I want to send out some love to Paul and the permies.com staff. Sometimes it is easy to take a website or forum for granted, thinking it somehow just exists on its own and people just add their thoughts to it. But a website or forum requires a lot of work to be effective and to become a source of helpful information and online community support. Paul and staff have done just that. Not until I viewed Paul's talk at PV2 called "Increasing the Velocity of Permaculture" did I realize how much of a feat it is to cull out the hatefulness that could destroy the online community. The level of vigilance that Paul and staff must maintain must be extremely soul-deadening, yet they persevere for the sake of the permies community. The sad part is that much of the hatefulness originates with other permies. See Paul's talk at
When I first stumbled on permies.com, I was wary. I thought the success of permies.com was based on a personality cult, members attracted to Paul's brash, bad-boy persona, which would fall apart as soon as the personality (Paul) no longer participated. But now I realize that it takes a strong person, "a freakishly arrogant and obnoxious git" as Paul describes himself, to endure and persevere and build a strong online community. Paul is a warrior for permaculture. Not only is he trying to do practical work to further permaculture practices, but he is enduring the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune that try to pierce his armor daily. Of course, a warrior general needs a strong army of foot soldiers, the permies.com staff, fighting daily in the trenches. The Permies community should be very grateful for the hard work that Paul and his staff accomplish daily for us.
In his talk at PV2, Paul asked us to support people that make attempts to achieve permacultural activities, to show them you appreciate their efforts. So here is my lovefest for Paul and staff. Keep up the damn good work! There are few people who could do what y'all do.
Not the sort of presentation I want to give. Not fun. Heavy. Diego got a lot of complaints about it.
But it had to be done. We need to prepare for bad guys that wanna smash all the good things that permaculture stands for. And at the same time we need to be aware of the stuff that is destroying permaculture from the inside. Both of these things are 20 times more powerful within permaculture than any other "movement"(?).
So, I burned my keynote coupon to do some much needed housekeeping. I wonder if this keynote did more harm for my reputation than good. But it all needed to be said. Housekeeping. A sort of spanking.
Here is my keynote one year earlier that I think is much more the sort of thing I want to do:
And from a year before that:
Both of these are much more like what I want to do: do good things rather than being angry at bad guys.
Thanks Paul, well done! Your points about the self-destructive nature of certain elements of the permaculture community, (i.e. trolls, the uncritical adoption of a divisive form of feminism, the sage curmudgeon complex and the beating down of sweet, innovative souls) were parallel to my experience of cancerous elements in the culture within the National Parks Service and environmental education. I think permies and park rangers/outdoor educators have a lot in common in their largely altruistic goals and both groups are similarly outsiders to mainstream society who hope to teach people how to live with nature more respectfully and sustainably. I think the reason behind the curmudgeon complex is that it is maddening to be the only person in the room who can see something beautiful but fragile and try to point it out to people a thousand different ways but still have droves of willfully blind people wreaking havoc with their guns, bulldozers and chainsaws. I ultimately had to leave the park service because I realized I wanted to be a part of permaculture, and that was clearly contrary to the culture of the park service and large scale environmental education non-profits.
This is all just my opinion based on a flawed memory
I get why you're not happy to have had to give that talk. But I'm very glad you gave it. Some things just need to be brought to the forefront and given their moment in the sun. As you said, anger can be good and useful - we just can't stay there all the time. But people do need to be made aware, and a reminder now and then is a good thing.
I immersed myself in the 'real news' for a while, learning about what is going on 'out there' in the world. Then I had to stop. It was too heartbreaking, and I got too angry. But I'm glad I learned what I learned, as it made my commitment to permaculture practices even stronger. But I sure can't live there. It's exhausting.
But there were some great messages in your talk:
• Many schools of thought under the permaculture umbrella!
• Sometimes you need to stand up for what is right!