Coming Courses in Mexico

Skye skye at
Sat Aug 7 22:30:50 EDT 1999

In response to Scott Pitmans concerns

First, let me apologise for the delay in responding. Unfortunately there
was no telephone access high in the mountains where the last course was
held. But I'm back in contact again - for a while at least. You'll have
to be patient if my responses are occassionally delayed - sometimes the
reality of working in a country like this interfers with the best of

Since I often find it wasteful of my time to re-read, and sometimes
re-read what I have re-read the messages on some listservors, I
obviously did not repeat my earlier message about the condensed format
approach, when I emailed the list of course dates. Maybe I erred on the
side of breivity. Sorry if this caused confusion. I note that  John
Schinnerer realised the connection and has already reposted my earlier
message. I hope that clears the issue. I'd rather not repost the repost
yet again!!!

I do make it clear to students in this course that a design certificate
cannot be issued unless I receive and verify the design excercise. At
the end of the course they are given instructions on the design process,
they are given written instructions to support that information and I
offer to supply any further advice/information that they may need during
the process.

Obviously it is a little early to make a general assessment of how this
approach is working. However the few design projects I have received to
date show a good understanding of the concepts of Permacaulture. Their
standard of work is definitey much superior to the repesentations I
recall after the 4 hour design excercise that was included in my course
with Bill 15 years ago. I have not asked the students to list the
quantity of hours they spend on this part of the course, but from what I
have seen, I am sure that their total involvement (course and design
work) would well exceed 100 hours (I can't see how they could produce
such quality reports in less time than that).

By the same token, those people that know me and have worked with me,
know that I am not inflexible. If this approach does not produce the
quality that I have come to expect after 8 years of teaching, then I
assure you, I will be the first person to change the whole approach. As
I have said before (in this forum) I don't beleive in the
anit-ecological, Americanism "if it ain't broke don't fix fix it".
Personally I'm into constant improovement, where appropriate - just like
Nature is.

Talking of appropriate, yes there are some parts of a course that I do
not cover.

In my course with Bill, he spent many hours explaining the Trombe method
of generating compressed air. Since I have never heard of any
Permaculturist building such a system, and since the people I am working
with could not afford to buy a compressed-air drill (or grain thresher -
if such a thing exists) even if some well-meaning NGO built one for them
- then I find that information irrelevant. Its not that this technologgy
is "inconvenient or difficult" to teach, just irrelevant to these

Even more obvious technologies like solar panels are not covered in
detail. For a campesino who would really struggle to save the $40 needed
to self-build a ferro-cement water tank, the $800 or more for a
photovoltaic system is simply pie-in-the-sky stuff. I give them the
address of the best solar designer (a PC person) in Mexico, but I doubt
if any have ever had the slightest possibility of even dreaming of such
a system (the low, obviously subsidised price of electricity in Mexico
makes such systems uneconomic even for those with money!).

Bill also likes talking and encouraging the use of Trusts as legal
structures. Since such a legal concept does not exist in Mexican law, I
don't teach it. Its irrelevant. The legal alternative to a for-profit
company here is an "asociaccion civil"  - used by NGOs and
not-for-profit legal entities, like the Permaculture Institute of
Mexico. Again, the $1000 legal price tag for such a legal structure is
irrelevant to 99% of my students (for those that are interested I am
better off recommending a competant and trustworthy lawyer (if there is
such a thing), rather than me trying to explain the Mexican legal

So, slap me over the knuckles - but I am into making the courses
relevant to life of the people I am working with. Sorry, I don't know
any other way!!!!

But, overall, I'm with you Scott, we must maintain the level and
standard of Permaculture. Much of my work here is to that very end. But,
I insist on the right to make what I teach relevant to the people I am
working with.




Skye - Apdo # 391,  Patzcuaro, Michoacan, CP. 61600 México. 
fax  (52) 01 (434) 24743
Profesor y diseñador en Permacultura
Director del Instituto de Permacultura de México A.C.
Talleres de desarrollo humano, planeación participativa y 
economía comunitaria.

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