[permaculture] What is permaculture?

GlobalCirclenet webmaster at globalcircle.net
Fri Sep 17 18:14:40 EDT 2004


You're serious? Are  you sure you want to claim that Mollison and Holmgren
"invented" anything? Their contribution was tremendous, and nobody denies
them the credit for organizing the material.  But no, nobody has a "right
to impose limits on the word's definition (just because they coined the
word) and to attempt to regulate its use".  This is really getting absurd. 

>Many sustainable practices will naturally fit the criteria of Pc. But Pc
is
>not simply another word for any sustainable practice. I often hear people
>with an incomplete grasp of Pc say "the XX people were practicing Pc long
>before Mollison." They may have been living sustainably, but I have never
>encountered any evidence that anyone was applying the full Pc design
>system.
>I'm sorry, but no one's grandfather was doing Pc.

I have never encountered any evidence that anyone workshop "certified" is
applying the ful PC design system either. That grasping at straws to dress
up permaculture as something new! improved! is way too commercial and
Madison Avenue for me. 

It's very easy to dismiss dissent by a wave of the hand and claim critics
have an "incomplete grasp" of something or other. In this case, I happen to
have a very thorough grasp of permaculture and many related areas.  AND I'm
not selling my opinions as fact that must never be questioned by those who
have an "incomplete grasp". 

Maybe I should write a book myself. Call it "Gaia's Garden Bites" (or how
to make sustainable principles work for you today without paying to get
certified by someone who doesn't know any more than you do).

paul at largocreekfarms.com

*********** REPLY SEPARATOR  ***********

On 9/17/2004 at 10:54 AM Toby Hemenway wrote:

>(this got kinda long, so I broke it into 2 parts. The other is about the
>PDC, under the "PDC course prices" thread.)
>
>I think a little definition of terms might help clear things up in this
>thread.
>
>What is permaculture? It's not a discipline. One way to think of it is as
>an
>invention, created by Mollison and Holmgren, just the way a lightbulb or
>patented manufacturing process is, using existing materials and assembling
>them in a new way. Pc is a certain way of arranging knowledge in order to
>apply it to design. The specific design process regulated by 3 ethics and
a
>group of principles, and using a particular set of disciplines and
>methodologies is unique to Pc. The concept was unique and specific enough
>that its inventors coined a new word for it, and as inventors they have
the
>right to impose limits on the word's definition, and to attempt to
regulate
>its use. It is not a Humpty-Dumpty term that means whatever we want it to
>mean. That's why saying "nobody has the right to regulate permaculture" is
>like saying, "Anyone can make a drink and call it Johnny Walker Red."
>
>Mollison never claimed to have invented any of the subjects that Pc
>organizes. He (and most anyone in Pc) is perfectly aware that many
elements
>of Pc come from many cultures; he visited those cultures and learned from
>them. The attributions and origins are in every Pc book and are discussed
>in
>every PDC. But the assembly is an original and very significant
>contribution, just as the light bulb or Monet painting is. In hindsight we
>may look at Pc and think, "that's obvious," but it's really not. The
>brilliant Thomas Huxley read of Darwin's theory of natural selection and
>said, "How stupid of me not to have thought of that!" Same goes for Pc:
>Parts were present, but the inventors put it together and deserve the
>credit
>and our respect of their intentions for it.
>
>Many sustainable practices will naturally fit the criteria of Pc. But Pc
is
>not simply another word for any sustainable practice. I often hear people
>with an incomplete grasp of Pc say "the XX people were practicing Pc long
>before Mollison." They may have been living sustainably, but I have never
>encountered any evidence that anyone was applying the full Pc design
>system.
>I'm sorry, but no one's grandfather was doing Pc.
>
>Bill has given Pc a very specific meaning. He has written repeatedly that
>people can use any aspect of Pc in any way they want, but don't call it Pc
>if it does not use the defined process of Pc. I think this is worth
>respecting. Such traditions and stipulations about how to use teachings
are
>very common in indigenous cultures. If we can understand respecting an
>elder's wishes or honoring the integrity of a tradition in other cultures,
>we ought to be able to do it in our own.
>
>For those who would like the official word, Mollison's website is
>http://www.tagari.com
>
>And a handbook describing the permaculture Institute, and the suggested
use
>of the word "Permaculture" is in a PDF file at
>http://www.tagari.com/booksales/BookletsPages/YearBook.htm
>
>Toby
>www.patternliteracy.com
>
>
>
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