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I'm a twice certified Perma-Designer.  Way before that, I used my self-taught and practiced Perma-skills as a Peace Corps Vol, and a trainer of new vols.  It's a godamn shame that this great design science has become the elitist, exclusive domain of a very few, instead of the world changing discipline it should be.  Too many people use Permaculture as a vehicle to making money...always making sure they keep their 'interns'' learning curves long, so as to perpetuate their serfdom.  This deprives the world of what I believe Mr. Mollison would want.  Preach to the Choir, count your sheckles.  That ain't what is all about.
 
                                          
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elmoelmo wrote:
I'm a twice certified Perma-Designer.  Way before that, I used my self-taught and practiced Perma-skills as a Peace Corps Vol, and a trainer of new vols.  It's a godamn shame that this great design science has become the elitist, exclusive domain of a very few, instead of the world changing discipline it should be.  Too many people use Permaculture as a vehicle to making money...always making sure they keep their 'interns'' learning curves long, so as to perpetuate their serfdom.  This deprives the world of what I believe Mr. Mollison would want.  Preach to the Choir, count your sheckles.  That ain't what is all about.


last monday a member of this very board came to my house in suburban detroit from ohio to take pictures of my yard and give me advice about what i could do to improve the output of my yard.  he charged me NOTHING and we had never once spoken or interacted on this message board except for a thread i started about my yard and the plans i had for fruit trees.

thanks vkirchner!  you're a hell of a guy!
 
                    
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I suspect that most people here have not even taken a formal permaculture course, nor tricked others into buying long and expensive training where the initiates given only enough secret knowledge to keep them coming back for more pricey courses.  To the contrary, permaculture self-education is going on here - questions are asked and others try to answer, good information is shared.

Permaculture courses are there for those that wish to take them. Otherwise, there are a growing number of printed resources and websites. No one is monopolizing the core ideas of permaculture or holding anyone back. The opposite is true, I see permaculture growing in status - more people are aware of it, and more people are starting to incorporate the ideas into their lives.
 
tel jetson
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interesting first post, there, elmoelmo...

anyhow.  though Mr. Paul Wheaton is firmly in the better-capitalism-through-permaculture camp, he's also very interested in spreading the good permaculture word far and wide.  and this website is a great means to that end.  courses and internships are occasionally posted here, but they're a very small fraction of the site.

stick around.  share your knowledge.  maybe expand it.  you're in good company.
 
Mekka Pakanohida
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elmoelmo wrote:
I'm a twice certified Perma-Designer.  Way before that, I used my self-taught and practiced Perma-skills as a Peace Corps Vol, and a trainer of new vols.  It's a godamn shame that this great design science has become the elitist, exclusive domain of a very few, instead of the world changing discipline it should be.  Too many people use Permaculture as a vehicle to making money...always making sure they keep their 'interns'' learning curves long, so as to perpetuate their serfdom.  This deprives the world of what I believe Mr. Mollison would want.  Preach to the Choir, count your sheckles.  That ain't what is all about.


Thank you, nice to know someone out there thinks the way I do.  I needed that this morning.
 
paul wheaton
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I have met people that wave the permaculture flag even though they don't know diddly - and they would get away with charging far too much money for their ignorance.  And then managed to sucker folks into donating labor to their "landscaping".    I cannot bring myself to point at them and tell folks to stay away.  But I can promote the hell out of other nearby organizations that are offering good knowledge for what I think is a fair price.

I'm all for folks making money with permaculture.  And I hope folks make far more money with permaculture than with industrial organic ag or with conventional ag. 

I think I have seen "serfdom" where there serfs stayed for years.  The serfs can leave at any time.  There is a big corporate world out there ready to give them more money and "the american dream".  I guess I have visited a lot of farms with a lot of very happy interns.

 
                            
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Points well taken.  Permaculture abetting the profitability of ag endeavors is fantastic!  The primary motivation of buying and selling such globally important knowledge, usually within a group of sub-culturally similar people, betrays the huge necessity of disseminating it where it is really needed to enhance food sovereignty.  I've seen how important and vital it CAN be, and just wish more Permies were interested in broadening the scope of application...that's all!
 
