Permaculture strives to design a healthier environment and society. Regenerative farming has come along quickly but social permaculture designs have been a bit slower to emerge. Peaceful societies are less destructive to the environment. Good business models, valued workers and clean work environments are good for everyone.
One fundamental permaculture strategy is to make small changes where they are most effective. Lets take a peek at an industry that could do with a little greening: the beauty industry. The beauty industry touches everyone. It has been slow to move on social and environmental issues yet, these small changes can have a huge effect. Freeing people of toxic chemicals, and poor work conditions has resounding benefits.
Ecological and Social Style
In salons around the world, customers pay a small fortune to look good. Unfortunately the average hair stylist is poorly paid, often earning less than the minimum wage. This glamorous carer rarely gets a meal break, is standing all day and exposed to horrendous chemicals including formaldehyde. The beauty industry is not famous for the way it treats the workers or the chemicals is pours into the environment. But change is in.
Lloyd KK took the plunge and opened the first eco-hair studio in his region. He “wanted to use chemicals that have a low environmental impact, that were plant-based and renewable. ” He noticed “the green chemistry colours also have a shinier, more natural feeling results…Previously, I used to have chemical reactions to other colours, ie itchy hands/skin, skin peeling and puffy itchy face. These colours do not cause any of these reactions”
How To Avoid ‘Environmental’ Smoke and Mirrors
For the rare business owner who wants to improve their environmental credentials there are very few models to follow. On the other hand, there are a lot of ‘green’ imposters.
Firstly, Lloyd set about retrofitting old furniture, researched composting systems and trailed low-toxic products. Then he researched and assessed environmental costs of consumables and how to recycle them. He also chose green power and low-cost lighting. Finally he set up systems to minimise waste in the business.
In summary, the process of greening traditional businesses like the hair industry will become easier. As customers demand ecological responsibility and value healthy practice, the suppliers will adapt.
For businesses wanting to lead the change and reduce environmental costs we recommend international Quality Environmental Systems [EMS]. You can achieve self-assessment or simply use the system as a guide.
Ultimately, being prepared to up-cycle, retrofit and adapt equipment will reduce environmental costs, build a better culture and save your business money.
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.
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.
listening to elders. Involve elders in creative processes
seeking traditional know-how. Rediscover traditional processes, story-telling, music and costuming
communicating and sharing feelings, knowledge and resources.
Theatre – a vital part of culture
For thousands of years, drama has been a valuable tool for a community to communicate and share knowledge. Theatres bring people together. For many tribal communities, Theatrical drama has been one of the most successful tools for consulting one-another and passing information.
Another useful feature of theatre is the promotion co-operation rather than competition. Seeking co-operation is a fundamental permaculture principle. When we work in co-operation with one another we can find peaceful resolutions. Peace offers stability. Stability offers sustainability.
In the Chikukwa project they use role play drama to teach one another how to create a permaculture garden.
How can we get more play-acting, drama and theatre in our culture?
Support live performances
This does require an effort to get up off the couch, dress up and go to a live venue. In some towns, there is very little live drama or music left. TV, radio and the internet have replaced live performances. People work long hours and live too far from the hub of society. But the trends can be reversed. We can make a special effort to get to the theatre and value the spontaneity, talent and energy required to make live theatre magical.
Make Your Own Performances Spaces
Theatrical spaces can be low tech. They can be outdoor theatre spaces. Try your own living space for entertaining others. Ask you favourite artists to do a home-concert or play. If you are a performer – a great way to earn extra support is to offer exclusive concerts for small audiences.
Dramatise Your World
Reading aloud, acting out, role-play, story telling, puppetry and games can enrich your time with others, especially children. Let them lead your creativity.
Celebrate the beauty of nature and relationships with photographs, blogs, play and song. Each moment we spend engaging in drama or creative play is richer than time wandering aimlessly as a consumer.
Engage In ‘Dream-time’
Explore the world of your own imagination. Write, make music, dance, speak and sing. Seek others to enjoy your active entertainment.
