In this thread I did a "poor man's poll". I had some posts where I asked some questions and said "click on the thumbs up for this post if you think ..." So far the results are:
50 people think that completing PEP1 would be of greater value than a four year college degree.
12 people think they would hire a PEP1 person for consulting or speaking
So here is what I think. I think there are thousands of people with gobs of acres that will die this year and the gub'mint will get their land. They would have willed it to somebody if they could have some idea that the person they willed it to had some idea of what they were doing. I like to think that eventually we will get to the point that everybody that completes PEP1 will be able to pick a farm from a list of hundreds of farms. I think that as we get closer to turning out our first graduates, the people with these lands will start contacting us. Many have already contacted me about this sort of thing.
I think there are thousands of people that want to do better, but every time they hire somebody to advise them, they get somebody that really doesn't know what the hell they are doing. It turns out that their skill set is pretty weak. They might even have a masters degree in something that seems cool, but they have never built an animal structure, never worked with animals, have never sold a product or actually cut down a tree and made it into something. They want to hire somebody that has real experience. I think they would gladly pay somebody $1000 per day, plus expenses, to come out and consult for a three to ten days. I also think there are a lot of people that would like to hire somebody to create systems and would pay $100,000 per year for such services. Double that once they have more experience.
I think there is immense value with regards to education and what I'll call continuity? spreading the word? something like that.
More and more I find disfavor with anything government and/or big business controls or influences. This includes education.
While I don't necessarily think public/institutionalized/industrialized schools are bad, I do think learning while living is better.
I believe people who learn their skills from doing are more likely to keep doing and to share the information they know.
I think this method is also more obtainable for more people than a college course.
I can learn on my budget in whatever time-frame that allows, and at my speed, taking whatever time I need on each task.
Altogether this means more people sticking to it and more people being reached.
This gets into the value of more people practicing permaculture and what it means overall in our world... stuff I'm sure everyone here is aware of and has all kinds of opinions on.
If the people who participate also document what they do in video and tutorials, blogs, etc, there will also be an increase in information for others to use.
Some of the more advanced belts will provide great examples and information about various ways perma works.
This has the potential to create a ton of information for/about climates everywhere, including new ideas and information.
Wouldn't it be nice if you could get some PEP1 people to be working within organizations to help steer methodologies in a more permie direction? Aid organizations, NGO's, corporate HQ's etc already have some structure, capital and networks to rapidly roll out some of these plans, they just don't have a clue most of the time. Are there people who would be PEP1 or have a PDC who would be interested in getting into this type of work? In this way you kinda kill two birds with one stone. You do some positive work while moving these entities away from harmful or ineffective practices. It's a double whammy. Maybe
Edit Note: make sure to not look too crazy during the interview.
It seems to me that PEP1/PEX1 is a useful Paul-ism that is shorthand for a curriculum/syllabus that helps to progressively build the skillsets necessary to work your land and provide for yourself in a low energy environment and with a low-to-no input ethos. Why would anyone want a curriculum or syllabus centered around building such skills? It's not like universities around the world use such tools as the syllabus to help organize the knowledge they're passing on, right?
In all seriousness though, I think the usefulness of PEP1/PEX1 is not just in the building of skills for someone who maybe ends up going to a PEP1 training on Paul's land and then tries to convince Mike Oehler to will them his land. I think it's usefulness lies most heavily in it's ability to organize the things which permies might not know they don't know into an easy to follow skill building agenda. I think such a curriculum is just what permaculture needs. And not just one curriculum, but many, because what I need for PEK1 here in western WA is going to be somewhat different than what Paul needs in PEP1, or what anyone needs in PEX1. And it's not just regional, but personal as well. I might spin up a PEK1: Cooking, because I love to cook, while someone else might not if they don't do the majority of cooking for their family/friends/community. Permaculture is not lacking for people who're willing to teach skillsets, but it's my opinion that a lot of the teaching in permaculture is lacking an organized progression of skillsets, ie a curriculum. PEX1 seems to offer that, with the quirky Paul twist that we all have come to love. Structurally, there's no difference in calling it a white-, green-, brown-, or blackbelt in gardening, etc., than there is in calling college courses 100, 200, 300, and 400 level courses. However, I think it's much more exciting to think about earning my blackbelt in gardening than to think of myself as having 400-level knowledge in gardening.
So, to really answer your question Paul, I think there is tremendous value in creating an organized structure for learning skills necessary to living a low energy, low impact lifestyle. More serious students of permaculture can use it as a credential on their "permaculture resume" when offering consulting or WWOOFer/GAPer services, and less serious students can have a reference that helps them build the skills necessary to implement projects on their own land in a low-energy/input/consumption/impact type of way. And of course, if Paul's PEP1 lists are TOO low energy for some people, Paul has graciously invited everyone to build their own PEX1 that is tailored to the way they want to implement their designs. A win/win for everyone!
My one criticism (constructive I assure you) is that it should not just be a list of progressively more difficult goals. Once the goals are decided upon, I think at least each belt level within a subject, and possibly every goal within a belt level, should eventually be accompanied by references that can help teach the student how to be able to achieve that goal. In a PEK1: Gardening white belt, I might recommend to people that they read "Gardening When it Counts" by Steve Solomon, "Growing Vegetables West of the Cascades" by Steve Solomon, and "The Vegetable Gardener's Guide to Permaculture" by Christopher Shein. Additionally, I'd probably recommend they watch "World Domination Gardening" from Paul, other gardening videos on YouTube, etc., or if I was really taking PEK1 seriously, I'd start making my own PEK1: Gardening training videos on YouTube, and perhaps be able to develop that into an income stream. I haven't started working on PEK1, so please don't take my recommendations too seriously if you live in western WA, but I think my point comes across. The value of thinking about permaculture skillsets in an organized, curriculum like fashion, with goals necessary to achieve a certain level of competency, as well as references that can help you achieve those goals, seems to me to have tremendous benefit no matter what you're doing with the skillset once you have it.
And now, I guess it's time for me to get started on developing PEK1.
I really like the idea that this could turn into something that would be as widely accepted (if not more) as a college degree in permaculture stuff. College seems too finite, absolute, and unchangeable and lacks adaptability. I also like the idea that this kind of thinking among education could change the way society values one's knowledge:
I.e. instead of requiring a degree just to get a job some other form of education that better suits the student should be valued in the standard hiring procedure.
Everyone should stop being so naive and close minded and just start experimenting to make a better world.
Reason 211) Some people feel .... disconnected. They feel that their interaction with the world and with people is ... less than substantial. They wish to not only engage in something that it working with the earth, but they also want to look at artifacts and say "I made that". Plus, many people have not yet found their passion - and by trying a few hundred different homesteading and permaculture tasks, it is possible that they will discover their passion.
Reason 212) Some people live in the city and long to move to the homestead. There are lists of things they can experience on their own, in the city, to build their homestead skills. So they work their job during the week, and work on PEP1 stuff on the evenings and weekends. At some point, they have enough skills that they have transitioned from "have to go to work to pay the bills (wage slave)" to "go to work as part of a strategy to get away from being a wage slave."
Reason 213) As opposed to "who are you to judge me?" some people want to be judged and found to be worthy. If you have a white belt in gardening, or a green belt in green woodworking, then some people might FEEL that they are certified as more substantial than a person that works some lab job and spends their time at the mall or in front of a TV. They FEEL like they are more of a somebody and less of an anybody.
Reason 214) Some people need to find out if they can make the cut if they were to try to live on their own on raw land. The further they get down the PEP1 path, the more confidence they will have.