Tyler Ludens
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I'm a beginning permacultural practitioner who has learned only from books and the internet.  I haven't taken any courses and don't intend to - too expensive!  And there is so much wonderful free knowledge on the internet.  I try to link to it on other non-permie messageboards.  I think this has helped some people. 
 
Brenda Groth
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I'm so thankful for the people on here who have been willing to share their ideas free of charge, I certainly couldn't pay for information ...with our diddly income.

I think what you said was well said, I feel that sharing knowledge, information, plants, whatever, is really a goal that should be strived for rather than making a ton of money from people..however, if it is your living I guess you have to find a way to make $ from it.
 
paul wheaton
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I hope that the folks that write good permaculture books make freaky big money. 

I hope that people that want to spread free permaculture books, write their own books and give those away willy nilly. 

I hope that people that take other people's books, copy them and give them away for free, without permission, go to jail.

 
travis laduke
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Paul...
 
                                      
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Mr. Mollison dedicated a great deal of room in Permaculture Philosophy to the creation of Occupations and Livelihoods in Permaculture.  His first contribution to the movement was research, then he began training Design Professionals.  I recall from my PDC course that part of the Ethics of Permaculture is to see to it that surpluses from our systems are returned back to earth care and people care.  He envisioned not a utopic no-money system, but rather a system where many livings could be made right along side a sustainable food supply. 

I know many people who have expressed the belief that to sully Permaculture training with even the idea of fees  is misuse of the philosophy.  I think that attitude misses the point of Permanent Culture.  It's not just about gardens, it's about a sustainable future.  Permaculture can create jobs, institutions, whole economies.  When that happens, permies will really be able to impact world markets enough to put the Monsantoes out of business.

It is true, standards in training seem to have slipped, in some areas, gone right down the drain.  We Permies need to re-establish those standards.  I don't believe we ought to re-create the time worn (not proven) systems that have created haves and have nots around the world.  I think some balance is needed.
 
Paula Edwards
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I have no problem at all paying a fee for a good course, because these guys must pay their bills too.
But I have a problem when guys start teaching permaculture who just made their design course themselves, maybe some practical training here and there. What can they tell any experienced gardener? Nothing.
There are even permaculture "farms" around which do not manage to grow all or most of  their own vegetables for their students.
I think someone who wants to teach others need experience over several decades of gardening or farming, best if he or she makes a living from gardening or farming. Then you can teach others and most people would have no problem to pay or work for free in return for teaching.
Writing books is hard work too and you usually do not earn a lot, you are better off cleaning for money. But that's the same we have enough superficial books! No problem paying money for quality, but high gloss photos book which repeat the same and the same (i.e. round beds are a very good use of space, especially in a suburban rectangular garden) don't help permaculture.
 
Leila Rich
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cloudpiler,
Excuse me for hijacking this thread, but thanks for mentioning the not-necessarily practical mandala garden. It seems to be generally accepted as the 'best' garden design, but not for me.
My place is very small, suburban and rectilinear. I initially planned to make a mandala garden because...well that's what permies do, don't they?
The old saying involving the square peg and the round hole springs to mind!
The design I came up with makes the best use of my space, rather than trying to force my garden to fit a template that doesn't work for me.
Back on topic, I think you can find out pretty much everything you need to know about permaculture for free, but before parting with cash,  a bit of research will usually seperate the inspiring teachers from the BS artists.
 
                                      
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It looks to me like standards in PDC courses used to be maintained.  Now, anybody with a PDC can teach.  I don't go along with the idea that decades of practical experience is needed, there's just no time for that.

For at least two generations, to become a Medicine Man required that you become first the virtual indentured slave of a Medicine man for fifteen to twenty years. At the end of that so-called training period, you got to actually learn the medicine, that is, if your mentor was still alive.  The result has been the virtual extinguishing of many of the American Indigenous Healing Ways though natural attrition. 

