[permaculture] Why is permaculture more about selling books, DVDs and training courses?

christopher nesbitt christopher.nesbitt at mmrfbz.org
Wed Jul 1 01:54:08 EDT 2009


Scott,

Thank you for such a well reasoned response.

Best wishes

Christopher
On Jun 30, 2009, at 10:14 PM, Scott Pittman wrote:

> It seems this Brer Rabbit train has to come around about every 8 to 10
> months those who are complaining that life is not one big free lunch  
> are
> never satisfied with the response from those who are not disposed to  
> provide
> that free lunch.  I have a similar problem with community members  
> who think
> that because they live in proximity to my garden that they are somehow
> granted the privilege of helping themselves to my tomatoes.  It  
> never occurs
> to them to offer to weed a little, or help with watering but they  
> sure get
> upset when I refuse to share!
>
> Using the example of Hyderabad and Dr. Venkat bringing permaculture  
> to India
> is stretching a point into fantasy.  Bill Mollison and Robin Francis  
> both
> traveled to India because they were invited, (this is an old pc  
> tradition),
> They did not get free airline tickets, or other travel expenses and  
> while
> they were gone their utilities, and gardens were not taken care of  
> by some
> munificent angel.  My guess is that their trip and work was paid for  
> by both
> Dr. Vencat's connection as well as other grants.
>
> When Bill and I travelled together most of our expenses were paid for
> through foundations, but we also charged the students an appropriate
> tuition.  Bill always said if you give it away people give it no  
> value, as
> is proven by this string.  Both Bill and I have given our share away  
> to the
> truly needy but I can't count the number of people who ask for  
> scholarships
> and then show up in high dollar transport.  For some reason because
> permaculture is about sustainability and getting our shit together  
> there is
> a whole stadium full of observers chanting that what we offer should  
> be free
> and that includes the books, the videos, and my tomatoes - let me  
> say now,
> it ain't gonna happen!
>
> If peoples shorts get in a twist by someone making a living doing
> permaculture then they should convince the library to purchase the
> permaculture books and dvd's and engage in home schooling, that way  
> they can
> make their own mistakes and not leach off of the hard earned  
> experience of
> greedy teachers; I guarantee that their experience will cost them  
> more than
> they would have paid for the pc class.  After they have spent  
> countless
> years learning permaculture through trial and error they can then go  
> out
> into the world and teach it free!!!
>
> I recommend the story of "Henny Penny" to help understand my   
> position.
>
>
> Scott Pittman
> Director
> Permaculture Institute
> www.permaculture.org
> -----Original Message-----
> From: permaculture-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org
> [mailto:permaculture-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org] On Behalf Of Suraj  
> Kumar
> Sent: Thursday, June 25, 2009 10:02 PM
> To: permaculture
> Subject: Re: [permaculture] Why is permaculture more about selling
> books,DVDs and training courses?
>
> Guys, I just wanted to add one thing:
>
> It is only silly to blame the umbrella permaculture movement for the
> apparently seeming 'ponzi scheme' impressions that not just me,
> several people do tend to get. At the same time, I beg to disagree
> with the justifications of "knowledge being expensive". Sure, its got
> demand. Not everything that has a demand needs to have a price (Should
> water be charged for by some elite who knows how to control water?).
> Debatable, at the least.
>
> Let me provide a counter argument: In India, Bill Mollison visited in
> the mid 80s to teach permaculture. Deccan Development Society made
> beautiful use of permaculture principles to solve a completely
> different problem - economic liberation of the down-trodden, oppressed
> "low caste" people who were in the clutches of money lenders. The
> money lenders were in the picture simply because their method of food
> production needed fertilizers. It worked amazingly, step by step
> ("Obtain a yield") and eventually freed the people. The "Global
> Gardener" series ("in the Tropics") shows this beautifully. Having
> talked to someone from DDS, I was impressed how things have
> transformed in the drought ridden area of Andhra Pradesh.
>
> Note that, throughout this 'spreading permaculture' effort, no money
> was charged for offering training. People worked for themselves and
> their land and ultimately in improving their knowledge. That's the
> fee. In my strongest convictions, thats how it ought to be. The day a
> student offers gratitude and respect, that's when the teacher has
> really succeeded.
>
> Taking money for subsistence is totally fine. But why make it  
> mandatory?
>
> I hope I made my point.
>
> On Fri, Jun 26, 2009 at 5:37 AM, Kevin Topek<ktopek at att.net> wrote:
>> Hilarity ensues. Toby, what a pointed, well honed critique. I have
>> taught for at least 10 years and have made nary a penny from  
>> teaching.
>> It is design clients and installations that pay the bills. I have
>> taken a lot of advanced training and some is great and some is
>> definitely below par. It really depends on the teachers and their
>> level of expertise in the field. Larry Santoyo and Scott Pittman were
>> co-teachers in my course with Bill Mollison and they really fleshed
>> out his class. Multiple viewpoints bring the subject matter to life!
>> Those of you who have helped me along the way, thank you very much.
>>
>> Kevin Topek
>> Permaculture Design LLC
>> www.permaculturedesign.net
>>
>>
>> On Jun 25, 2009, at 3:41 PM, Toby Hemenway wrote:
