A new era in energy is rising over the horizon. With the surge in power from Solar and Wind, humanity has the capacity to generate more energy than ever before.
This cheaper energy will enable more people will be able to heat and cool their homes, travel further, access information, communicate faster, improve medical services, learn more and turn up the entertainment! At the risk of being the party-pooper, it might be handy to examine the cost.
Too much of a good thing…
Essentially, having more power means we are very likely to spend it. The problem with spending power is the generation of heat. Forget ‘peak-oil’. We zoomed over that bump and are sailing full steam ahead toward peak-heat. Why does spending power nearly always generate heat? The heat comes from simple friction. Most motors have some friction. Whether we cool our home with Solar Air-conditioning or solar-electric air-conditioning, the home exhausts heat into the street as well as generating some friction. It’s good for us but bad for the neighbourhood and the climate.
The downside of the cost of clean energy is very similar to the costs of the old dirty energy, but possibly worse. [We are not saying that the dirty energy is ok, it isn’t. It is both dirty AND hot.] During the dirty regime of fossil fuel and nuclear energy, the consumer paid for the energy use (e.g. dollars per barrel or cents per kw. Now, the consumer pays only for their set-up and very little for excessive use. The consumer is suddenly wealthy and empowered. She can splash it all about. The new energy consumer can share their excess with their neighbours. Whilst the suppliers are fighting like dogs over scraps, the new de-centralised power stations have been quietly liberating communities, like Tyalgum, since 2015. The war on energy suppliers has been won. Now, an army of grannies are installing power systems.
Consuming Less Is Still the Answer
Consuming less, even when it is clean and the source is free, is still the only option if we wish to continue to enjoy living on this beautiful planet. Having an active lifestyle, full of healthy food, good design to reduce the impact of climate change is achievable. Your permaculture course can be tailored for you. Build your resilience, knowledge and skills.
One of our latest projects has been to produce a large-scale design for a yoga retreat.
Our Design Process
Conduct diagnosis of existing site features (including risks).
Prepare guiding policy. The permaculture design offers a detailed plan to build wealth and empowerment to the residents and visitors.
Set an action plan based on the fundamental ethics and ideals. These actions are driven by passion and feelings of the residents and result in self-reliance, abundance and greater harmony within the local community.
Firstly, we examined the current land use and drew up a sector analysis. One of the aspects of the sector analysis was the narrow solar window. The yoga retreat sits in a narrow valley. This means the morning sun is late and the afternoon sun falls away early in the afternoon.
We looked at all the natural energies on the site. The analysis included the surface watershed to and from the property. We identified which risks were threatening property. The risk diagnosis alone will save the client in substantial costs far greater than the cost of the design. There were expensive threats to key structures. One of the threats to the foundations of a building was by local deer. Another structure was suffering erosion by surface water from a poorly directed drain.
Although the current practices on the site by staff and residents were fairly sensible, there were plenty of opportunities to increase efficiency.
Zoning enables the design to put groups of elements into an area based on their needs and products. Put elements that require high levels of observation and attention close to the staff and resources. When an element requires less attention, it is positioned further away.
Delicate sprouts and seedlings require daily observation and attention to keep them watered and pest-free. Simply position needy elements near to the care-givers. Zone 0 contains the elements that demand the highest level of attention.
In contrast to the sprouts and seedlings, vegetable greens are harvested as they become ready. These elements are slightly less needy. They belong in Zone 1.
A tree that bears fruit only once a year goes further away in Zone 2 or 3. Crops that need lots of space include pumpkin vines, corn or choko. So these go in Zone 3. Crops that are harvested only as required (e.g. tinder for winter fires) are positioned far away. But they sit along a track to make the harvest, storage and transportation easy. Deer and other large animals are directed to outer zones only.
Sun Trap Gardens
The sun-trap garden faces the morning sun. Plant deciduous trees on the north-east boundary. The winter sun will penetrate through the bare branches. Whereas, evergreen trees sit on the southern and western boundaries to shelter the sun-trap from hot afternoon suns rays.
Slow the water to consolidate your resources. One can never argue with water. Water knows gravity and follows. Slowing the water increases the chances for plants to absorb it. Water falls gently to the plants below.
Easy Tea Gardens
There were areas where expensive and thirsty lawns had died off to expose the dusty soil below. The design adds wicking beds of tea herbs. These structures are multi-functional. They include relaxing garden seats.