Two years of recorded practicals, reviewed by other PDC designers used to be a standard practice.  I would think this experience ought to be on your own place, producing your own food, reducing your own consumerism, designing for your own space.  What happened to that?  Bill Mollison was really the only person doing the reviewing and he got to old to keep it up.  Sounds like the example above.  Can we as a movement afford that?

For the sidetrack - Permaculture Designers are supposed to be trained to assess the site using a variety of design models.  "Permies" read books and fixate on one or a couple of ideas.  Permaculture is often minimized (especially by Americans) into neat little sound bites.  My daughter used a spiral garden to demonstrate a little Permaculture in her tiny, and I mean tiny, space.  But she also captures water from her roof to fund a small pond in which she raises fish to fertilize a hydroponic bed, and she has created key-hole gardens to maximize edge.  Her guilds are built around existing shrub-sized cedars and she has planned her succession gardening according, understanding the time-stacking concept.  Without a sense of the polymodel planning of Permaculture design principles, I doubt that she would have been able to see the site for what it is.  You are a Permaculturist because you are able to do this also.  Kudos.
 
Tyler Ludens
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What is the penalty for teaching Permaculture without having taken a course in Permaculture?
 
                                      
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There really isn't any.  The copyright holders for the term "Permaculture", along with others peculiar to Mollison and Holmgren's brainchild, may opt to file suit against a violator of copyright, but that is all. Frankly, neither of them have ever been to revved up about taking people all over the world to court in the past, and I don't see it happening now.  I don't see how that would help anyway. 

Frankly, I believe that they hoped that a "community" would spring up out of the principles that would hold ethics as the highest standard.  This has been the case in Australia, New Zealand, Africa, South America, and in the U.K. Commonwealth (except Canada).  Permies come together in those places with well laid out charter commitments.  It is possible that the almost warlike fervor with which Americans defend our brand of capitalism prevents us from seeing the ethics of Permiculture in the light in which they were originally intended.  We are trained from our youths to conquer and to dominate (football, baseball, basketball, soccer, kickboxing, nintendo, need I go on?), and this mentality may just still be getting in the way of some people's ability to grasp the intention of the model. 

It is to be hoped that this tendency can be overcome, and is being overcome by Permaculturists.  One thing is certain, only the rampant teaching of the Ethics of Permaculture will move us along the succession of ideas that lead to emergence out of the destructive paradigm we seem to be stuck on, and into a sustainable future.  That might sound rather campy to some, but there you are.  Permaculture is supposed to be Permanent Culture, not just gardening.
 
Kirk Hutchison
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  I always wonder how much you can really learn in a week-long course that you can't just learn from books. I would rather to work-trade or wwoofing - that way you get WAY more experience without having to pay anything other than time.
 
paul wheaton
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I like the idea of teaching permaculture techniques to conventional farmers, and that they will then choose to use permaculture so that they will make gobs more money.  And if they happen to skip past all of the stuff about the ethics, I'm not going to get too weepy about that.  The world is a better place.

On the other hand, I think if anybody teaches a PDC, they have to teach the ethics.  There is no opting out.  Nor should there be.





 
                                      
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I think you've just nailed it.  Their is a difference between sustainable techniques and Permaculture.  I don't think that making gobs of money is the issue with most "farmers."  They should be more concerned with simple survival as a species.  Sustainable techniques can fulfill that purpose, or at least help, and the world is a better place with "Farmers" in it. 

Permaculture is a different animal though.  It is more than techniques.  I think that's why it isn't building in America the way it is elsewhere, or I should say, in the manner in which it is growing up in other places.  We live in a sound-bite culture.  Our inputs into our culture are largely the same as our inputs into our gardens - modular. 

I didn't get this until I actually began to see my food forest start to "Pop," as Toby puts it.  Until I began to be able to actually observe the biological interaction and entanglements in the system I had designed, am always designing, I tended to translate everything into it's relationship as a component.  It is hard to see a system as associations until it starts to act as a single organism.

