In this book, Looby Macnamara explores the idea of bringing permaculture into our personal lives and relationships to enable us to become the people we want to be before we try to change the world for the better. She does have hope of a better society based heavily in permaculture and talks about the steps we need to get there. She focuses on health care and education systems in particular but looks at people and permaculture in very specific senses and very broad ones as well.
I must say the discovery of this book came after Looby was on permies.com to give away four copies of it. I read the Mother Tree's presentation of the author and really had little to think about buying the book.
When one jumps into permaculture not all of us come from the same backgrounds, one may have had strong conscious social relations in a community, or group of people, or even just have lived his life without great thoughts about the ties we all have, build, or loose.
Permaculture is not only based on the design of external, visible ecological systems. Or better even if we start from the design of visible systems we necessarily end up working on our innerself. I once wrote to Looby during the presentation of her book here, that we have to remember we focus not only on the fertility of the soil but of the mind. It really is summed up in this concept that I used to describe her work.
In People and permaculture the author takes the reader in a great walk through the tipical permaculture terms but using them for refering to human relations. So you'll read of zones, elements, energies, and edges referred to the interaction between two people, or in groups or comunities. But I put it down to simplisticly, it's more than this.
the book is divided in 6 parts, that follow a circular pattern that guides the reader through the pages.
The big starting point is the reader has to accept the concept of zone 00, focused on from part 2, which is the center of the inner observation we have to undergo. Necessarily permaculture changes our way of viewing the world around us and this changes the perception we have of ourselves. I wrote about a mind reshaping experience when thinking of my PDC, and the effect it had on me. This is what Looby tries to focus on: the reshaping of ourselves and the necessity to be aware of this as the only way to really care for people and cure the earth.
The book has a series of activities all through its pages, that help the reader focus on certain precise aspects, Looby suggests to work on a learning journal to keep note of our thoughts.
I read this book with the aim to understand what permaculture had done to me as a person in the midst of other people. I feel that studying and discussing issues tied to permaculture has made me see a lot of things in a different way. So the encounter with this book happened at the right moment, I was in search of some intuitions on things I had glimpsed on, written by someone with a lot of experience.
I think the book is useful for the minded reader, but especially for those that think of teaching permaculture courses. The book gives the future teacher a good view of what practices we should use to facilitate discussion in groups, and the way we interact. All the most a person that wants to teach permaculture courses should be connected with others in a way higher than normal.
We all should be more open to others, and the only way is to start from ourselves.
When I received a review copy of this book, I felt a little troubled. Surely I'm not the right person to review a book about people. I'm a hermit. I spend all my time avoiding people, so there's no way I'll find enough of interest to me in this book to be able to give a proper assessment.
Which just goes to show how wrong I can be about things. This book has been the most humbling and empowering book I ever remember reading.
The book is divided into 6 parts, moving from principles, to our personal being, then out to the bigger picture.
Part 1, Thinking Like an Ecosystem, contains a detailed introduction to permaculture design and principles as applied to people.
Part 2, Looking Deep into the Centre, looks at the tools and techniques we can use in our own lives; how we can transform our internal landscape, enhance our well-being and be at our best.
Part 3, Hearing Each Other, investigates ways of creating harmony in our relationships and groups, through our communication and decision making.
Part 4, Living in Society, explores a wider vision for our social systems, in particular health and education.
Part 5, Feeling Connected Globally, moves on to explore how to expand our feelings of connection across the globe.
Part 6, Sensing Our Futures, focuses on how we can manifest a positive future with the use of a new design framework specifically created for people-based designs.
At first, everything felt familiar - permaculture ideas and principles were introduced, systems thinking was explained, the importance of design was emphasised and the foundations were laid. Then Looby made it personal. I'm not even sure how she did it, but all those things that I thought I was so familiar with suddenly got turned around. Instead of inspiring me to go out onto my land and become part of something bigger, everything was pointing back at me telling me to put my own life in order first, to get my own health and emotional issues under control before going out to put the rest of the world to rights. It felt as though the book had slapped me across the face into realising that if I insist on hiding myself away, then I'm going to have to take full responsibility for myself and get myself as strong and healthy as possible before I can expect to have enough to keep giving to the wider world. The slap was a shock, but immediately Looby was there to soothe things over and guide me through a seemingly endless supply of new ideas and ways of looking at things to enable me to build myself up stronger than ever before, and yet behind those new ideas were all the familiar concepts of permaculture which I thought I knew so well. I think the word 'gobsmacked' pretty well describes how I felt.
But there was more to come. Almost seamlessly, Looby teaches you how to rebuild yourself, then moves on to your immediate environment, your family, then gradually out to the rest of society, all in the most inspiring and yet practical way possible. She provides an amazing toolkit, from advice on clearing clutter in the home to mindmaps, discussions of right livelihoods, ways of communicating, conflict resolution, maintaining relationships. working in group, and then building that all out into the wider perspectives of healthcare, education, inspiring other people, connecting with nature, and working towards the future.
Looby's website describes her book like this - Including over 50 practical activities, People & Permaculture empowers readers with tried and tested tools to initiate positive change. It is a hands-on, powerful guide to creating a sustainable world.
In my opinion, that description doesn't even begin to convey the importance of this book. This book goes right back to the very heart of permaculture and rebuilds it anew. It nurtures the soul in the same way that permaculture nurtures the soil. And from that base we can build our ecosystems and our societies alike.