Making A Sacred Space
A Sacred space is positioned beside the riverbank. The focal point could be a very large rock or platform. Large rocks are abstract but majestic. Abstract creations are not easily damaged by passing travelers. Sculptures, one the other hand, are at higher risk.
An alternative focal point is a defined space. A space can hold reverence. Often a sunken area formed by mounds, a glade of trees or walled garden feels inviting and embracing.
Residents will learn to eat what grows easily in their environment. This is easier than forcing the landscape to grow foods that we are in the habit of demanding. The notion of re-educating our palette helps us to adapt to climate uncertainty.
Connections with the broader local community are enriched by the allocation of space for a community garden. This design element is a win-win. The community garden would help maintain the neglected corner of the property whilst benefiting from ideas and better connections to the local community.
Key Activities in Staging Plan
Redress the risks
Build diversity and intensity within the existing gardens before building any new garden areas
Use natural attrition plan to replace evergreen trees on northern side of structures with deciduous trees
Start at Zone 0 and work outwards. For example: grow sprouts, seedlings and tea herbs. These provide a good yield for minimum cost and effort. Then add companion plants to the orchard.
“Wisdom enables us to work with the unknown and the known. Cleverness is limited to working with the miniscule known.” Prof. Stuart Hill
Wisdom says ‘This is good! I’m happy with this’. Whereas, cleverness says ‘there’s got to be a better way’. Cleverness is constantly searching for improvement. Whilst there is a purpose in life for cleverness. There is always rest in wisdom.
Clever Permaculture Design
Permaculture Design, at the outset, aims to be clever. Long term, it aims to be wise. Permaculture design develops stablisers that enrich the resilience of our lives, enhancers that make the system abundant and flows that help speed up the transfer of energy and plug up losses.
An example: a lifestyle stabilser might be the act of taking time to support others. They may support you or others in return. An enhancer might be having a back-up plan for when something in the system fails. like having a belt as well as braces to hold up Grandpa’s pants. An example of a flow device might be catching the waste from one project and using it right where it falls. For example, we might choose to step outside to peel the carrots on a hot summer day and the chickens can catch the peelings as they land.
Step Off the Treadmill
As we age our energy descends. We shift from trying to be perpetually clever and start to gain insights and wisdom. At this critical point we can choose to enjoy a companionable relationship with nature. We know it is better to aim to be efficient than to toil until we are worn out. Collectively, the habits become our culture. Permaculture is about gently shifting our habits to create a strong and more permanent culture.
Imagine weeding every time you step into a garden? The alternative could be radical and start eating the weeds or we could be less radical and just plan to let the chickens eat the weeds then we get to eat the chicken eggs. On a social level, we can free ourselves from debt and actively seek wisdom.
One of the quickest ways to acquire some wisdom is to ask an elder. The next source is observation. Permaculture is, in essence, about observation. When we seek to observe and see connections we are actively learning from clever connections. We can track how energy can be transferred and build efficient life-style designs.
Take control of your well-being and cook for yourself. You’re worth it
Plan the menu to dish up the healthy foods you love and are in season
Check what is in the cupboard before it expires
See what is growing in your garden
Write a shopping list
Buy locally made alternatives
Make your own sauces
Buy seasonally available food
Buy whole foods that will store well
Let people serve themselves at the table
Store food correctly to reduce pests in the kitchen such as weevils and cockroaches
Eat the Leftovers in curries, pies, pasties, pasta sauces, on pizzas and in lasagna or soups.
Have a rat-proof system of feeding leftovers to your chickens in the mornings, then put remainder in a metal enclosed worm-farm at night.
Turn your scraps back into food. Grow pumpkins and tomatoes from the seed. Grow ginger, sweet potato and shallots from a small piece of the tuber.
Each morning, chickens are ready and keen to work. They strive to convert food-waste to fertiliser. Gobbling scraps and frolicking in the garden is their idea of chicken-heaven. A little training may be required to teach old chickens to try new foods. One way to start your chickens eating the food waste is to offer them scraps each morning before offering them seed. A permaculture design helps you manage your chickens. It designs spaces for them to access a lot of their needs and it uses zoning and other design tools to absorb their products such as manure, dust and noise.
Superb Self-Motivated Workers
Chickens do a lot more than just eat your scraps. Dancing a funny kind of shuffle, scratching to aerate the soil then trimming the edges of the garden paths are natural activity for chickens. Most Chickens like to bathe in a dust bath which they make for themselves. Design their space to give them access to a dusty corner. Add diatomaceous earth to keep the bugs away.