Design An Amazing Outdoor Theatre
In permaculture we aim have multi-functional elements in a site design. We can create multifunctional spaces. A sloped site can be used for outdoor performances, lectures, workshops. It can be designed to harvest water, provide fertile growing space and evenly distributed solar access.
Low, intensive garden beds can be created along the contour of the slope. These beds can catch and store water. Seating can be positioned on the stage side. Paths function as seating area for patrons as well as the water.
Storm water can be harvested in a pond at the base of the sloped seating. The pond will also serve to bounce sound and reflect light. A flat area at the bottom of the garden can serve as a stage or teaching space. In traditional roman-style theatres the stage is at the bottom of the incline. This style offers good acoustics and views.
Permaculture design thinking has brought success in many situations. Permaculture seeded the transition movement, built huge aid development programs and helped millions of urban gardeners worldwide. Permaculture techniques have enriched farm regeneration. But you don’t have to leave the armchair to use permaculture thinking. New groundbreaking social structures are popping. And business strategies have emerged.
We strive for a fair share but the ultimate success would be a win-win. A win for a rich and diverse environment and a win for human health and prosperity.
Principles: Stabilisers, Enhancers and Flows
A holistic design approach can contain steady stabilisers, fancy enhancers and an ability for energy and information flow.
System stabilisers build resilience into a design.
System enhancers enable acceleration.
The principles that encourage flow let the system self-check, adjust or adapt.
Mollison says ‘A permaculture design is like a bicycle’. With this new perspective we can see that the seat, pedals and symmetry of the tool ensures stability. The tyres providing padding to the wheels, the suspension under the seat, the gears and the brakes are all system enhancers. The bicycle chain enables the obvious notion of a flow of energy from the pedals to the wheels. But another clever system flow device is the steering. The steering mechanism lets the rider respond to changes in the path. This allows information to flow from the bicycle to the rider. Adaption can be instantaneous and smooth. The modern bicycle is a clever and comfortable design. A skilled rider can steer without touching the handle bar and often without concentrating.
Permaculture aims to design a culture that is as comfortable,
responsive and sustainable as a bicycle.
A Fresh Look at Early Permaculture Principles
Bill Mollison’s Principles:
Mollison didn’t formally list a set of permaculture principles in his text. But he and many other permaculture teachers have gleaned these from his texts including Permaculture: A Designer’s Manual.
Permaculture Principles To Build Stability
Relative location: position elements in the design so that there is minimal transport between them. Use natural forces where ever possible to work for you.
Multiple functions for each element: Each Element in the design should be used and positioned to perform a range of functions. For Example: A driveway for vehicles can also be used to harvest water and low growing plants can be planted onto the center strip of the driveway.
Multiple elements for each function: Satisfy each required function with more than just one element. E.g. heating can come from multiple elements – a mini greenhouse; a wood-fired stove, geothermal, solar radiators or trombe wall.
Energy Efficiency: Run your equipment to its potential. Share (or hire) equipment. Support durable technology that is adaptable and is easy to maintain.
Stacking increases the productivity of a system. A forest often has many layers: bulbs, moss, grasses, ground covers, Fungi, Herbs, Shrubs, Small trees, Epiphytes and Aerial plants, Vines, Climax Species, Parasitic plants. We applied this handy design tool in our chicken house design.
Consider Context: Work with the natural and social energies of the landscape and the community. At the steps of parliament house, Berlin (TheReistag), there is a grassed area that is designed to withstand wet conditions and high pedestrian traffic. In this situation, the compromise of hard and soft landscape tools works well with nature and also provides for the needs of the people.
Permaculture Design Enhancers
Stress-free Yield: By giving each element several functions we can accept that not all the functions can be performed all the time. A duck will hunt for snails, eat weeds and fertilise the garden. She will swim, preen, mate or shout at strangers. The eggs that are produced per busy duck are lower than in controlled conditions but the sum of all the functions is greater.
Use Biological Resources. Fossil fuel is best used
when it makes itself redundant eg. a Tractor can work a landscape that will no longer require a tractor to manage it.
