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Image of Permaculture - public perception of the permaculture movement

 
David Livingston
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In a recent thread some one stated that Permaculture has a bad image . I was surprised by this statement . And I strongly dissagree.
Anyone else have this view and why ?

David
 
Zach Muller
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Since it was me that said it, I'll start off and just explain the dimensions of my comment.
I have had the experience of speaking to a small farmer who lives in my state. He was a teacher and long time horticulturalist. i met him right when I had a novel passion burning deeply for all things sustainable and all things permaculture. When I broached the topic with him he pretty much just treated it as hocus pocus, telling me that to him it sounded like something invented by people who didn't know about producing food. Over the course of a year he got really interested in large scale no till, and I thought for sure he would be heading deeper and deeper until he found himself making permaculture zones for his farm. He didn't and still hasn't as far as I know. It was something about the image projected by permaculture sources that put him off. He showed me some no till videos he enjoyed and it showed real farmers who were very similar to him and I think that's why he found it accessible.

Another example of people embracing one thing and rejecting or not knowing permaculture is so called, lean. Which is a systematic method of eliminating waste in your process. Sounds a lot like permaculture. People are hiring consultants to "lean" their businesses and manufacturing, using techniques and concepts straight out of Holmgrens work. I think this has to do with the image of permaculture. Perhaps there's something else going on, but under another name permaculture principles are expanding into new markets, and making people realize there's a smarter way to utilize resources. But the name isn't permaculture. Why is this?
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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To me, permaculture was very obtuse... Like a sealed black box... When I asked repeatedly on this forum for a definition, I never got a response that felt satisfactory to me.... If I got any responses at all. About the closest I got to a definition was don't till your fields, and pile on more $ in compost than what it would cost to buy a house.

So eventually I made up my own working definition that goes something like this:

Permaculture is based on the idea that we are running out of the stuff necessary to maintain the current trajectory of individual-atomization, and industrial-scale agriculture. Therefore, permaculture is the attempt to design landscapes and societies that are more localized, and less dependent on social and physical inputs that originate in far away places.
 
Tyler Ludens
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I think sometimes people aren't very straightforward with answering questions on the boards here. It can be frustrating.

"Permaculture is the conscious design and maintenance of agriculturally productive ecosystems which have the diversity, stability, and resilience of natural ecosystems. It is the harmonious integration of landscape and people providing their food, energy, shelter, and other material and non-material needs in a sustainable way." Bill Mollison, Permaculture A Designers Manual
 
Tyler Ludens
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Zach Muller wrote:It was something about the image projected by permaculture sources that put him off.


Were you able to detect what the image projected by permaculture sources actually was? Any ideas which sources? Or was it just some vague "it's a greenie hippie thing" vibe that he acquired somehow?

Zach Muller wrote:But the name isn't permaculture. Why is this?


Maybe because they are using techniques which aren't part of a total design system? Permaculture is a design system. The individual techniques/practices aren't permaculture - almost all of them come from elsewhere - it is the design of functioning living systems that is permaculture.

 
Alex Apfelbaum
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I see a few aspects that may give Permaculture a bad image to some people :

- It's seen as "unscientific" : A lot in Permaculture is based on the effects of inteconnections within a whole system, that makes it the oposite of a typical scientific experiment where you isolate things to pinpoint specific factors and results. Permaculture is also about trusting nature, the scientific mind doesn't like that.

- There is a "new-age/hippie/hipster/alternative/callitwhatever" side to Permaculture that attracts a certain kind of people who may not be taken seriously by the average professional farmer.

- There are no big corporations and celebrities endorsing it, no marketing, no big brands. In effect it doesn't really exist in the global media world, so how can it be serious ? (some people think like that.. sadly)

It really depends on the people you talk to, these three points can also be seen as giving Permaculture a good image !
 
Tyler Ludens
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Alex Apfelbaum wrote:

- There are no big corporations and celebrities endorsing it


James Cameron http://organicfoodscoop.com/another-celebrity-goes-vegan/

Ellen Page http://www.motherjones.com/media/2010/09/earth-to-ellen-page

Some other folks: http://danieltyrkiel.co.uk/celebrity-endorsements-for-permaculture/

 
Alex Apfelbaum
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We need James Cameron to make a movie. We need Ellen Page to be the main actress of that movie (And Tool to write the soundtrack!)
 
