What is permaculture?

Toby Hemenway hemenway at jeffnet.org
Thu Dec 27 12:38:01 EST 2001

on 12/26/01 2:34 PM, S.K. Harrison at skh23ca at yahoo.com wrote:

> I may have confused my aims for you, Toby, by
> including Jeff's quote in my previous post, but
> it should be taken as an aside, not an example of
> my intentions.

Actually the subject line, "What is permaculture?" was intended
tongue-in-check,  a reference that John caught with his response "Oh, no,
not "that" question again!" I probably should have included the appropriate
facial symbol. The question I asked in the text was more specific: how do we
classify permaculture, and what makes classification so hard?

> Would you explain [why] "coming to terms with it" [is hard for you]?
("it" being Sean's observation that permaculture doesn't fit into knowledge

Jeff caught a sense of that when he pointed out that how a question is
framed defines how we think about the question. If we can't describe how
permaculture fits in with existing knowledge, I think it will remain on the
fringe, and  continue to be ignored or misunderstood (or hated, in some
cases) by most people.

> if an ass looks in, a
> saint won't look out. And I believe at that point
> we begin to address your concern, Toby, for
> promoting pc even to people with barely one whit
> of ecological sensibility.

I've seen people with a great deal of ecological
understanding reject permaculture because it doesn't easily fit into their
knowledge framework, or even because they feel it threatens their
specialties by being so all-inclusive (as in "how dare you suggest that
agroforestry [e.g.] is just a part of permaculture!") So I think that if we
could show Pc's relation to other fields of knowledge, it would be embraced
by a wider circle of people.

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