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Idea for global permaculture directory
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Hi all,

I have this idea stuck in my head to build a global permaculture directory, and I'd love some feedback to see if that's something that would be of interest to people here.

What I'm thinking of would be something along the lines of the Projects section of Permaculture Global http://permacultureglobal.org/projects, only (with all due respect) much better; i.e. mobile friendly, easier to use, better design, many more features, etc.

It would provide a place create a profile for yourself, your projects and/or your business and build content (like the /projects site). But it could also be extended to create and market events and classes, offer classified ads for people to sell/trade goods and services, sell land, and most anything else you can think of.

I came up with this idea mainly because I've been learning about permaculture and also planning to take a long trip through Latin America soon, and I want to try to visit as many permaculture projects along the way as I can.

And, I just think it's a cool idea. But cool ideas are not exactly scarce, so before I get ahead of myself and put a bunch of work into building something there's not much interest in (been there, done that), I figured I'd run it by Permies.

I've been doing website development and SEO for years, so if there's interest in this, I'm willing to build, host and maintain it. I don't know a lot about permaculture yet, but I think it's definitely the future if we have one and I'd love to create something that would serve the community.

Thanks in advance for any feedback you might have.
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Notwithstanding the respect to the website you mentioned, but what would you improve and how? That website lists people and their profiles already, as well as various projects around the world, courses, workshops, latest updates, etc. I'm not questioning your ability, I'm actually looking to hear more about how you would do what you want to do. Seems to be that we can build great sites with amazing functionality, it all falls down when people don't participate and keep their information updated. Additionally, how would you fund said project and hosting? This is a worthy idea to discuss, but let's make sure we're not reinventing the wheel.
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Hi Dan, thanks for responding. I think you make some excellent points and mention a couple of the key issues with the whole idea.

As far as improvements, I think the map function could be improved quite a bit by having it better integrated and showing listings labeled by category. Also, the profile pages could be a lot better, including social media profiles, reviews, blog posts, video, events, classifieds, etc. Much of it would be enhancing what PRI already does. So hopefully not reinventing the wheel, but building a go cart. This would also be a dedicated directory site, so it could be extended and customized over time according to what people need.

As far as funding, I can build the site relatively easily. I should mention I'm not going to code all this from scratch, but use directory software built for this purpose. That's the number one reason it would be possible without a ton of work.

Hosting is no problem since I already host sites. The main investment would be my time, which would not be a lot to set it up. In the event it became popular, it would likely become a fair amount of work. At that point I would probably think about a Kickstarter, trying to monetize it with premium listings, some advertising, etc. Directories are not renowned for making a lot of money. I should say that any advertising would be limited and there would always be free access. If profit was my motivation, this would be the wrong project.

Seems to be that we can build great sites with amazing functionality, it all falls down when people don't participate and keep their information updated.

Absolutely. This is an excellent point. I guess that's what I'm trying to determine here. It's really a question of whether an enhanced version of Permaculture Global is something people are interested in and would use.

If making money isn't your purpose, what if you contacted the above website and offered to volunteer for them? Maybe just a single aspect at first.

Rebecca Norman wrote:If making money isn't your purpose, what if you contacted the above website and offered to volunteer for them? Maybe just a single aspect at first.

That's a good question. Mainly because it would be much easier to do with software designed for it as opposed to doing if from scratch. And I would prefer it be my own project so I could control how it evolved, mostly because I think it's a cool idea.

But if there are any Ruby on Rails developers out there who want to volunteer their time to permacultureglobal.org, that seems like a great cause.
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One of the main goals of the PRI in setting up that site was to protect the credibility of permaculture. So they have heirarchies of badges and registration depending on whether you have a PDC, who you trained with, who you have trained etc. They wanted to create something that defined permaculture as a design science, rather than just a set of organic plus techniques, and really promoted permaculture as something serious and high end.

It's the perennial question of what is permaculture? Do you have a sense of how you would set up your system? Would you let people define for themselves or would you put guidelines in? Rules?

I'm tracking well with Erim, but I think Rose had the million-dollar question.

I think the "badges" I have on that site and who my PDC teacher was and who my PDC issuing body was is really important for potential clients to see -- it's sort of the Angie's List for permaculture consultants. I can't select those badges, the "staff" of the website have to have some form of proof to allocate those designations. Allowing people to self-declare anything would have the danger of diluting the credibility. Good point, Rose!

P.S. it just hit me that Angie's List is a U.S. exclusive thing. Sorry to all the non-U.S. permies out there.

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That is the million-dollar question, for sure. That's something I'd thought about, but obviously not enough. I think I was focussing more on the added value of enhanced features than the full scope of curation and authority. Obviously, it's tough to compare to PRI there.

Mainly I'm trying to think of an interweb idea that would add value to the community, and I thought this one was worth trowing out there.

Thanks for the feedback, everybody, I appreciate it.
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