Tag Archives: social permaculture

Rose and the big leaf

Learning in Grass Room

child looking in wonder Learning – Out of this World

In outdoor spaces the learning experience is different. The air can be refreshing and the noise stops bouncing off the walls. Being outdoors boosts our physical and mental health. Best of all, we can create an opportunity to slow down and reduces stress for students and their teachers!

Lower the Maintenance, Up the Rewards

Mesh tables positioned over narrow garden beds are a great way to reduce clean-up time and conserve precious soil. Furthermore, the garden beds are tucked away safely from accidental damage by foot-traffic.  On sloped sites, the ideal position of the table is along the contour.  This provides a choice of access points. In addition to the good water management and plant protection, students can choose their preferred work height.

mesh table saves soil and clean-up time after learning

A Safe and Secure Glade

Boundary plantings enable everyone to relax and enjoy the learning space. When we set boundaries, children feel free to wander and explore within that space. The student no longer needs to look back to the teacher for consent about where they may wander.

Design a bountiful and safe learning glade. These edges can contain a richly layered thicket of trees, shrubs, vines and tall grasses. Furthermore, edge plantings help to soften the boundary and can provide a sense of coziness and belonging.  Tall edge plantings can also provide wind protection. Sissinghurst Gardens achieve a sense of enchantment and familiarity by incorporating old walls and furniture shapes in the outdoor ‘rooms’.

setting boundaries provides safe learning spaces

Education and Food – Get a Double Helping

savouring-jackfruitFood defines our culture. It also unites people. Nearly everyone has opinions on foods and a curiosity about how it grows. The beauty of putting food plants in the learning environment is that they are generally safe plants. You could include useful plants that are non-toxic, non-irritant and low in allergy risk. Here is our list of permaculture plants for warm temperate zone.

Tall useful plants include sunflower, Jerusalem artichoke, Yacon, giant sage, bamboo for poles to make tents, flags, arches, trellises and garden-edge fencing. Good plant species for weaving projects include mulberry and sturdy vines such as grape-vine, kiwi-fruit, passion-flower.  The garden classroom can be a great resource for learning about construction techniques of aboriginal and other traditional shelters.

There are some exciting food plants. These include native foods (bush tucker and survival foods), culinary flowers and exotic spices.

Playful Spaces

Playful spaces have viewing platforms, resting nooks, perches, undulating paths and sweeping curves. In addition to your resilient and engaging landscape, you can add toys like little bridges, solar fountains, windmills, flags, scare-crows, signs, arches, ponds with hand-pumps, cascades and Archimedes screws.

snake-paths mounded garden beds for good water management

Make Your Outdoors Great

Great spaces have two vital features: function and creative flair. The functional elements include paths that run along the contour. This provides good water management, erosion control and conservation of nutrients.  The functional garden harvests, absorbs and directs water. Furthermore, the beds trap silt, build soil and fertility.

Creative play enhances functionality.  For instance, the functional paths can double as seating spaces for an audience. The stage can be a simple platform below. This platform can also be multi-functional. It can be used as a demonstration space, meeting point,  a bird-hide, construction space (using construction plants like sunflower stems) or a work-zone.

Ultimately, the garden becomes a thriving space for creative and imaginative play.


Build your own permaculture system. Enjoy learning permaculture with us.

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‘Drama-Greens’: Infinite Play

Introducing A Resilient Culture

Permaculture goes beyond garden design. It is holistic cultural systems design. Drama is a key channel for building resilience.

Cultures build resilience through drama by:

    • having an ethical core of caring
    • recognising, expressing and responding to the signs of change
    • using non-renewable resources with careBe surprised
    • making great use of biological and recycled resources eg. Outdoor theatres with living plants as the wings and back-drop.
    • keeping stores for bad times. Set ticket prices at a fair level to be able to serve the wider community yet save for a rainy season.
    • being current – dramatise current events, people and ideas. Revitalise historical content to make it relevant to the modern audience.
    • sharing fairly.  Make sure the profits support the creators, the workers and the venue to ensure long-term viability
    • valuing the holistic nature of community (the wider community and the artistic community). Collaborate with other organisations to ensure optimum use of your site and staff.
    • acknowledging resource limits. Don’t try take on too many issues – keep the message clear and the goals achievable
    • valuing creative adaptations (like promoting barter, volunteer helpers or regional economics)
    • 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

rooster-crowFor 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.