Our Permanent Culture is a designed system that hasn't "Popped" yet.  The components are in process of placement, but associations have not yet formed.  It's almost like we were when we first dug our swales and built our berms, planted trees and shrubs...  Standing there on that first berm, looking out at the mess, I didn't get very teary eyed either.  My back hurt.  But call me whatever you like, standing there now, observing how the Farmer Trees really are providing for the community below them what it could only get from too much sun before, and the swale/berm system providing for the community what it could only get from too much rain, I have to admit to a spasm of emotion now and then.  It tried my patience, I'll warrant you, but now I see the value in the waiting.

 
paul wheaton
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I get a little worried when somebody suggests that there is precisely one definition to permaculture.  A lot of that worry revolves around the stuff where if you take a PDC you get to stick the word "permaculture" on anything.  If you put a piece of gum on the end of a stick, you can say that that is permaculture.  That's the way the system was set up.  Oh well.

And then there is the mighty, the glorious, the amazing sepp holzer ....  He has, IMOO, the best example of permaculture.  But, he is nobody's bitch.  And people that want him to be their bitch demand that he sing the permaculture song THEIR way, and he won't.  So they get all hysterical and say that what he is doing is not permaculture, because he refuses to bow to their will. 

This is, IMOO, very wrong.  And makes me really angry. 

So when somebody starts talking about the one definition of permaculture, I go to the closet, get out some pitchforks, torches, tar and feathers and call a few friends to see if feel like doing some angry mob stuff. 

I like the idea that permaculture is far more inclusive than it is exclusive.

You? 

 
Margaret Anderson
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I think this topic was discussed loads of time before at this forum
 
                            
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Cloudpiler wrote:
I think you've just nailed it.  Their is a difference between sustainable techniques and Permaculture.  I don't think that making gobs of money is the issue with most "farmers."  They should be more concerned with simple survival as a species.  Sustainable techniques can fulfill that purpose, or at least help, and the world is a better place with "Farmers" in it. 

Permaculture is a different animal though.  It is more than techniques.  I think that's why it isn't building in America the way it is elsewhere, or I should say, in the manner in which it is growing up in other places.  We live in a sound-bite culture.  Our inputs into our culture are largely the same as our inputs into our gardens - modular. 

I didn't get this until I actually began to see my food forest start to "Pop," as Toby puts it.  Until I began to be able to actually observe the biological interaction and entanglements in the system I had designed, am always designing, I tended to translate everything into it's relationship as a component.  It is hard to see a system as associations until it starts to act as a single organism.

Our Permanent Culture is a designed system that hasn't "Popped" yet.  The components are in process of placement, but associations have not yet formed.  It's almost like we were when we first dug our swales and built our berms, planted trees and shrubs...   Standing there on that first berm, looking out at the mess, I didn't get very teary eyed either.  My back hurt.  But call me whatever you like, standing there now, observing how the Farmer Trees really are providing for the community below them what it could only get from too much sun before, and the swale/berm system providing for the community what it could only get from too much rain, I have to admit to a spasm of emotion now and then.  It tried my patience, I'll warrant you, but now I see the value in the waiting.



I think that the above statements are very valuable
this forum includes many many people who are putting into practice hugeley valuable ideas which are being shared, and this gives each one of us expanded knowledge and references to follow up

experiences are valuable to a permaculturalist, including a PDC
I can think of at least 6 folk from my course who have set about improving different parts of the world by expanding permaculture principles, including china, greece, maldives, and have done so from the enthusiasm, contacts, impetus and confidence gained from the teaching and community extant at the course

others left the course (and entered it in some cases) with the desire to improve their own skills, circumstances and income from increased knowledge, and gained augmented ability to see past the 'obvious,' which inevitably comes from rubbing shoulders with genius

viable permaculture farms are what interests me, but who am I to say that translating the forward of the black book into chinese is not valuable!
 
