[permaculture] Democratic solutions to Permacultures Conflicts

Eugene Monaco efmonaco at comcast.net
Mon Jul 30 15:39:27 EDT 2007

I promised myself I would ignore this thread but I just can't seem to bring
myself to do it.
I'm in the camp that certification is one step short of worthless and a
national organization would be a distraction.  Here's why:
Having spent 25 years in the civil engineering and construction management
(CM) field I have never seen a project that "required" a permaculture
designer, certified or otherwise.  The closest I've ever heard of is a
progressive owner that wanted a permaculture "consultant" to work with the
design and CM team.  Maybe it's different outside the USA, but what I've
seen is the American Institute of Architects (AIA) co-opt sustainable design
via the Green Building program implemented via the US Green Building
Council.  It's a turf war that permaculture has lost to the AIA.  To "prove"
your building is sustainable, you get a LEED certificate: they come in
different colors (silver, gold, platinum).  If anybody has seen a LEED
project (I built a gold one), they are a far cry from anything we tend to
envision at the height of the euphoria and connection with the mystical that
occurs at the climax of a PDC.  Yet that is the standard.  Their website
impresses me as being more about the different ways you can send them money
than anything else.  I know one municipal owner who says, hell, let's design
to LEED criteria but forget about the $15,000 plaque on the wall.  People
already see through it.
Ditto with the AMA and health care.  The best "alternative" healers are
known by word of mouth for their results, not the plaques that may hang on
their walls.
I've also seen tons and tons of certified architects, engineers, and CM
professionals that aren't worth a flip, even in their own circles.  I've
also run across tons of MDs that I wouldn't let diagnose my dead cat, let
alone take any of their advice and prescribed drugs.  I've also seen a bunch
of folks that have completed a PDC and claimed that they are (I guess the
word would be) authorized to teach permaculture, but had absolutely zero
experience.  It is these folks that have given permaculture it's challenges
because so much of the rest of society doesn't take them seriously.  I had a
conversation with a couple that is heavily investigating sustainable
homesteading and will not take a PDC because there aren't many examples of
permaculture sustainable homesteads.  Long on mouth and short on butt, so
they say.  I suppose I fit into that category myself from a certain
perspective because I have always tinkered around the edges, working from
within the system of the corporatocracy, and trying to influence
things--essentially to help people take their next step, which is usually a
far cry from sustainability (I cite LEEDs for example).  But that doesn't
mean it is worthless.  It's not.
Like Scott said, if you need an architect, hire a permaculture architect.
If permaculture ever got nationally organized, I wouldn't be able to wait
until the next organically evolved system came along to replace it.  It's a
way of thinking, which is incredibly indigenous.  The fact that it came
along at all is only nature's response to us being so far out of balance.
When you go sit in zone 5, it begins to reveal itself to you as do the
nature spirits.  Understanding permaculture is our birthright.  Human
society has gotten so far out of balance with the Earth, that something had
to come along.  Just like the hundredth monkey, the idea has come about from
a number of places simultaneously.  So even if Mollison was the first to
come upon the idea, so what?  Today everybody and his brother is talking
about sustainability, not just the AIA.  Mollison coined the term and
started a movement, but just as quickly defined it as decentralized, with no
organizing and no leaders.  So what we've got is no organization and no
leaders.  We're all too broke to send in our dues to form a national trade
or lobbying organization that would amount to anything.  Meanwhile, the rest
of society goes on and is more or less organized.  Let the AIA and the AMA
"discover" permaculture and call it whatever floats their ego.  Let's not
get distracted floating ours with a term that didn't grow legs in the USA.
So forget about all this certification stuff and just go out and sit.  Do
your observations, have your illuminations and learn and apply it in your
life.  If you're a journalist or lawyer or community organizer or political
office holder, or engineer, architect, landscape architect, design-builder,
doctor, nurse, midwife, or if you work on a road paving crew, apply what you
can where you can and leave the certification stuff to big brother.  The
lessons of "we are all one" and "nobody's grandchildren are free unless
everybody's grandchildren are free" will ultimately doom all egoic attempts
to hold the keys to the kingdom at the expense of everybody else. 
My dog's greener than your dog, my dog's greener than yours... 
My dog's greener 'cause he eats permaculture, my dog's greener than yours.
Gene Monaco
Knoxville, TN 

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