Archive | Ideas

One of the best permaculture docos

The explosion of docos about sustainability in recent years includes a fair number that focus on permaculture and I have been interviewed in quite a few. The request to preview Inhabit and offer comment was just one of my “responsibilities” as co-originator of the permaculture concept. In the end I got to view Inhabit with 200 other permaculture activists at the 12th Australasian permaculture convergence in Penguin, Tasmania in March 2015. There was a standing ovation after the viewing.

INHABIT - Collage

I was impressed by the articulate explanations of permaculture by a few people I knew, many I had never met and some I had never heard of. The scope and balance of the examples chosen to illustrate the diversity of permaculture is excellent. The film gives me a great sense of the evolution of permaculture in the USA over recent decades.

Of course the art and beauty of this film will make it attractive to audiences used to polished media productions, but it is the substance underlying the beauty and passion that attracts me. The film can’t convey enough about the ideas and projects presented, for me to personally endorse every element in it as representing the best of permaculture, but I can endorse Inhabit as one of the best permaculture docos of the last thirty years.

Here’s the official blurb for the film.

Humanity is more than ever threatened by its own actions; we hear a lot about the need to minimize footprints and to reduce our impact. But what if our footprints were beneficial? What if we could meet human needs while increasing the health and well-being of our planet? This is the premise behind permaculture: a design process based on the replication of patterns found in nature. Inhabit explores the many environmental issues facing us today and examines solutions that are being applied using the ecological design lens of permaculture. Focused mostly on the Northeastern and Midwestern regions of the United States, Inhabit provides an intimate look at permaculture peoples and practices ranging from rural, suburban, and urban landscapes.

INHABIT: A Permaculture Perspective made by Costa Boutsikaris and Emmett Brenna is now available.

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Principles & Pathways reviewed and updated for eBook

An extract of David Holmgren’s prologue from the newly released eBook edition of Permaculture: Principles & Pathways Beyond Sustainability


The world has changed radically since Permaculture: Principles & Pathways Beyond Sustainability (PP&PBS) was first published in 2002. By many environmental, economic and social measures, local communities and global systems are now in crisis and even collapse. The premise of the book was that the ‘energy descent’ future would inevitably require new ways of thinking to replace the failing principles that guided industrialisation, modernity and globalisation.

PPPBS-eBook-Banner

In reflecting on the book, I remain happy with the eclectic mix of abstract theory, grounded examples and personal anecdotes that riled academic and editorial sensibilities. While some ideas and points remain speculative, many others have since become clearer through the course of a growing body of practice and more than a decade of turbulent world history that we have lived through. For example, for the well-informed, Peak Oil has moved from speculative concept to historical reality that underpins the explosive growth in renewable energy, economic contraction and geopolitical realignment. Similarly, the environmentally heretical positive view of species naturalisation that I articulated in the book, is now supported by a rapidly growing body of peer reviewed science within the new field of study of ‘novel ecosystems’.

The delay in producing an eBook version of the text (not having a publisher driven by financial logic) has been fortuitous because it has allowed a comprehensive review of the text to improve grammar, use of terms, and an update and the addition of references. Most importantly the capacities of a digital edition enabled live links to updated web addresses and direct cross referencing to precise points in the text rather than general chapter references. This allows the reader, including those who have read the printed book, to explore in more depth the non-linear nature of systems thinking that accounts for at least some of the difficulty of this work. The fully searchable text allows the reader to easily find a point that this labyrinthian character tends to hide.

Readers of existing translations can be assured that the changes made are of a minor in nature compared to the great difficulty in translation generally and especially for this work. We trust that the painstaking translation work, by those with an understanding of and commitment to the concepts, has captured the text for the better but we hope the text of this digital edition will make any future translations a little easier.

As ever I remain one of permaculture’s strongest internal critics in insisting that for permaculture concepts and teaching to remain relevant, it must be grounded in practical action that regenerates nature and improves the lives of ordinary and especially impoverished people. In addition, it must remain open to influence from parallel and complementary concepts, movements and ideas that are contributing to a gentler and more benign energy descent future in which nature’s wealth is regenerated and humanity finds its place in that natural order.

David Holmgren
Melliodora  April 2015


shop_PPPBS-eBook_800sPermaculture: Principles & Pathways Beyond Sustainability eBook is now available as an ePub for AUD$20.