In addition to all these natural attributes, chickens will hunt. They eat snails, baby snakes and a lot of insects pests and beneficial. So, you do need to manage them. They will also eat your food before you do. How can the docile domesticated chicken be expected to know what you want to eat or keep in the garden? If they like your scraps, then you can bet they will prefer them fresh. The hens will probably like to eat your favourite herbs and veggies. You are their master, guide them well with fencing. Fencing also keeps them safe from predators like dogs and foxes.
Kryptonite for Chickens
Not all chickens like the same foods, just the same and you and me. They will most of our scraps however, there are some you should not feed to them. We never feed our hens raw egg-shell because we don’t want them to get a taste for raw egg and start eating eggs in the nests. We pop the egg-shells into a metal bowl and store it in the oven. The shells dry out and get baked in the next preheat. When we open the door to put a dish in the oven out comes the baked egg shells. They are crushed with the end of cup and more shells are put on top. Eventually we feed the lot to the hens as part of their shell grit.
Mowing is another chicken specialty. Your hens will help mow the grass. They are not super neat but if you put grain along the edges they will start there. Build your flock gradually. Start with just a couple and slowly build the numbers two by two. If you get the right ratio of chickens to grass, there will be no bare earth. Two bantam chickens can neatly graze an established lawn of 1/8 acre. However, If you notice the lawn area is suffering over the winter, simply lock them in a straw yard. As spring approaches, your hens will bound out ready to work. These animated balls of fluff fertilise your garden with their manure and feathers. Ultimately, it is clever design of the garden layout and fencing that will give you management options.
A Daily Gift
At the end of the day you might even get some of their world-loved eggs. Eggs are the best protein and conveniently delivered in their handy little hard-cased compost-able packaging – Egg shells!
If chickens were as popular as cats and dogs,
the world's food waste would be halved
With a face of peace she lay anesthetised on the operating table late at night. It was 1956 in a small regional hospital. Her gall bladder had burst. The tired surgeon had a look and was shocked at the extent of the damage. His assistant said, ‘just stitch her up and don’t worry about all the extra cleaning’. The surgeon checked the patients notes, then looked at her face. He stepped back in surprise. “Do you know this patient?” “Um, Yes, she’s the boiler-makers wife”, “No! She is not just the boiler-maker’s wife…” He was now fast at work, careful and diligent. “This woman welcomed me to her little home for Christmas lunch when I was new to this country and all alone.”
Permaculture teaches us to recognise patterns: not just in nature but also in society. We can also observe and learn from patterns of behaviour, including our small circles of friends and family. By identifying patterns we can find inventive ways to learn and adapt. We search for ways to deflect harmful energies and foster useful energies. Keep faith in yourself to find peace in your heart, your family, community and keep working toward world peace because good planets are indeed hard to find.
12 Ways Of Celebration
1. Expect Less
Less is good for each and every one of us. People who expect less get pleasantly surprised when great things happen. On the other hand, those who demand a lot in life can become focused on the little disappointments.
Having less stuff is also really good for the planet. When stuff is made, it costs us in resources. Most of these resources are finite. These resources will run out one day. When stuff is transported, it costs the earth in fuel and storage. When stuff sits in your home, it costs you in storage space, time and chemicals to clean or maintain, then it sits in a rubbish heap for thousands or millions of years. Stuff is finite. Stuff does represent wealth. Whilst one person has stuff, another misses out. It is quite OK to have less stuff.
2. Serve up your best
Healthy food can be a real treat instead of processed food. Some processed foods can stir up irritability, depression and mood swings. Healthy foods don’t have to be more expensive. But the trade-off often means that to get serve healthy, unprocessed foods you need to set aside more time for preparation.
3. Take your time
Prepare your meal with a bit of patience. Allow time to serve a meal for a special occasion. Allowing an extra 2 hours can give you time to talk to your guests, answer the phone, supervise helpers, remember where you put something etc. Avoid experimenting in the kitchen on a special day. If you are going to have a day full of time-pressures and expectations, take the pressure off yourself. Unless you have the chance to practice making that special dish in the days beforehand, be kind to yourself and serve something you know you can do well. Another strategy to give yourself more time is to invite people for an evening meal instead of lunch.
4. Have mood-enhancing food
Comfort food is wholesome, nutritious and triggers happy memories. What were your family favourites in the festive period? Find how to make them fancy, fresh and healthy.