Joel Hollingsworth
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paul wheaton wrote:I hope that people that take other people's books, copy them and give them away for free, without permission, go to jail.


That is a large number of prisons.

I take your meaning, in general, but locking up everyone who shares digital information (or making an example of a few people by suing them for millions of dollars) is a top-down solution to a pest problem.

In the pre-industrial era, book piracy was handled much differently: the method quoted isn't suitable today, but the overall strategy seems like it would lead to fewer systemic problems.

Despite the lack of legal protection British authors toutinely collected royalties on American sales. How could that happen?
A British author would provide his American publisher with the manuscript of his book before it was published in England, with the result that the English and American editions came out at the same time. The pirate publisher could not start setting type until the book was available to be copied. With the printing technology of the time, setting type was a slow and expensive operation, so the legitimate publisher could cut his price, issuing a "fighting edition" cheap enough to keep a pirate from making enough money to recover his initial investment. The result of such tactics was that, although piracy occurred, it was not serious enough to keep British authors from making money on their American sales.


This is an excerpt from Thomas Friedman's book "Law's Order," which Google helpfully gave me limited access too. In my opinion, posting this excerpt constitutes fair use under US copyright law.

I think a "fighting edition" and the first-mover advantage described in this excerpt are to DRM and the DMCA, as organic integrated pest management is to farming with poisons.
 
                            
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elmoelmo wrote:
Too many people use Permaculture as a vehicle to making money...always making sure they keep their 'interns'' learning curves long, so as to perpetuate their serfdom.  This deprives the world of what I believe Mr. Mollison would want.  Preach to the Choir, count your sheckles.  That ain't what is all about.


geoff lawton charges $6000 for 10 weeks as an intern

quite a number of students at my PDC were from parts of south america, and had never had their hands dirty, some went on to do an internship, money no object

the $6000 was probably better utilized at geoff's than in monsanto shares I suppose

still hard to see geoff as a bad guy

no need to fixate on the money
 
                                      
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Hmmm.  If stating a hope of what Permaculture might become, or even what it "is" in my own belief, brings out the pitchforks, torches and tar, well, what's the point in discussing what might or might not be misuse.  Sounds like the mob decides, and if the mob says anything goes, it does.  My people got burned by that thinking on both sides of the pond.  Not interested in anything like it here.

Sorry come across maybe a bit sensitive, folks.  Permaculture to me begins and ends with ethics.  Mobs know no ethics.
 
Tyler Ludens
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I haven't seen any pitchforks or tar.  What did I miss?

 
                                      
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I ask again, what is misuse?

I remember actually building a strawbale house for $15.00 per square foot.  Now all the books you can buy on the subject quote costs so similar to conventional construction that it makes it difficult to see the point in building green at all.  I can still build it for $15.00 per square foot or less, but not according to the experts in strawbale construction. 

I don't think it's too difficult to see the parallel between our discussion of misuse of "Permaculture" and the misuse of the strawbale construction idea.  But can it really be said that strawbale builder are misusing the idea just because they want to do the thing as a living?

I hope that we can call on certain fundamentals as at least a starting point for what "Permaculture" is, and then grow it up from there.  But can we say that a thing is corrupted just because a dollar amount is placed on it?  I like my local raw mild too, and you know, those damned Amish rip-offs insist that I pay for it! 
 
Tyler Ludens
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Cloudpiler wrote:But can we say that a thing is corrupted just because a dollar amount is placed on it? 


I don't know. Is a dollar amount placed on permaculture?  I haven't seen that to be the case.  Here all information is free. 



Maybe I'm confused about what the controversy is......

 
                                      
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Hi Ludi,

Start from the top and scroll down.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Nope, still confused.    Nevermind..... 
 
                                      
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You know, I've been surfing (stalking) these forums for about a year now, and I have to say  I've learned a whole lot.  Mostly, I've learned where to get books, download videos, and so forth, to get information.  I haven't been able to get a unified sense of Permaculture from this surfing though.  I got interested, fascinated really, but not as informed as I wanted to be.  The kind of informed I demand from any other philosophy I've studied.