The ePub file download can be opened and read on most modern smart phones, tablets and desktop computers using appropriate software, like iBooks for Apple users.

489 pages in standard display size on an iPad2

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Permaculture activism in the Brown Tech Future

Keynote Address to 12th Australasian Permaculture Convergence

Penguin Tasmania  March 2015

Outline

Over the last 8 years David Holmgren’s Future Scenarios work has provided a framework through which permaculture, transition and kindred activists have better understood, navigated and even taken advantage of the chaotic changes unfolding in our world driven by peaking resources, environmental tipping points, economic contraction and geopolitical instability.

His more recent (2013) essay Crash On Demand: Welcome to the Brown Tech Future triggered a global debate in the peak oil blogosphere and more locally (eg Great Debate at the Melbourne Sustainable Living Festival) about local adaption vs grand global plans.

In this keynote David Holmgren builds on the lessons of 40 years of permaculture and kindred activism to articulate how the bottom up permaculture strategies that focus at the personal, household, enterprise and community level can be effective where mass movements to demand top down change are repeatedly derailed or simply reinvent the problems in new forms ( the solution becomes the problem).

At a time when environmental activists are feeling increasingly embattled and desperate, the opportunities for permaculture have never been greater. Are we ready to use whatever agency remains at the personal, household and community level to turn the problems into solutions?

PDF of text

Permaculture design system and activism

Permaculture is a design system for sustainable land use and living.

It articulates and applies the design principles of nature in new ways appropriate to the energy descent era of industrial civilisation. These design principles are embedded in an ethical framework derived from the commonalities of indigenous and traditional cultures of place.

Permaculture activism uses global understanding to inform local action at the personal, household and community scale to create models capable of viral proliferation.

Permies seeks to create the world we do want by direct constructive action rather than stopping the world we don’t want by restrictive action. Permaculture’s popularity especially with environmentally aware youth over three generations can be partly attributed to a “good cop/bad cop” synergy with more conventional oppositional activism. Thus those who have done their time in direct action in the forest (or shale gas blockades) are often supported by those who spend their positive energy on the permablitz front line.

Similarly for more mature people, being the change we want to see in the world is far more empowering, than using all our capacity and credentials to push for policy change from the top down.

Pushback from conventional activism

While the support for permaculture and positive environmentalism in general has grown stronger in recent years, there is also a pushback from those committed to the top down and oppositional strategies. The argument is that composting your garden may be good for you but it does little to help bring about the necessary structural changes in society that, it is argued, can only come through big processes such as

  1. corporate capitalism making big bucks doing good,
  2. top down policy reforms driven fearless political leaders or
  3. mass movements threatening revolution to force change at the top.

Those committed to these pathways argue theirs is the best. Often the pathway of changing the world by changing ourselves is ignored or denigrated as self obsessed navel gazing.

In the permaculture movement the value of this DIY approach is taken for granted but permies often have difficulty in articulating to others why this approach is at least as important as the other three in shaping a more positive future for ourselves, humanity and nature.

I want to go one step further to articulate why the DIY and DIO (doing it ourselves) approaches of permaculture are the most efficient, resilient and empowering ways to focus our own limited power in the world.

Activism that is good for our bodies and our minds is fun and empowering, and makes us more self reliant, and resilient in the face of uncertain futures, is a much easier sell than activism that involves self sacrifice for some larger collective good. In this sense permaculture shares some common ground with green corporate capitalism’s focus on rewards as a motivation even if the rewards are primarily non monetary.

If our experiments in DIY self-reliance are successful, others without as much innovator tenacity can copy what we do without having to make so many mistakes. The issue of whether our solutions are scalable beyond the non monetary household and community economies to the monetary economy, let alone corporate capitalism is less important than whether our solution can replicate virally to achieve scale in numbers

Big solutions to big problems often recreate the problem in a new form. Small scale solutions have the advantage of being site and situation specific and being more amenable to incremental organic adaptation with less risk that failures causes higher order systemic failures. For example local raw milk Community Supported Agriculture system have some real (very low) risk of causing illness but large scale corporate supply systems of industrial milk have created problems where large numbers of people spread across countries become sick before corrective responses can be enacted.