Encore!

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.

chicken-with-pearl-earingDramatise  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 for community garden

Transport: Driving Us Further Apart

The Tyranny of Distance

earth_sun_day_fireyThe world population grows every second.  As the density increases each of us gets physically closer to one another.  Very few of us remain are truly remote.  And yet, most of us are more reliant than ever on transport for work, goods, services, education, vacations and relationships.

Why do we travel more and travel further? Is eco-transport the solution or will expectations simply match capacity to travel. Can we change this culture of transport to cut the mileage and build true sustainability?

On Being Distant

chinese-pedlar-ming-dynasty-chicago-museum_2The more wealth a person accumulates, the more distant they become. They need more storage and display space. This bigger wealthy living space creates their physical separation from society. But this is not the only force driving the wealthy apart. The huge growth in sales for solo entertainment and exercise gadgets adds to the pressure for space.  Self-driving cars will simply encourage us to travel further and longer.  Wealthy consumers have a reducing need to share. Perhaps they will enjoy the lower risk of catching germs in public spaces and a reduced potential to be the target of any uncomfortable village gossip. But there is a serious downside to this excess.

In this hedonistic space no-one can hear you scream.

fostering a love of animals helps children develop empathy and understanding of nature.

A human being is part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. We experience ourselves, our thoughts and feelings as something separate from the rest. .. Our task must be to free ourselves from the prison ..We shall require a substantially new manner of thinking if humanity is to survive. Albert Einstein, 1954

Future of Eco-Transport

Transport in the future will be more efficient not just because fuel may become more expensive but because the pollutants from each vehicle need to be cooler. Automobiles are a major contributor to climate change. So, each automobile needs to be cleaner and used more wisely. The average car sits idle, quietly depreciating, 92 percent of the time.

bikeBicycles are the most efficient form of transport and it is great how major cities like Copenhagen and London have built bicycle superhighways. Of course, public transport is easier for most commuters and freight companies. Rail is especially good for long distances. A lot of governments have been forging new public transit technologies. Shipping is the most efficient means of transporting goods and cruise ships are enjoying an era of renewal for long distance travel. Cars rank very low in transport efficiency.

Cars of the future will need to be:

  • car of futureModular. We could make cars as small as necessary and able to linked to one another as required.
  • Fully Biodegradable. Steel is biodegradable and some new plastics can be made out of very tough natural materials.
  • Durable
  • Able to fixed easily. When items are able to be fixed simply, they have a far greater chance of durability. If you break down in a rare vehicle, be prepared to wait longer for someone to know how to fix it and have the parts.
  • Classic and functional yet beautiful in design. Beauty enables a vehicle to be treasured much longer than its peak performance period.
  • Self-analysing and self-repairing.  Living modes of transport such as horses are self-repairing if well maintained.

Permaculture is Not Idyllic Country Living

The ideal permaculture home does not sit in isolation. When we are sharing and giving to family, to neighbours, to the community, to our society, we build a more peaceful world.

Culture Shift To Reduce Transport Needs

There are three ways to modify our behaviour to reduce our need to travel.
1. Be Proud – celebrate local foods and services 2. Be Creative 3. Share

1. Celebrate Local Production

pride

Local produce fits the climate so it usually has less chemical inputs, is more nutritious because it is fresher (has not been transported far) and supports local workers.

2. Creative and Inventive

Being creative means we find ways to solve the problem that have local resources. It can be as simple as finding an alternative utensil for a task rather than buying another tool imported from a foreign country.

3. Sharing

Permaculture leader, David Holmgren says: sharing a ride will double your efficiency, instantly. When we share more, we need less storage space and get better neighbours. If that’s not possible ask yourself: why live in the kind of area that people don’t appreciate sharing?

Sharing can be:sharing-over-fence

  • Formal like hiring a car or a suit, or paying for local food
  •  Informal like barter or offering a neighbour a lift, lending them a car or giving them an old bike. The building of trust can start with just a friendly cup of sugar when they have run low.
  • Semi-formalised like local exchange currency trading, business barter systems, and selling/recycling goods on eBay, gum-tree.

