[permaculture] Permaculture

Lawrence F. London, Jr. lflj at intrex.net
Mon Jan 14 15:13:57 EST 2008


lbsaltzman at aol.com wrote:

> I think all of these definitions are excellent.  But the word culture, as in "permanent culture" opens broad vistas that Permaculture needs to address more deeply. 

Timely intervention by permaculturists is needed to help identify, stabilize and preserve 3rd world indigenous cultures 
that represent a vast array of agricultural, architectural, homestead, medicinal and environmental skills and a vast and 
deep knowledgebase. Think of their contribution to a permaculture knowledgebase. No longer an intern on a summer field 
trip to work on a doctoral thesis with ethnic groups but skilled, trained practitioners are needed doing direct aid 
through field work, education and application of appropriate technology. Identifying and documenting (using all media) 
their knowledge, trades, manual skills, farming practices, social and religious customs and homesteading skills should 
be done to create a benchmark against which future development can be gauged. This is what Bill Gates should be 
subsidizing, along with the skeeter nets.

> Modern anthropology has studied human cultures for well over a century now - perhaps as long as a 150 years.  
> In the course of that study anthopologists have defined a number of culture universals that are present in every human culture. 
> I believe these are deep patterns that are as worthy of study as the shape of leaves, or the flow of streams and rivers across the landscape. 

Well said. Look through the pc list archives for my posts with links to PBase galleries with pix of farming people in 
Asia and their farmland, terraces, etc. For the Vietnamese, rice growing is a religious practice. That makes a 
statement. Look at their entire integrated agricultural systems, complete from woodworking, basket making, tool making,
livestock management (harvesting a diverse collections of weeds for forage, on a regular basis). They have their system 
well tuned and working. I hate to say that is fragile but in todays world of medieval-style armed invasions it is, then 
they're back to feudalism.

Maybe we could identify a list of countries which still use traditional methods throughout their cultures.

China
Vietnam
Laos
Cambodia
Thailand
Mongolia
Burma
Bhutan
Sikkim
Nepal
Tibet
Malaysia and Indonesia

> Amongst these universals, are elaborate systems for defining family, clan and village relationships.  
 > Cultural universals also include the presence of myth, ritual and religion as an integral part of every human culture.
> If we are to build successful human communities designed for sustainable living, I believe that we will have to 
 > find a way to address these critical invisible structures.  The attempt to create functional communities, is as much
 > an exercise in recombinent ecology as the design of the landscape they are placed on. There is a great deal of
 > cultural history and wisdom that is getting lost that will help us reconstruct the culture part of the equation.
> I think the process will be of recombinent human cultures will be a lot harder than the food and habitat structures to get right.

That is really something to think about. It is quite a challenge.
An option is to identify basic sustenance needs and address what is lacking,
inadequate or dysfunctional. Appropriate technology, the entire spectrum of biological agriculture,
energy, housing and water are areas that are relative easy to work with given what is available now
that is affordable and readily available. Materials, tools and equipment and people with skills and experience
using them are needed to convey knowledge to groups needing to stabilize and augment their ability to sustain their lives.

You would think they could show us more than we could show them but I suspect there are many folks in 3rd world 
countries hanging by threads who would appreciate help from willing permaculturists. This is pie in the sky talk but is 
nevertheless a good idea.




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