In addition there is strong evidence many successful small business get started in the household and community economies of gift, exchange and reciprocity before growing into the monetary economy. In the future, two processes suggest this might be the main mechanism by which we grow a new monetary economy. Credit crunches from deflationary economics eliminate bank finance for small business so the bootstraps DIY approach is the only option. Secondly the capacity of governments to enforce regulatory barriers that currently stymie home producers going commercial, will be unsustainable.

What we do in our own households, with our family and informal community networks is simple and small scale so that it largely can occur

  1. without the permission of the banks who -through their lending – determine what does and what does not happen in the credit driven monetary economy,
  2. and without the knowledge of the corporate competitors who stand to lose market share,
  3. and mostly under the radar of the government regulators whose function is to secure the market for bank financed corporate investment.

The potential for mass adoption is the test that most political activists want to see before they will accept any value from DIY approaches. Can we persuade everyone to grow their own vegetables? What if everyone had a wood stove? Is there enough land in the city to grow all the food? How will it help us close down a brown coal power station?

Mainstream political action focuses on persuading the majority because the majority is always the biggest game in town. This focus on majorities is strategically useless for smaller order players like environmental and social activists. Apart from the need to counter the massive propaganda might of the strongest lobby groups, it ignores an important trend in affluent, notionally democratic nations at least since the thatcherite/reganite revolution of the early 1980’s . A simple or even large majority is not enough to persuade elite power structures to roll over and implement policies that directly threaten their own power (eg Iraq war 2003).

On the other hand the DIY approach has some important advantages as a political change pathway. Firstly the DIY approach that reflects permaculture ethics and design principles behaves as a systemic strike of labour, skill and capital against the debt financing by banks, globalized production controlled by corporations and central government taxation dependent on constantly rising GDP. I have argued in Crash On Demand, that a 50% reduction in consumption, work and investment by 10% of the global middle class could be enough to severely undermine the power of these global systems (that are already teetering due to the massive global unpayable debt burdens)

Whatever the effects on centralized systems, the experience of building the parallel systems from the bottom up will expose the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats through a rapid learning cycle. In the process we can better articulate a larger scale public policy agenda that would allow the next level of adoption and adaption as well as clarifying the design characteristics necessary for any truly useful larger scale government or corporate driven solutions.

The response of the centralized power structures to such a systemic strike might be to introduce draconic regulations and politically demonise those pursuing DIY enlightened self interest. We should expect more of this but there are limits to how effective such responses might be. Firstly the diffuse, even invisible nature of many of these personal and household strategies makes them inherently difficult to control. Recent attempts to control raw milk in Victoria are likely to be as ineffective as drug prohibition – every man and his dog now admits has failed despite massive resources and efforts on the part of the state. Secondly demonizing raw milk consumers and gardeners is somewhat harder than doing the same to so-called radical Islamists.

The alternative more hopeful response of centralized power might be to engage in political discourse to encourage the striking minority to come back into the fold. “We need your consumption and your creativity, what would you like to be paid to be part of the Team (Australia)” Being relatively autonomous gives us much more political leverage than being part of a mass movement of completely dependent consumers and indebted workers.

In the Brown Tech future that I believe we are increasingly locked into – nationally and globally – I think there will still be some opportunities for constructive dialogue with those trying to bring about top down change either with/through government or corporations; but we should expect that some of these opportunities will almost inevitably turn the solution back into the problem. In the face of unfolding environmental, geological, economic and geopolitical crises, the ability to ‘speak truth to power’ in defense of dispossessed people and voiceless nature will become more symbolic that effective in achieving resilience let alone justice.

On the other hand, the urgency in building the parallel systems on the conceptual and geographic fringes (edges and margins principle) will grow and the interest from those wanting to participate with their hands and hearts will increase to a flood. The ability to replicate workable alternatives to the strictures of contracting but monopolistic centralized systems will be a challenge for permaculture activists.

At the moment, turning the tide of the majority to our way would be more of a destructive tsunami than a surfable wave. If we can prove to ourselves that we can enjoy life living more healthy and resilient lives, less dependent on centralized systems while massively reducing our ecological footprint in the process, then we provide a pattern than others can copy. At the same time we contribute the diversity of solutions that can model whatever utility and hope remains for system-wide reform and redesign. And if that fails at least we lived the solution and have a multiplicity of lifeboats that give the best chance of saving the useful bits and even the essence of wisdom from a failing civilization for the emergence of the next.