Judith Browning
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Here's another 'big' name endorsing permaculture http://now.motherearthnews.com/story/featured/neil-young-invites-permaculture-on-tour/6b50734d35614462756b6d713942534c767975494e513d3d
And I do think it's creeping into more mainstream conversations and like so many things it will be a lesson in perseverance for us all.....try not to get too distracted by negativity...I don't see any real 'movement' by the naysayers, just individuals who don't 'get it' speaking out.

I think that 'permaculture' might follow the same route as 'organic' where it was laughed at and just not taken seriously and then as the interest and want increased, the most 'they' could think to do was blame it on 'those hippies'....I think that was a step towards a successful movement, when a group became a target for ridicule. I'm finding it interesting (and am proud) that the hippies are a target for blame for permaculture also
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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When I talk to other farmer's about farming. We talk about real things, and real results... Yellow doll ripens 5 days earlier than other watermelons. About 1 customer in 5 prefers the taste of yellow watermelons to red watermelons. Irrigating within 2 days after the canal company de-mosses sets crops back. etc...

When permaculturists talk to me, it tends to be more abstract and theoretical... More like a religion to do on the Internet, and less like a way of life that I can do every day on the farm.

The local farmers are pragmatists... Plodding along day after day, and year after year, growing things like they have been grown since time immemorial. The Internet permaculturalists seem more fanciful. Grabbing hold of ideas and promoting them with fervor, and seemingly giving little thought to the externalized costs of doing things that way.

For example, when I have calculated the pragmatic costs of applying mulch to my farm, it ends up that I'd be consuming the entire mulch production capabilities of my county in order to do so, and it would cost me more than a growing season's worth of labor to apply it. And the cost of the mulch would be more than the cost of the land.

Permaculturalists tend to not be aware of things that matter to farmers. For example, today on the thread about pruning apple trees, someone said that they shake their apples onto the ground in order to harvest them. As a primate, I eat plenty of apples that have fallen onto the ground. As a farmer, I can't sell any apples that have fallen onto the ground.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Maybe there needs to be some separation of "permaculture farming" and "permaculture living" because the goals of each might be quite different - the farmer has to make a living farming, whereas the permaculture lifestyle person only has to produce the food for their own household.

I'm not a farmer, will never ever be a farmer, so I tend to avoid farming type discussions here on permies. I'm not "anti-farming," I just don't see permaculture primarily as a farming system, except for farmers.

Maybe the image problem is people confusing permaculture the design for living with permaculture the design for farming. How to clarify this?

 
Tyler Ludens
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I see a lot of confusion between techniques used in permaculture, such as hugelkultur or food forests, with permaculture the design system. So I see over and over here on permies people getting a piece of land and putting in a "permaculture orchard" without the slightest attempt to begin with the basics of permaculture design - Water, Access, Structures. They leap right in to the details of planting trees, skipping over the whole design concept. It took me a long time (because I'm incredibly dense) to understand the design framework, but my gardening attempts failed year after year until I finally grasped these basic concepts. In my climate the basic design element of Water is of vital importance, and once I started to think in terms of water, everything else began to fall into place. I can imagine a person getting into permaculture thinking it is the techniques and not the design system, slapping in their "permaculture orchard" without designing for water and access, and the relation of all the various parts of the landscape to each other, and it failing and then the person going around claiming "Permaculture doesn't work!" People also "animal up" without any design for how the animals will fit into a total design and way of life, so the owners will end up struggling with ongoing feed costs, bad fencing, muddy paddocks, etc.

I keep wanting to run around the forums waving my arms and screaming "Turn back before it's too late! You don't need to make the mistakes I made!" There's so much more information available now. But I don't know how to get people interested in the basics of design.

I'd like to see more discussion of permaculture design here on permies, in addition to all the details about technique that we like to discuss, but people seem less interested in design, almost like it isn't important, when it is the most important aspect of what permaculture is - a design system.


