• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic

how to move the permaculture ideaology forward

 
                                        
Posts: 33
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Whatever you do well, whatever you are passionate about, totally transforms your view of reality.  And not always for the better.

I've been in emergency response for all of my adult life, so I think like an emergency responder.  My time in law enforcement taught me how many bad people were out there, so... if you let your kids post their name, picture, and area of residence on facebook I have a nasty tendency to instantly label you a naive idiot.  My time as a firefighter has taught me the importance of a fire safety plan for your home.  In my biased eyes, if you don't have one, you should be prosecuted for child neglect.  Okay, not really.  But almost.

That which we do well becomes commonplace and therefore almost axiomatic to us.  As permaculture enthusiasts, some of you would consider those who use Sevin on on their zucchini to be lined up to share a suite in the pits of hell with Hitler someday (okay, it's a bit of an overstatement, but you get the idea).  As I recently shared in another thread, I live in an area that embraces conventional farming that widely utilizes chemicals.  To be honest, I am still in the "theoretical stage" of my education in permaculture, and I am probably not doing everything to your standards.  But I am trying, and I am learning, and I am looking to do better next season. 

When one looks to spread the "good news" of permaculture, he/she needs to understand where their audience is coming from.  Most people think that there could never be anything wrong with the widespread use of chemicals, otherwise, the government wouldn't allow it.  Sound's silly, but it's true.  You have to meet people where they are, not where you would like for them to be.  Someone smarter than me needs to develop a method for gently impressing upon people the need to do things differently, a way that does not belittle or accuse, but merely persuades and entices.

Anyone got any suggestions on how to do that?
 
Leila Rich
steward
Posts: 3999
Location: Wellington, New Zealand. Temperate, coastal, sandy, windy,
88
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
It's pretty simplistic, but I think the old literary thing of 'show, don't tell' applies really well.
If you can, get your hands on that community garden land (only as much as you can handle, since you want to make a great impression!) and just do stuff.
Maybe modify things a bit so that what you do isn't completely alien to local aesthetics.
For example, a lot of permaculture designs can look untidy, even chaotic to many.
I killed my front lawn with chipped trees and it is mainly perennial ornamental plants. Major lead contamination limits my willingness to grow much in the way of edibles there.
Out the back,  where no-one can see, I've got a diverse and expanding weed polyculture in between my gardens.
I don't need my neighbours seeing me flinging dandelion 'clocks' around, but if I have an attractive and healthy, albeit idiosyncratic, front garden, we've got a good point of contact and opportunity for interaction.
Maybe then I'll talk about my gardening methods...
 
                                        
Posts: 33
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Thanks for the reply, Leila.  I think I may need to clarify what I'm asking here.  My last thread focused on specifics.  What should I do in that particular situation.  The more I think about the issue, though, the more I realize that the problem is a broad one that really is impacted greatly by regional and even cultural assumptions.  I'm not really looking for the answer to "what should I do at the church garden?" in this thread.  There were those who answered my thread with almost a "fatigue" in their reply, an "I'm tired of beating my head against the wall; these folks just don't get it," sort of mentality.  What if the problem is not with "these folks?"  What if there is a better approach for presenting permaculture, but we just haven't brainstormed it out and stumbled upon it yet?  If, as Paul stated in one of the youtube films, this is the most important issue to those with environmental concerns (bigger than the new light bulbs, I think he says), then permaculturists need to discuss and adopt the best possible approaches and methods for presenting it to a "largely oblivious" audience.  To borrow a materialistic phrase, it's a question of "marketing and packaging" permaculture.  Some of the issues that may need to be addressed are:

If you can't sell the "whole package" of permaculture to and uneducated and resistant audience, are there "bits and pieces"of it that folks typically find novel, intriguing, or "more palatable?" If there are, can those ideas or methods, once presented and maybe even embraced, be used to develop in roads to a once resistant community?  For example, Paul recommended that I start at the church garden with a hugelkultur bed.  If that is something that is easy and demonstrable, should efforts be focused on developing community "hugelkultur" beds as a way to pique folks' interest and get them to challenge some of their previous assumptions?