Zooming back from the over-the-horizon big picture to the here and now, I would like to suggest ways in which we can make the DIY and DIO strategies achieve their great potential for positive change.

DIY suggests a learning process with less than perfect results, but if we want others to copy us then the work of reviewing, debugging and refining our solutions is essential. The fact that permaculture has generated a lot of half baked outcomes by people who are “jacks of all trades but masters of none”, is to some extent an inevitable outcome of the experimental and generalist integrated nature of permaculture solutions. However to establish any credibility – let alone have others copy us – requires food gardens that are abundant, compost toilets that smell sweet and lifestyles that are attractive to at least a motivated minority. We don’t need to dumb permaculture down for the masses but it does need to work at least on the terms of those who are interested.

We need to admit and correct our mistakes, and avoid the error of suggesting a given permaculture technique, species or even strategy is applicable everywhere. (It is the principles and ethics that are universal)

Most of all in celebrating our being jacks and jills of all trades, we should aim – at least in maturity – to also become masters and mistresses of one. One trade that can allow us to be truly useful members of relocalising communities where many may not recognize permaculture understandings – let alone p c ideology – as having any value. Energy descent futures, especially of the Brown Tech variation will not necessarily see permaculture as widely appreciated.

While this first issue [specify the issue]is about the reality and perception of effective solutions that have the power to spread, the second is about the degree to which apparently practical and effective permaculture designs are leading to substantial decoupling from the globalized economies that are now degrading humanity’s future.

In the same way that it is not clear that renewable technologies can proliferate without abundant fossil fuels and debt financing, it is not clear that when we live our permaculture lifestyle we are not just participating in global degradation through more indirect pathways.

I believe the holistic nature of permaculture can allow us to progressively integrate our personal, household, enterprise and communal systems. These systems can more and more support and stimulate, first the non monetary economies, and secondly businesses controlled by natural persons, as we progressively disengage from support for and dependency on businesses run by non natural persons (corporations) that are structurally immune to ethical influence. How to do this with one arm tied behind our back and hopping on one leg is a balancing act to say the least. (eg coming to Tassie on the Ferry)

We need to demonstrate that the DIY and DIO strategies of permaculture are workable, enjoyable and empowering but most of all that they can spread, if not like wildfire, then like a cool burn (or a compost culture) that regenerates the understory of our brittle and flammable communities.

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Shades of Green(Lifestyle) Awards Reflection

logo-bigWhile gardening alone in the Spring busy period without the need to plan and direct volunteers, I have had more time for reflection. One of the subjects for reflection was my elevation to the Green Lifestyle Hall of Fame.

By chance I had just read a series of articles by Kari McGregor (part 1, part 2 and part 3) using a framework for thinking about green activism that seemed relevant to this award.

Kari McGregor’s categories of environmentalism Light Green, Bright Green, Deep Green and Dark Green made sense of my musings.

Light Green, is about relatively modest changes in our personal lifestyles that will collectively lead to a more environmentally sane and sustainable society.

Bright Green, is based on a belief that renewable and smart technology will create the next industrial revolution that will allow society to continue the path of progress that is so fundamental to our collective culture. Both these strains of environmentalism remain anthropocentric while Deep and Dark Green environmentalism assert humanity must develop an eco-centric culture to survive.

Deep Green environmentalists focus on protecting nature by direct action and radical political activism while Dark Greens focus on building the ecological successor culture now in the belief that industrial civilization is doomed to run its course and collapse either dramatically or slowly.

In this framework Green Lifestyle Magazine is primarily Light Green with a fair dose of Bright Green. I wondered where to position the previous recipients of the Hall of Fame award. Bob Brown might be more Deep Green while Olivia Newton John’s stellar celebrity and financial success might suggest a blend of Light and Bright Green (even though I know very little of her environmental activism). I fit more squarely in with the Dark Greens. While my Dark Green perspective may seem most removed from Green Lifestyle’s Light Green environmentalism, we share the focus on change the world by changing ourselves while the Bright Green renewable energy and climate policy activists such as Mark Descendorf, and Philip Sutton share the belief in changing the nature of the system with the more radical direct action activists such as Paul Watson (founder of Sea Shepherd) even if the methods used to bring about structural change are very different and that these activists can be placed on either side of the anthropocentric and eco-centric divide.

pip3The point of Kari’s essay was that all four perspectives have their strengths and weaknesses and that we should all do more to acknowledge the value of the perspectives. She suggests that commitment to social justice is a shared if not strongly articulated value behind all four shades of green that could be more strongly recognized and articulated. In this context I thought about how new PIP magazine which I have strongly supported is just a slightly more radical version of the Light Green environmentalism on show in Green Lifestyle mag.

