Design the world we want, is the theme of the 12th International Permaculture Conference due to take place in London on September 8 and 9. Among the luminaries of permaculture, David Holmgren, co-originator of the Permaculture concept, will deliver a 10 min message from 9.50am at the very start of the conference on Sept 8th, under the title of “Permaculture and Energy Descent” reflecting on the birth and growth of permaculture in a wide context.
Waves of adoption and spread of permaculture over the last 40 years are strongly correlated with large scale geopolitical and economic cycles and events. This history suggests the future form of permaculture will be shaped more by these forces than the desires or plans of individuals or organisations. If the inevitable transition to a renewable energy future follows the energy ascent trajectories of the fossil fuelled transitions of the last 250 years, permaculture is likely to remain an ethical or lifestyle choice of a minority in a conflicted but materially abundant world. If, on the other hand, the renewable future, is to one of energy descent as I have described, then permaculture, in principle, if not in name will become normalised adaptive human behaviour for rediscovering our place in nature. We all may have strong opinions, hopes, and fears about possible futures and how to shape them through permaculture, but the necessary transformation is as much an inner process, as it is external. Seeing energy descent as an opportunity rather than a problem might just be the largest and most significant contribution of permaculture thinking to a prosperous way down for humanity.
His speech as well as the others will be streamed live, the details are here.
Later on, during the convergence at Gilwell Park, Essex, David will conduct give an address via internet, “Controversial and Convoluted Issues of Permaculture Theory and Practice”. This is scheduled for Sept 11th from 10am to 11am, see the timetable.
As the permaculture movement grows in size and strength it is important that robust debate and hard won experience informs the on going evolution of theory and the allocation of resources to strategies that work. A wide range of claims by permaculture activists and literature remain contested outside and within the movement. A series of issues generate heat and shape peoples attitudes about permaculture. Some examples include the productivity of forest gardens in the temperate zones, the utility of swales or keyline in diverse landscapes, the adverse impacts or benefits of naturalised plants, the role of spirituality in permaculture, the utility of top down vs bottom up change, the faith or skepticism about technological solutions to resource constraints, the limits to global carrying capacity, the utility or otherwise of green capitalism, the place of political activism in permaculture and even, the curriculum for PDCs.
As a contribution to healthy debate and evolution of thinking within the movement, David Holmgren frames these debates in the context of energy descent futures, and for the majority of the time will give extended answers to questions about his take on issues raised by participants.
An extended Q & A session with David will follow his address.
While David will be making himself seen and heard via internet, our brother in arms, Charlie Mgee and his Formidable Vegetable Sound System, who have just released a new remix album Radish Beets, will be there in person. He will sing tunes on various occasions, and run a workshop on how to propagate the permaculture narrative, “Sing the change you want to see“.