I must be honest and say I see permaculture as a "lifestyle" bug out bag in some ways. I honestly wish to create a place wherein I lead by example, showcasing a better way of living thru ecology and community. Some days I really struggle with the community aspect and think that maybe I should just look after myself and to hell with world.
I wonder. Do others think like this and if so how do they reconcile their own need for survival with working for the greater good?
Hi Aaron: Welcome to permies. Some of us have been living the "permies way" long before somebody (Paul ?) thought up the name. I have been 100 % off grid since 1983 , been growing and raising our food, and making my own power the whole time. I already lead by example, if someone has an interest in any of the "permie type " things i'm doing then I will enlighten them (bore them ?) If they care to scoff and make fun I smile and tell them to stop by sometime when the power is out... or no, that's not special food ... its what ALL food should taste like... Why do I have a full head of shiny nice hair at 60 ? ... you are what you eat. My point here is to live a wholesome lifestyle and the other guy can either notice and inquire about what and how you are doing things or ... they can run down to the mini mart pick up some frozen thing to nuke for dinner , grab some cigarettes and beer go home sit on the couch in the front yard and make fun of that dam hippy living up in the hills... later after they have passed away from some kind of GMO caused cancer maybe... their children or grandchildren will notice that the crazy family up on the hill is living longer and looking better than they are ... and maybe just maybe they will wonder why and stop by to visit... its never to late. Do your own thing ! Like minded people will notice . If they ask, carefully explain to them that they can do these things to ... its not rocket science (except in the case of rocket mass heaters ) its common sense ! Good Luck with your decision ... its all an adventure !
I vote for "Community." We try to maintain good relations with our neighbors, with whom we have little in common politically. If we can influence their behavior with our actions, that's great, if not, oh well. We share food and tools with some of these neighbors. If times get tough, maybe they'll decide not to burn us at the stake.
First and maybe most importantly, I'd say, don't under any circumstances sell out your dream and your vision. Do it! The world needs to see a lot of great examples. Make it happen whichever way.
But it's tough to "do it all" on your own on the micro scale. Sure, with enough muscle and permie smarts, and maybe some money and luck, you can set up a real nice perennial-dominated low-maintenance system for yourself. But life can throw anyone a curveball at any moment, and in the end of course, we're all gonna go down one way or another. So there WILL be times when great relations with your community will come in very handy for you as an individual.
And on the macro scale... the world seems to be a bit of a sinking ship at the moment. If we're not already there, it may soon get to the point where we're all going down or we're all staying afloat together, as a species. Some people need to wake up and find something productive to do, and permaculture offers that. So sharing (with the unconverted) may be in our interest in very big ways as well as very small ones.
While you're realizing your dream and putting your vision into action, I'd err on the side of building and maintaining as many bridges as you can with people around you. And as Ludie says, not necessarily only with people who by default agree with you on everything or believe in what you're doing (at the moment). The proof of what you're doing will be plain to see as time rolls on.
I agree with what everyone else has said regarding community.
I would not call myself a full Permie; somewhere halfway between Conventional and Permie though, and are pretty self-sufficient. That being said, one of the things I miss the most is a lack of interaction with other people. I am just so busy doing everything that needs to be done, that I am not really engaged with others. Don't get me wrong, I don't have a gated farm, live 1/2 a mile deep in the woods, or go out of my way to avoid people; isolation just comes naturally.
I could do more granted; go on Facebook, join the Volunteer Fire Department, go to small group studies from people in our church, but honestly I am just plain tired at the end of the day! Besides what do you post on Facebook; that you fed sheep like you have for the last 8 years, or cut wood which is over an even longer time span? I would bore people. But when there is a good discussion at bible study in a bricks and mortar church, regarding this passage or that, I really enjoy that. Not being argumentative at all (that is just not me), but making intellectual points and counterpoints. I love my wife, and she is my best friend, and we discuss biblical stuff in conversation a lot; and of course I love my four daughters, but being all under 12, with them it can be lots of silly talk conversations. I miss real conversations...but with this lifestyle, where people just pass by in passing and never really stop in conversation; yeah it can get me yearning for camaraderie.
It is interesting to note, that when my wife and I do go out; we get really dressed up and most of the time are the best dressed people there. (This is Maine so it is really not hard to do). Yet when people ask what we do for a living, they are absolutely floored when we say, "Sheep Farmers." I guess we are supposed to wear plaid shirts under our bibbed overalls.
Community is important no doubt about at. However not at the cost of your own sanity or well being.
There is a balance of community and self sufficiency that is different for each person. While it is great to be able to do things yourself, having a friend/neighbor to help you with a task or even just chat while you work can be wonderful.
Something you will notice if you do isolate yourself for a long time is how starved for company you get. While you might end up talking a good game about those pesky city folks and shun people, when you do go to town you will find yourself chatting the ear off anyone who crosses your path. You will jabber on and on about nothing in particular.
Humans are social creatures. So community building is important. Now that is not to say don't be all welcoming and draw just anyone into your community and circle. This is the hard part, to discern who is good for your community and circle and who is not. You will likely often find several folks who aren't healthy members, and it can be difficult to remove them. Often they come with other good folks who you really do want but they are too nice to tell these others not to join in.
My advice, be picky who you let enter you circle, and purge the dead weight often. Sometimes this might come off as hard edged but in the long run you will end up with less drama by telling people "don't bring so in so around" rather than letting the troublesome folks in your community.
"Where will you drive your own picket stake? Where will you choose to make your stand? Give me a threshold, a specific point at which you will finally stop running, at which you will finally fight back." (Derrick Jensen)