 

Permaculture as a brand of Australian environmentalism does focus on what we can do to look after the environment and future generations as we become more self reliant, productive and resilient individually, in our households and communities. Maybe permaculture can be viewed as a low eco-tech version of Bright Green that will allow us to live fulfilled lives without today’s systems or consumption of resources. But my Future Scenarios work let alone my more recent controversial essay Crash on Demand; Welcome to the Brown Tech World have suggested to some that I have shifted from optimist to pessimist about the future of humanity. I don’t think my perspective has shifted that much other than a response to what I see as the declining options available to future generations as industrial civilization accelerates toward a collision with nature and its internal contradictions. In many ways Crash on Demand is a strong Dark Green critique of the Bright Green and Deep Green perspectives while I largely ignore the Light Green perspective as being far to weak a response to the ecological crisis.

Kari’s framework certainly helped me make sense of Green Lifestyle magazine’s award to me. As co-originator of the permaculture concept I was partly responsible for the positive can-do attitude to improving the environment, that is permaculture. My lifestyle of radical simplicity combined with household and communitarian sufficiency, is an uncomfortable one for most trying to do their bit to live a greener lifestyle. Compared to the two previous recipients of this award, Bob Brown and Olivia Newton John, I am definitely more of an extremist.   Still, I thought, it is normal in any network or subculture to look to radicals rather than moderates for inspiration. We acknowledge and respect those who go the extra mile to “walk the talk” even if that means a stronger ideological commitment or pig headed personality than most in the same subculture would believe reasonable.

Beyond this recognition of pioneering radicals, I thought my permaculture lifestyle of radical simplicity and sufficiency is more in line with mainstream consumer environmentalism than it is with mainstream political environmentalism. In the debate about the personal being political vs structural change to the “system” I obviously more associate with the first view while Bob Brown has devoted his life more to the second perspective which is characteristic of Kari’s Bright and Deep Green environmentalisms. Viewed through this lens my Crash On Demand essay is actually an appeal to all environmentalists to take seriously the idea that what we do in our own lives is potent but only if what we do is radical in its simplicity and abundant in its real biological and communitarian productivity. Thus there is a direct line of evolution of action from Light Green to Dark Green. I doubt whether Kari’s framework let alone my musings reflect the decisions of the judges at Green Lifestyle Mag but this award and Kari’s framework has certainly reminded me that all responses to the ecological crisis have value in ways that are not necessarily obvious.

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Fair, real and local food

About one hundred people gathered on the steps of the Victorian parliament house on 19 Feb 2015 to rally for fair, real and local food. Organised by Regrarians, the rally attendants heard from Lisa Heenan (Regrarians), Costa Georgiadis (Gardening Australia), Cyndi O’Meara (Changing Habits), Joel Salatin (Polyface Farms), Tammi Jonas (Jonai Farms), Reg Matthews (Miranda Dale dairy), Lorraine Pratley (Australian Raw Milk Movement) as well as David Holmgren and Su Dennett from Melliodora.

For those people who  missed the great day of action in Melbourne, here’s a video recording of the whole rally.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XkLjQWukrmo&w=560&h=315]

David Holmgren edit

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HyBPTrr82Jo&w=560&h=315]

Su Dennett edit

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9I2vWLl5By0&w=560&h=315]

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Great debate, the video

My essay “Crash On Demand” was the primary influence in framing this year’s Great debate at the Sustainable Living Festival in Melbourne,  so we felt that I had to make time to be there (in the middle of our Rocklyn Ashram residential PDC  plus peak fruit and honey harvest).

With an audience of over 250 it was an opportunity to explain the logic of bottom up permaculture activism in response to the energy descent future and hear some of the other perspectives presented. The dichotomy of the unwieldy title, the dreaded C word and the “vote” gave me the gripes, but it was good fun and an opportunity to catch up with Nicole Foss after our joint public speaking tour last winter.

