Summary "The clearest way into the universe is through the wilderness." - John Muir
Dear Friends of our World
I am joyed to share the new edition of the Permaculture Design Deck. Sharing Nature’s principles and design methods. A grassroots initiative to share the largest collection of permaculture design core concepts available.
Featuring text from Delvin Solkinson sharing Core Concepts learned from Bill Mollison, Rosemary Morrow, David Holmgren, Geoff Lawton, Michael Becker, Toby Hemenway, Larry Santoyo, Starhawk & Looby Macnamara. Additional contributions were inspired by Rob Hopkins, Dave Boehnlein, Richard Wallner, Mark Lakeman, Doug Bullock, Ian McHarg and Percival Alfred Yeomans. Core source inspiration from Robin Clayfield whose many card decks and gamesled to this creation. Featuring visionary design from Sijay James of www.OnbeyondMetamedia.com these cards can be used in countless ways to inspire, evolve and uplift your practical understanding of permaculture. Featuring permaculture illustration by Brenna Quinlan of www.brennaquinlan.com
After 16 years of creating free, open source learning and teaching media I am honored to ask you for support in bringing the 202 card Permaculture Design Deck into a more accessible and affordable form as a printed copy. As with all my media, its always available as a free download at printable resolution to the World Community. Support my work and ability to continue producing permaculture design media, tools and offerings.
For the depth and breadth of information covered in the Permaculture Design Deck, I think it qualifies as a book in its own right.
To be what I consider fair as a reviewer, I try to my best to review things based on the intended purpose of books or products, because I think it is not fair to judge a self-help book for its merits as a cookbook or for how well chickens behave like fish, etc etc.
So, from what I can tell, the intended purpose of the Permaculture Design Deck is to condense a wealth of knowledge and share it in little bite-sized easy to comprehend nuggets. I think it is also meant to be a way to easily and concisely share with people the essence of permaculture. On the bottom of the Permaculture Deck box, it says "This is a companion for the Core Curriculum Notes. Together they form a toolkit for sharing a creative essence of Permaculture Design." So, the ruler I am using to review the deck is how well it conveys the essence of permaculture.
First, I like the layout and formatting of the individual cards. Starting in the top left corner, reading right to left and then down: An individual card has the Visionary Permaculture Design logo on the top left corner, then a card deck number (###), the category of the deck it is part of, the title/idea of that card, a description of that idea, and then a source/credits.
Second, I like the organization of the collection of cards and how it introduces people through permaculture. There are 220 cards that appear to be "main deck" cards followed by 10 "afterword cards." Third, I like the information that was chosen to be included in each section of cards.
The "main deck" is organized as follows by card numbers:
001-019 : Ethical Principles
The "afterword cards" are as follows:
The ethics cards cover what is generally considered to be the ethics and principles of permaculture. A good majority of the ethics and principles cards are devoted to Bill Mollison, and I think that is appropriate, since Bill Mollison fleshed out what permaculture is. The additional information from Rosemary Morrow, Geoff, Tom, Looby, and Holmgren fill out the rest of this section nicely.
020-037 : Attitudinal Principles
The attitudes cards cover how to feel about and view the world. It has a good mix of information from Bill Mollison, Rosemary Morrow, Toby Hemenway, Michael, Dave Boehlnein, Michael Becker, and even a card from Delvin. I think this section concisely covers the primary ways that permaculture tries to view the world.
038-092 : Strategic Principles
The strategies section covers more of the higher-level organization of ideas and getting things to interact better, without yet looking at the finer details. It has a nice mix of Bill Mollison, Michael Becker, Rosemary Morrow, Holmgren, and a few others. For the most part, I think this section is covered well. At first, I thought chop and drop was out of place in here, because that feels to me more of like something belonging as "other," like a tool. But I think cop and drop could be considered a strategy, because it is a fairly broad idea that can be applied in multiple ways to achieve various effects.
093-152 : Design Principles
The design cards cover the primary considerations that are taken into account when creating a permaculture design for a site, event, house, life, etc. Again, like strategy, I think this is meant to cover higher level processes and not yet get into super nitty gritty, which is why I was a little surprised with no-dig gardening being under design principles. But, I could see how this can be a principle, too, not just a tool. The design principles cards have information from Bill Mollison, Rosemary Morrow, Toby Hemenway, Geoff, Holmgren, and a few others. I think the design principles chosen to be included make for a good and pretty comprehensive view of starting the design process.
153-192 : Design Methods
The methods cards are meant to get into more of the pen-on-paper detailing and planning out of a permaculture design. So, it covers some of the expected foundational basics, like zones, sectors, relative locations, and needs analysis. But it also covers some more complex ro less well-known methods, like 6 hats, microclimates, and integral design. Like the previous sections, it provides good coverage and a broad range of thoughts from a nice variety of people.
193-200 : 7 Ways to Think Differently
This is a section of cards by Looby Macnamara on how to change the way you think. I think this was a good addition, but I did find it kind of funny that there are 8 cards instead of 7!
201-212 : Design Web
This is another section of cards by Looby Macnamara, and it covers what I think is meant to be used to help with intrapersonal and interpersonal development. The ideas mentioned could also be used beyond people, but I think this section of cards are more aimed at purple permaculture.
I give these cards 9 out of 10 acorns. They are packed full of good design information. Instead of giving you "tips" and "tricks" that only apply to some situations (like "how to make a chicken tractor" or "how to build a hugel"), each card is a principle, theory or philosophy to guide your design and thought processes.
The deck is HUGE, with 230 cards. The cards are broken into 5 categories of principles. Here's a sample card of each one
Ethical Principles (Ethics)
Strategic Principles (Strategies)
Attitudinal Principles (Attitudes)
Design Principles (Design)
Design Methods (Methods)
The cards are meant to be a fun, playful way to learn permaculture. I do wish that they came with game ideas to use to the cards. I'm not very creative, so I'm a bit at a loss for how to play with these cards. (Edit: Just read Dave's review, and there are three game ideas, listed on cards at the back of the deck. But, these are really kind of hard to find, and it's not intuitive to look at the cards to find out how to play them. I think having an "instruction booklet" or just a piece of paper telling the game ideas would be a lot more helpful. That's the kind of place I would look to find out how to use a deck of cards)
For now, I've been using them as a kind of "Daily Readers." Every day, I read 1 or 3 cards and think about how they apply to my property and life. This allows me to absorb the information better. When I tried to read them all in one setting, my brain kind of went numb with the overload of information!
I like the art on the back of the cards, especially how different skin tones are depicted. It would have been neat if the design method cards had illustrations, but I can understand how that doesn't really fit with the rest of the cards.
All in all, I think this is a great stack of information. After I finish reading through them, I plan on donating my deck of cards to a local permaculture school to "return the surplus" and share this resource with others.