[permaculture] What is permaculture?

Heide Hermary heidehermary at pacificcoast.net
Mon May 6 17:10:58 EDT 2002

Hi Georg
looks to me like nature (including human civilization) goes through
cycles.  Some of them are quick, as a population of aphids quickly
devoured by its natural predators. BUT the aphid population has to be
substantial enough to attract the predators. AND the predator population
will quickly decline once their food supply is depleted, and they become
weak and vulnerable to their own predators.  On a larger scale, humans
are the predators of nature, gorging ourselves greedily on her riches.
But as our food supply becomes depleted, our populations will also
decline (and have in the past). Already our species is becoming weak,
and vulnerable to our biggest predators: microbes (diseases).  Most of
the diseases we have now we can't even identify, as our immune systems
break down and we become prey for a multitude of predators all at once.

If we want to prolong the life of the human species, we have to learn to
live with nature, being a part of it. Basic to that is maintaining our
health, by taking from nature what we need to sustain it. Which means we
have to sustain nature's ability to sustain us. Sustainability is a
2-sided sword.

Humans like to think that we are the only intelligent / social species
on earth, but really I think we are rather primitive in comparison to
some others.  My mind always boggles when I think of algae, each alga
being a congregation of a gazillion independent organisms, each knowing
its exact place and role in the structure, with the greater (compound)
organism finely attuned to the forces of nature, and itself forming
relationships with other creatures.

I don't know what human / social equity, or justice, or propriety  means
on this scale. Frankly I don't think we can have any of that until we,
as a species, accept our "proper" place in nature. Which means that all
our social systems, including our individual freedoms and obligations,
must be consciously and willfully subject to natural laws. (they are
anyway, by default). The effect of  those natural laws is revealed in
nature's cycles.  So what are these laws? Are they physical, chemical,
mathematical, spiritual? All of them?

And how does all this relate to permaculture?  Previous discussions
revealed how some large permaculture installations failed because they
were not built and / or maintained in accordance with nature's laws.
What we are trying to do is "unnatural" (the creation of artificial
environments) and requires the maintenance of a very fine balance. I
have absolutely no idea how permaculture practices in Australia would
relate to those in Germany or Canada.  We are talking about such
different environments! Principles yes, but practices??


georg parlow wrote:

> hi heide:
> >    * a culture that can be permanent, i.e. sustainable.  In
> that way the
> >      cultural practices employed must serve/ be in tune with
> both the
> >      environment and the human "cultivator".
> >
> > But where does the definition need to  stop?  Does it need to
> include
> > concepts such as economics, social equity and the like?   Can
> we have one
> > without the other?
> as history has proven, social equity is not a necessary
> ingredient for sustainable culture - quite the contrary, i would
> say. in the place of 'equity' i would place 'justice' or
> 'propriety' - so that each and every one is in the proper place
> according to their talents and abilities, and acknowledged as
> such, by themselves and by society. and how we can possibly get
> there from our current culture of ego worship, i don't know.
> georg
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