Dave, I think you have just given me the best definition of permaculture I could have ever asked for.
My issue with the idea of permaculture has been that most who profess to use the principles of permaculture can't really give me a direct answer that sums up what "it" really is. This has been frustrating as I read articles on the topic because it all seems so broad and encompassing that it is difficult to understand our place in the realm of permaculture.
Thus my explorations into this forum the past week or so have been all about just that: exploring what permaculture really is and how does one exercise best practices. While I thought I had a vague idea as to the definition and the implementation of permaculture, I promptly found out that I didn't have a clue. Then, as you answered my question on urban farming in another thread, I thought "hey… maybe I'm not so far off." Wrong again… When I actually spoke to a couple of self-professed, hard-core permaculture folks, they let me know in no uncertain terms that I was wrong on all counts of permaculture. In fact, they informed me, I was doing more harm than good by creating these urban farming spaces rather than doing (insert barrage of information I stopped listening to because of their condescending attitude).
Do you get my drift here? I'm not a stupid man… really… I can dress myself just fine and I can even tie my own shoe laces. I think I can identify when someone is posturing rather than telling me a real definition or representing a true principle in action. I don't think I would start drooling nor would my brains liquify and run out my ears if someone were to give me a descent definition of permaculture. However, it still eludes me.
Your explanation, if I am reading correctly, is that permaculture is a broad discipline that encompasses a number of practices. A guideline, if you will, for various practices to follow. Yes? Further, that guideline states that all practices and sub-disciplines (as they become identified when working within said guidelines) should operate taking every other practice and sub-discipline into consideration in regards to the impact on the environment as a whole. Am I even close(er)?
Honestly, there have been times when I felt like the original poster in this thread. It has seemed like permaculture was some vague, undefined construct that drew people in via the promise of some enlightened path that only a select few were able to follow. However, if I am reading your answers both here and in response to my post on urban farming, there are many attainable levels that we can all reach without eating entirely from a forest garden or living in a straw house. There are degrees and steps that can be taken to reach those standards, but those standards being reached or not do not include or exclude those who are on the path to understand the greater concept. In other words: there ain't a decoder ring or a secret handshake. Everyone can join the club. LOL
The more I explore what I thought I knew about this, the more I find I know less than I thought… and the more I find out I have to learn. Maybe I'm a step closer to understanding what I don't know yet?? *head explodes*