 
Joseph Lofthouse
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Tyler Ludens wrote:I'd like to see more discussion of permaculture design here on permies,


I'd like to see more discussion about the cultural side of things... How do we design food systems that remain viable and stable, even if one farmer, or one family of farmers dies, or moves, or gets sick, or gets divorced, etc... It seems to me, like the current atomization of individuals and separation of families and villages cannot go on like it has in the past. I look around me and see tremendous amounts of food being produced, that simply falls to the ground. I don't begrudge the worms their food, but it seems to me like we could be doing better on the cultural side of things... How do we insure that grandpas food forest continues to feed the community when grandpa is too old to take care of it. How do we insure continuity of operations across family disruptions, and across generations?

 
Tyler Ludens
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I would like to discuss that also, Joseph! Especially since one of the ongoing complaints from people who want to practice permaculture is that they don't have access to land, when there are many older people with land practically begging for people to work it. Lack of land is not the problem, it seems to me, the problem is how to get the people onto the land, where they want to be.

The negative part of me thinks the complaint is not so much "I don't have access to land" as it is "I want someone to give me some land, for free."

Could you start a thread about the idea of cultural continuity of permaculture? I'd really like to see what people have to say. The culture part of permaculture is barely developing, has a long way to go before it is actually a culture.

 
Joseph Lofthouse
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Around here, the free land is everywhere. And it is available for a handshake... I see abandoned orchards and vineyards all around me. All it would take for me to become steward over them, would be for me to approach the landowner and say, "I'd like to take care of your orchard for you, I'll share some of the fruit at harvest time." I don't do those types of things very often, because my life is already filled with as much farming as I have time to do. However, if I collaborated with some kids that really want to grow fruit, but are too timid to talk to the property owners...

 
Clay Rogers
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Tyler - I'm one of those jumping in I'm afraid without giving as much thought to design as I should. It seems like design is so abstract and so much depends on your individual situation that unless you truly understand all the concepts, it will be hard to put together a well thought out plan. So, when you see a video like I did about a permaculture orchard (miracle farms) that at least seems to be able to get specific down to a system that works, it seems more like a road map that a bunch of general concepts making it easier to follow and implement. I have not found something so clear with design and layout. Probably because so much depends on individual circumstances. Plus, with trees taking so long to bear fruit it just seems like the clock is ticking if you don't get them in the ground.

So, if you guys have some recommend reading/watching on design I would be glad to take a look. Or, Tyler if I could PM you some specifics about my situation and you would be willing to help me on my specifics that would be greatly appreciated.

More on topic, to me permaculture means reducing and relying on outside influences as much as possible and becoming a self contained system. Using plants and aspects of nature to overcome what would otherwise require an outside influence such as fertilizer or pesticide.

I also agree that doing it on a large farm scale would be difficult. This guy's video is good and shows how he is applying some permaculture principles on a larger scale:



Tyler Ludens wrote:I see a lot of confusion between techniques used in permaculture, such as hugelkultur or food forests, with permaculture the design system. So I see over and over here on permies people getting a piece of land and putting in a "permaculture orchard" without the slightest attempt to begin with the basics of permaculture design - Water, Access, Structures. They leap right in to the details of planting trees, skipping over the whole design concept. It took me a long time (because I'm incredibly dense) to understand the design framework, but my gardening attempts failed year after year until I finally grasped these basic concepts. In my climate the basic design element of Water is of vital importance, and once I started to think in terms of water, everything else began to fall into place. I can imagine a person getting into permaculture thinking it is the techniques and not the design system, slapping in their "permaculture orchard" without designing for water and access, and the relation of all the various parts of the landscape to each other, and it failing and then the person going around claiming "Permaculture doesn't work!" People also "animal up" without any design for how the animals will fit into a total design and way of life, so the owners will end up struggling with ongoing feed costs, bad fencing, muddy paddocks, etc.

I keep wanting to run around the forums waving my arms and screaming "Turn back before it's too late! You don't need to make the mistakes I made!" There's so much more information available now. But I don't know how to get people interested in the basics of design.

I'd like to see more discussion of permaculture design here on permies, in addition to all the details about technique that we like to discuss, but people seem less interested in design, almost like it isn't important, when it is the most important aspect of what permaculture is - a design system.