Here’s yours truly kicking off the debate.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=roO5FJZNmBM&w=560&h=315]

For those people who want to see the whole debate (nearly 2hr long, but you should), here is the entire Great Debate (Nicole Foss, about 35 min mark. About 1.20 min mark begins the summing up, voting and Q and A).

[vimeo 119722889 w=500 h=281]

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Tree crops on Earth Matters

On Earth Matters radio program, broadcast on 3CR on Jan 11, David Holmgren discussed the merit of tree crops and supplementing grain fields with tree crops, with fellow tree crops enthusiasts Darren Doherty and Byron Joel. They shared their thoughts on the benefits of this system and the work of making it a reality. You can hear the podcast of the program here.

See Holmgren’s video review of the Permaculture classic book, Tree Crops: a permanent agriculture by J Russell Smith.

If the radio discussion has whetted your appetite for forestry, why not take part in the Holmgren Design/Regrarians (ie David and Darren, or D1 and D2) forestry course being offered in April? This four day permaculture forestry course will  provide a deep foundation for practical forestry in both natural and planted timber forests. Permaforestry course is not on offer anywhere else, so take advantage and learn the art of tree cropping. In a permaculture way.  Book here.

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Prologue to Chinese Edition of Principles(探索樸門)

0122-Permaculture-cover-1We are proud to announce that the release of the Chinese language edition of Permaculture: Principles and Pathways Beyond Sustainability by David Holmgren is imminent. To give you a sneak preview, here is the prologue to the edition prepared by David.

First in Chinese, and then in English to follow. 《探索樸門:超越永續的原則與道路》here we come. Any enquiries, please mail 大地旅人慧儀 <huii@earthpassengers.org>. The copies are available here.

 

作者中文版序
《探索樸門:超越永續的原則與道路》英文版發行已12年,期間世界也經歷了劇烈改變。在許多環保、經濟與社會的指標上,地方社群與全球體系正面臨危機,甚至瓦解。在本書「能源衰退期」必將來臨的前提下,那些導致今日工業化、現代化及全球化失敗的原則,無疑須由新思維取而代之。
樸門永續設計正是以創意回應能源耗竭的前鋒,因為自有證據開始顯示能源必將耗竭至今,此一設計系統的倫理與設計原則,已歷經了數十年的精進與測試。它無法協助拯救我們所知的舊世界,但能激發並提供眾多創意,以順應正在成形的新世界。
樸門始於澳洲,在當地及其它富裕已久的英語系國家歷史也最為悠久,其實其來有自,因為這些國家(仍屬少數)有較多時間瞭解「成長應否設限」此一難題,並開始發展及採用有別於傳統的土地用途與生活方式,以安然度過一個能源必竭的未來。
臺灣、香港及新加坡等華語系地區曾經歷快速的經濟成長,而在目睹急遽工業化、都市化與消費文化最好與最壞的一面後,自然會意識到成長應否設限的問題,並率先提出替代選擇。中國最近的爆炸性成長也提供了新契機,使如何面對成長的見解得以萌芽散播。這些體系無法永續,且其成長可能多由泡沫經濟所帶動,但也讓替代方法在泡沫破滅後有機會迅速普及。
對已經開始尋找生態設計創意的朋友而言,不論是身處最偏遠的鄉村或最新穎的市鎮,都可運用樸門永續設計的道德與設計原則輔助思考,並針對各種不同的情況,根據「首要原則」探索、評估、調整並開發策略與技術,以走出能源耗竭的困境。這些設計創意必將融合現代生態設計,以及化石燃料問世前帶動著家國的傳統智慧與生活方式。
人口密集雖然是一嚴峻挑戰,但仍然有助於樸門永續設計在華語系國家的快速拓展與演進。
首先,近數十年在政治、經濟與社會上的劇烈變化,使當地人民非常能夠適應環境,也願意接納新想法。這些新想法(如樸門)有許多源自西方,但僅少數會鼓勵人們重拾過去讓土地使用與生活方式得以永續的傳統智慧。
最近的富裕及都市化,尤其在中國,意味著仍有許多地方的居民知道如何以低衝擊的方式栽種食物、順應自然、建造居所並惜物愛物,而非汰舊買新,也繼續從事許多其它在化石燃料迅速遍及全球之前,那些較有益於自給自足和社群生活的活動。
相較於澳洲等富裕多年的國家,這是一大優勢,因為這些技能在當地大多早已失傳。樸門永續設計的倫理和設計原則能夠幫助我們的,不是如何倒退至過去,而是如何從傳統與現代去蕪存菁,在未來的能源耗竭中走出富足之路。
我相信這本書以中文發行,會讓許多人走進樸門,而為此我想感謝大地旅人環境工作室創辦人同時也是台灣樸門永續設計學會理事長的江慧儀女士決定將此書譯成中文,以及洪葛蘭設計服務的田中於過程中鼎力協助。
大衛.洪葛蘭
2014 年5 月

