Growth of Pc/ Evangelism?

FionaNyx FionaNyx at
Sat Jan 10 12:21:54 EST 1998

warning at (David de Vries) wrote [of permaculture]: 
"is the growth fast enough?  How long before 0.1% of the world's
pop are permies?"

Hi, David, interesting topic which I intend to broaden.  I have studied
cognitive psychology and linguistics and do technical writing and lots of
teaching informally by mouth in the areas of organic gardening, frugality,
etc.  It is my experience that what you call things and how you talk about
them makes a lot of difference.  I think how we talk about permaculture as a
whole has an effect.  I hope you don't mind my referring to you in 3rd person
below as most list readers are not you...

David's discussion is focussed on conversion rates.  It seems to me he is
judging pc's success in terms of an theoretical mathematical model-- saying
something is wrong if we can't achieve a geometric growth rate.  

& sai at <Geoff King> responded along this line: 
"Might I suggest then, that the growth rate of pc cannot be evaluated only on
the basis of some mathmatical formula or principle, but also is affected, and
effected by competing 'species' or systems."

First of all, I have to say that I am uneasy with the evangelist mentality,
which shares aspects of a totalitarian attitude:  Our way is the one right way
& if you don't join us (become just like us & adopt all our beliefs) you're
doomed.  This approach will be off-putting to many.  

I think it is wrong to insist the only way for permaculture to succeed is
through conversion experiences in intensive training sessions with a
charismatic leader-- sounds like a cult, doesn't it?  One problem with cult
style indoctrination is that it sticks best on individuals lacking in personal
initiative, with weak cognitive skills, isolated from personal connections
with others, who reside & interact mostly with others within the cult getting
regular exposure to the charismatic leader.  Whereas we know most people in
modern societies who take permaculture training return to live in societies
which are permeated with consumerist attitudes.

Geoff's use of a biological analogy is very appealing.  We permaculturists
know a lot about biological systems.  Why not talk about PC as populations
occupying niches in our regional socio-economic ecologies?  There are many
useful analogies.  We know of various ways that populations spread and
reproduce-- migration (this is certainly involved in pc), infection (this is
the conversion part-- but let's not forget about immune systems), dispersal of
seed (which remains dormant until the right conditions cause growth).  We know
that everything proceeds in cycles and within these cycles there are good
times for growth and bad times for growth.  We know that there are tradeoffs
between K and r strategies of reproducing (few big & expensive vs. many small
& cheap).  And we know, as Geoff pointed out that competition with other
organisms has an effect.  

I hope my line of thought doesn't obstruct a discussion of good stategies for
creating more teachers-- which is important, though I think that formal course
situations aren't the only way pc spreads.

I'm putting in a seperate post (Re: Growth of Pc beyond #'s)  thoughts on ways
to consider pc's potential for success other than counting individual
permaculturists created.

~~Sherry Levi/ FionaNyx at
Don't believe everything you think.

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