 
Marco Banks
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I've never encountered anyone who responded negative to the term "permaculture". Those who have heard it (in my world) are positive about it, and those who haven't just look at our garden/food forest and say, "Wow -- how do you do that?" Permaculture design makes sense. They look at my water capture systems, composting and sheet mulching, multi-layered food forest, perennial veggies, and solar drier and get it intuitively. I do have to explain the hugelculture mounds. My zones are not readily clear to them, but a 2 minute conversation is all it takes to show the wisdom of them.

I think that the long and extensive thread on brown vs. purple permaculture is significant. Some of the purple stuff strikes people as weird or new age-y. I'm not comfortable with some of it, but people can do what they want to do. I could certainly see a lot of my friends and peers looking askance at some of that stuff if it isn't scientifically verifiable and rationally explained. They would question it (or even openly mock it).
 
Tobias Ber
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i did not read much of this thread.... but i think, it comes down to the concept of permaculture colors. i do not know about it, you ll probably know more.

every person you ll meet in this life, has a certain lens. a pair of glasses he looks through. so he sees the things from that perspective and judges according to his own point of view. he does not see things as they are in itself, he sees the things as he is. a red person sees things from a red (social) perspective, a brown(practical) person sees things from a brown perspective.
a brown person would probably have strong problems with purple (spiritual) things. and maybe some problems with the red or green (environmentalist) things.

this will lead to fighting, discord and separation in some way or another.

you can not make all people with all different views happy. but you can have peace with them and accept them at the point where they are. you can help them to build a more meaning and sustainable life ... but they start from where they are ... they never start from where you are ... eventually (i think) most to all people will take concepts from different colors to supplement they own color.


i hate the struggle of "my system is better than yours, i am right and you are wrong". i ve seen it in religion, in business, in different martial art-systems, politics ... it seldom does anything more than to waste time, make enemies, hurt people, scare people away from (most often at least somewhat good) causes or systems ... fighting makes no sense.

i try to learn. even if i do not accept all of the persons values, lifestyle-choices, views etc.
i try just to pick from permaculture what i need at the moment
 
Tyler Ludens
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Clay Rogers wrote:
So, if you guys have some recommend reading/watching on design I would be glad to take a look.


Here's a thread I started: http://www.permies.com/t/55751/permaculture-design/Permaculture-design-basics#464982
 
Simone Gar
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I think a lot of times people are not picked up (mind wise) where they are. Lots of talk about composting toilets etc are too far out for non-permies (even me!). There is a huge hippie/green vibe to it in my experience and I have to say I am struggling with this too. I go to very few permie events. I am not an activist, greenie or anything even close to it. I work in the corporate world and live the life of a farmer in the middle of conventional farmers. In my experience most "main stream" people shy away from permaculture because they don't have the green mindset and some permies are lecturing a different lifestyle.

In my experience most people are very interested in alternatives to conventional growing, in city backyards and on farms. I don't mentioned words like permaculture, hugelbeds etc. as I don't think it's helping or necessary. If somebody is really interested and wants some book recommendation etc. I do point them towards permaculture but for a general discussion I don't see the need to drop words that doesn't tell them anything anyways. What non-permie knows what a hugelbed or food forest is? I truly believe in picking up people where they are at. Speak the language they speak. If they have a question or a problem I offer a potential solution. If somebody is hooked and wants to know more I can direct further.

To me it's not important that people buy into permaculture or understand everything like we do here. Anything they accept and improve helps us to take a step forward. Do they have to install compost piles, rip out all of their lawn and use composting toilets? No.
 
Todd Parr
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All I want from "permaculture" (and I don't call what I do permaculture) is to create a place to live that provides food and peace and comfort for me and that is as self-sustaining as possible. I'm not trying to save the world or make big changes. I just want to make my little piece of the world better than it was when I found it.
 