>>
>>> This whole thread reveals more about people's head-worms around  
>>> money
>>> than it does about the actual state of permaculture training. And
>>> thanks
>>> to Michael B, Larry S, and Paul W for having more patience than me  
>>> in
>>> dealing nicely with this perennial issue. It reminds me of the
>>> Creationists; you show why their arguments make no sense and reveal
>>> ideological bias, and then they just keep on spouting the same
>>> wrong-headed statements.
>>>
>>> David Travis wrote:
>>>> The most generic goal of a consultant is to make money using his or
>>>> her certificate, and it turns out that the easiest and fastest way
>>>> to do that is to promote oneself as a teacher.
>>> This is just silly. I'm not sure that there is a single person on
>>> Earth
>>> who actually earns a living teaching Pc; we all need other jobs to
>>> make
>>> ends meet. And it takes 5 years or more of hard work at little or no
>>> pay
>>> to earn the reputation to attract enough students to courses to make
>>> them run. Easy and fast? It was and is the hardest work I've ever  
>>> done
>>> by far and only after 12 years of it are my courses consistently
>>> successful, and that's the case for every teacher I know. Please do
>>> some
>>> thinking and research before making knee-jerk assertions like this.
>>>
>>> As for more layers of accreditation being gratuitously added, I am
>>> bombarded, as are other teachers, by countless requests for ways to
>>> continue in permaculture learning in a formal way. I'd rather not
>>> set up
>>> further programs, as it's a lot of work for almost no personal  
>>> return,
>>> but the demand for them came long before the advanced programs  
>>> did. If
>>> all this is a Ponzi scheme, it's a terrible failure of one. Few  
>>> design
>>> courses make money; I've been around enough to know.
>>>
>>> No one seems to remember that Stewart Brand's great quote,
>>> "information
>>> wants to be free" was only the first half of what he wrote. The 2nd
>>> half
>>> was, "information wants to be expensive," and he then gave potent
>>> reasons why that is also true. TANSTAAFL.
>>>
>>> If I never see this kind of thread again, it will be too soon, but
>>> it's
>>> good to know that fewer and fewer people are hanging onto these
>>> uninformed views.
>>>
>>> Toby
>>> http://patternliteracy.com
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>>
>>>> "I get the feeling that the permaculture movement has morphed  
>>>> into a
>>>> market place to sell books, DVDs and training courses related to
>>>> permaculture than a platform for sharing techniques and allowing
>>>> humans to live closer to nature in a simpler way. Many a material I
>>>> find on the internet are incomplete and keep referring to "Stuff to
>>>> Buy" or "Courses to Take". Just search for permaculture on youtube
>>>> and
>>>> that's what you find. Any site claiming to be a "permaculture" site
>>>> talks about doing a course.
>>>>
>>>> Or am I mistaken? I'd love to be corrected if I'm mistaken.
>>>>
>>>> I remember some noble soul here who had setup permaculture.info -
>>>> that
>>>> is great! WTG! But, why do the 'experts' end up locking themselves
>>>> into seclusion and not share their knowledge?
>>>>
>>>> Cheers,
>>>>
>>>>  -Suraj"
>>>>
>>>>
>>>> Dear Suraj,
>>>>
>>>> I agree that this is a serious problem. In my experience it is a
>>>> byproduct of the original process of certification. Permaculture
>>>> education was originally designed to be a means of certifying
>>>> design consultants. Even today, the regional groups (in the US at
>>>> least) seem to be strongly focused on how to add new levels of
>>>> accreditation, mentorship, and certification onto the PDC process;
>>>> implementation and verification of permaculture methods seem to be
>>>> secondary priorities. The most generic goal of a consultant is to
>>>> make money using his or her certificate, and it turns out that the
>>>> easiest and fastest way to do that is to promote oneself as a
>>>> teacher. In addition to this there are landscapers who have used
>>>> the certification process to "green" their resumes and explore new
>>>> territory. Often all of this is combined in the permaculture demo/
>>>> teaching site. The result is what some people (affectionally!) call
>>>> a permaculture ponzi scheme of certificates, diplomas,
>>>> apprenticeships, etc. It costs money, but people like to spend
>>>> money and they have fun.
>>>>
>>>> Part of the difficulty is that permaculture ideas are largely
>>>> speculative and there is a great deal of risk involved in actually
>>>> implementing them on any kind of large scale. Perhaps if
>>>> permaculture had started out as being more centralized and
>>>> democratic (as opposed to decentralized and autocratic a la
>>>> Mollison), it would have developed the sort of infrastructure
>>>> needed to move beyond demo sites and a handful of NGO projects, but
>>>> who can say?
>>>>
>>>> Anyway, it's easy to see how the initial structure lead the
>>>> movement there. Most people I've met within the permaculture
>>>> movement seem to be perfectly happy with it staying on that track;
>>>> it is satisfying peoples' needs on some level.
>>>>
>>>> - David
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>
>>>> _________________________________________________________________
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>
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> our Inability to Understand the Exponential Function"
> Dr. Albert Bartlett
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_____________________________
Christopher Nesbitt

Maya Mountain Research Farm
San Pedro Columbia, Toledo
PO 153 Punta Gorda Town, Toledo
BELIZE,
Central America

www.mmrfbz.org






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