Diversity includes a variety of species of food plants or animals. Diversity in nature builds resilience and resistance to pest attack. It also lets us find which variety works well in our own particular climate and micro-climates.
Information and Observation replaces Energy: Intensive systems with feedback and observation are more productive and reduce waste.
Permaculture Flow Mechanisms
Natural Succession: Imitate nature in your plans to help a system evolve to meet your needs. Build a food forest that looks and behaves very like your local natural forest.
Appropriate Technology: Maximise the use of a technology by sharing or hiring equipment. Make sure your equipment works to full capacity. Choose the simplest and most effective technologies first.
Energy Flow: harness existing energy flows E.g. Wind, wave solar, gravity or running water.
Learn about Permaculture with us, the pioneers of online permaculture training.
Children have the opportunity to make a cultural shift. When a young person discovers new foods, they set patterns of eating and behaviour that will shape the way their culture relates to the land and to native foods. Here is a moment for humanity to make a lasting difference. Any dependency on imported foods can be surpassed. The young family can build a rich understanding and respect for the natural world.
“Perhaps there is no greater thing we can do for our children than to ensure they receive their birthright, a love and understanding of nature and a knowledge of their place in it.” Janet Millington
Children – Nature and Nurture
By working with nature and not against her, the potential is greater. For example: one of Australia’s first huge mining towns, Broken Hill, has now become one of the biggest solar generation towns. All it took was an attitude shift.
Young people have heaps of attitude! We can work with their inventive nature as well as nurturing their love of nature. At the recent Illawarra Greenflicks event, we gave out our permaculture fortune tellers to get young people thinking positive about the things that they can do for a better future.
The Crossingputs sustainability into action for young people to protect and enhance the natural environment. We do this by involving young people in permaculture, landcare and habitat survey on journeys with us. These journeys can include hiking, canoeing and mountain biking.
Pioneering Outdoor Classrooms: CAROLYN NUTTALL and JANET MILLINGTON wrote their book to promote connecting with nature in young school children. “Permaculture is about all aspects of human interaction with the environment. For many reasons, including the reduction of open space and the issues relating to the safety of children and the advances in computers, those afternoons of running free with nature have all but ceased for most children today.”
Roman Shapla, a graduate of ours has been developing a Children’s Permaculture Design Course. Anything that is taught to adults can be introduced to children. We just need to allow more time and flexibility in the delivery.
Another graduate of ours helped build a highly school permaculture garden in an industrial heartland, Cringilla Primary School has engaged, empowered, informed and active green children.
Start Small and Be Effective
One of the permaculture principles taught by Bill Mollison is to start small and be successful. This gives positive feedback, experience and energy to reach for more. Young people yearn for a better environment. The first steps are to:
build awareness of their foot-print,
give young people easy ways to reduce their impact
You don’t need a rooster (male chicken) in your flock. Your hens (females) will live happily without a rooster. Sometimes, a rooster is handy to guard the flock and help solve problems. But when the claws are out, a rooster is no real protection against predators like wild dogs, quolls, wild cats and foxes.
A rooster can be a gentle leader. A good rooster helps finds food and he eats after the hens have eaten. A kind rooster will check out the nests for suitability and he sometimes pretends to lay in his efforts to assure the hens. Some roosters may be brave and put themselves in danger to protect his flock.
But beware, many roosters are simply mean and selfish.
Breeding Your Own Chickens
If you wish to breed your own chickens, you can get a rooster or you can buy fertile eggs. The main strategy of a breeding program should be to keep the loyal and gentle roosters. Don’t judge a rooster on looks alone. Even if you choose a quiet one, his gentle nature can change if he gets stressed. Watch for aggression and be prepared to cull.
Roosters and hens have very complicated relationships. A rooster will sometimes lie to his hens, clucking the signal “I’ve found food” when actually, he has not found any food and is just drawing them nearer. In these moments the rooster takes advantage of the temporarily puzzled and distracted hen and will mate with her. The amazing flip-side of this is that the hens nearly always know they are being lied to but choose to play along.