I got that from the PDC Course.  I didn't get that education for the credentials.  I know how to redact and if I want to teach something, I'll teach it.  What I got was more than soundbites.  Now, because I feel like I got a good, round understanding of Permaculture Principles, and most of that from directed reading from selected text sources, and then from actual hands-on experimenting with my own site, I know what ought to be in a PDC Course.  I have spoken with others in this country who have paid the $$$ and got the PDC in this country and, frankly, I would have been asking for my money back.  I have a good sense of what you're talking about.

But when folks begin to regulate a philosophy by what's paid out there, well, that's when I get pissed.  I ran into that when I received a Doctorate in Natural Medicine.  I paid the money, did the work, sacrificed for the time it took to achieve the goal, and I didn't feel there was anything wrong with asking people to pay for my services.  Nevertheless, there have always been those who come to me and suck my brain for all they can get out of it, and then go away with a, "well that's not much better than I just read in such in such book I bought off ebay."  The time had value while they have need, but after the need is filled the value is minimized. 

I think the Permaculture Designer, or Instructor, ought to sell themselves just like any roofer or plumber has to.  If a person is satisfied with the information they get by interviewing and researching the Instructor, then they ought to be satisfied with what they get from the course they decide to take.  As far as the instructor maintaining students in a kind of information surfdom, I think that's only possible if the student decides to remain static.  People don't just get stuck in that kind of surfdom, they need it and they rely on it because it relieves them of the personal responsibility to put theoretical information to practical application.  If they really go out and sink their hands into the earth, before too long they're going to realize that they have surpassed their instructor.  The real teacher is "out there."  I don't know if one can quantify what that's worth in real value.



 
                            
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elmoelmo wrote:
  It's a godamn shame that this great design science has become the elitist, exclusive domain of a very few, instead of the world changing discipline it should be.   


elmoelmo, geoff lawton just about to graduate 120 more permies (in turkey)
would we want to restrict any of the activities of this guy?
not likely
 
Lisa Paulson
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I am grateful for the sharing of information and I am often disappointed when I explore the internet and permaculture practioners have their websites but offer little other than advertising their services.  That is their perogative but the world really needs some positive examples right now.    I think some of the hardest working people have forsaken a conventional pursuit of money have gone back to the land, others are  accessing the internet from areas that really have no other exposure and other live where lack of funds deprives entire communities from learning new concepts that would benefit them immensely, like solar cooking where there is ample sunlight and sorely depleted firewood.    I admire those who share their knowledge freely. 
 
Paula Edwards
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I find it quite disturbing that lawton charges that much and that Holzer's webpage is all about marketing, and the prices are quite high too.
I'm really not against someone who want to make money to live. Not everything must be for free. But the amounts should be reasonable. If someone is not happy with 60 or 70 bucks an hours, why does he wants to teach permaculture, which is partly about sharing?
I learned about sepp holzer in this forum (for free) and O really like that this guy has experience and not only the PDC but I was really put off by his webpage. I still think that if you want to teach permaculture and the practical part of it too, you must have some more experience than a nice course and two years of getting your fingers dirty.

I agree with Leila, that mandala gardens are very impractical in suburbia, but this is over and over repeated in the books. I had once a garden which didn't had the classical squared beds, but no mandala either (but comparable in the sense of working in it). You have problems along the fence to work this garden. Each time when I worked there I wished that I had chosen very usual boring rectangular beds. Why is this written over and over then? Do the authors by most of their vegetables or do they own a much bigger piece of land?

If you compare permaculture books to other gardening books, I thinks the bits are missing. Practical information. Like a list of guilds (apple, walnut, hazel, citrus...). How to practically dig a terrace, a pond etc.How to grow your own animal food how to under sow, clever clover .etc. Why is this so?
 