Sharing and giving reduces our need to travel. It builds trust within relationships, neighbourhood goodwill and peaceful communities. People who enjoy each other’s company are more likely to make fun at home together rather than feel the need to travel to see friends.

Join us in a permaculture course online or on Permaculture Design Course Retreat.

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More Women Than Men Grow Food

Feminine Faces Farming

April milking a cow whilst researching house cowsBruce French likes to remind us all.  “More women than men grow food“.  His experience is vast. He and his family have worked internationally to research and document a huge library of rare food plants and their uses.

Most food today is produced by industrialised farms run by economists. State-of-the-art production uses robotic tractors and drones.

Aranya supports hundreds of Permaculture farming widows in India

Farmers have a broader knowledge of the land, water, native animals and the history of pests and disease. Farmers know soil biota, fungi, plants, animals and have a keen eye on the weather. The real farmer is grounded and deeply connected to the land.

Worldwide, most farmers work on small holdings close to home. They are closely connected to their extended family. When we visualise farmers – do we see their saris, beads, skirts and loose flowing pants?

https://www.grain.org

Trending: Saris, Aprons and Straw Hats

paint-fasterIn permaculture, most of the designers, diggers, inventors, illustrators, organisers and promoters, educators and activists are women. But most of the public faces are male. Curious?

Robyn Francis and Geoff Lawton are two permaculture leaders around the same age with same start time, similar training, both dedicated, full of know-how, work and self confidence.

Yet these two world leaders enjoy very different lifestyles. Geoff travels extensively. He has set up a global team with lots of people working for him and has spent well the hard earned permaculture money on educational videos. Robin is still very much in charge of her home-site, travels to teach in poor countries and blogs about her pet pig, Polly. They both look very comfortable with their permaculture choices. The difference is huge.  Publicly, we encounter Geoff a lot more.

Systemic Differences

lisa_wormfarm

Professor Stuart Hill notes: Men will set up systems. Traditionally, women will maintain them. Permaculture teacher Chris Evans of Nepan witnessed the ability of the women in the patriarchal Himalayan society to rebuild, modify and improve on a wall that was originally built by the men.

Permaculture women in wealthy sub-cultures enjoy planting and nurturing trees, pick fruit, dig swales, fix leaky downpipes, repair steps, replace the oven light, screw a hinge back into place, retrofit stuff, sew, nurse sick animals, saw and bring in the wood.  Although it is frustrating that women have not yet earned their right for equal pay, they have earned some flexibility.

Women value variety and flexibility. They are creative and innovative.
Women will nurture systems and develop incremental improvements.
When given an education they can enjoy a huge range of successes.

Women have the perfect nature to live ‘the ethical dream’. They dream of self-reliance, empowerment, being capable and feeling a little challenged. It is not a perfect dream. Life is not perfect. And they know it.

Give A Woman Your Support

Women get injured more when they ‘hit their shoulder with the shovel’. This is not just  because they are new to it. It is often because they lack mentors and training. They will stubbornly learn the ‘traditionally’ male skills by looking over a shoulder or reading books or by just trying to follow a practical post on the internet.

Join the communal effort to give women equal financial and emotional support to do courses, ask questions, build their skill base and become empowered. We at Permaculture Visions offer a 40% discount so you and your partner can study happily together.

 

Anxiety and Permaculture? What’s the link?

Anxiety – Not A Merry Culture

sad-elephant-in-the-roomPermaculture (the design for a permanent culture) has the core ethics of care of people and care of the earth.  These two ethics seek to redress social and environmental ills.

Dr Terry Leahy sees clearly the link between anxiety and permaculture. Terry is presenting at our upcoming mini-conference about Permaculture in Society and Development.

Terry Leahy writes: How can it be good that one in four Australians experiences serious attacks of anxiety at one time or another in their lives? In any twelve month period 14 per cent will get anxiety attacks.

What is there to be Anxious about?