If you are keeping hens in a protected space, safe from dogs and foxes, you don’t need a rooster. Hens are very happy to lay eggs without having the complication of a rooster.
If you have a rooster, it can be harder to find their hens nests. The hens can go broody often, loose weight and lay less eggs. All the eggs will need careful monitoring for freshness. Be careful, fertile eggs can be laid weeks after a rooster is gone.
World Peace Starts at Home
Few people enjoy the sound of a rooster crowing in the morning. There are laws against these pesky noise disturbances. Find out the laws. If you can’t have a rooster, support a local breeder instead. There are lots of conscientious breeders like Avonstour in New Zealand who would love your support. If you want to breed quiet poultry, breed quail instead.
The Permaculture Rooster Works Hard
The Permaculture Rooster has many functions. He keeps alert for dogs, cats, snakes and eagles. He searches for new foods and suitable dust-bathing places. He is hot on the heels of the keeper each morning. He pays attention to where the weed-clearing is to be conducted and will return during the day in case he missed something. [The keeper is careful to define the work-space by throwing some seed or food-scraps]. The keeper can call the rooster when he is needed and the brood will follow.
The permaculture rooster works hard in the garden with the flock. He also listens and responds to distress calls from laying hens. He enjoys hiding in the bushes when the flock are resting or taking a bath. The permaculture rooster is camouflaged and on guard in the bushes. He is agile, fit and trim (not so great for eating) and smart.
A happy rooster can live a full 8 or 10 years. The rooster maintains his dignity yet lets the keeper attend to him if he gets sick or injured. But like all great gurus, he will slow down, and eventually hand over the reins to a younger guy. When his time is up, his body will make great fertiliser for a young tree. He needs to buried deep so the fox can’t find him.
Gentle Genes Live On
The chicken is one of the most well-traveled, cuddly and functional companions of the human race. The beauty of the chicken in a garden system is it will eat stuff we can’t and shouldn’t eat [like maggots and centipedes]. Chickens can turn also pests into eggs.
Here’s Mr Bean’s take on the cold – to get the ideas started.
The best energy principle for Cozy Living: When air moves, it cools down.
How Energy Works For Us:
Air transfers its energy to whatever to hits. When air hits the window, it transfers its warmth to the glass and the glass then transfers energy to outside when the outside is cooler. Energy (via Entropy) likes to go from hot to cold, from order to disorder, from a heat source to the wider universe. If want to stop sending energy to the universe, slow the airflow down by having smaller living spaces (you can use curtains to section off smaller areas in a large open-plan home).
The sun provides a lot of natural light and warmth. With double glazing, this warmth can be trapped. It is the still air between the two sets of glass panes that provides the insulating layer in double glazing. The insulation is not from the panes. So, if you want to let natural light through but don’t want the heat to escape than any two layers of material ie. recycled bubble-wrap, perspex, fabric will work. If you choose to use a plastic wrap, be aware that it can melt to the glass so put a layer of white curtain up first, then the wrap. A simple white curtain will trap the air between the windowpane and the room and continue to provide light. If you are serious about stopping heat loss at night, you can use a heavy blind or comforter and make sure the edges around the window are well covered. Have a cover over the top to stop warm air rising. A pelmet can be made out of wood, covered cardboard or an extra length of material draped over the curtain tops. Avoid Styrofoam as it kills many animals and never decays. Styrofoam rises from the dead to kill again.
Check the sun’s path for your location. The sun-less windows and walls of your home can be a cold sink where all the heat is zapped. Not much morning sun comes in on the west so there is little or no point in keeping these windows open for natural light unless they are your only morning light source. These are the windows that warrant the most insulation at night.
People generate a surprising amount of heat. Imagine if we were able to contain this heat and not let it continue to slip out into the universe. Can you modify some of your routine so you get to bed early where it is snug and warm? How can you optimise your access to natural light and warmth?
Gravity can also work for you. The beauty of heavy curtains is that they are self-closing using gravity. You don’t have to constantly ask for people to close the door. And curtains can be easily opened to release excess heat into other rooms of the house. Curtains made out of recycled woolen blankets can be fire-retardant and can be cleaned.