5. Make your own ‘tradition’
It is OK to serve cold foods in a hot climate. It is OK to eat outdoors instead of in the formal dining room. If it would help, don’t be afraid to ask your friends and relatives to bring their special dish to share. If you are invited to a celebration take a tray of nibbles that can be served or kept aside for later. (e.g. a box of assorted biscuits or chocolates). You can make a new tradition. One woman runs white picnics. She invites all her friends to dress in white, bring festive food to share and a rug. She has a different location each year but dresses up tables and a small shelter. Then she takes a photo of them all dressed in white.
6. Get outside
Outdoor spaces are healing. Eating outside and in public spaces can make the celebration more peaceful. Being outdoors reduces the background noise levels and the sense of confinement. It can be cooler in hot climates and can offer more space for the throng of people you love. It is OK set up a picnic on the front lawn or local park. You might like to invite the neighbors. Outdoor eating at night-time in warm climates is cooling, fun and festival. In cold climates you can break any old habits of grumbles around the table by taking you guests to a new venue – hire a small local hall or treat the family to a restaurant meal as their gift from you. It is far less likely that people will argue in a public place.
7. Set a safe festive atmosphere
Dress up in festive clothes, get out some music, add some talking pieces to the decor and provide silly hats. Bring out some festive cheer but remember to provide plenty of water and tasty drinks. Keep the alcohol low.Get fancy glasses for lots of mocktails as fun alternatives. Ensure that food is provided before any drinks are served. Drinktank noted a clear link between the availability of alcohol and domestic violence. Limiting the supply of alcohol delayed and lowered the risk of abuse due to intoxication. Taking these steps to slow the effect of alcohol, limit the intake and provide good alternatives works to lower the risk of abuse.
8. Be the change you wish to see
Be an angel of calm. Even when you feel rushed and tired, staying rational guides anyone who wants to helps. Keeping a good temperament, even if you feel disappointed in others, allows you have healthy discussions, fix any misunderstandings and find a way to achieve happy resolutions. Essentially, when you look calm and merry, your guests are more likely to feel welcome and behave agreeably.
9. Take things off the boil
Create distractions away from heavy conversation where year old grievances might raise their ugly head. On special days guests can tolerate a little quirky revelry. Provide opportunities to play old favourites like a ball game, a sing-along or a quick board-game. As the host, you have the rare opportunity to direct conversation to safe shores.
Bring out the crackers with dad jokes. A silly joke unites people (a sophisticated joke can leave some people feeling dumb).
Play with the children, even if this means you need to turn your socks into smelly puppets. Children are our hope for a better future. Teach them to value relationships more than the presents. The young ones are young for a few special holidays, so enjoy their company.
10. Let people retreat to peace
Most people are like lions. They like to rest peacefully after eating. In fact, there is a chemical released by the brain after eating that makes us sleepy. Give people plenty of comfortable options. Encourage your guests to find a place to laze and relax. Ideally, breaking into groups can help diffuse potential arguments in a group with disparate interests or opinions.
11. Be flexible
Once the feeding frenzy is over, try to relax. You can clean the dishes when it is all over. Enjoy the chance to connect with your guests. In conclusion, if you end up with a mess but no emotional damage then you can be happy that you have achieved your goal of peace and goodwill.
12. Focus on the present
You are the one who controls your speed. Enjoy what you’re doing in the here and now. For some people, the only time they allow themselves to slow down is when they get sick. Don’t wait until you are sick to be forced to slow down. After all, It is your holiday too. Savour the happy moments.
Doing a permaculture course changed our lifestyle completely. When we first heard about Permaculture, we had a tiny family, a dog and a lawn. We began to enjoy the new challenge of learning old skills. We started fixing things, growing food, making stuff work, and savouring the small successes. Instead of buying expensive stuff we spent our time and savings on building a healthier life, growing food and connecting with the amazing people in our community.
How Does a Course Enrich Us?
Every participant of a Permaculture Design Course has different needs and wishes. Yet, everyone goes home richer with knowledge and skills. The advantage of doing a course in the company of others is that you build friendships and a support network.
A permaculture design is as flexible as a bicycle. It can hum along in basic mode or you can ramp it up to a higher production mode whenever you want to. [Bill Mollison]
Doing a permaculture course in full enables you to create a design for yourself, your family, and friends. Your permaculture design can be drive by you as your needs change. Understanding how your design functions the connections. The productivity can be scaled up or back to fit your needs. The ultimate experience to be gleamed is empowerment.
