculture homestead.  Except that when I first started, I hadn't even heard of permaculture.  I just wanted to build a "green" home somewhere quiet and secluded with a bit of rural charm and enough room for a nice meadow with some fruit trees.  As my awareness of permaculture slowly accreted over the years, I realized that it was a natural fit for the lifestyle I was trying to create.  And so my "permaculture plan" for my property sort of evolved slowly and organically, in pace with my growing understanding of permaculture.  The unfortunate part in this is that the core of permaculture is smart design, which implies foresight.  Whereas my plan, by necessity, included a lot of retrofitting permaculture knowledge onto pre-existing elements and patterns, and trying to make the best of it.

Why a permie?  I was raised by mainstream environmentalists.  Now, to be clear: I do not call myself an environmentalist.  To me, that term has too many negative connotations.  But at least I started off with the first, basic, essential awareness that the current human relationship to the Earth is not sustainable.  And this is an unfortunate fact, because we have nowhere else to live.  We simply must protect natural systems out of an imperative self-interest, if nothing else.  Not out of altruism, or because natural systems are pretty to look at, though certainly they are.  We must recognize that natural systems provide essential services to humanity that we cannot replace through any other means.  We cannot somehow synthesize clean air and water for billions of people; we must allow nature to continue providing them to us for free.

This first essential awareness should seem self-evident, but sadly it is not.  We have such a deep cultural conditioning to view humanity as separate and apart from the natural world that many people fail to grasp our interconnectedness with it, and thus our dependency on it.  They honestly believe that if the global ecosystem fails, well that would be such a shame, but humanity will soldier on, only with fewer pretty flowers to smell along the way.  I have seen blank looks in the eyes of so many people when I try to explain what is permaculture, or what am I trying to achieve on my homestead.  Because they don't have that first essential awareness.  How can anything we say about "reducing footprints" or "increasing sustainability" possibly make sense if they don't begin with an understanding that the status quo is fundamentally flawed, and that this will actually impact their lives?

But one of the things that I found lacking in mainstream environmentalism is precisely what I found appealing in permaculture, which is a focus on solutions.  You can spend years around environmentalists and you will hear plenty of bitching, plenty of bemoaning the status quo, plenty of "woe is us," and of course never-ending finger pointing.  But precious few solutions.  And if ever there are solutions offered, they are invariably political solutions.  Invariably solutions wherein, if we can only get the right resources to the right people in power, then they will fix things for us.  Whereas to me it seemed self-evident from the start that nobody is going to fix anything if we don't start fixing things for ourselves.  And permies are all about fixing things for themselves!  That resonated so deeply with me ...which is how I knew I was a permie.
 
Matthew Nistico
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I'd like to also answer a tangential rephrasing of the OP's question, which I will express as "how did I know that permaculture was worth making my life's work?"

And for this purpose I'm using "permaculture" synonymously with the broader realm of regenerative agriculture...

It was one day when I was contemplating one of my favorite permie sayings: "All of the world's problems can be solved in a garden."  This is either a Bill Mollison-ism or a Geoff Lawton-ism, I don't remember which.  I started to break it down, and I was amazed at how true it is.

What does an individual human being need to survive in this world?  Not what would we like.  I would like blazing fast internet, a brand new Tesla, and maybe a solid gold toilet while we're at it.  But what do we actually need?

- We need clean food.  Well, you grow that.  Organically grown permie food is as clean as it gets.

- We need shelter.  Well, here in North America we build our homes from wood.  You grow that.  I built mine from half wood, half straw.  You grow both.  Currently, forestry to provide construction lumber is far from sustainable, but there is huge room for improvement, as many permies have already demonstrated.

- We need fuel to heat our shelters, cook food, make hot water.  Well, even conventional sources agree that residential-scale energy from burning wood is about as cheap as it gets.  Doing so in a rocket stove and rocket mass heater is also about as clean as it gets.  And you grow that.

- We need fiber for clothing.  Yep, you grow that.  Some synthetic fibers are nice, I suppose.  But I have always preferred the look and feel of cotton or linen or wool or any other fiber that comes directly or indirectly from the soil.  These natural fibers are not only perfectly adequate for any climate, but they still comprise a majority of the global market.

- We need medicine.  Check that box, too: you grow that.  Herbalism and good nutrition are capable of keeping most people healthy most of the time, much more so than is commonly accepted in the so-called First World.  But what's more, consider even our synthesized pharmaceuticals: the vast majority are based on compounds first identified in plants.

- Finally, we need clean air and clean water.  Well, you grow these too, in a way.  If all of the above are obtained in an ecologically oriented, regen ag manner, these two essential commodities are pleasantly inevitable bi-products.

All of the world's problems can be solved in a garden!  No new technology needed.  No new laws or regulations needed.  No $billions spent on decades of research.  Just a garden, or at least a garden plus a food forest.

This contemplation logically resulted in asking myself "what is the most valuable substance on Earth?"  Having internalized the truth of this fun little saying about gardening, the answer seemed obvious.  Not gold, or platinum, or even petroleum.  The most valuable substance is top soil.  From top soil can be grown all of the essentials for human well-being.

