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

Michael Burns michael at fingerlakespermaculture.org
Wed Jun 24 15:09:30 EDT 2009

I think you missed key points of my message. I'm sorry I wasn't more clear.

1. Much permaculture knowledge and information is free.

2. Many people struggle to teach it for free.

3. Even free resources are paid for or provided by someone (and it is OK),
usually by those referred to in #2.

4. The internet isn't even close to representing points 2 and 3.

> Now, do you call knowledge sharing the same as "attacking a ship"?

Are you suggesting that I do? Why do you ask this absurd question?

> can only be via Free (as in freedom) knowledge. Hence I question, why
> make permaculture relatively inaccessible? Why not let the community
> take care of spreading it? The power of exponential growth is
> undeniably overwhelming.

Who is making it inaccessible? Communities are spreading it. There is plenty
of evidence though you won't find much of it in the world of internet media.

> Unlike folks who offer PDCs, I obviously lack the experience. As

Obviously? Why the fixation on "experts?" Does a person's appearance on a
website make them an expert? Isn't this fascination with experts contrary to
the spread of knowledge we desire? Why, if a US$1200 course in the
overdeveloped world is inappropriate for you and your community's needs would
you desire it. What model works for you to teach and learn? Figure it out. Why
pay $100 for Mollison's Designer's Manual when you have no problem with those
who share it's content for free on the internet?

I've seen organizations teach permaculture to hundreds within a community in a
short time without charging the participants for tuition. They found a model
to make it work for them. Meanwhile there are North American organizations
that regularly offer PDCs because that is what many want and are willing to
pay for. It works for them. In my community I can think of a dozen people I
know nearby who understand enough of permaculture (and their land shows it)and
they have never taken the course. The PDC model doesn't work for them. But, if
you look hard enough through the narrow lens of the internet you will find
some examples of those who teach under different models of popular education.

> don't think its a gating factor at all - those who want to share, do
> share. I do my tiny weeny bit - I take photos of my garden in

Exactly! Now do more! : )

> I was thinking aloud and thought some would like to join me in the
> discussion. Your arguments only went so far to reinforce my initial
> concerns. I hope I've explained why why I felt what I felt. It isn't
> just me or Bela in this forum who feel this - there are quite some
> folks out there who have expressed these concerns.

Your initial email suggested that, based on what you found on the internet,
permaculture is about selling... Don't characterize the "permaculture
movement" by what you find on the internet. One of the most successful
institutes I have known (in Latin America) doesn't even have a web site. Why
should they? They aren't selling anything! Does their lack of participation
with the web, discount their success? their "expertiness?" (apologies to the
American comic Steve Colbert).

Keep teaching and consider you that are part of the permaculture movement.

keep digging!


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Michael Burns
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Earn your permaculture design certificate.
The Finger Lakes Permaculture Institute
offers affordable local classes.
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