The permaculture design course gives you more than a design.
It gives the skills and tools for empowerment.
In the earlier years of Permaculture interviews London asked: Short of starting a farm, what can we do to make our cities more sustainable?
Mollison answered: Catch the water off your roof. Grow your own food. Make your own energy. It’s insanely easy to do all that. It takes you less time to grow your food than to walk down to the supermarket to buy it. Ask any good organic gardener who mulches how much time he spends on his garden and he’ll say, “Oh, a few minutes every week.”
By the time you have taken your car and driven to the supermarket, taken your foraging-trolley and collected your wild greens, and driven back home again, you’ve spent a good hour or two — plus you’ve spent a lot of money. Permaculture can be as simple as sitting down and making a plan. A little effort is redirected from mowing to implementing the plan. Then time is spent harvesting the fruity rewards.
If you have always wanted to do a full permaculture design course, this is a great way to do it. Jump in. Immerse yourself in a full permaculture retreat with local and international participants of a range of ages and backgrounds.
Take time off to retreat and plan
Take time to slow down, think deep and plan for a new lifestyle. Perhaps you have already been learning heaps about Permaculture but not yet finished your PDC, this is a good chance to push through. Retreat and Renew. Learn about practical elements of growing food, social aspects of building resilience in your community and become more self-empowered.
Permaculture Sydney Institute engages only highly experienced and professional trainers for the Permaculture Design Certificate Course. All are practicing Permaculturalists deriving an income from Permaculture. Each has over 15 years experience in the movement, and vast experience in work and training. They also come highly skilled and qualified in a range of related professions and specialist areas.
If you want your stay to be super comfortable then be quick to book yourself a room. If you want to connect with nature and bring a tent there is the option to camp beside the pool and join in for hearty meals.
Lots more information at http://www.permaculturesydneyinstitute.org/permaculture-design-certificate/pdc-booking-form/
You could be forgiven if you thought that permaculture was about self-sufficiency. Self-sufficiency is not the idealised ‘GOOD LIFE’ as speculated in the 70’s by BBC. If you want long days of lonely, repetitive hard work and the very real risk of starvation and disease, then self-sufficiency would be for you.
Alternatively, if you are looking for a lifestyle that connects you with nature and your neighbours, boost your Self-Reliance.
In a nut-shell, Self-reliance enables empowerment through increased local production by giving, trading and/or sharing. ‘Self-Reliance’ values and cares for the weak and the elderly. Self-Reliance has the power to strengthen community connections, improve our health and the planet’s health.
Community Values You
Permaculture promotes a sense of community. The basic ethic of Caring for People drives us to build better communities. By consulting the community we design adaptable structures – physical and invisible. Physical structures include social hubs, educational and recreational areas. Invisible structures include trading centers, banking systems and news exchange facilities.
Permaculture designs for whole ‘villages’ not just individual households. This increases the efficiency of the waste cycles. Resources (physical, intellectual, social) are more immediate and usable. At best, the cycle of local production and disposal of the waste are tightly connected.
Self Reliance Grows By Sharing
Frequent exchange of little resources requires very little planning. In a busy community, resources are shared, traded and loaned. ‘Hand-me-downs’ are passed on as needed. Harvests and meals are casually shared. Valuable and timely knowledge is offered informally.
One of the most obvious features of this ‘informal’ economy is that the consumer and producer meet. They tend to be kind to one another. In his free e-book, Permaculture Strategy for the South African Villages Terry Leahy explores the power of the gift economy. The gift economy fulfills the permaculture principle of ‘working where it counts’.
In surprising contrast to this, small holdings can be highly productive and rewarding. This works especially well when the local community supports local food production directly through farmers markets.
Given that Rural suicide is significantly higher than urban, healthy relationships are the key to survival. When farmers need assistance (psychological, medical and veterinary services) help needs to be close at hand. Enriching the community bonds through localised trade helps to build bridges and understanding.
Owning a large property is huge responsibility
Large properties have heavy maintenance requirements. The cost of neglect can increase the risk of disasters such as fire. A community management team can help share this responsibility and combine resources for tree loping, noxious weeds control, soil erosion management, water pollution filtration, and emergency response.
Elders adopt the ‘benefactor’ model
Elders can share their workload whilst mentoring young people. Sharing your resources, skills and know-how creates a closer-knit community.
