[permaculture] "certified permaculture designers"

Linda Shewan linda.shewan at bryn.com.au
Wed Jul 25 21:10:43 EDT 2007

We have just had a bit too passionate conversation about this on the Australian PIL list. It is my understanding that having completed a PDC allows me to call myself a permaculture designer - but I wouldn't go as far as to say 'certified'. And for the record, I never actually have, but I have done permaculture designs in a volunteer context.

The problem was that some people wanted to stop others using the word 'permaculture' to promote their business or define what they do. There is a big difference in use there but often one may run into the other ie. you start doing volunteer permaculture work then someone likes what they see and pays you... so you start a business on that basis - some would say you shouldn't be able to do that without more formal qualifications...

This seems ridiculous to me but there is obviously a big division in thought here. We have 2 groups 'Permablitz' (volunteer) and 'Jim's Permaculture' (commercial after completing an specifically designed urban PDC course) that concerns most people - the idea that PDC students do not have the knowledge or expertise to do commercial designs and will degrade the term permaculture in doing so.

This is a valid argument but it is tempered with the other valid argument that the promotion and education that comes from prominent activities such as these are wonderful for permaculture as a whole, getting the knowledge out there so that more people will buy the books and complete their own PDCs. Just this week in the local newspaper there was a wonderful article about what the Permablitz team achieved in a local garden. That's thousands more people that see what wonderful application permaculture has.

What I fail to understand is why established permaculture teachers believe it is ok for 'trainees' to do aid/community work in their own countries or overseas when the outcome is far more serious if they get it wrong, than supplying services to wealthy people who can afford to pay for them. If they are being paid then there is also far more reason for them to ensure they get it right...

I think if people doing the PDC courses truly had access to mentors as you suggest then the issue would go away. As it is there doesn't seem a way to access this network. Certainly when I asked about design critiques nobody mentioned a mentor type environment I could get involved in... which leaves most of us just trying to do the very best we can. I certainly don't have the time available to do applied training right now.


-----Original Message-----
From: Toby Hemenway [mailto:toby at patternliteracy.com]
Sent: Thursday, 26 July 2007 10:41 AM
To: permaculture
Subject: [permaculture] "certified permaculture designers"

Paul wrote:
> I'm a certified permaculture designer and I'm pretty passionate about
> permaculture principles.
> Recently, I saw a terrible thing.  Six rational, eco-friendly people,
> including two that are certified permaculture designers,
A note about the use of terms. Taking a 72-hour design course does not
make you a "certified permaculture designer." The original certificates
from Mollison say, in some cases, that the holder "has successfully
completed a permaculture design course" and other certificates from him
say "is a permaculture design trainee." Somehow in later iterations by
other teachers, usually a few generations removed from Bill, people got
the idea that a PDC made you a professional, certified designer.
Seventy-two hours is the equivalent of two college classes but with no
homework, which is not enough to make anyone a designer. Bill has been
very firm about this, and most of the old-school teachers feel the same
way. I believe it's generally thought that getting a diploma from the
Permaculture Institute after two years of study under a mentor is what
is required to call yourself a certified designer (right, Scott or Robyn
or any of you long-time Pc teachers?). It's unfortunate that this
"resume bloat" has led to so many people thinking the PDC makes them a
certified designer, instead of a design trainee.

I'd be happy to hear anyone's thoughts, pro or con, about this.

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