The world has changed radically in the 12 years since the publication of Permaculture: Principles & Pathways Beyond Sustainability in English. By many environmental, economic and social measures, local communities and global systems are in crisis and even collapse. The premise of this book that “the energy descent” future will inevitably require new ways of thinking to replace the now failing principles that have guided industralisation, modernity and globalisation.
Permaculture is at the forefront of this creative response to energy descent because it is based on ethics and design principles that have evolved and been tested over the decades since the evidence for the energy descent future first became clear. Permaculture will not help save the world as we know it, but it can inspire and inform a multitude of creative responses to the world that is emerging.
It is not surprising that permaculture has its origin and longest history in Australia and other long affluent English speaking countries where there has been more time for (a still small minority) to understand the “limits to growth” dilemma and begin developing and adopting the alternative ways of landuse and living that will be viable in the energy descent future.
In the Chinese speaking world, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore have naturally been the places where awareness of the “limits to growth” and the alternatives have been first to emerge after rapid economic growth created the best and worst outcomes of rapid industrialisation, urbanisation and consumer culture. The very recent nature of explosive growth in mainland China provides new opportunities for the emergence and spread of post growth ideas. The unsustainability of these systems and the likelihood that much of the growth has been driven by bubble economics, provides opportunities for alternative responses to spread rapidly once the bubble bursts.
For those already on the path of searching for creative ecological design solutions to the dilemmas of energy descent, permaculture ethics and design principles are thinking tools that help find, evaluate, refine and create from “first principles” the strategies and techniques that are appropriate to each and every situation from the most remote provences to the newest cities. Those design solutions will be some hybrid between modern ecological design and traditional wisdom and ways of living that sustained people and nations before the fossil fuel powered era.
While population density is a serious challenge, there are some advantages for the rapid spread and evolution of permaculture in the Chinese speaking world.
Firstly the radical political, economic and social changes of recent decades have made people very adaptable and able to consider new ideas. Many of those new ideas (like permaculture) come from the western world but few encourage people to rediscover the wisdom of traditional systems of sustainable landuse and ways of living.
The very recent nature of affluence and urbanisation, especially in mainland China means there are many places where people still have a working knowledge of low impact ways of growing food, working with nature, building houses, repairing old possessions rather than buying new ones, and the many other activities associated with more self-reliant and communitarian ways of living that existed before the fossil fuel powered global boom.
This is a great strength compared with many long affluent countries such as Australia where many of these skills have been lost generations ago. Rather than a retreat to the past, permaculture ethics and design principles help us sort the “wheat from the chaff” of both tradition and modernity for a prosperous way down in the energy descent future.
I trust that the publication of this book in Chinese will lead many people to permaculture and for that I want thank the publishers Hui-I Chiang (江慧儀) of Earth Passengers (大地旅人環境教育工作室)  and Taiwan Permaculture Institute (台灣樸門永續設計學會) for translation as well as Rick Tanaka at Holmgren Design for facilitation of the process.

David Holmgren
May 2013

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Permaculture Activism and the Future

I was recently asked by “permaculture actionary” Delvin Solkinson to provide some words for a newsletter promoting the next Rainbow Serpent Festival at which I’ll be speaking (several times). Very normal that a previous participant at one of our Advanced Permaculture Principles Courses should be asking me for a piece for an event he has the job to promote. Except for the fact that Delvin is based in the rainforests of British Columbia, Canada and the event is Rainbow Serpent Festival, that is held each dry dusty January  in our bioregional backyard.elvishBYdesign

My reply was

“Delvin, You ask difficult questions. Attached are a few words for your “Trans Pacific Partnership” project producing a local festival mag from the west coast of Canada.”