My 8 year old and I were discussing permaculture last night.  Some of the stuff I mentioned didn't seem to register, but when I mentioned mulch, he got kinda excited and said, "I know what mulch is, a lady sells it in one of my Pokemon games."  So i focused the conversation on mulch and he started asking questions and becoming more engaged in the conversation.  Can we not develop an approach that does that with society at large?  Find those aspects of Permaculture that most resonate with the common man and develop, standardize, (dare I say "package" that approach for communities throughout our country?

Things like this forum are great.  They are interesting, educational, and fun.  But for the most part, the only people who visit here are already interested in permaculture.  So Paul did something really smart, he posted some interesting, fun videos on youtube and at the end of the videos he states, "if you like this sort of thing, come visit us at Permies.com where we talk about permaculture all the time?"  Are there ways we can be using this same approach in a more "hands on" way in our communities?
 
duane hennon
gardener
Posts: 706
Location: western pennsylvania zone 5/a
36
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator


"My 8 year old and I were discussing permaculture last night.  Some of the stuff I mentioned didn't seem to register, but when I mentioned mulch, he got kinda excited and said, "I know what mulch is, a lady sells it in one of my Pokemon games."  So i focused the conversation on mulch and he started asking questions and becoming more engaged in the conversation.  Can we not develop an approach that does that with society at large?  Find those aspects of Permaculture that most resonate with the common man and develop, standardize, (dare I say "package" that approach for communities throughout our country?"


Hi knuck,

finding a common interest with people is useful. just like your son and mulch. perhaps mulch in the comunity garden is the starting point to conserve moisture, maybe then discuss "sheet mulching" to surpress weeds, perrienials to reduce plantings, layers to maximize sunshine and pretty soon you have something that resembles permaculture

as i have said on some other threads, i use pawpaws as an introduction to permaculture
I give fruit to people to taste and tell them they can grow them at home. But that pawpaws like to grow in a certain environment, which just happens to resemble a food forest...
so i explain how to build a food forest in their yard to grow a new fruit that they really like.
and then tell them they can find out more info about these things online

selling is about the difference between "features and benefits" features are the things involved, benefits are about what those things do for the customer.
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 9420
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
162
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I agree with Leila on the "show" idea.  I post pictures of my garden on non-permaculture message-boards and mention permaculture and link to this message-board.  I share pictures and information about my garden with friends.  Eventually I think it would be great to get my permaculture homestead to the point where I could give tours of it (see discussion of permaculture home tours in this thread: http://www.permies.com/permaculture-forums/8370_0/farm-income/another-way-to-make-cash)
 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
Posts: 4434
Location: North Central Michigan
10
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
well Jim for one thing I'm very excited to see how far you have come in such a short time, congrats

I actually think that starting with children might be a good place to start, maybe you could "speak"about it at a local church, school or scouts group? I would do it simply just stating about the losses of soil in past years and monocropping problems, and then simply state that there are answer to this and talk a little about polycropping and growing a few things at home, and if they are small enough children have them start some seeds or something ..larger ones could be given a seedling to plant at home?

getting kids interested ..esp older kids..brings us a new generation of gardeners with new ideas..sometimes older people are set in their ways.

maybe you could offer to have an ag group over and talk about it at your place, or go speak to them ..
 
                            
Posts: 126
Location: Ava, Mo, USA, Earth
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Personally, I'm not out to save the world,push any ideologies or partake in any movements.  I just want to live my life in as sane a manor as possible.  The fact that it means I'm living lighter on the earth, or that if everybody took one step closer to the way I live the earth would be better off is just a sort of bonus.

There are PC websites and videos out there that are so pushy or so “the end is nigh”-ish that they put me off.  If they were all I ever saw about PC, I never would have taken a second look.  However anybody that claims they can show me a better, more natural, way to raise my own food will get that second look.

What I'm trying to say is, just take care of yourself.  If you don't hide it, people who are ready to learn will find you.  And, please everybody, don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good.  Be happy if you can get a few people to take a step in the right direction and don't even try for perfection.
 
