What’s the Purpose of Learning Permaculture?
“There is no longer time to waste nor any need to accumulate more evidence of disasters; the time for action is here” ~ Bill Mollison (Permaculture, a designers’ manual, p. 1)
“The only ethical decision is to take responsibility for your own existence and that of your children. Make it now.” ~ Bill Mollison (Permaculture, a designers’ manual, p. 1)
“This book is much about solutions than about problems, more about what we can do in the present situation than about how we came to be in it in the first place. Yet there’s no escaping the fact that the Earth is in dire state, and getting worse. In the twenty-three years I’ve been actively involved in the ecological movement almost every aspect of planetary health has got worse.
This raises the question: is it all worth it? If we do our best to heal the Earth and make our place in her a sustainable one, is there a good chance that we will succeed? Or is it a forlorn hope? It’s a big question, and one which can lead to depression if we look at the facts honestly and dispassionately. But to my mind it’s the wrong question. Even if we could answer it –and we can never know anything about the future for certain – it would beg the question, How do I want to live my life?” ~ Patrick Whitefield in his introduction to his “The Earth Care Manual” book…(the emphasis is mine)
I’m just coming back from a family trip to Gabriola Island, one of the wonderful Gulf Islands in BC that I love so much (one day I may even move to one of them, still not sure which one)…our family trips are not “vacation” in the sense most people consider these “breaks”: at least for me, these trips are an opportunity to explore how other people live their lives, give both my body and my mind a break from everyday struggles and preoccupations and reflect on what I’m doing with the time that has been given to me…
I would like to dedicate this post to those who have asked me about my Permaculture training or practices, my struggles, mistakes and successes, whether PDCs should be free of charge, who is “the best” Pc teacher, whether taking a PDC is worth or even necessary and what to do after you have finished one…but beyond that, I want to dedicate it to those who understand the struggles and realities of the current status of our world, those young (and not so young) who are struggling because don’t see the meaning in their “fight”…this is for you all, thank you for being there for me and for others. You have taught me that I’m not alone.
I took my first formal PDC in 2013 and started the second one (which I have not finished yet) the same year. I took an advanced PDC training (PcTT or Permaculture Teachers Training) in 2014 and then became a TA for the same in 2015. In between, I’ve taking many isolated modules (such as Urban Permaculture with Toby Hemenway or Transition Training with Naresh Giagrande, among others). I am also registered (but idle for the moment) to complete a diploma in Permaculture with my mentor Delvin Solkinson from the Sunshine Coast. I have dozens of books, videos, magazines and documentaries on Permaculture, organic gardening, growing food, homesteading, food preservation, natural building, wilderness first aid, survivalism and the like.
But if you ask me, training doesn’t accomplish anything: Permaculture is not something to check out of the “to do” list and then hang on the wall among other certificates and degrees. Neither is it an accumulation of empty academic knowledge or “how to’s” that you memorize and recite by heart. Permaculture asks to be lived, it was created and designed as a response to the predicaments and challenges brought about by us and taking shape as climate change, resource depletion, biodiversity loss and social inequity, among others…
Permaculture is a thinking process, a worldview, an explanation on how things really work and a response to the questions “how to live our lives” (probably the most responsible and appropriate one given current world circumstances)
Unfortunately, as many other important concepts and approaches of the past, it has been hijacked by those who can only see business and gains but are unable to see the meaning and purpose of this terrific tool. There are also many who think it has to be “regulated” and even see it as a profession.
I know I’ll be scratching many itches here, but after some years of thought and observation, I have come to the conclusion that trying to “regulate” or standardize something that was created to navigate, minimize and even challenge altogether the paradigms that brought us to the complex mess we have today, it is a living contradiction: you can’t “regulate” something that is organic, revolutionary and has the potential to completely turn this system upside-down.
I know people who never took (or started but never finished) a PDC but who I consider the best permaculturists I’ve known so far: they just live it!
“The philosophy behind permaculture is one of working with, rather than against, nature; of protracted and thoughtful observation rather than protracted and thoughtless action; of looking at systems in all their functions, rather than asking only one yield of them; and of allowing systems to demonstrate their own evolutions” ~ Bill Mollison (Permaculture, a designers’ manual, p. x)
Whether you have already taken a PDC and are wondering how to “apply” it to your life or you are considering to take one; whether you wonder whether it is worth the investment (some PDCs are really expensive) or you may do better by reading the books, watching related videos and start applying the concepts, here is how you can “use it or lose it”:
Whatever you do and decide, remember what’s Permaculture for…you can always learn techniques and strategies by watching videos or volunteering at a local farm, community garden or perma-blitz, but the underlying principles and ethics are things you’ll have to reflect and apply in an endless exploration of your relationship with this Earth, its inhabitants and the future…
“The good life is never stable, never secure, never easy and never ended. It is a series of steps or stages, one leading into the other and all, in their outcome, adding, not subtracting; augmenting, not diminishing; building, not destroying; creating, not annihilating.” ~ Scott and Helen Nearing (“The Good Life”)