growth of pc

Rene and Lorraine van Raders rvraders at
Fri Jan 16 02:53:09 EST 1998

David asked if we had enough pc graduates.

I believe the answer is yes... it only takes one person to change the
world.  However obviously the more the merrier, and the less work each
individual has to do.  Thanks David for bringing this matter up... any
ideas you have for creating more students, teachers or pc awareness are
much appreciated.

Frank says too much mystery surrounds pc.

I agree, but I wonder what the answer is.  It all comes back to knowing
what to say when asked "what is pc?".  Because pc is so vast and all
encompassing, there are so many possible replies.  Short answers are
usually very broad and thus very vague.  Often there isn't time or interest
for a long reply.  I can assure Frank this mystery is not some intentional
ploy to keep anyone in the dark or to annoy them.

Dan is worried about the widespread poor quality of teaching.

Don't know anything about what's happening in the states, but this reminds
me a bit of the continual debate at convergences about setting up some sort
of professional body to regulate designers (as there have been occassional
stuff ups that have given pc a bad name in some places).  God forbid this
ever happens.  Whenever poor quality exists, let's work together to improve
it.  "Bad" teachers and designers benefit from help, not criticism or
regulation.  Although students seemed happy with the first courses we ran,
I'm embarrassed to remember them now.. as over a few short years we've
become so much better.  Let's work on ideas to help those who aren't up to
"our" level of understanding and ability!!!  Also I find it easy sometimes
to confuse a diverse approach with poor quality, but we desire diversity. 
(Bill's thoughts as I understand them were that bad teachers would fall by
the way side.)

Jack has shown me a paradox.  It's true that when you're independently poor
you can have lots of time and energy to help others.  Yet when you're
independently flush, it's also easy to help (so long as one is used to
giving), and then you can give more (at least in terms of capital and
expensive items).  Probably both approaches are desirable.

Bruce wrote about the need to walk our talk if we want to teach others. 
Agreed.  Has everyone heard of the WWOOF network?   Willing Worker's on
Organic Farms young people are always passing through, and I feel we often
make dramatic changes to their lives by exposing them to something that is
new but also very attractive in many ways.   We really enjoy the company,
but also knowing we are "teaching" by example.

Bruce also wrote that to wrap pc in plastic is harmful.  Here I'm not sure
that I agree.  I'm not sure that I'm reading what you meant to say, but I
worry that because I have thrown away my suit and tie, and now walk
everywhere barefoot that I'm not making the impact I might if I could only
persuade myself to again put on that suit... so that I could talk to
mayors, politicians and businessmen without them feeling smacked in the gob
by my different appearance.  I personally feel pc has a shortage in  that 
diverse element... those who are taking sustainability to the mainstream
(although I know it is happening, even here to some extent).   How do
others see this dilema?

Jack, Lawrence and Dan seem to be antagonising each other.  I hate to see
that happen.  Emails seem to lack a quality that face to face speech has...
it seems very easy to say the wrong thing, especially as emails are often
done in some haste.   I'm very sorry to see this niggling, as I greatly
respect the views of  all of you (especially when you don't agree with each
other).  How do we "argue" over the net without getting upset? ... it seems
a whole new skill to learn.  Generally I agree with most of Dan's argument
re teaching and charges, though I can see the words used could cause
offense to some.

Jack re Free Tools  (and Lawrence)   (and Dan)   (and April)
I certainly feel a need for an organised approach to collating the info
"out there" to make it user friendly.  By the way, I don't see the
Designer's Manual lacking a temperate toolkit anymore than a tropical one. 
About 50 pages devoted to cool climates - not enough  but then I don't
think it was meant to be a toolkit and I think it would be great to start
to collate one (It's rumoured Bill's next book will be either on Patterns
or on Chilly Climates).   Your idea is for all of us to share our work. 
I'm very keen to pass on my pc knowledge, but I baulked at the thought of
posting our correspondence course.  We are at present revising it to then
make it available to other teachers to use, who might want to reach those
who want to learn more and/or can't make it to a two week course.  Of
course any teacher could write their own course, but we're offering a
package that took a few years to make (part-time).  We were planning to
franchise it out... using the  profits to get a myriad of pc projects here
off the ground.  How does posting it free on the internet positon us?  I'd
like your views on this.  Basically as I feel now, I'd be happy to post the
course on the net for all to see (eg Dan and April.. already doing
email/correspondence courses, might get some good ideas to make their
courses even better, as I know we would from theirs)... but would still
expect people who used it as a package to teach for profit to pay us for
it.  As I've already stated in previous posts... to get maximum benefit
from a course the mentor (teacher) is required.  Perhaps anyone who decided
to proceed with the course on their own could pay a donation (a bit like
shareware).  Anyway your comments would be most appreciated.

