Permaculture copyright

John Schinnerer John-Schinnerer at
Tue Jun 6 20:13:48 EDT 2000


-----Original Message-----
From: Emily A. Noble [mailto:guinep at]

>Thank you, John, for the reference to Ivan Illich!  Good reading.      

And thank you for triggering my next thought, relevant to referring to the
work of Illich and others that I refer to here and there, which is:

Given:  there exists M & H's copyrighted delineation of the theory and
praxis of Permaculture (i.e. their design course curriculum, their manner of
presenting and teaching their observations of patterns in nature, their
applications of those patterns as one system for designing "sustainable
human settlements" and so on, the particular ethics they espouse, their
publications, blah blah blah, all can be described various ways but that's
how I see it at this moment.  So there it is, well delineated and
copyrighted, and that's a fine thing. 

Now, some of us appear concerned about corruption of this body of
knowledge/praxis, and others about excessive rigidity of this body of
knowledge/praxis ("entity," hereafter).

I suggest this:

There is a difference between this entity being "altered," "perverted,"
"expanded," "updated, "etc. by infusing (or forcing) other stuff into it and
this entity being INFORMED BY other events, relations and understandings.

I don't see any point in infusing (or forcing) other stuff into this entity
as it exists, 'cause it is mainly confusing to do so and potentially
disintegrative to M & H's manner of offering what they offer.

I think is vital to the integral continuation of M & H's work (i.e.
"permaculture") that it be continually INFORMED from without - that is, that
PC practitioners and teachers continually maintain a perspective on PC from
a space larger than PC.  Otherwise PC most likely becomes another incestuous
beast that serves mainly itself  (most "professions" have sought this fate -
architecture is a good example in design professions; landscape architecture
might hit closer to home here...).

For example - Ivan Illich's ideas on "professions" do not fall within PC as
explicitly delineated by M & H, nor do I think they need to be stuffed in
there.  I can hold them simultaneously "together and separate" (Bateson) and
synthesize them - see how they inform each other - for myself without having
to combine or confuse them.

I am certain that skilled and wise teachers can teach a PC design course
that maintains the integrity of the copyrighted PC curriculum while
INFORMING their teaching with elements that are not part of the PC
curriculum.  They can hold these elements "together and separate," and make
this clear to their students.  I do not suggest that this is easy!  I do
suspect it is necessary for PC as designed by M & H to remain vital and
relevant.  Why?  Because people will either do this *or* they will mix and
muddle PC and other entities, to the detriment of all concerned.

Oh, and I do have to second Toby's comments about Mollison's own lack of
attributions & references...bit of hoisting on his own petard, that... ;-)
Has he ever commented personally on that?

John Schinnerer

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