what is pc?

Rene and Lorraine van Raders rvraders at tpgi.com.au
Thu Jan 8 23:55:51 EST 1998

One of the beauties (and weaknesses perhaps) is that pc can be defined in
so many different ways.  It seems to mean different things to different
people.  As has been pointed out when talking to others about pc it is
important to frame your information so that it can fit in with the others
perception of the world.  Here's our viewpoint on the subject in no
particular order of

We chose "the art and science of caring for the earth and it's people" for
our Sri Lankan course title.

Sustainable living would be much more accurate than sustainable gardening
(Frank Farm), as pc certainly now encompasses much more than agricultural
systems.  Natural gardening fits within permaculture, not the other way
round.  Organic farming fits within permaculture, not the other way around.
 However as pc moved to be more holistic, so the organic movement is
changing too... perhaps in time there won't be a difference! 

Pc presents a vast range of possibilities and techniques (some
contradictory) leaving it up to the individual to choose the best solution
for his/her particular situation.  One fundamental being that every
situation is unique thus every design should be unique (taking into account
what the land/situation has to offer and what the people want and can

Pc is a design system, but also a new way of thinking and looking at the
world.  To a very great extent it is not prescriptive, but helps you to ask
the right questions so that you can choose yourself from the infinite
ethical solutions.  Which brings us back to the simple ethics of earth and
people care.. if we live by these ethics are we  doing permaculture?  I
think in one sense we are, but without a pdc experience many people are
still very restricted in their thinking and knowledge.

We don't think it is necessary for everyone to live a perfect lifestyle for
sustainability, but if every individual would become concious of his/her
impact and start to make positive changes that is enough... the world would
get better and better every day!

If permaculture is design and planning how can it be impractical.  Part of
the design process is surely to make it practical.   Permaculture isn't 
about everyone returning to a farming/gardening subsistence (Bill Mollison
stated that only one gardener per hundred people was needed to provide all
the food needs... even if this is overstated the prinicple is clear). 
Permaculture is not about being poor... it is looking at ways to subvert
the grip of the money system, but at the same time can work within it.  A
farm design would usually involve a transition period to maintain
profitability and practicality!  Permaculture designs ideally design for
profitability. Let us know how permaculture is seen to be
impractical and we'd love to comment further.

"1.  Energy usage and the definition of sustainability
  2.  Natural systems and the holistic view.  A historical
      view of the world help here.
  3.  Cycles and closed loops.  Community and a forest
      make good examples.  I suppose economics could
      fit here also." from Jeff Owen's original query.

No argument here.  Cycles, learning from nature (remembering that we are
part of nature) the list goes on but perhaps it's time to stop for now.

Rene and Lorraine van Raders
Malanda, Beautiful Far North Queensland, Australia.

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