Zach Muller
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One thing that came to my mind while thinking about this thread is that people take instruction from others best when they can see themselves on the same path as the one teaching. For instance maybe the farmer I spoke to saw these other guys with tractors, using - cides just like him, but embracing new ideas that could potentially reduce the cost of their operations and lessen the need of chemicals. He could easily see himself doing that and it inspired him to want to use less chemicals.
Not that it's a good example especially, but when a person who has a tractor and uses some chemicals see any video calling chemical use evil, I can imagine it doesn't make them inspired. And the fact that many farmers in this area and country are probably like that, could be one reason there is an "image problem". In quotes because I know image is very dependent on location, education, and is also subjective.
Is the image of permaculture a little bit edgy? Is the black box of permaculture so closed up because everyone is wrestling with trying to discretize something that is more wholistic than your average thing?
in my mind permaculture is not about compost techniques, beehives, or paddocks, and the reason being that it precedes any technique and is oriented toward the thinking and reasoning that went into a choice.
Permaculture therefore can't fail in its own right, all it boils down to are extra considerations that take place in the design phase, the implementation phase, and the standard operation of the system once established. Techniques fail, and perhaps methodologies also succeed and fail, but I don't think you can judge the validity of a method by looking at the success rate of techniques. Those technique failures are a part of developing a system, trial and error, weighing the odds.
 
Rue Barbie
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I've watched a lot of the no-till videos the past few months, and a number of them are careful to not call themselves 'organic'. Not only because they aren't (though approaching it), but because 'organic' in some circles, has the implication of being sort of 'hippie', 'green', and a quasi religion of sorts which in certain circles is off-putting.

There is a huge hippie/green vibe to it in my experience and I have to say I am struggling with this too. I go to very few permie events. I am not an activist, greenie or anything even close to it. I work in the corporate world and live the life of a farmer in the middle of conventional farmers. In my experience most "main stream" people shy away from permaculture because they don't have the green mindset and some permies are lecturing a different lifestyle.


In many ways permaculture is very reminiscent of folks wandering off into communes similar to decades ago. The old true 'hippie' days. I don't mean to offend anyone, but it often looks the same as places from that era - living off the land, repurposing things, counter-culture, etc. (And referring to folks here as 'goofballs' does absolutely nothing to dispel that impression.)

If permaculture wants to be taken seriously, it has an unfair legacy to over-come and needs to present itself more seriously. Just my opinion.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Rue Barbie wrote:
If permaculture wants to be taken seriously, it has an unfair legacy to over-come and needs to present itself more seriously. Just my opinion.


Does this mean the purple permaculturists should keep a lower profile, perhaps to the point of invisibility? Should permaculturists strive to appeal to a stream so main that even a word as innocuous as "organic" is too greenie? I guess I'm wondering what this serious presentation would look like compared to the current presentation of the Big Names. Are Paul's overalls too goofy? What about his lab coat? geoff lawton often wears a purple shirt; should it be a more neutral color? Should Brad Lancaster be less enthusiastic and stop doing his bun-dance?

And like that.

I live in a super conservative area, and our local big grocery store has a huge organic line. I think you can get just about any food you want in organic there now. They even have grassfed meats. So it's hard for me to wrap my mind around the idea of an audience for permaculture which is so old-fashioned that they can't even tolerate the concept of organic, which is totally mainstream as far as I can tell.



 
Simone Gar
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I think there is a fine line and the line is different depending on location. Here, organic is more hip than hippie some other places it might be too greenie yet.

However, I agree with Rue Barbie that there needs to be more serious and professional appearance and approach to attract the masses. I think composting toilets, communes, worm composting etc. is just too far away from mainstream life. Eating healthy, non-treated foods is not. Baby steps. Maybe in 50 years composting toilets are the norm. And again, speak the language that the people speak right now. Nice packaging, decent logo design and good looking/tasty food/flowers/plants/whatever is attractive.

I think one great selling point is that it is work to set up a landscape but maintenance is limited, at least inputs are limited. This is something people like. They want a couple of fruit bushes in the back for the kids, no extra work, they can show it off to neighbours, friends etc. And it's a small step. Next thing they might want to add some asparagus and reduce their lawn. They also start rethinking spraying lawns since they don't want the kids to eat chemically treated berries etc. That's my approach. No need to say permaculture, talk about hugelbeds etc. People get the benefits and the planet is better off. Baby steps.
 
Alex Apfelbaum
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Here's a trending graph of the term "Permaculture" on Google for the last twelve years. It doesn't tell us much about good or bad reputation, but gives rough idea of how the general interest for it on the web has evolved.

