Elders' Symposium

Jack Rowe jackrowe at compuserve.com
Sun Jan 11 15:24:16 EST 1998

Dan H wrote: "I don't think I said that none of us is qualified to teach
permaculture, though maybe I mispoke.  If I did, I said a dangerous thing,
for it would be an excellent excuse for the widespread poor quality of
permaculture teaching"...

OR, it might be an excellent excuse, if we need such a thing, to remain
open to new thoughts and continue actively learning. I find myself doubting
that many people in this movement are looking for excuses to remain
mediocre. Actually, I even doubt if any of us ARE mediocre, having met many
permies. All have been live-wires, to a person. But we pause in the pursuit
of excellence immediately we claim that we have arrived.

And, referring to gratis work: "you need to be independently wealthy to
work on the basis of koha, or the cruder 'sliding scale,'"... 

Actually, I'm personally independently POOR and I find it works just as
well (possibly better). The details differ, true... but I'm reassured that
the ultimate outcome will be the same. I've seen my amazingly-productive
companion Vicki, also independently poor, reach a state of wealthy bliss
while interacting with her worms that I do not believe a pile of money
could have purchased. 

Then: "in creating free training for people who have personal computers, we
aren't accomplishing much except keeping people on the tit... free training
propsed is for people who could pay for a course in what they pay for fancy
tires on one of their cars in a year"...

Dan, you have a knack for insulting the largest number of people with the
fewest words, which fits with the well-known 'most-for-least-effort' PC
principle only if insulting people is actually your goal. Many of us on
this list have left the cash economy as far as possible and do not buy
fancy tires, pulling our own weight without either accumulating material
wealth OR 'going on the tit', to put it crudely. 

We really DO have to strike a balance between silk sheets and living in the
streets. Surely, however, a cooperative course or offering of specific
knowledge or useful experience, offered by and shared among members of this
list without regard for monetary benefit, would benefit each of us in other
ways. No one would be required to 'ante up' their valuable knowledge to
their own detriment. I suspect that such an undertaking would bring none of
us closer to the 'streets' side of the above equation, and might move all
of us toward greater excellence in our other undertakings. PC principles
are easy to learn... the details, however, are myriad and we owe it to
ourselves to share our knowledge of things that actually work. And to
anticipate a familiar refrain, I can't tell you that blackberries and
azaleas WILL both do well under your conditions, but I CAN tell you that
water lilies and tepary beans WON'T both do well under your conditions.
Between ideological extremes, there is much potentially-useful information
to share.

I'm going to call around (ok, e-mail -- I believe telephones transmit
unquiet and insanity), and I'm going to offer one article on seed
saving/breeding/storing, and another on specific practices pertaining to
sustainable aquacultural management and hygiene. Both of these will be
built on current work, and I imagine that many of us can come up with
something similar. I could also write something going on and on about
inter/intra-personal issues, but I think that would be mostly irritating.

Speaking of elders, I'm for 'em. Each elder's respect, however, must be
EARNED. Elders aren't appointed by Time, they're elected by Respect. If
this respect is earned, it will be there... if not, it won't. Further, an
elder can earn their respect by extensive experience, semi-independent of
age. It's not a system which is so much out of use, as that so many elders
want their respect for free. There exist both Wise Elders, and Old Fools.
To be an elder is not to lead the younger to the 'correct' ideas, but to
empower them to surpass their mentors. The elder who stops learning from
the young or the 'less educated' ceases to be an elder.


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