And the only human activity I'm aware of that is actually making more top soil is permaculture.
 
Abraham Palma
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Matthew Nistico wrote:... And permies are all about fixing things for themselves!  That resonated so deeply with me ...which is how I knew I was a permie.



Save the world in your backyard and stop being angry at the PTB. Wheaton summarized this feeling pretty well. I built up this sentiment with every small piece I learned about permaculture, but reading the title of the book, now I get why. (Oh, and reading the book helps too!)
 
pioneer
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My parents discovered they loved gardening when I was three years old. They moved several states over when I was five, to try to make a farming business out of it, on rented land. (All organic. Mama and Papa were especially into nutrient dense farming.) We had some success, so we bought land with a house, and tried to extend it right out. At the most critical time, we were hit by a drought, and the CSA we had going basically failed. We tried a few other things, but we had lost a lot of money on that CSA operation, and we were cautious about going back into the market. We planted a bunch of fruit trees in the front yard.

Then, Papa up and decided to take Geoff Lawton’s online PDC. He had heard the word permaculture flying around somewhere, and just got interested enough to do it. I sat in with him for the whole thing. I was fascinated. The earthworks part especially interested me. It reminded me of the games I would play with my six siblings on the driveway with a garden hose and sticks and dirt and bits of sod. That sank in over the rest of my childhood, helping to dig swales, grow onions and potatoes and sheep and chickens and planting black locusts and going into the field at 4 in the morning to help Papa survey. Life in America got really stifling, so we moved to Russia in October of 2019. Around this time permaculture just became really, really important to me. I had always had a kind of instinctive disgust for pollution and waste, and for utter dependency on the system which really hates us in it’s heart of hearts, and permaculture gave me something I could do about that. I watched the PDC videos all over, from the DVD’s Papa had, then designed a friends’ property and Papa certified me, on the day before my eighteenth birthday. I have been guerrilla gardening since then, and also just plain old gardening. But I really want to become a professional designer. Only now this opportunity is presenting itself in a big way. But don’t count your chickens before they hatch! I’ll let you know if/when it works out.

Permaculture has given me a direction for my burning love for nature, and my burning anger and disgust for senseless destruction. Not to mention my romantic idealism and dreams of a life never broken by the anti-human system.
 
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Like most theology/philosophy students and politicians, instead of answering the question, I’m going to change the question and answer that instead.
(Theology students do it because they don’t quite understand the question and hope that by throwing more words at it, they might accidentally answer the question. Politicians do it because they know the answer and know that you won’t like it!)

So, why permaculture?

Like several others, TV is a major influence. Growing up, I watched the Good Life and Star Trek The Next Generation. Both of these gave me a deep dissatisfaction with the military-industrial-media-politico-whatever complex that describes the capitalist Ponzi scheme that is running society today. (You can tell I haven’t really studied philosophy!)

The idea of following the ‘normal’ route, school > university > soulless desk job > soulless desk job with too much stress > a couple of years without soulless desk job but now too tired to do anything > dead, never filled me with joy but I didn’t see any alternatives. The blessing of failing my last year at uni gave me the chance to experience the minimum wage jobs, shop assistant at a supermarket and cleaner at a private school. It also kept me off the treadmill that many of my schoolmates are stuck on.

I took a dive into minimalism and realised that that swimming pool isn’t very deep. Useful tool (I plan to build a bicycle trailer that will hold all my worldly possessions) but not a great philosophy. Stoicism from MrMoneyMoustache again gives a very useful perspective but I’m not devoting my life to it. Adaptation from Ross Raven addresses many of my concerns but, possibly stupidly, I hold some hope for humanity.

And now permaculture. I dunno. I suspect that this again will be a very useful tool, the difference may be the number of voices and the depth of experience that I can learn from.


And that leads on to, so why permies.com?

Cos you lot know lots of stuff!
I really appreciate the community that Paul has brought together here. You’re an eclectic mix (I have an affinity for the odd), with a massive range of knowledge that I can plunder. I suspect I’ll never fully embrace the cult but that my crazy is close enough to Paul’s crazy to get along here. (Please read Paul’s Thorns book before you crucify me for that.)

I’m probably somewhere around 2/3 on the Wheaton eco scale, no garden but fully pooless, highly reliant on diesel but living in community. I’m aiming for around level 5, growing 90% of my diet but living in town with no non-muscle vehicles and no energy bills.

It'll be a good few years until I have a place and starting making threads here but I'll post replies to other peoples threads. I'm a refiner not a visionary.

I’m here to learn and hopefully help others learn from some of the knowledge and skills I’ve gained.  



Sorry for the essay. I hate writing but once I’ve started, I carry on for a bit.
 
Matthew Nistico
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James Alun wrote:I'm a refiner not a visionary.



Well said.  That pretty much sums me up, too.
 
pollinator
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I am a permie for one reason:    Freedom


and why I became a permie in this forum?
Forward conversation with likeminded people, without the stupid smack talks and bullying like in other forums.


 
The moustache of a titan! The ad of a flea:
Work/Trade for the 2022 PDC, PTJ, and SKIP events
https://permies.com/t/166040/experiences/Work-Trade-PDC-PTJ-SKIP
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