It seems that it had been decreasing until 2008, then relatively stable followed by a slight rise since 2011 and a surprising jump at the beginning of 2016..

It's also interesting to see that the graph follows the seasons, it's always lowest in December and highest in April, when many people go out to garden.
pc_trend.png
[Thumbnail for pc_trend.png]
Google trend for the term "Permaculture"
 
Tyler Ludens
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Simone Gar wrote:

However, I agree with Rue Barbie that there needs to be more serious and professional appearance and approach to attract the masses.


Can you give an example of a permaculturist who is reaching a large audience, such as Paul is doing here with permies, who exhibits the appropriate seriousness and appearance?

 
Simone Gar
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Tyler Ludens wrote:
Simone Gar wrote:

However, I agree with Rue Barbie that there needs to be more serious and professional appearance and approach to attract the masses.


Can you give an example of a permaculturist who is reaching a large audience, such as Paul is doing here with permies, who exhibits the appropriate seriousness and appearance?



I am talking main stream. Yes Paul has large audience here in the permie world but go ask anybody on the street. Nobody will know Paul. Nobody knows Geoff Lawton.

I am talking reaching people not permies.
 
Tyler Ludens
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So you're saying there isn't a single permaculturist who exhibits a sufficiently serious appearance?

Or maybe what you're saying is there aren't any sufficiently famous permaculturists, so famous they would be recognizable to the average person? I wonder if there is anyone in the sustainability movement who would be recognizable to the average person?

 
Simone Gar
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Tyler Ludens wrote:So you're saying there isn't a single permaculturist who exhibits a sufficiently serious appearance?


Let me ask you this: who is a household name? And I mean a household name in a random (say North American) household not yours or mine.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Simone Gar wrote:
Let me ask you this: who is a household name? And I mean a household name in a random (say North American) household not yours or mine.


So what you seem to be saying is there is no sufficiently famous permaculturist, not that there is no sufficiently serious permaculturist.

Fame and seriousness are often at odds.
 
Simone Gar
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Tyler Ludens wrote:
So what you seem to be saying is there is no sufficiently famous permaculturist, not that there is no sufficiently serious permaculturist.

Fame and seriousness are often at odds.


I never said serious permaculturist.
Either way I still say we need to speak the language of the people out there and be professional businesses that don't sell permaculture per se to become mainstream.
 
Judith Browning
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What does mainstream and serious look like?
I don't think it's a good idea for folks to try to be something they are not just for the sake of appearances.
I thought permaculture was about diversity and was attractive and useful to a broad range of humans and landscapes all over this earth.
I'm not sure I would have been attracted to 'mainstream' and 'serious' although I could respect that approach.
I agree, that for some, that would be more appealing, so maybe those who are mainstream and serious looking could go forth and cover that niche

I think it might be more important for all of us involved in promoting permaculture to be proud of the diversity and embrace all who are trying without labeling them......




 
Rue Barbie
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Alex Apfelbaum wrote:Here's a trending graph of the term "Permaculture" on Google for the last twelve years. It doesn't tell us much about good or bad reputation, but gives rough idea of how the general interest for it on the web has evolved.

It seems that it had been decreasing until 2008, then relatively stable followed by a slight rise since 2011 and a surprising jump at the beginning of 2016..

It's also interesting to see that the graph follows the seasons, it's always lowest in December and highest in April, when many people go out to garden.


Thank you very much for the graph, and that site. In terms of 'trending', except for somewhat of a rise near the end, over the years it is not going up that much. I was having a bit of fun looking up trends for certain things and was actually shocked to see how much 'organic gardening' was falling. With greater interest in buying organic foods today, that is shocking. (Costco is even financing farmers to grow organic produce for them) Sadly, 'vegetable gardening' also has a downward trend, also with seasonal spikes. I guess that's a sad reflection of fewer people growing their own food.

'Agroecology' is even flatter than 'permaculture' over the years. If you want to see something spike upwards relatively quickly, plug in 'gmo' or 'transgender'. (I was trying to think of terms that might be 'hot' right now to see what a sharp upward spike might look like, not make any kind of statement.)
 
Alex Apfelbaum
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Rue Barbie wrote:Agroecology' is even flatter than 'permaculture' over the years.

