swrpi at igc.apc.org swrpi at igc.apc.org
Mon Jan 5 18:46:06 EST 1998

At 02:29 PM 1/4/98 -0800, Jeff Owens wrote:
>I encountered several discussions of Permaculture recently.  Many
>on the net, some in magazines, and also mention in newspapers.
>Each one was different and I found it pretty confusing.  My
>attempts to define Pc also resulted in some confusion and I
>wondered if others run into these same problems.

>Ideas, corrections?
> ----------
>Jeff Owens (kowens at teleport.com)  Zone 6-7  Permaculture
> Underground house, solar energy, reduced consumption, no TV
Hi Jeff,

The most important description relating to permaculture is that it is a
*design* system.  I use the following definition for a quick opener:

"Permaculture is an *ethical* design system based on information derived
from the study and observation of natural, or wild systems that is then used
to inform the design of domestic systems.  The subject of permaculture is
all aspects of the human living situation with a goal of sustainable human
settlement in harmony with the wild environment."

Of course this simple definition then leads to a discussion of permaculture
ethics, and what is sustainable etc.  But I have found that there is no
avoiding the long conversation, nor do I try if someone is truely interested.

What makes permaculture unique and not just another gardening system, or
forestry system or building system is that it is a design system.
Permaculture practicioners are designers first and foremost - I hope.  At
least this is what I learned and now teach.

My greatest fear is that permaculturists are taking the easy bits of
permaculture such as gardening, animal husbandry, water harvesting,
construction and land forming and leaving out the hard stuff like ethics,
pattern, and invisible structures.  When this happens permaculture is
eviserated of its power and wonder. 
<swrpi at igc.apc.org>
Permaculture Institute
Scott & Arina Pittman 
PO Box 3702
Pojoaque, NM 87501

Ingenio Patet Campus

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