What is permaculture?

jeff owens jko at bctonline.com
Sat Dec 15 18:52:37 EST 2001

On Sunday 16 December 2001 10:58, Toby Hemenway wrote:
> David Holmgren has argued that permaculture is not a discipline in the way
> medicine is (or biology, or physics).

This question "what is permaclture" sometimes carries with it the
assumption that there is one common definition or a "right"
definition. When i think about culture the terms "evolve" and
"process" seems to fit better than words and definitions.

Pc then becomes the process of moving forward (living) and passing
knowledge on to others. There isn't any exclusion or "things" in the
core definition. It is process. All the words that have been written
about Pc and all the conflicting ideas have a place in creating the
Pc culture.

We can view our interactions as culture building. Don't strong
cultures accept change and benefit from cooperation/diversity. We
don't define a culture. It is what it is at any point in time. We
plant the seeds by our actions/interactions and from this Pc

There is a discussion list with attempts to adopt this viewpoint. The
result has been fewer issues involving words and definitions. Anyway
the list is called "ecopath" and is one way to view permaculture.
here is a FAQ for the list:

FAQ for: ecopath discussion list
updated 11-26-2001

What is an ecopath?

  An ecopath is the process of applying lessons
  from ecology and sustainable technology to
  daily life.

I have a polluting job and live in an apartment,
can this be part of an ecopath?

  The key component of an ecopath is the concept
  of "process".  If we are aware of our present position
  and look for ways to be more ecological then
  it is an ecopath.

What is ecological living and sustainability?

  Both are process.  This is the source of
  much confusion because most of us want "things"
  or specifics that define our goals.  If we think
  about it the state of being "sustainable" requires
  constant work and we never arrive at a state of
  being sustainable.  Each day we begin again and
  act in ways to support our local ecology.  Thus,
  each day we repeat the process of reaching for

Why the name ecopath?

  A path is created by action (stepping).  The
  direction may wander as we evaluate and test
  basic beliefs (the process).
  The "eco" component suggest ecological principles
  and lessons are useful to help set the

  note: life is full of defined paths and people
  suggesting how to live our life.  An ecopath
  assumes each path will be different and is part
  of a life long educational process.  In other words,
  to be fully alive we need to define our own path, think,
  and act.

How does politics, economics, socialism, communism,
liberals, conservatives, and social causes fit on an

  One important lesson from history is that "how" we
  achieve our objectives is often more important than
  "what" our objective was.  For example, fighting a 100
  year war for peace only creates war.  This suggests
  the "how" in daily life may be more significant than
  having a perfect philosophy.  If we want a compassionate
  world then we need to act with compassion each day.

  You must be the change you wish to see in the world.
   -- Mahatma Gandhi

  This doesn't mean we can ignore things like "politics"
  only that we keep them in balance.  It is the present
  moment where life is lived and not inside some abstract
  belief system.
  yet another possible answer.

  Language studies point out that "words" are not life
  and definitions need to used very carefully.  The
  study of ZEN says much the same thing.  ZEN suggests
  we spend time away from abstract words and  connect
  with the present moment.  In the present we find
  words like liberal or conservative are often dust that
  obscures our vision.

Why choose an ecopath?  Isn't it a little depressing
being ecological in todays consumer society?

  Our choices can lead to discomfort but an ecopath
  is the process and not the choices.  Some possible
  advantages of making wise choices are:

  - living ones beliefs is one step towards contentment.
  - many people find living closer to nature rewarding.
  - A process tends to continously learn and adjust
    till we find a comfortable position.
Can i advertise my business on ecopath?

  The ecopath list is open to anyone and unmoderated. Anyone
  can post advertisements but repeated advertisements may
  result in a warning. The use of tag lines at the end of
  posts are a better way to handle advertising. Most people
  reference a web page with a few words about its content.

Does ecopath have an archive?


What topics fit best?

      anything to do with daily life such as:
      gardening, oil, weather
      information sources,
      argoforestry, consumerism,
      permaculture, contentment.

Does ecopath have a web page?

  No, but there are a few notes at:
  Maybe someday enough people will get interested
  to make this effort worthwhile.

How does one subscribe and unsubscribe?

  To unsubscribe email:  ecopath-request at csf.colorado.edu
  with the message:      unsubscribe your-email-address-here

  To subscribe email:    ecopath-request at csf.colorado.edu
  with the message:      subscribe your-email-address-here

  To posts messages send email to: ecopath at csf.colorado.edu

This FAQ is maintained by jeff owens <jko at bctonline.com>
Distribution, and comments are encouraged.  No part of this
document is copyrighted.

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