                                
Posts: 41
Location: Missouri
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hitting on that "first responder mode" you are in can actually be helpful in times like these.  Namely, all these floods hitting the midwest and drowning out crops.  I went to the grocery store, and organic watermelon,  was $7.94 a pound!!  We have notices in our grocery stores all the time about failed crop this, failed crop that.  Things are getting to be so bad that now the average consumer is having conversations that heretofore only farmers had.  I can't tell you how many friends on Facebook, that live in the city mind you, are debating drought and flood conditions every other day.  
I hate to say it, but it's easiest to convince people in times of desperation.  I think permies need to seize this opportunity to show people how to withstand extreme weather conditions, high food costs, and job loss.  I am building up testimonials to share with anyone and everyone who wants to know about the permaculture lifestyle.  
One story I've been telling lately is how the heat wave pretty much knocked out my traditional salad greens, spinach and lettuce.  But, since I also planted amaranth, chard, calendula, favas,  not to mention a wide variety of herbs, I continue to eat salad every day for the same price, the cost of the seed.  Today I cut up some baby sweet peas to put in.   I spend about $40 dollars at the grocery store a week, and that's just for meat, and the fruit that I can't grow right now.
The caveat is that I don't worry myself with the people who don't want to hear it.  If they want to continue to both support and be dependent upon a food system that is destined to fail then that is their choice.  Hopefully they will not suffer too much when very few people will be able to afford to buy food.  I look at the whole permaculture debate the same way I look at politics or religion.  People are going to go with what they know until they are irrefutably proven wrong.  Then they'll do the same thing a bit longer until it absolutely doesn't work anymore.  Human beings, what are you gonna do, huh?
 
George Lee
Posts: 539
Location: Athens, GA/Sunset, SC
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Work on awareness in communities and counties then states. Education is key. I'm not one to float the mainstream,but getting some sustainable agriculture in the media will incite good thorough talks, and action eventually. Let's see how it goes in the next few years. These corporate farmers will soon find out they can't continue with their current practices for the years to come.
 
Melba Corbett
Posts: 164
Location: North Carolina
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
  When the food safety bill was before the legislators, a group of associates and myself went to the local city fathers to ask their help in opposing that bill, on a local and state level.  We talked, gave testimony about the benefits of eating local, organic, or from our own gardens.  They listened.  They supported us 100% and then some, and as one of them said, he didn't want it to become illegal for his gardening neighbor to give him tomatoes and cucumbers like he was doing now.  He enjoyed them too much. 

  When the main stream media published an article blasting organic and small local farms, we the people rose up and of one accord took them to task.  There were hundreds of e-mails on their blog site criticizing their incompetence for not doing more thorough research and merely parroting a big corporation whose name we won't mention.  It's obvious to me that people are waking up, becoming informed, and I think that trend will continue.  It is good to take every opportunity to explain to people, particularly those who ask, how things really are, so that they are not taken in by the blatant lies of MSM (main stream media). 

  There seems to be a strong concerted effort recently by someone high up, to curtail the small farm, the home gardener, and anything organic or natural.  Just regard it as an opportunity to educate people because they are asking more questions due to the focus on the issue of whole foods, and growing in balance with nature. 

  Permaculture is not just about growing healthier food, it is about healing this beautiful planet we live on.  It's about living in harmony and well being with all of life, including the soil microbes, the plants and the animals (and other humans).

  We don't need to shove anything down anyone's throat, but sometimes I think we just need to speak out.  Our voices have been silent too long. 

  So when someone asked why we are eating organic when all those people were poisoned by E.Coli, I smile and patiently explailn that it didn't come from the organic food, it most likely came from the GMO seed that were impregnated with an antiobiotic resistant E.Coli and other nasty things.  Then I saw a lengthy article on Natural News.com, about just that, as scientists now think it was the GMO seed and that the E.Coli was bioengineered.
 
John Polk
steward
Posts: 8019
Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
286
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
John & Jane Doe don't want explanations and labels.  They want food.  Organic gardening started gaining popularity in the 60's/70's, but the consumer wasn't interested.  Now, even the big corporate farms are jumping on the band-wagon (cash cow).  People take time to discard old notions and adopt new ideas.

The other day I was talking about planting some fruit trees, and someone said "It'll be 5 years before you eat any fruit."  My answer:  "Yes, but in the mean time I'll be eating strawberries every June, and peas every autumn until then from under those trees.  And by then, apples and pears will be $15 a pound!"  End of conversation.
 