If these stats are correct, it's quite depressing.. "ecology", "homesteading", "gardening", "conservation", "deforestation", "agroforestry", "peak oil", "appropriate technology", "renewable energy", "overfishing", "global warming", are all strongly loosing interest. "Climate change" and "overconsumption" are flat. On the other hand "resilience" and "prepping" are rising steadily. I don't know what this tells us of global awareness, I thought for us people on the "inside" it seemed that the word was spreading, I really hope it is..

Tyler Ludens wrote:Can you give an example of a permaculturist who is reaching a large audience, such as Paul is doing here with permies, who exhibits the appropriate seriousness and appearance?

I'd say maybe toby hemenway ?
 
Simone Gar
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Ok let's start over. The initial post was
In a recent thread someone stated that Permaculture has a bad image . I was surprised by this statement . And I strongly disagree.
Anyone else have this view and why ?


The second comment from Zach was about a farmer that seems to be interested but the “image projected by permaculture sources that put him off”.

In my experience (locally where I live) permaculture does have a "bad" reputation outside of the hippie/greenie community.

Let me explain. I pretty much live in two worlds: corporate finance and conventional farming. In both areas if you start talking permaculture you are not getting far. People wave off immediately.
I am stereotyping here to simplify but on one side you have pretty well off people that are living a comparatively wasteful life (e.g. big cars and toys, sprayed and irrigated lawns and big mansions, take out and pre-packages everything).
The other side is farming mostly cattle and grain (e.g. spraying, Monsanto, not even having a garden to eat their own food, etc.) Again not all are like this but this is the MO of the majority.

Let me give you some examples on what's happening now:

Neighbour (farmer) comes running over with plantain in his hand. He knows I know "my weeds" (aka medicinal herbs). He wants to know what that is, scared it's a weed robbing his precious pasture of nutrients and space for cattle. He wants to spray to get rid of it because it's all over the place "destroying" his pasture.

On the other side (corporate world) I have people who worship their lawns, any single dandelion is a major weekend crisis. Monday morning "lawn care" gets a call.
I hear lots of people being worried plants are spreading and decimating their precious lawn and backyards.

A lot is driven by fear/lack of knowledge and/or resistance of change but also by priorities.

How do you think they see permaculture? They see greenies with weedy lots who wrap their kids in cloth diapers.
Again I am exaggerating here but I want you to understand how far worlds are apart. Farmer or corporate worker in my world (which I called “mainstream” before) only see the extremes. Composting toilets, communes, cloth diapers as mentioned before.
That's why I am thinking we need more people who are willing to work in baby steps and appear professional and serious (maybe the wrong word how about “conventional”?) less hippy/greenie. As a side note, I get the same from a lot of permaculture people "all conventional farmers don't care about the land and destroy it".

Judith, you said
I don't think it's a good idea for folks to try to be something they are not just for the sake of appearances. I thought permaculture was about diversity and was attractive and useful to a broad range of humans and landscapes all over this earth.
It’s a choice. To me it’s a business and I appear/dress/behave different when I am at work than when I am hanging at home. The thing is permaculture is about diversity but is NOT attractive and useful to a broad (enough!) range of humans in my opinion! The initial question was on bad image and I am just pointing out what I see, where it comes from and what I think would fix/improve it. Diversity is about inclusion.

Several people in the permaculture world I think realize the "bad" image and are dropping the "permaculture" word.
jack spirko & Co. are talking regen Ag. Mark Shepherd calling his RAD. sepp holzer has almost a full chapter on moving away from "permaculture" in his book "Wo ein wille ist, da ist ein weg". They still practice and teach permaculture though!

I try to take it slow and pick people up where they are. I talked to the neighbour about plantain being high in protein and that his cows love to eat it. Now, he even told the other neighbour how great his pasture is with so much plantain growing. What I achieved is that he is not spraying and accepting plantain is no weed but actually something good. I also get some neighbours asking about plants other plants. My goal here is to educate and take fear out of the game.
My colleague loves my flower business and is increasing their flower beds. Asking about perennials that flower at different times so they can have blooms from early spring to late fall. They also are adding some berry bushes for the kids.