                    
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I was under the impression that having unilateral standards for permaculture teaching is a double edged sword.  I've been told by several indignant australians that the standardization there made the whole thing more exclusive.  If you don't take the "certified" course, which is more expensive than any other training, you aren't allowed to teach a PDC.  The particular people voicing these grievances were extremely well trained and experienced, but because they didn't have the money to pay for that course they can't call themselves a teacher.  Is this really what we want in the US? 

I prefer the "buyer beware" mentality that seems to rule things here, for now.  As a gross generalization: the more famous someone is, the more their course is going to cost, and the better the odds that they know what they're talking about. 

I resonate with Cloudpiler's sentiment that you can glean a lot of little bits of information from self-study and free information on the web, but there's nothing like the synthesis that comes from having taken a course.  A good PDC is very worth the expense. 

I like to warn people that permaculture design courses haunt you.  They change you permanently, and you can't go back.  It's a good thing, but it's intense and it can be painful, really.  They are more about indoctrinating people with the ethics and theory than being "how-to" practicums.  That's why they aren't usually advertised as practicums. 

And as far as people paying to be an intern goes....I have now in my short life been both an intern and a farm host of several interns.  Interns perform work, but they also require a lot of supervision.  They require training.  They break things.  They do things wrong and those things have to be re-done to make it right.  They take time away from things that you might otherwise be doing if you didn't have to worry about what your intern(s) might be f-ing up at that particular moment. 

If I were a famous, well respected permaculturist who had spent years building knowledge and a "name," you can be damn sure I'd charge people to be here, because that would make it worth my time.  There was a time I too poo-pooed people who charge for farm tours and the like, these days, I look forward to when people want to give me money to be here.  That would mean my farm is as amazing as I am working hard to make it. 

In the mean time, I have to supervise the "free" labor, pay for the things they break, and help them re-do what they haven't done correctly.  Not all interns are worth what it costs to feed them.  It's amazingly irritating to have someone who takes three hours to do what I could do in thirty minutes complain about working for free.  It is NOT free to stay on my farm, actually.  Not free for me, anyway....

Being a permaculturist doesn't free you from the fact that we are operating in a world where money is required to live, to pay taxes, to continue doing what we're doing and love to do. 

It's not free to stop what you're doing and show a visitor around, either.  Time IS money, on a farm.  There is no farm that exists that doesn't need to make money, somehow.  Usually you can't just have people wandering around on a self tour, it's amazing how quickly ignorant (however well-intentioned) people can seriously ruin months or years of effort by simply walking where they shouldn't. 

That said, I think there is the potential for a positive exchange in the farm-intern relationship.  If you get the right person, they can be a lot of help.  If you get the wrong person as an intern, it can be a really great learning experience.  If, as an intern, you end up on the right farm, you can learn a heck of a lot as an intern - by experience, which is probably the best way to do it.  If you end up on the wrong farm, you're STILL going to learn a lot.  It's a win win win win situation, but it can be frustrating at times.  And what isn't?
 
Paula Edwards
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Agree, how about asking for a minimum time, say six month? And the first fortnight is seen as a probation period? But that's away from the topic.
I am not against paying fees, if they are adequate and the person has the right experience, because everyone has to live, but if permaculture is all about marketing then it is really not what was originally thought. Because permaculture is about sharing as well.
Why should fees be horrendous when someone is well known?
 
                                    
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I hope that people that take other people's books, copy them and give them away for free, without permission, go to jail.


was this comment responding to something specifically?  as someone who does not believe in the legitimacy of copyright law i find the occasional comments about hoping people are sent to jail for reading unpleasant.  meanwhile bill mollison charges 100+$ for his books!  but then we aren't supposed to talk about politics, right?
 
Tyler Ludens
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Personally, I've found Mollison's "Permaculture: a designers manual" to be worth every penny of $100. 
 
                                    
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that may be true, but there is no reason any book - let alone a 20 year old one - needs to cost so much.  of course he can charge whatever he likes.  and im sure ill buy a used copy at some point (cant send me to jail for that!), but i'm planning on getting the two forest garden books first.
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