Mike Smith P00297 - HICNET auhicmds at
Wed Oct 18 00:47:09 EDT 1995

    Reference: Your note of 18/10/95 06:53
Rachel Frifelder said
Two questions:
Is Mike Corbett a "Permaculture" (capital P for brand name Pc) designer?
If not I think it is wrong for brand name Permaculture with all its
exclusiveness to lay claim to Village Homes.

Second, why do you ascribe the saying "If you're not part of the
solution, you're part of the problem" to Mollison?  I think it massively
predates his debut in the public eye. (not to mention the fact that from
what I know about his lifestyle he is part of the problem himself)
--end quote--


It is my understanding that at the time Mike was involved in the design and
construction of village homes he was not involved in the Permaculture movement
although I could be wrong.  So, when I refer to Village Homes in a Permaculture
context I do not in any way feel that I am making a claim that Village Homes
was developed as a "Permaculture Development".  However, I do feel that in
attempting to explain to lay people what Permaculture is about in an urban
context it is very helpful to refer to a development like Village Homes as an
ideal that we could aspire to.  There is no doubt in my mind that it embodies
many Permaculture principles.

I do not believe that Mike objects to us refering to Village Homes in this
way.  In fact, the ABC documentary series on Permaculture featured Village
Homes as a significant landmark urban development.  The segment gave the
development an extremely good exposure with an intelligent discussion of the
social and urban ecology aspects of the design.

Although I may be misinterpreting the tone of your message, I get the
impression that you have had your toes trodden on by one or more Pc people.
That is really unfortunate :-(.  Back here in Australia we are a bit more
laid-back about the whole thing and there is no intention that Pc become
exclusive.  In fact, there is a significant amount of effort on the part of
many people to include many diverse dispilines, making Pc inclusive rather
than exclusive.

I don't think that anybody could rightly say that Permaculture has all the
answers.  However, it is a vehicle that we can use for some significant
change in the developed world and tangible assistance to less developed
countries.  It's not just the gurus of the Permaculture movement who do
good work (and although Bill is not perfect he has had a major impact on
the involvement of your average person in the long-term paradigm shift
to environmental sustainability).  Many people inside and independant of
Permaculture do real, valuable and tangible work to make life better for
all and get the message "out there".

Having a non-academic basis for research and a grass-roots context for
action, the Permaculture movement often finds and places significant value
on traditional social structures and land management regimes.  The gathering

of this information and these techniques into a palatable and digestable
package MUST occur for any real significant change to happen.  And although
Permaculturists are not the only people doing this stuff, we do approach it
from a viewpoint which is more relevant to many rural and urban people.  One
thing that we are often applauded for is that we actually involve ourselves in
the implementation wherever possible with the objective that people end up
understanding the reasoning and techniques rather than just changing their

At this point I'm starting to sound like an apologist for the Permaculture
movement.  That is not my intention.  What I would like to achieve is a spirit
of co-operative effort between the many diverse groups who work for long-term
environmental sustainability and a more benign impact for our species.  If a
particular person with a Permaculture bent has "spat-the-dummy" at you and
caused you to downgrade your opinion of Permaculture then they have done an
unfortunate thing.  Any group of people who is striving for co-operative
effort with other groups should also strive for some social oiling to make
things go smoothly.

In relation to me ascribing the quote to Bill Mollison, my only defense is
that I am not infalibile (far from it).  In the pre-Internet environment
where many of us come from there is often a "chinese whispers" syndrome.
I have heard so many other people ascribe the quote to Bill that I came to
believe it and start to propagate it.  I will, in future, paraphrase the
message in the quote and attribute it to myself unless I can find the correct
person to attribute it to (if you know, that would be a great help).  After
all it is the message in the quote that is the most important thing; the
sense that abdicating your responsibility to sustain the world's environment
is tantamount to complicity in the destruction of our planet.

I appreciate your feedback.  I hope that in responding to your questions in
this way I have not only answered them but also stressed to all the people
who subscribe to these lists the importance of working together co-operatively.
The way we perceive each other is very important, particularly if these
perceptions are voiced over a medium with such wide reach as the Internet.
The common wisdom is that if you can't say something nice, don't say anything
at all.  That philosopy does not really help people find the common ground
between their differing viewpoints.

Finding our common ground; that space amongst all our understandings and our
expectations is something we MUST do otherwise we can not communicate.

If we can't even speak with each other; we will perish.


Mike D. Smith, Canberra, Australia.
       PermaNet--->  HTTP://
Convenor, Permaculture ACT (Australian Capital Territory, Canberra)  - PACT
Treasurer, Australian Centre for Environentally Sustainable Systems  - ACESS
Chief Editor, The Mulch, Journal of Permaculture ACT                 - MULCH
E-mail Administrator, Health Insurance Commission, Aust. Fed. Gov.   - HIC

Internet..........auhicmds at
X.400.............g=mike; s=smith; p=ausgovhic; a=ibmx400; c=au
PACT Address......PO Box 886, Civic Square  ACT  2608, Australia
Home Address......10 / 12 Blackett Cres, Greenway  ACT  2900, Australia

HIC Address.......PO Box 1001, Tuggeranong  ACT  2900, Australia
ACESS Address.....49 Wentworth Avenue, Kingston  ACT  2604, Australia
Phone (work)......+ 61 6 203 6040
Fax (work)........+ 61 6 203 6186
"Abdicating your responsibility to sustain the world's environment
 is tantamount to complicity in the destruction of our planet" - Mike Smith

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