What I see in these two examples is happier/healthier livestock, more diversity, happy bees and kids, less spraying, less lawn.

One word on permies and permie events. I have taken a couple of friends and my husband (all interested in permaculture) to permie events. And again, I am not saying all permies and all events but my friends and husband are not going to more permie events. They were not too keen on some people with heavy BO, public breast feeding, screaming kids during presentations and some topics like I mentioned before. Again, I am not saying this to discriminated I am just trying to draw a picture here of how far apart people can be and how it can create a “bad” image.

My whole point in the comments before was that permaculture would be far more spread and accepted if we can talk the “mainstream” language. People need to be picked up where they are and eased into this.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Simone Gar wrote:

My whole point in the comments before was that permaculture would be far more spread and accepted if we can talk the “mainstream” language. People need to be picked up where they are and eased into this.


Basically you seem to be saying that permaculturists shouldn't be hippies, because hippies give permaculture a bad name.

 
Tyler Ludens
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I wonder if it even matters if permaculture has a bad image. If people want to use some practices which seem permacultural, such as regenerative agriculture, managed intensive grazing, etc, which they certainly seem to be doing, but don't call it "permaculture," what's the problem? The only problem I can see is that some people might not then have access to the most important part of permaculture (to me), that it is a system of design. But if they're going ahead with beneficial practices and improving their lives anyway, maybe that's not such a big deal. After all, we don't talk much about permaculture design here on permies; people mostly seem interested in individual practices, not the total design system. Things may end up being more difficult for them than if they were working within a designed system, but it's not going to kill them, probably.



 
Shawn Jadrnicek
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I've struggled with the image and direction of permaculture for awhile now. I'm working to shift the focus of permaculture to the design aspect. Mollison defines permaculture design as "a system of assembling conceptual, material, and strategic components in a pattern which function to benefit life in all its forms. It seeks to provide a sustainable and secure place for living things on this earth." I think the heart of the definition is "patterns which function" leading to the stacking functions principle or every component should perform at least two functions.

To help bring the focus on the design aspect of permaculture I developed the concept of "bio-integration." When a component in a design performs more than 7 functions I feel like the component takes on a life of it's own and I call these components "bio-integrated." Creating bio-integrated design patterns leads to a language of replicable designs that people can adapt to their sites like Mollison's famous herb spiral. I present a large collection of these designs in my book "The Bio-Integrated Farm" with some components having more than 20 functions. I feel like a functional analysis is also a good check on designs to see if they are a permaculture design or simply a landscape design as it's the functional connections that save time and energy. I have a link to the book in my signature if you're interested in learning more.
 
Ganado Mage
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I've been reading this thread and I would like to make a couple of points that might help with adoption of agriculture as more of a mainstream mind set.
but before I do that some background. I have been an agricultural real estate appraiser for more than 20 years. I have appraised most of the large conservatin easements in the western united states and have appraised large and small dairies and animal confinement facilities. One thing they all have in common is, the operators need to make a profit. Its an old model of agriculture that we all know isn't sustainable long term but for most people in ag, it is the model they know and that they know makes a profit (most of the time)

The thing I find that makes a difference is talking about how permaculture practices increase their bottom line. There are some practices that take that take money upfront in order to see a profit on the back end. Its like putting permanent drains in wet fields (this is a practice to recover farm ground to make a farm more profitable) You have to show the farmer where using various permaculture practices will increase his bottom line.

So when you talk about permaculture you have to do 2 things.
1) relate it to what they already know (draining fields was the example above, I can think of several other examples)
2) benefits both financial and to their operation, family, animals, farm.

everyone here is very intelligent so its not lack of ability to explain permaculture, its the lack of practice in demonstrating the benefits to others.

What is your one sentence that describes permaculture that will intrigue people into giving you more time to explain it?

Mine = a lasting way of producing food and profits for years to come. Every property and every landowner is different so if you have some time lets talk about what you need and want and if I can help you achieve that.

Permanent = lasting until the end
culture =a way of thinking, behaving, or working that exists in a place or organization

After you get in the door, then you can take the time to
1 find out about what they want to achieve
2) begin to make a plan for helping them achieve their goals using permaculture deign

You have to get in the door 1st =) hope this helps some of you
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