Insulation stops heat transfer. There are several ways to insulate the home and wood is one of the best insulators and also offers thermal stability. Wood has high R rating and great thermal stability. If the walls are not to be tampered with [possibly because they have toxic paint or asbestos in them] then you can use internal wood paneling. The thicker the wooden panels, the better the thermal mass. If you don’t own the home, you can build or salvage a lot of tall timber bookcases and fill them with books. (Be careful to attach the bookcases so they won’t fall forward).
Get the right amount of thermal mass. Thermal mass is not a substitute for insulation, it is the home’s air-energy battery. Too much mass can mean the room can take forever to heat up or cool down. Do the calculations to find the right amount of thermal mass for you climate and room sizes. Experiment with your thermal mass by adding thermal mass objects one piece at a time.
Air moves from high density to less density. Any passing breezes will suck out air in the house. It is not uncommon to see people stand and chat with their front door open. An open door can act like vacuum, sucking out any heat within. If you are lucky to have a door that is in a sunny spot – you can boost your natural energy source by installing a little greenhouse on the door – the greenhouse door will cut drafts (by creating an air-lock) AND the greenhouse will help heat your house. Your greenhouse airlock can be as light as a tent and made out of recycled plastic (like packaging for furniture) or glass, can be relocated to your next home. Alternatively, you could make the airlock out of white curtain material and a waterproof roof. The main aim of an attached greenhouse is stop airflow and let natural light through.
Simple Steps to Cut Your Heat and Money Losses
Rug up in the living room. Wear warm clothes but make sure the visitors are cozy too. You can offer your visitors some wraps and slippers. Permaculture is about building a sustainable culture. Building a culture that is cozy and fun for everyone is more likely to be sustainable. If you are having lots of visitors, it is great to share a cozy fire and if we use big theatrical style curtains to slow the air flow, the visitors can also enjoy the warm atmosphere.
Look up and look down. Many people forget that heat is also lost through the ceiling and floor. Low ceilings are easier to heat than high ceilings. If you have a high ceiling, make sure it is insulated and install a fan that can be reversed in winter to push warm air back down. Check all sky lights are well sealed and consider getting double glazing on them.
An extra floor pad with high thermal mass is useful where the sun can shine upon it. If you can’t insulate the floor, you can use lots of rugs underfoot to stop drafts.
Install a solar heating system that can go in through a window. Support manufacturers who use recycled components e.g. CanSolAir solarfurnaces. A ‘floating floor’ can be used as a low-cost low-thermal-mass large-area heater. It can contain pipes that are heated. The heating can be done outdoors by the sun. You can even use recycled pipe, a compost pile, or tank that is heated by a slow outdoor burner. A floating floor would be tricky to take with you, but something like a bench seat above it could be handy and fun. The pipes could be a simple coil of black pipe that sits outside the window and comes in through the window via a modified wooden panel with holes for the pipe inlet and outlet.
Turn your Savings into Investments
We don’t need to suffer the cold and we don’t have to suffer big bills. There are lots of options for getting cozy. The first focus would be to reducing the losses.
Once your energy losses are cut, you can evaluate how much heating you need. Invest your savings in energy from nature like capturing the warmth from the sunny windows onto thermal mass or getting solar heating piped in through a modified window pane. These tools and skills are transportable and can travel with you to your next home.
Cutting your big bills gets you the resources to build a sustainable future.
Learn how to grow food. Find the difference between organic gardening and permaculture living. Design to use natural energy in your living and workplaces. Build community. Get a good grounding in permaculture with a combination of theory and on-site learning. Get the lifestyle your really want by doing a course to build your planning and design skills.
Are you bursting to do something positive to help stem climate change? This course is for those who are ready for an empowered, permaculture lifestyle and want to get the skills to make that happen.