Inevitably I said too much for Delvin to use in full, but he thought it should be available somewhere, so here it is.

 

 

What are the roots or foundations of Permaculture?
Permaculture emerged from the fusion and ferment of environmental thinking of the 1970’s. It can be thought of as applied systems ecology with a strong debt to the work of Howard Odum. In another sense it was a branch of the tree of organic agriculture, with roots in many industrialised countries, in the early 20th century informed by pioneering work on sustainable agriculture by F.H. King who wrote Farmers of  Forty Centuries; Permanent Agriculture in China, Japan and Korea.   The emphasis on perennial plants, especially trees, was strongly informed by Russell Smiths Tree Crops; A Permanent Agriculture and the resurgence in interest in Economic Botany (useful plants), and indigenous use of plants and land management.  As a social movement permaculture originated in the Counterculture  applying an activist strategy to create the world we wanted rather than fighting to stop the world we didn’t want.  Early “back to the land” self sufficiency efforts outside the mainstream economy provided a context for early application of permaculture concepts. Although not overtly political, permaculture was  influenced by  both Anarchist and Libertarian philosophies.

What is the best way to become a permaculture actionary or ‘get on the ground’ ?
There are many different entry points to becoming a “permaculture actionary”. For some it starts with books, for others it is social and practical immersion without over intellectualizing, for many it is a Permaculture Design Course. Whatever the starting point, it should become clear that the most important application of permaculture ethics and principles is to the self, through a process of self audit of our needs, wants, dependencies, creative and productive outputs and byproducts of our very existence. Getting grounded in this way is the start of a personal retro-fit or redesign process which does not require that we wait until we own land or are with the right crowd. We can be our own guinea pigs in creating a better world. It is not necessary to tell the whole world first up but it certainly helps to connect with like-minded people for ideas and inspiration in building skills and capacities to help ourselves and others adapt to a rapidly changing world.

What is the future of permaculture that you would most like to see?
My hopes for permaculture range from the most general to the most specific. As a concept I hope it continues to be informed and infused with creative thinking and activism that arises from outside its own self-referenced world . In this way it will avoid stagnation in thinking and action and continue to exhibit hybrid vigour that can respond to a rapidly changing world. This inclusive mentality that acknowledges like minded concepts and networks reduces the problems of “turf warfare” between pioneering concepts that colonise the psycho social margins of mainstream society.

This holistic “jack of all trades” scope of permaculture needs to be balanced by a “mastery of one”. For each of us the calling and contribution to a better world will be many and varied. My hope is that enough permaculture practitioners dedicate their lives to making the founding permaculture vision of truly productive bioregional tree crop agricultures a reality able to survive the rigours of climate change and energy descent. Can we do the hard yards such that reality can match the rhetoric?

These ideas are further explored in

About Permaculture

Reverence for the Bunya Bunya

Permaculture: Principles and Pathways Beyond Sustainability

Future Scenarios

Collected Writings

Essence of Permaculture

Or take part and learn in the Permaculture Design Certificate course.

 

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« Permaculture, Principes» est enfin disponible en français

French principleLES EDITIONS RUE DE L’ECHIQUIER : Le livre de David Holmgren « Permaculture, Principes et pistes d’action pour un mode de vie soutenable » est enfin disponible en français

Comment vivre dans le respect des limites et des ressources de la nature ?Alors que la production mondiale de pétrole a atteint son maximum et que c’en est désormais fini de l’énergie fossile bon marché, la permaculture constitue une réponse pragmatique aux enjeux de notre époque. Elle utilise la pensée systémique pour « élaborer en toute conscience des paysages qui imitent les schémas et les relations observés dans la nature et fournissent en abondance nourriture, fibres et énergie afin de subvenir aux besoins locaux ». En moins de quatre décennies, la permaculture est devenue un mouvement mondial, apportant une contribution pratique au débat sur la soutenabilité. Dans Permaculture, désormais le livre de référence sur le sujet, David Holmgren théorise et illustre concrètement 12 principes sur lesquels s’appuyer pour concevoir un mode de vie soutenable et s’adapter à la « descente énergétique ».

Perma3-1http://www.ruedelechiquier.net/actualites

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The presentation of the book

Le Labo des savoirs (October 1, 2014)

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