What is there to be anxious about when we live in the lucky country, surrounded by mod cons and ever-increasing wealth? The environmental catastrophe that everyone knows we are in for but nobody talks about too often. Work and economic survival in the neo-liberal economy.

have a giving spirit

Once upon a time jobs were for life if you wanted that, and there was full employment. House prices were low and government supplemented the housing market by building low-cost rental accommodation. Now a huge proportion of the population in work are doing casual jobs rather than having permanent positions. Those who are in permanent work are scared that it cannot last. House prices are crazy and there is no security in renting. Unemployment seems minor at six per cent but most people who cannot get a job do not register as unemployed, it is so hard to stay on welfare.

Add to all that the sense that the recession of 2008 has never gone away and the realization that the Australian economy still hangs on a knife-edge. People are made constantly aware that their life security depends on constantly jumping through hoops and being ready for anything.

We need an economy where people’s daily well-being does not depend on the vagaries of the global market, where the environment has priority and where you can really expect your grandchildren to live as well as you have.”

Self-Reliance versus Self-Sufficiency

bushwalk

Self-Sufficiency is rare. It has the goal of complete independence from society. In the self-sufficient culture, the sick or elderly are often left to die. Self-Reliance is different. Self reliance is a way of thinking and living that enables others to be part of the responsibility of providing for our needs by trading and sharing. The ‘Self-Reliance’ economy would involve care for the weak. Permaculture promotes self-reliance.

Keeping the Power of Feelingswe-can-do-it

When we are faced with anxieties it is hard to maintain optimism. Yet “optimism has more power than fear” (Bob Brown). Optimism is patient, organised and forgiving. Whereas, Fear is reactive, quick and often unplanned, leading to panic and regret .

Where To From Here?

Listen to your heart, your ethics and consult members of your community.  If you live our bio-region, join us in an upcoming mini-conference and workshops
Permaculture in Society and Development – Mini Conference 30th April 2016 or start do a permaculture course, build your own think thank community and enjoy a better future!

Ecolution – Where Are You?

ecolutionThe Stages of Ecolution

At the great  EcoArts Australis 2nd National Conference, Catherine van Wilgenburg: gave an inspiring presentation entitled: ‘I have been transformed by this land’ …
the Ecolution of an artist’s practice.

Stages of an Ecolution:
1. Awareness
2. Hope that we can make a change
3. Inspiration to act
4.
Means to equip action
5. Empowerment to act

6. Feeling supported and being supportive to others

1. Aware

arts-and-educationFirstly we need to become aware of the challenges to a clean our environment and stay informed of the facts. Planet earth will go on turning without us but humanity exists only whilst the conditions are right.
Clean air, clean drinking water, nutrients from healthy soil and genetic material are vital to our survival. Each time a species dies, our complex network of genetic resources dwindle.For many people today the news is depressing. Young people are turning away from news sources and focusing on entertainment. There is also a growing disconnect between consumers and nature. The city has pushed out the native forests and wildlife and it takes a special effort for people to find a connection with nature.

2. Hopeful

148433_460301893179_546714_nThe task of educating people about the horrors of pollution is getting more difficult. When young people face the enormity of the build up of pollution from almost a decade of abuse, they feel overwhelmed. Often they succumb to a feeling of hopelessness and some think that by removing themselves from the world it will help the planet. Youth suicide due to environmental degradation is devastating for the whole community. Lets not leave young people feeling powerless, let’s equip and empower them.
Key advocates like Bob Brown understand the importance of staying optimistic. Optimism has more staying power than fear. Fear can overwhelm us but it usually fails to sustain a change. One of the most powerful tools to build our hope for the future is the immerse ourselves in nature. Go for a walk, climb a tree, nurture a plant,  tend a beehive, photograph the birds, spot the butterflies.

3. Inspired

reach

When we are driven by our feelings and passions, we are strong and resilient. An honest understanding of our feelings does not change with periods of abundance and hard times. The setting of goals comes last.

Stuart Hill urges us to be driven by our ethics and values. Then get a good understanding of our feelings and passions. From this we collect ideas, create a vision, design our lifestyle, formulate action plans and get on with the daily task of activities.