“What permaculturists are doing is (some of) the most important activity that any group is doing on the planet. We don’t know what the details of a truly sustainable future are going to be like, but we need options. We need people experimenting in all kinds of ways and permaculturists are one of the critical groups that are doing that”. ~Dr. David Suzuki, Geneticist, Renowned Environmentalist and Broadcaster
This twelve-day intensive retreat covers everything from exploring the relationship between our health and soil health to finding social strategies – it’s a course filled with permaculture concepts, knowledge, techniques and practice. The overall goal is always to build a better future for all.
How To Create A Better Future
Turn Your Dreams Into Functional Designs.
The first step in enriching our lives is to take stock of what we have left. The planet will survive, but mankind’s habitat is challenged. So, What do we really want and what do we need? What people need is pretty simple (yet surprisingly delicate). How can we determine if it’s gone or going?
What Do YOU Really Wish For?
We all need clean air, clean water, clean soil, genetic material. Most of us also desire freedom, a sense of purpose, connection with nature and connection with others.
A permaculture course gives us skills to measure, interact, design and protect what we have and enrich that which needs.
Permaculture topics as taught by Bill Mollison. We ensure the Designers Manual is fully covered as the main curriculum
an abundance of extra resources and topics to support the main curriculum and provide variable perspectives of the main topics
specialist expertise and knowledge (drawing on the strengths of trainers) with a range of experienced quality trainers to cover topics of the Permaculture Design Certificate in which they have
theory and practice of permaculture with a range of delivery styles and methods throughout the course including small group work, one to one work, lecture style sessions and whole group discussions
A real life, whole design process from interviewing the client, formulating the brief, gathering data for the site, developing a design and finally presenting the design
specialist and specific design exercises as well as total design exercises
a swag of essential designers skills and knowledge
Our courses are a bit longer than others – so we can ensure we make it the best possible experience for you. PSI honors the two-week intensive Permaculture Design Certificate course format traditionally designed by Bill Mollison. We believe our format produces the best possible outcomes and learning experience for participants as it was designed to do.
Permaculture Sydney Institute aims to provide the participants with both the skills and the confidence to start “doing it” themselves. We guarantee participants will be able to go home and do what they have learned in the course. Permaculture Sydney Institute is committed to quality education, quality outcomes and quality of life for each participant. Follow up contact and support for graduates is also provided after the course.
Once completed the Permaculture Design Certificate participants will
Have a through understanding of Permaculture and its theory, ethics, principles and techniques and why it is critical in obtaining a truly sustainable society
Know how to design and create a permaculture system in both town or country settings
Have acquired the skills and confidence to proceed on their own garden design and construction (with some help of their Permaculture group and friends)
Be familiar with the design process from client interview to presentation of design
Have professional options for Permaculture including ones own Pc business
Have acquired some practical design skills required for construction e.g.: map & landscape reading, marking contours and making swales and other criteria.
Your Investment Permaculture Sydney Institute is able to offer course participants a flexible fee scale depending what type of accommodation you choose and your personal situation. Remember, the venue is a beautiful country retreat so whatever accommodation type you choose you will be doing the most important course of your life in a fantastic setting. You couldn’t ask for more.
Walking and being outdoor changes the brain. Students can become more creative, more observant and less stressed. There are many benefits for the students and the educators to step outside.
Sadly, teachers have a lot of administrative pressures. They have to ensure that they address the many areas of the curriculum. We can support teachers by offering them studies that explain which part of the curriculum the outdoor activities meet. Being outdoors boosts our physical and mental health.
Health, Movement & Exploration
Connecting children with nature reduces their stress. It also increases the chance of nature being less stressed by human impact. Connections with nature enable a child to understand how nature works and builds empathy for others and their respect for the natural environment on which their lives depend.
Nature-based activities can enrich the learning program. We can even go one step further and design an amazing garden class-room.
The process of re-discovering and developing nature-based games can be a lesson in history and creativity. What did children play with before plastic toys became abundant? This is a wonderful opportunity to build imagination. Encourage the children be part of this re-discovery.
Activities include weather observations, seed-raising, ‘mini-beasts’ or ‘micro-creature’ measurements and mapping of their web-of-life, drawing and classification (worms, insects). Science experiments about pH, cooking and cultural discussions about food, hygiene and disease, microscopic adventures about fungi and bacteria, research into origins of medicinal plants and much more.