Lee Einer
Posts: 169
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
homesteadpaul wrote:
Personally, I'm not out to save the world,push any ideologies or partake in any movements.


I'm most definitely out to save the world.

Unfortunately, it seems to big a task for a tired old man like me.

Saving my community, even my neighborhood would be nice.

Saving my back yard is a start, so that's where I start. And I tell people what I am doing. And I help them if they want to do something similar. I organize seed exchanges so we can keep our local traditional food crops going. I support my neighbors in what they are doing. I try to jumpstart sustainable enterprises that can help us collectively get going on the right track.

If I just told everybody what they should be doing and acted like I was their savior for doing so, in this neck of the woods I'd be the hundredth knowitall anglo newcomer to do that in the last five years, and everybody would want to murder me with an icepick.  I couldn't blame them, might even lend them the icepick...
 
Kirk Hutchison
Posts: 418
Location: Los Angeles, CA
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
To convince people that the chemicals are bad...

"So, you spray this stuff on your crops to kill bugs, right?"
"Yes."
"And bugs are animals, yes?"
"Yes."
"And we are animals, yes?"
"....yes"
"So if it kills them, maybe we don't want to spray it on our food.
 
Leila Rich
steward
Posts: 3999
Location: Wellington, New Zealand. Temperate, coastal, sandy, windy,
88
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
knuckledragger: I think it's more that I my post wasn't clear, rather than me misunderstanding your thread's intentions.
What I mean is, my reply would be pretty much the same (minus the meaningless drivel, of course) whether discussing a philosophical or practical challenge.
My most positive (and long-term) influences/experiences with 'straight' people have been when I do my thing, publicly and obviously, but not didactically.
I'm kind of repeating myself I'm afraid!
 
                                
Posts: 41
Location: Missouri
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
ANother thing occurred to me at my 3:00 am hour of insomnia that I see a lot in environmentalists going about this the wrong way.  Many times their focus is to get us to get our governments to organize and enact change.  The problem being that our governments, unless you're in the "right" part of the country, New York, California, Oregon, or (a surprise to me!) Montana aren't moving fast enough.  I see a lot of individual effort in Kansas City, but our city council tried to outlaw front lawn vegetable gardens.  As if!   Most governments are either ignorant of permaculture, or they move too slowly to make appreciable change.  Corporations on the other hand have the ability to move quickly and concisely, if they see a dollar soon enough at the end of their action.  I'm sorry, from reading the permie forums, I don't see a lot of money happening right away.  And not that making money at this isn't a fine goal, but there's a certain point of expansion in which your business stops being profitable for everyone, including the planet, and starts being a hinderance to everyone except you.  So, I think, hoping to enlist some corporate god to spread this is catching a tiger by the tail.

The thing I like about homesteading and permaculture in general is the "rugged individualism" aspect of the whole thing.  If I want something, I can set myself up to make it on my own, without having to rely on some else's work to get it.  I also live in fear of when governments finally do get it together, and come up with some "one fits all plan" to try and help solve problems like climate change, colony collapse disorder, or complications stemming from GM crops.  Generally those kinds of plans don't have the subtlety necessary to actually fix issues and a whole new slew of problems arise.

So, my point is that we need to be encouraging people to take ownership of the problem themselves.  I have a neighbor, who is constantly trying to mow my lawn, he's even scalped parts of it a couple of time in the spirit of "being helpful".  He is actually the landlord of the property next door to mine, so he's not around to see me in the yard everyday, knocking out spent dandelion stems, picking the mullein and wildflowers, collecting seed, and gingerly mowing around patches of clover.  He doesn't see me going next door to mow the neighbor's lawn for their mulch.  Point being, he is so used to what I call "sidewalk" lawns that it didn't occur to him that I have a purpose.  I mean, he's a gardener and he took out some potato plants that I had.  But because we as a society turn staying in between the lines into a fine art,  he just chugs along in that line, not thinking that he has options.
In fact, most people don't realize they have options.  That they don't have to live in HOA communities, or if they do, then they can form successful arguments against bans on dandelions, clover, wild violets, creeping charlie, mock strawberries. Or even growing corn in your front yard. I read somewhere that a person didn't need their neighbors seeing them flinging dandelion seed around, so they only did it in their back yard.  Why shouldn't they see you?  Dandelions are delicious, pretty, useful plants.  Also, dandelions only grow in my front yard, so that's where they will stay feeding bees, butterflies, the ground and my family.
We have to appeal directly to people's needs in order for them to get on board.  Talk about their dinner plates, talk about their water bills, talk about their electric bills, talk about their gas tanks, talk about the medication they take and the health care they get, about the clothes they wear, talk about how burning through natural resources is the real threat to their children's future, not some political plan cooked up by the jokers in the capital.  All of these things are directly impacted by how we live on the planet.  Then, give them a tomato plant, a couple of onion starts, and a cilantro plant in a self-watering pot, and tell to make salsa. 
We need to stop waiting for some shining politician on his white horse to come down and save them.  WE are the white knights that need to be doing the saving, and then teaching our neighbors to save others.  If things don't work out, it's nobody's fault but our own.
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 9420
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
162
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Nerdmom wrote:

