[permaculture] Re: Does Permaculture have to be so expensive???

April Sampson-Kelly askpv at ozemail.com.au
Wed May 19 21:35:35 EDT 1999

good on ya Scott!
Permaculture Visions International
Students and graduates in 15 countries

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Scott Pittman [mailto:pci at permaculture-inst.org]
> Sent: Wednesday, 19 May 1999 6:34
> To: permaculture
> Subject: Re: [permaculture] Re: Does Permaculture have to be so
> expensive???
> At 10:39 AM 5/18/99 -0400, Kelley wrote:
> >I don't think that teaching Pc for money is unethical.  But, one of the
> reasons that I
> >feel courses are so high in cost is that for me, I would have to
> travel quite a
> >distance for a course.
> I have been teaching courses in the U.S. and in some twenty other
> countries
> for the past 13 years and my best financial year teaching
> couldn't have been
> over $15,000.  This obviously means that I live below the poverty
> line or I
> have other sources if income, which I do.  Most of my income is
> from design
> work which keeps me busy during the summer months in this
> temperate area of
> New Mexico.  For five of those years teaching I have co-taught with Bill
> Mollison and he never made any more than I did!, Bill had his
> books to fall
> back on.
> Though teaching in the U.S. and other developed countries would bring in
> $800. to $1,000 per student approximately two-thirds of that
> money is spent
> on food, convenors fees, advertising and travel for the teachers.  The
> one-third left is taxed at the rate of 25%.  On average our courses were
> attended by twenty participants giving us, at $1000 tuition, approximately
> $6,666.66 to split; that amount represents 150 hours of teaching and
> hands-on demonstration which is 44.44 per hour.  Add the time
> traveling and
> preparing for the course and you can easily halve that amount to 22.22 per
> hour.  A good teaching year is three to four courses in a
> developed country
> then add two or three courses in the developing world and you are
> very lucky
> to break even.  This is not a "get rich quick" profession.  I spend an
> inordinate amount of time writing grants to support the developing world
> projects and educational programs for which I am paid nothing.
> I learned more in two weeks of the Permaculture Design
> Certification course
> than in 8 years at the University and it was knowledge that could
> be put to
> work to improve my own living situation as well as gave me positive tools
> for improving the total health and sustainability of the planet.
> I became a
> member of a very unusual international group of caring and hard working
> folks whose efforts are making a difference in tens of thousands
> of peoples
> lives and that is the primary pay back for all of the time, money, weird
> tropical deseases, close calls, interminable hours with bureaucrats, and
> listening without going ballistic to belly-aching whingers.
> I am convinced that permaculture is the most important work being done
> globally and that what has been done and is being done in the realm of
> teaching, designing, and project development has been very successful by
> paying teachers and designers for honest and groundbreaking work.  Every
> teacher I know has struggled with the problem of how do we reach
> more folks
> cheaper and faster - we are all aware of the urgency of reversing the
> rapaciousness that is destroying our planetary base.  The only
> things I have
> come up with are to be born rich or write grants so that you can give the
> courses free and still survive as a teacher.  I only have the
> latter option
> and have had little success except in the developing world.  The granting
> organizations find nothing "sexy" in giving courses for free in the U.S.
> except for a very few targeted groups like Native Americans.
> Most of the teachers I know are living way below their economic potential
> because they are deeply committed to creating alternatives for
> all of us.  I
> don't know about the efficacy of correspondance courses because I
> havn't met
> or seen the work of those students.  I do know that a very
> magical and life
> changing events occurs at residential permaculture courses that are well
> taught and that the students who graduate from those courses never look at
> the world in quite the same way, becoming themselves part of the solution
> rather than the problem.
> As far as travel costs are concerned all that is needed is for a group of
> people in a bioregion to get together and organize a course with enough
> participants to pay for the teachers transportation and an agreed upon fee
> and then find a teacher to come to you - it's done all the time.
> Bill had a
> rule that you never go anywhere unless you have been invited, particularly
> in developing countries. We always found some way to go once we
> received the
> invitation.
> This letter is starting to feel like a ramble when what I really wanted to
> say was I have known only a couple of teachers of permaculture who weren't
> worth ten times what they were paid, expecially when you see the final
> results as expressed by their students and their students students and
> their... etc.
> Scott Pittman
> Permaculture Institute, USA
> PO Box 3702, Pojoaque, NM 87501  US
> phone 505.455.0270
> *********
> Ingenio Patet Campus
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