4. Equipped

afluenza-cureWe can build our skills and resources to make meaningful changes. Proven techniques are learning through immersion (eg. working on permaculture sites), courses, cultural change, education about life skills, reading up on permaculture and gathering experience on the ground.

A mentor guides inspired participants through the process of skill acquisition and research. No single course on its own can equip us. It can start the process but as we develop and find our niche, it is great to have a mentor or at least other study-buddies to enable discussion and sharing of ideas.

5. Empowered

budha citrus Permaculture Visions
Dare to be different

In this stage of the ecolution process individuals are skilled, armed with knowledge and enthusiastic about observing nature. The ecolution of a community, would have sharing at the heart of the solutions. There is great potential to collectively make significant changes.  Community projects make the flavour of a community and can build empowerment. This includes community Radio stations, newsgroups, freecycle, clothes swap,  and good old car-boot sales. The town of Tyalgum (which hosts one of the first permaculture sites) are going off grid by buying their own solar power. 

6. Supported and Supportive

supported

Collaboration is more powerful than competition.  The biggest permaculture project in the world was self-funded and driven by collaboration. People saw what permaculture could do for them (more food and water) and they learnt from their neighbours and then began to develop communal resources including rehabilitated lands into forests.

The ecolution is cyclic. When there is a need for regeneration of our ecolution we can revisit the foundations of the development process. We can renew our awareness. Then building our hope knowing that previous hope was actioned upon and had a positive outcome.

We are here to serve you. Permaculture learning with mentorship.

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Freedom From Obsession

Who wouldn’t want freedom from economic slavery? What would a world of economic honesty look like? Many of us sing: “I OWE, I OWE IT’Schook-on-computer OF TO WORK I GO”. In reply to this mournful choir you may hear voices offering hopeful refrains. Ted Trainer urges us to explore simple living. His is an alternative to the obsessive consumer slavery.

Here’s the good news! It costs nothing to aim for lower expenditure. There is no risk of failure in our quest for freedom.  Challenging the economics of global consumption can benefit us in surprising ways.  We can stop to smell the roses, enrich our social interactions, question what we really need and reduce our waste.  Some of us will develop creative, productive habits. Others might explore green technologies. We can all build lifestyles that work toward physical and mental health and a healthier, more peaceful Earth.  “What people must see is that ecologically sane, socially responsible living is good living; that simplicity makes for an existence that is free.” – Theodore Roszak

Playful productivity

Dr Ted Trainer is a visiting Fellow chicken-diggingat the University of NSW. He invites us to go one step further than the noble pursuit for freedom from economic slavery. He suggest we turn work into fun.  Much of Ted’s work is invisible.  He explores the intricacies of social connections and aims to find ways to support inventive and creative thinkers.

On his alternative lifestyle education site at Pig-face Point, Sydney, Ted has a playful approach to food production. He shifts the focus from a sense of work to a sense of exploration and creation.

Ted says “Work doesn’t feel like work when you’re having fun”.   Part of his site was designed for fun (bridges, arches, islands, caves, etc.) and other parts have purpose (dams, rammed earth shed, cob oven, and home-made furniture from found branches.  He uses his site as a model to show people how to create an interconnected, well-resourced and equipped ‘village’ or housing complex.  Here is one of his students 3D models where we can see retrofits of whole suburbs to better connect the community, reduce waste and increase local production.demonstration model before & after peak oil

Creative adaptation

Ted is like a happy nutty professor escaped from the lab!   He has a lot of energy experiments (tidal energy, water wheels, methane gas, composting toilets, etc.) For years I had believed someone else that said that a methane converter couldn’t work in our cooler climate. Now I know that to be untrue.  Simple bio-gas chambers off composting toilets can work in warm-temperate zones.  Ted had one working off his toilet. If Ted, hadn’t bravely tried this, I wouldn’t have seen it for my eyes. He also had some low-tech stuff which demonstrated in a fun way, like a simple hose coiled to pump water as you turn it.

Essentially his experiments are not just about the individual successes or failures.  His efforts show that is worth trying new things and not just believing other people’s assertions. Ted has an inspiring attitude.  Some of Ted’s writings are available online at social sciences at University of New South Wales and at the simplicity institute.

This Video is a Ted Trainer Interview on ‘The Simpler Way’