We need to stop waiting for some shining politician on his white horse to come down and save them.  WE are the white knights that need to be doing the saving, and then teaching our neighbors to save others.  If things don't work out, it's nobody's fault but our own.


100% agree! 
 
paul wheaton
master steward
Posts: 20425
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
bee chicken hugelkultur trees wofati woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Logic and reason rarely works.

Demonstration works best.

The reason other people do it differently has to do with difference of knowledge set.  There are probably 10,000 things that you know that they don't know.  So you pick one thing out of the 10,000 and share that. 

One item at a time. 

It's gonna take a long time. 

I'm now up to 120 videos, 25 podcast and a dozen articles.  But it is working.

Hugelkultur is an easy one:  grow your stuff and you don't have to worry about watering it anymore.  And better flavor too!  (note, no mention of pesticide free or chem free)



 
Todd Hoff
Posts: 63
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Add to this "I know what mulch is, a lady sells it in one of my Pokemon games" that FarmVille has hundreds of millions and players and perhaps a permaculture game of some sort is the way to go?
 
Burra Maluca
Mother Tree
Posts: 9042
Location: Portugal Zone 9 Mediterranean Climate
681
bee bike books duck forest garden greening the desert solar trees wofati
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
toddh wrote:
Add to this "I know what mulch is, a lady sells it in one of my Pokemon games" that FarmVille has hundreds of millions and players and perhaps a permaculture game of some sort is the way to go?


I actually put quite a lot of thought into that kind of idea a year or so back when I was stuck indoors even more than I am now and resorted to playing FarmTown.  I had the idea that as well as earning 'cash', the food you grew would be sold to your 'village' and the aim would be for players, who would generally start out only after cash and experience, would gradually learn to judge their worth by the health of their village.  A similar idea was used in Gungan Frontier and it worked really well in my opinion.  I had the idea that the villagers would buy your stuff and prices would depend on how much you produced compared to how many of them there were.  If you didn't grow everything they needed/wanted, they would start to shop elsewhere, which would encourage them to move away to the city.  If you failed to feed them properly they would eventually all move away, or maybe die off, but that might be a bit harsh for your average player. 

I also thought that you could have some kind of 'soil health' meters, indicating moisture levels, nutrient levels, humus levels and salinity levels.  The various levels would effect the growth of the plants.  Maybe you could grow different plants to suit different levels.  Using mulch would effect how much evaportation takes place.  Using ground water to irrigate would increase salinity.  Plowing would decrease humus.  Decreasing humus would reduce the water-holding capacity of the soil.  Get everything related to everything else.  Each plant would have a minimum requirement and would fail to grow if that requirement is not met.  Failure to look after the soil would eventually mean that nothing would grow. 

There would have to be some way of 'researching' stuff, Age of Empires style.  Only instead of clicking a button, you'd actually learn something.  Just simple stuff, like 'mulch - reduces evaporation, supplies humus and nutrients.  you can buy it or use your own plant waste'  or, 'irrigation - rain water is salt free, ground water is salty, evaporation leaves salts behind in the soil'. 

My son was really keep on 'going into the video game industry' a while back and I thought it would make a brilliant project for him, but now he's into animated 3D graphics and is busy trying to model a rocket mass heater instead, so the 'Future Farm' idea is up for grabs...   
 
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
Boost this thread!