This is known as the ‘benefactor’ model. This model works well for Polyface farms and other small communities. As a result, a succession of skilled people in a specialist field is ensured.
Permaculture values people as well as our environment.
The Humble chicken is a Pop Icon. Today, she is one of the most successful species on earth. There are more chickens than the humans. And unlike most domesticated animals they continue thrive in the wild. As a result of our relationship with the chicken, there are now thousands of breeds of chickens. Chickens are almost as loved as cats and dogs. This success is a result of their resourceful and adaptable nature.
For a long time, chickens have been familiar with us. Whilst people may be blind to plants, but they’re not blind to furry creatures with faces. Early chickens sailed the world, traveling across the Pacific into America and beyond. Long before Europeans did. Most people know what a chicken looks like, what it eats and what it makes. In fact, more people could manage a chicken than any other farm animal. The chicken is a cheap and multifunctional tool for environmental living. It is a quick composter, a natural fertiliser producer and quick pest controller. This is how the little chicken en-graced itself it so many busy people’s lifestyle.
How did they become a Permaculture Pop Icon?
Permaculture is a tricky design concept. It is very hard to explain in a click-bite. Yet, most people can guess what goes in and what comes out of this handy little Icon. One of the basic tools for making a permaculture design is to find compatible placements for things.
When we know what goes in and what comes out, we can design for these needs. Ideally, we put an element right near the supplies it needs and we let it deliver the waste (like the golden gifts) where we can use and collect it.
The ins and outs of a simple Pop Icon
In hindsight, we can see how the example of the chicken really is clear and understandable. When we design smartly, we enable the chickens to deposit their fertiliser right where we need it. We are giving the chicken a comfortable home and grazing space that also gives the garden fertiliser, weed and pest control. The eggs are easy to collect, cool and clean.
Next Big Thing for this Pop Icon
The biggest challenge for the chicken is to become as well-loved as the cat. Unfortunately the chicken does have a major social indiscretion. She seems unable to be toilet trained. Could compost-able diapers for hand-bag chickens be the next fashion trend? If the chicken was to attain high popularity as a pet, an enormous amount of food waste would be reduced.
In fact, the chicken is poised to rise from the status of Pop Icon to an environmental Super-hero.
Most of the time, Bill Mollison smiled and lied. He led people to believe that change to a permanent culture was “embarrassingly simple” .
As a result, thousands of Australians were filled with optimism believing they could be instrumental change makers. Despite the fact that there were few demonstration sites and not much scientific evidence, a lot was invested by everyday people. And a lot of paid off.
The technical limitations of the 70s and 80s were huge. Most people didn’t know what food plants looked like, how to store rainwater in the soil, how to establish local barter systems or how to harness natural energies. But the ‘earth-carers’ of this new era moved with confidence and built a wealth of really handy information. With confidence, a movement grew to include research councils, academic clout and beautiful demonstration sites.
Unafraid Of The Unknown
Impatient and unwilling to wait for further research papers to prove the theories of permaculture, Bill encouraged people to go out and try things for themselves.
It was a brave stunt and it paid off. Without any funding or scientific rigor, many people went out and just did stuff. Although most of city projects were a mix of half-baked weekend projects and ‘so-called hippy’ social experiments, we must not forget the resounding successes in starving nations like Cuba. (Many quiet and hard working Australians like Robyn Francis and Robyn Clayfield went abroad to help people in need. And many are still there). From those bare-faced, naive Australians a gigantic world-wide movement grew.
Bill ‘Let It Go’
Success came by encouraging anyone who would listen and anyone who cared.
Ordinary people began to do extra-ordinary things.
Anyone and everyone was encouraged to try to build their observation skills, listen to nature, own homes, raise their children with different thinking and defy long held, well promoted customs and laws. Unfortunately, some of these laws and customs remain ridiculously defiant. (i.e. keeping thirsty, high maintenance lawns or not daring to hang your laundry outside). But other customs have quickly changed. Many practices such as mulching, harvesting water into tanks or rain-gardens, recycling, composting and worm-farming are now commonplace around the world.
Above all, it was this immense naive optimism that enriched millions of people’s lives. The optimism achieved mundane targets of reduced their waste whilst offering grand hopes for a better future.
Bill saw the desperate need for action and he led those willing to adapt.
