[permaculture] Open letter to the Australian permaculture movement

Mark mpludwig at facstaff.wisc.edu
Mon Jul 1 11:06:53 EDT 2002

>Also - if Permaculture is to include design of culture (which it will
>implicity anyhow, if not explicitly), it seems a bit of a cop-out to
>throw up one's hands and say that the dominant cultural shifts of the
>moment (as told to us by a few 'specialists' with their own particular
>biases, which include our cultural love affair with numbers and
>statistics over and above actual human beings) are nothing we can
>'really' affect and we'd better join 'em cause we can't beat 'em.
>To me it's necessary to both work with 'what is' - e.g. the current
>cultures of urbanizing development and what's getting built - and to
>educate about the *consequences* (as seen via the PC lens) of 'what
>is', in case it helps some people to think twice or three times about
>supporting 'what is' any longer.

Numbers and "what is" are frequently dismissed by any number of 
"alternative" movements, largely at their peril IMO.  PC and similar design 
concepts need to be applied to the mainstream if it will truly have a broad 
impact and this will only happen in the USA at least if the economics are 
sound AND can be documented.  I am watching the rebuilding of Ford motor 
company's river rouge plant in Michigan with particular interest as it will 
be the largest living roof in the world once completed and have a huge 
living machine water treatment system.  This is the kind of project that 
will take sound design to the next level precisely because bean counters 
will scrutinize it and the Wall Street Journal will report on it.

>Also, in realms of whole systems design it has been theorized, and
>anecdotally shown, that sometimes (rather often, in fact) very 'small'
>sytemic changes have very 'big' systemic consequences.  So there are
>most likely openings for 'little' PC to initiate 'big' shifts in larger

This is a good point.  When designers are seen as adjusting the fine points 
rather than overturning the world order they will get a seat at the table 
rather than tear gassed in the street.

>I appreciate and agree with your points about the necessity of PC
>practitioners/educators to continually and thoughtfully observe 'what's
>going on' in our human cultures and integrate those observations into
>praxis/teaching.  That's what PC is fundamentally all about, as I
>understand it.
>John S.

Again, its tweaking the system, not trashing it.

>John Schinnerer, MA
>- Eco-Living -
>Cultural & Ecological Designing
>Food - Water - Shelter - Community - Technology
>john at eco-living.net
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Mark P. Ludwig
Poultry Research Lab
University of Wisconsin -Madison
608-262-1730 WK
608-846-7125 HM

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