The Key to Mainstream Acceptance

This topic contains 2 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by  Bob Lawrason 5 months ago.

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  • #6882
     Harrison Quigley 

    Having been involved with Permaculture since living in Australia in the mid-’80s, I have observed that the subject has not evolved into mainstream acceptance due to failure to apply its design principles to itself. The 3 pillars of cultural sustainability, or better yet “viability”, if you will are 1) Regenerative Communities, 2) Functional Ecosystems, and 3) Healthy Local Economies. Until Permaculture can deliver those things consistently and in a coordinated manner, mainstream acceptance will remain elusive, and Permaculture will not qualify or be recognized as a genuine global movement.

    The existing scene is that Permaculture is essentially a “club” of people who find some agreement with the subject, but are unaligned on its cultural, political, economic, social, and even spiritual applications. This is fine for a club and provides for a wide diversity of viewpoints and perspectives on how the underlying principles might be applied to all aspects of life. However, in order to get real traction and acceptance a free market society, the ability of Permaculture to generate 1) Regenerative Communities, 2) Functional Ecosystems, and 3) Health Local Economies must be competently demonstrated with consistency.

    Those who have applied Permaculture to generate income have generally done so as lone practitioners selling theory in the form of PDC courses, landscape design services, and various intellectual properties (books, manuals, CDs, videos, etc.) in the hopes that “spreading the gospel” in this manner will result in broad application. And although some application has occurred in this manner in diverse parts of the world, the lack of ongoing coordination and management of lands to which Permaculture principles have been applied has resulted in either ultimate failure of such projects (e.g. Geoff Lawton’s Jordon project) or a lack of adequately credible case study documentation proving the financial superiority Permaculture application over conventional methods.

    This roller-coaster of lone practitioner booms and depressions is not peculiar to Permaculture practitioners but to most of the professions (GPs, CPAs, Lawyers, etc.) unless they are supported by a proper organization. Lone practitioners, or even a firm of such, are essentially specialists or technicians in a given speciality. An no matter how brilliant they may be in that particular specialty, they can not also wear equally as well all of the hats that are required to run a successful and expanding organization or movement. Any organization, large or small, nonetheless has at least 8 separate and distinct functions that must be equally attended to for that organization to run efficiently and viably – Governance, Human Capital, Marketing, Sales, Financial Management, Technology, Quality Assurance, Community & Customer Relations. The activity will only run as well as it as firing on all 8 “cylinders”, and the lone practitioner or even group of practitioners in one technical specialty simply don’t have the required expertise in all of those areas. It is a system that requires holistic system thinking and application.

    Accordingly, until an organization is creating that DOES competently cover EACH of those specialized disciplines, the Permaculture “movement” will remain a club of lone wolf practitioners selling designs and theory without ever achieving the objective of a permanently viable culture.

    The solution, as Mollison once indicated, is a cooperative social enterprise patterned after the Mondragon Cooperative geared toward obsoleting the broken, toxic mono-crop chemical farming food production & vertically integrated distribution system with a regenerative food production & decentralized/localized distribution system. This is the purpose of my social enterprise, Onchenda Open Global Food Cooperative.

    The same is needed in the areas of healthcare & wellness, water & hydrology, clean energy, telecommunications, transportation (e.g. Uber, Lyft), accommodations (e.g. AirBnB). Were a few of us to direct our efforts at creation of such social enterprises, identify where the “edges” are, and design in the appropriate symbiotic layering, economic prosperity, regenerative communities, healthy local economies, restoration of ecosystem services, and thus mainstream acceptance and recognition would follow.

  • #7217
     Kim L. Law 

    Your observations are spot on. The diverse community which call themselves permaculturist each have very different views on what Permaculture is about and how to apply it correctly. Not even the “expert” teachers know how to actually run a successful project / business. Many do not even have the resources to start a small garden project, needless to say a resilient community.

    The best examples of successful Permaculture projects I have seen are not Permaculture projects by itself; Rather existing businesses that have applied Permaculture principles in its conventional operation. Most of these entities don’t identify with Permaculture or have heard of it before. It is my suspicion that a core deficiency of permaculturist is lacking the skills needed to run a successful operation. The people who do have such skill are often too busy running their businesses with or without Permaculture principles.

    In some ways I loathe the Permaculture teaching community. Too many of them are profit seeking and offer little to no low cost alternatives to their teaching program. Only a handful of teachers are adhering to the Principles of Earth Care, People Care and Fair Share. Financial profit, not the dissemination of knowledge is the primary objective for far too many PDC courses.

    I do not agree however, with the view that a central organizing body will be required for its success. Permaculture existed in essentially all cultures and communities until the Industrial Age. Simply no communities would have survived by constantly plundering their surroundings without an input of additional energy (fossil fuel). No Permaculture centric governing body existed back then, so I do not believe one is absolutely necessary now. Central bodies have their fair share of problems, mainly due to the limitations of human scale.

    My view is that permaculturists are still far too entrenched in the contemporary debt based fiat currency. Until Permaculture offers a viable alternative of living, free from this bond,there will be no adoption from people who wants out of this diabolical system, less so for people who are still in love with it (power, privilege, oppression). The sad truth is that too many of us are addicted to the fossil fuel – debt – plunder lifestyles, even in the Permaculture community.

    I have actually pretty much given up working with the Permaculture community. I now look for business partners in the general local community and try to lead from there. Working towards the direction of building resillient businesses that can weather the eventual societal collapse.

  • #7231
     Bob Lawrason 

    We do face a challenge today, living in world based on fiat currency designed to trap each of us in its grip. To play by its rules in order to be “successful” as a business and converting to another system independent of this currency and all the rules associated with it, requires a transitional process that needs to be discovered.

    Permaculture can be applied in many ways, both small and large. There seems to me to be a shortage of trained individuals who do not address a whole community as a project/design/businesses. I am not referring to an “intentional community” but a small town, city, state. To me small farm designs are like designing the steering wheel instead of the whole car. The small farm serves the individuals needs, their family and a few of the local communities in regards to food. For the community to be stable, water, food, sustainable housing and renewable energy need to be addressed for each member of the community. From there more can be added, including an alternative currency and economic system.

    A central organizing body would be needed for the community based on a structure that is adaptable to the specific needs of that community. A structure that facilitates communication, decisions and action that benefits the community. There is one of these organizing boards that has worked with 3-100,000 individuals.

    Permaculture is “A” tool, the organizing structure is “A” tool and there are others that can be added where needed to begin the building of the new paradigm. Permaculture as I see it today is a workable pattern with many of the successful details needed to be worked out, community by community.

    All too often I see individuals viewing “one thing” as “the solution” that is supposed to be applicable to the world of people/environment in general. History on Earth has been following this pattern through the various “Ages” that have come and gone. Nature has followed a successful pattern that is multi-faceted for a long time that has changed and improved through recognition and adaptation in local communities. It is this transitional process that has been successful and one we can learn and act with.

    Bob Lawrason

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