Bill didn’t invent the wheel. Instead, he built the connections and handed us the steering wheel. Whilst he often acknowledged his mentors, he saw how a new set of values and design thinking could shape a new, sustainable, culture. These teachings were timely, insightful and brutally honest.
It’s Our Turn
At the Sydney National Permaculture Convergence Bill said he ‘stood on the shoulders of giants’. Perhaps his sudden rise to fame after winning the alternative Nobel Prize gave Bill super-confidence. Or perhaps it was because he enjoyed shocking people into action. Regardless of the root cause, Bill Mollison became Gladwell’s tipping-point salesman.
With his recent passing, it is now our turn to share the optimism, harvest information from the elders, support the new promoters, and continue to forge ahead.
Ownership is Ours
The 70s change-makers didn’t just follow his ideas. They were enthusiastic about them and owned the results. Yes they often failed but shared this and made continual improvements. Because the small successes were so frequent and so sweet they pushed on. Slowly but surely, the work of these lone-wolf pioneers built the huge banks of knowledge and resources we now know as permaculture.
Consequently, this wealth of information and ideas now belongs to us all. This empowerment was conceived by optimism and fed by a sense of adventure. People had food in their bellies and many surprise side-products to savour.
Empowerment is a gift that last for generations.
This empowered movement gave young people the confidence to build a better future. And many became those new change makers. As we enter each new era we need to keep our focus on empowering the young.
Permaculture is now more than just growing food in the cities to reduce pressure on existing forests. Permaculture is also about the social development needed for a sustainable relationships. Building peaceful relationships with one another and with the earth.
Since the 80s we have demonstrated how easy it is to grow food in the cities. We now turn our minds to developing the social aspects of Permaculture. This is the new frontier. With a similar spirit of hopefulness we can generate extra-ordinary action.
Finally, climate change is on the mouths of babes.
When Enough People Lead,
The Leaders Will Follow
When politicians and religions leaders such as Pope Francis start discussing the environment it is essential that we bring the gap between the enlightened elders and mainstream. Those aged aquarians, greenies, gurus and pacificists have a lot to teach us. They represent decades of failure as well as progress. Actually, it is the years of failures that are more precious than the small successes that have been adopted by mainstream (composting, pet chickens, mulching, rain-gardens, solar panels, rain-water tanks, biochar). This wealth of knowledge equips mankind to build a sensitive path to a cleaner future.
It’s Not About The Planet, It’s All About Us
Let’s be honest, the issue is not about saving the planet. This global call for action is about saving ourselves. Mankind has a very sensitive set of climate comforts. We can’t bear hotter temperatures. Most of us at sea-level but our homes don’t float. The food we eat also needs particular climate conditions. In fact, most of us only eat 12 different types of food plants. So we are enjoying a very fragile set of cultural conditions. And those conditions are indeed changing. There are very few people who continue to challenge the science. And there are many more enjoying an enriched and empowered lifestyle.
Quiet Permaculture Leaders
Permaculture leaders are usually humbly working and living on their sites. They rarely get out and would rather be designing than advocating. Being an advocate is not their strength, they are out of tune with modern propaganda. But they are very much in tune with design, efficiency and laws of nature and energy. They live by the principle of obtaining a yield. Screaming at the deaf is not something they would enjoy. But when the objectors quieten down, they can hear the singing.
Sometimes, the permaculture leaders leave their native habitat to go to convergences. They pack away their day-to-day musings, half finished projects, rare breeds and quirky experiments. They pack a bag, maybe scribble a presentation and venture out. In fact, most elders at the convergences don’t even present. You have to walk up to them and ask them about themselves. It is their curiosity in the mainstream world and trust in sharing that brings them to invest in others.
At these rare moments you get a glimpse of the philosophy behind the showcases of best practice in sustainable living. Once or twice in a decade a leader will join a permaculture convergence. It is at this moment you may get the chance to meet a real leader. Then you can see them demonstrate how permaculture can bring about positive changes in many people’s lives.
Get On Board!
Come and join the upcoming convergence in Perth, Australia in a few weeks. You can share your story and part of the solution. One of the best experiences in permaculture is being able to go and visit mature sites. There are some great tours after this convergence with rare glimpses into abundant, tested and functional permaculture gardens and homes. You will also get to meet many permaculture leaders and discover how it works in their unique bio-region.
Find out more at www.apc13.org and join us on facebook to keep up-to-date with the program and events. You can also volunteer for the event here. You can also support an elder to get to the convergence here.