[permaculture] diploma in permaculture design

Carla McAuley carlamcauley at earthlink.net
Sat Jul 27 22:16:45 EDT 2002

You may be in a perfect situation to explore an urban transformation in
living and do permaculture at the same time.  It's called cohousing, and
sometimes eco-village.  If you haven't heard about it you can search under
those terms.  In new construction it involves cluster housing, and a
common-house for group activities, which preserves a large open space for
sustainable gardening and nature preservation.  Using the same amount of
land that a development would, but arranging it differently produces a
social (return to the village) as well as ecological revolution.

In an urban situation, you can take a city block and, with the cooperation
of your neighbors, eliminate the alley and turn all the back yards into one
big garden and children's playground.  One house on the block can be
dedicated as a common-house for twice a week, team cooking and meals with
the group.  Other rooms can be used for crafts, group tv watching, etc.  You
can also provide guest rooms for visiting relatives of people in the

Obviously, starting a community like this will be fraught with problems, but
if the people are committed to the idea and they learn something about the
process of creating community, it can be the most satisfying way to live -
cars on the outside, safe places to play, sustainable gardening/landscaping,
social interactions so missing in the modern world, etc.

For understanding the psychological aspects of creating community, M. Scott
Peck (The Different Drum) is indespensable because, in the process of making
the transition from pseudo-commuity (where everyone is nicey-nice) to true
community (where you are truly bonded and know each other at a deeper
level), there is a stage of chaos, despair and discord.  If you know it has
to happen as part of the process, you won't be tempted to break off because
of the discord.  You have to go through it to get to know each other,
understand and accept your differences and develop real respect for one

As a group, you might be able to afford to invite a permaculture consultant
to design the conversion of the back yards into a single landscape.

Something to think about.....


p.s.  I just visited your website and I see it looks like you are well on
the way to developing what I am talking about.  IO would recommend that you
add a category to your bookstore of books on community and include things
like "The Cohousing Handbook," "Cohousing" and "The Different Drum."  Do a
search for other books about cohousing and include them, too.  Sounds like
fun to me.  By the way, I love it that yo say your website is "under the
patronage of St. Francis of Assisi and Blessed Kateri Tekawitha."  I have
both their pictures on my household altar and feel especially close to both
of them.  (I minored in Native American Studies for my Doctorate in
Education.) I'll attach a poem I wrote for my class in Native American

God Bless You,
Carla McAuley

-----Original Message-----
From: permaculture-admin at lists.ibiblio.org
[mailto:permaculture-admin at lists.ibiblio.org]On Behalf Of Robert Waldrop
Sent: Saturday, July 27, 2002 2:12 PM
To: permaculture at lists.ibiblio.org
Subject: Re: [permaculture] diploma in permaculture design

I'm probably like many people, very interested in permaculture, but
there isn't a permaculture school in Oklahoma, and in any event, cash
is perpetually tight around our house.  Attending a course would be a
great opportunity, but in the meantime, it is possible to learn a lot
from books like Gaia's Garden, Permaculture in a Nutshell, the books
about Robert Hart's forest garden, and various internet sites.

But there is no teacher like actually doing.  I'm three years into my
learning curve, and beginning to transform a place has been by best

the hardest part for me is conceptualizing the "whole thing".  So I
get around that thus far by concentrating on smaller segments.  If I
can't get the whole garden, I can understand a guild, and if I can
understand one guild, and do that, then maybe I'll understand what to
do next to it.

Now we've been given two vacant lots in our neighborhood, one on a
corner, one just around the block from it in the middle, both about
60' x 200'.  Hopefully we'll be able to do something sensible, and
beautiful, and productive with our new stewardship.

Robert Waldrop

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