In the garden children can use tall sticks (ie. banana stems, sugarcane, sunflowers, artichokes, sage) as structural material to build tipis, towers or sculptures. The garden classroom can be a great resource for learning about aboriginal houses or traditional home structures, building and shelters. Whether you build a full-size replica or models, the children learn how to use genuine natural resources like poles and natural rope.
Weaving with edible plant material (especially from strong vines like kiwi-fruit and passion-fruit) is a meditative and mathematical activity. Food plants provide healthy, low allergy weaving and building materials.
Storytelling and Story writing
The range of light levels within a garden allows children to find their ideal light level to suit their reading, writing and working. Storytelling in an open space can be difficult in the city if there is a lot of environment noise, or it can become a theatrical challenge. The garden classroom can designed to amplify the production. Outdoors, the story-teller has an excuse to dramatise the text in order to be heard.
The garden classroom is a fresh and ever-evolving space full of material for story writing. Children can explore new ways to tell a story or better grasp old poetry, the importance of traditional story-telling, the tribal ‘sense of place’, the dreamtimeand ancient maps.
But the man from Snowy River let the pony have his head,
And he swung his stockwhip round and gave a cheer,
And he raced him down the mountain like a torrent down its bed,
While the others stood and watched in very fear. [Banjo Paterson]
How Can We Design a Garden-Classroom
Apply Fundamental Permaculture Design Principles
Permaculture principles are a valuable tool to apply to learning and can guide our design of a productive learning space. There are various permaculture principles but here we can examine two of the fundamental permaculture principles:
1. Every element provides many functions
2. Every function is met by many elements.
For example: a simple letter-box/mail-box is an element. It collects the mail, displays a house number, is a guidepost in heavy weather. It can also support a vine or can be, albeit unwittingly, an insect or arachnid home. One of these functions (the less desirable one) of ‘housing insects’ can be supported by various other elements i.e. hollow trees, bee boxes or the neighbours letter-boxes :>
1. Every Element provides many Functions
2. Every Function is met by many Elements
Permaculture Principles in the Learning Space:
Every Element in the learning space
provides many Functions
One of the elements in an outdoor space is a shade-tree. This shade tree can provide many other functions: wind and rain protection, leaf litter for mulch, poles, habitat for wildlife, a structure to hang a swing or decorative artworks, a play space.
Every Function in the learning space met by many Elements.
The function – shade, can be supported by many other elements. We can use deciduous trees, domes, tipis frames with woven vines , suspended shade material (recycled sheets can be used), sun hats and/or umbrellas. Children may enjoy painting and erecting old sheets or drop-cloths as an art project to add colour to the space. Poles can be gathered from fallen or pruned branches of nearby trees. Using recycled materials and resources from nature builds empowerment and problem solving.
Ideally, the process of design consults the school staff, the community and the children. The design needs to be able to adapt to the changing community needs. Consulting the stakeholders helps us define the elements desired. Work with the shape of the land and do a full permaculture design with the confidence of knowing that compost resources will be abundant if the children deposit their food scraps and the garden. Maintenance workers can provide some weaving material as well as mulching material such as grass clippings.
The school garden may be one the few green spaces in a city. Many of the residents near the school welcome the opportunity to participate in growing food, creating a beautiful gardens with the children and increasing habitat for birds and native bees.
Encourage the community to find ways to safely integrate adult participation. Perhaps the adults are active in a separate area at a separate time to the children. Hopefully there will be times when the whole community can come together to plant trees or tend the garden or celebrate the harvest.
“Now, you’re talking!”
There are some food plants that get adults truly motivated. These include such as coffee bean and green-tea bushes, native foods (bush tucker and survival foods), culinary flowers and spices. If you are lucky to have immigrants living in your area, invite them to share their stories about food and spices and how it is traditionally grown and used.
“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. … There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature — the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.”
— Rachel Carson, Silent Spring