Back to the symposium.... (a drinking party with intellectual discussion my
dictionary says) ....  what I would love to see would be the one site that
would be a bit like an encyclopaedia or the Designer's Manual.  It would be
the first port of call for any enquiry and would lead you to all the right
links to get the information in an orderly fashion.  At the moment
information on the web is so chaotic that it is irritating looking for
anything.  There is so much duplication, rubbish etc that to find what I
want takes for ever... and often the really useful bits aren't there. 
Perhaps this is because I'm still new to the net.. not having a local
server (toll call required) I don't have too much time/money to practise.  
What I'd love to see is an interactive that when a particular
plant was written about I could add my comments and experience with it for
future browsers.  Or a particular line in the manual which I had contrary
or more evidence for could be linked to that part.  Is this easy to do? 
Thanks LAWRENCE for the work you've done compiling the list of pc sites..
it's fantastic (and I'm going to play around in there when I have time),
but it's not what my mind conceives as the perfect user friendly tool
(although a huge improvement on surfing for info).  I'm not sure I have the
time to write a paper for a symposium (except incidentally); what I'd like
to do is add a line or two of info to a database of info on a regular
basis.  Well over to you... that's my dream.. I know I certainly don't have
the skills or time at present to make it a reality.  Does anyone?
Lawrence are there really that many people who have computers but not
enough money to pay for a course, that also have the self motivation to
complete an online course?   I'm interested in helping but still not
convinced that giving away free helps anyone.   Freeloaders can destoy a
community... of course helping those less welloff to become useful and
wealthy is a different thing... they would contribute to the community

Jack re Talmud wisdom... when three people tell you you're drunk it is
probably best to lie down, but I hope we don't lie down when three people
tell us we have a bad idea!

Jack re lots of people with the principles absorbed but not having the
details to proceed.   This is certainly something I see alot.   Somehow I
can't help thinking that it isn't really want of details but fear of
starting that is the problem.  The best way I've found to get the details
is to start.   Start making mistakes as quickly as possible so that you can
learn from them.   I know that the Ag Dept in Australia gives new farmers a
package... do this and spray this every second day and you will earn so
many dollars every second week.  I hope this isn't what people are looking
for.   Permaculture design is individual... each design varies with the
site and people, so detailed prescriptions aren't available and may never
be.  That's not to say there isn't a lot of useful knowledge available.

UteB wrote about an experience again relating to charging for pc
work/teaching.  I can sympathise.  I remember my first letter to the editor
was when I was twelve... complaining that I was charged 20cents to see a
space rocket module, then pushed in a queue hurriedly past it.  I still
fluctuate between wanting to do everything for free and wanting to value my
services highly.  I have attained excellent skills that shouldn't be
undervalued.  Do I charge nothing, what a little old lady can afford, a
middle amount or top of the range?   This is not an easy question to answer
and I hope you will all have some sympathy for myself and others like Dan. 
 Comments are most appreciated as this is still a very live issue.  I'm
achieving a balance I believe, by charging highly for some activities and
doing others for free.  Still I think
some fees could be much higher to represent their true value.   Our
permaculture courses are life changing/enhancing experiences.  How much is
that worth?   Or should we give them free and beg for alms?  Who would pay
for the library of books, etc?   Should we do other work to support the
courses, but then where is the time to run lots of courses?   Shit I could
have a great life on next to nothing, but running courses well costs money.
  Suggestions are welcome, but please don't be too quick to criticise.  
What do you permies say to funding us so that we can run our courses for
free?   Or perhaps we can get funding elsewhere?   I'm sure there are

Frank... FYI  we do offer a personalised correspondence course (about two
years part time) for $1600 (Australian).  It can be paid in installments,
or perhaps we can come to some other arrangement. 

Well now that I've that off my chest... a good night to you all from

Rene and Lorraine van Raders
The Green Piece Permaculture Garden
PO Box 389
Malanda, Beautiful Far North Queensland
4885 Australia
Int.  61 740 965138
Australia 07 40 965138
email  rvraders at
If enough people knock there heads against a brick wall it will fall down
Ashleigh Brilliant


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