Why isn't PC more popular

Pacific Edge Permaculture pacedge at magna.com.au
Mon Jun 5 01:04:29 EDT 2000

Thanks for your contribution Deanne...

on 5/6/00 12:02 PM, Dianne Forster at dforster at metz.une.edu.au wrote:

> At the University of New England there are  projects, research and even
> lectures as well as lecturers who promote permaculture, but under another
> name!   

It's excellent news that this is done. Perhaps, though, there's a sticking
point - and I don't bring this up to be difficult but for your own
information and perhaps clarification by others.

The issue was addressed in a letter by permaculture founder, Bill Mollison,
in a recent edition of Permaculture International Journal. In that letter,
Bill reasserted his rights as the owner of the copyright over the
permaculture concept. Although he did not mention the fact, this right is
enshrined in the Australian Copyright Act.

While the Act confers no property rights over an idea, it does grant
intellectual property rights over the expression of an idea. My
understanding is that this gives Bill the say so on what is represented as

I wonder, however, whether lecturers using permaculture under another name
infringes this copyright? If they have taken what Mollison and Holmgren
describe as permaculture, then perhaps it does. I guess you would have to
know what they were teaching.

>I've watched slides and videos on overseas projects that I would
> deem to be permaculture.   So what's in a name?????

Yes, you're right there - if permaculture by any other name leads to social
and ecological sustainability, then what does a name matter?

I guess there's another side to this too. It's that some people most likely
prefer to use the name is to promote the concept and the practice of
permaculture. So, to some people the name actually is important.

There's another factor. It's that permaculture is basically a grassroots
practice and there exists a potential for tertiary institutes to coopt the
idea. While tertiary institutes have a role in permaculture, I am aware that
people working at the community level are fearful of the idea being 'taken
over' by universities and of its loss as a community technology.

Why this matters to some people is that they see permaculture as a tool for
building civil society. Its loss to tertiary institutions would represent
its cooption by another sector of society. Universities, because of their
size and economic power, could dominate the teaching of permaculture were
the practice to become widespread - the community/ civil society sector
could be marginalised. I know that's at present unlikely, but I raise it
because I am aware that others have voiced the same concern. Permaculture,in
Australia at least, is the province of community-based organisations and, in
its commercial manifestation, of small business.

Thank you for contributing to this discussion and for allowing me to raise
the additional matters.

...Russ Grayson

Permaculture & Media
Russ Grayson and Fiona Campbell

PO Box 446, Kogarah NSW 2217 AUSTRALIA
Phone/ fax   02-9588 6931   (IDD-61+2+9588 6931)
Email: pacedge at magna.com.au
WWW: http://www.magna.com.au/~pacedge/

PERMACULTURE/ COMMUNITY BASED ESD: permaculture education + Australian
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