[permaculture] Permaculture Research Institute of Australia

Sean Maley semaley at yahoo.com
Mon Jun 11 13:21:23 EDT 2007

In the public domain, there are multiple sites offering the following quote:

In October 1997 Bill Mollison, upon his retirement, asked Geoff to establish and direct a new Permaculture Research Institute on the 147 acre Tagari Farm previously developed by Bill. Geoff Lawton developed the site over three years and established The Permaculture Research Institute as a registered charity and global Networking centre for Permaculture projects. Geoff Lawton is the managing director of The Permaculture Research Institute.
It is confusing for there to be so many "Institutes".  I see that "Permaculture Institute" is still run by Bill and that Geoff heads something called "Permaculture Research Institute".

This was my confusion:
  tagari-farm by bill-mollison is-for-sale
Who now has the rights to the "International Permaculture Journal"?  This could be useful for international Permaculture fund raising.

When you say "most pc institutes are run as trusts", I hear you saying "Permaculture Institute" and "Permaculture Research Institute" are trusts.  I'm quite certain they are charities.  Charities are restricted from furthering one group or individual's agenda ("conflict of interest" bylaw clause requirement; financial support not limited to a small group per tax filings; beneficiaries not a limited class; etc).  Since this is a discussion about Permaculture, the issue of democracy is redundant.

Geoff, and the Permaculture Research Institute, has involvement with charities in several nations and, therefore, would be a much more effective reinvestment channel than a charity limited to one, or just a few, nations.  Geoff has a track record not only getting his own big consultation contracts, but for trail blazing for others.

There is a trail of emerging third world "Permaculture Institute" charities following behind his work in the Mideast.  He has experienced the depleted Uranium, first hand, and left us in the Permaculture movement with a legacy of opportunity as a result.  We should not follow in his trail as a personality, but as a way of being more effective for our own interests (ie soil building from compacted earth).

The PDC and Teacher Registration:

Geoff will list PDC courses at http://www.permaculture.org.au/permaculture-courses for any Tagari registered teachers.  He will also issue certificates from PRI for these courses, upon request (actually PRI handles it, not him personally).  At the same time, all PDC students may go on to issue their own certificates; same policy as ever.  The prevailing paradigm of individual authentication hasn't been attacked, as this registration isn't a requirement.

Even in a peer-to-peer networking topology, credentials have their use.  This is not an authority, but rather a value added which instills clarity.  $25 and some notes are a cheap cost for credentials in a field of entropy (remember the energy flows).  If others offered authentication, perhaps we could discuss "Permaculture Institute" synergy, instead of what does or doesn't belong in an authentic PDC course.

Since evolution can't happen in the minimal simplicity direction, we find ourselves pushed ever towards complexity via entropy.  Some ideas will topple back into the heap (a good return of surplus).  I say we ought to judge for ourselves what is in our own best interest.  I see a path that works better, for me, than any other alternative available at this time.

Many innovative ideas have entered the public domain since the Designer's Manual was published.  This is true.  However, I doubt all of this content has been specifically excluded by Bill Mollison's Permaculture Institute.  I would suspect it has more to do with something mentioned here:

4. We teach only Permaculture; we do not teach repression of local skills, beliefs, religion or folkways. All sexes, races, beliefs and cultures are thus welcome in the world bodies, at global conferences; we are not culture-changing, just culture-enhancing.

I remember seeing a "Fourth Ethic" involving spirituality, which conflicts with Bill's hopes for a Permaculture legacy.  Some may have strong feelings about their particular faith, but such a teaching at a PDC just isn't appropriate.  Otherwise, we are free to teach any other Permaculture inspired course we want, which includes this sort of non-Permaculture content.

David Holmgren has added some very nice touches to this body of knowledge, himself.  Discussing his "Permaculture Principles" encompassed more than just a mention at the recent Geoff Lawton course that I attended.  We learned about the "Soil Food Web" and that we should check out http://www.herbsarespecial.com.au among other things (fungi.com, "Edible Forest Gardens", etc).

If you all agree with the start given to you in the Designer's Manual, why can't you begin there?  Perhaps by submitting your own notes, a better understanding can be achieved with the Permaculture Institute.  How far will they go to require the Designer's Manual content and nothing else?  Until you fully test the edge, you don't really know the edge.

Twins point out all of the differences between themselves.  I don't feel we should behave like feuding twins.

Robyn Francis <erda at nor.com.au> wrote: 

On 1/6/07 11:26 PM, "Sean Maley"  wrote:

>>  the Permaculture Institute (Bill Mollison)
>> should be the gateway for Permaculture.com.
> Don't you mean Geoff Lawton?  See permaculture.org.au for details.  Bill is
> still out there, but Geoff has been running the Institute for some time now.
> As best as I understand, Bill's health has improved greatly.

The Permaculture Institute founded by Bill Mollison continues to operate in
Tasmania together with Tagari Publications.

Geoff's PRI is simply another permie institute like the many dozens around
the planet, running courses and doing project work.

Most pc institutes are run as trusts and as such have no democratic
membership basis. I think an overall pc portal should be managed by
democratically operated membership-based organisation to ensure it can't be
used to promote selectively or exclusively any particular group or
individual's agenda.

Perhaps Permaculture International Ltd could provide this function as it is
a not-for-profit democratic membership-based/owned organisation which was
originally founded in 1977 by Terry White as the first permaculture
association to publish the International Permaculture Journal, and
incorporated in 1987 as member-based not-for-profit company.

> While we are discussing such things as this, who has sent in their $25 and PDC
> class notes to Tagari for certification as a Permaculture Trainer?  There are
> less than 30 certified teachers world wide.  I understand Bill and David not
> being listed, but all should consider this step in terms of consistency (PDC
> course content consistent with the Design Manual and presented by someone who
> took the PDC themselves).

There are many longterm permaculture teachers who choose not to register
with the Permaculture Institute. Up until a few years ago Bill always urged
us to establish our own institutes and issue our own PDC certificates of
completion - many excellent teachers simply choose to continue to operate in
this way. 

There are also PDC teachers who don't fully agree with the Institute's
current policy that the Designers Manual is THE curriculum and that
everything in the book and nothing else should be included in a PDC. This
effectively negates the body of ongoing permaculture development and
innovation, and related earth science that's evolved and emerged since the
book was written in 1988.

The Designers Manual is definitely the central reference book for informing
the areas of eco-literacy and permaculture applications that need to be
covered in a PDC but as an educator of 30 years experience, a text book, no
matter how seminal it might be, does not constitute a course curriculum.

This was under discussion at the recent IPC8 (fantastic and inspiring event
and truly international with delegates from 42 different countries)

One of the things that came out of IPC8 discussions was the need for a
global PDC framework and guidelines that all teachers and institutes can
agree with, a set of core protocols should also be developed as
unfortunately there have been cases of questionable ethics of behaviour in
some pc courses over the years.

Pathways to sustainability through
Accredited Permaculture Training
Certificates III & IV and Diploma of Permaculture
Erda Institute Inc

PDC and advanced training programs

Robyn Francis 
International permaculture design
sustainability consultant, educator & facilitator

Djanbung Gardens 
Permaculture Education Centre & Demonstration Farm
PO Box 379 Nimbin NSW 2480
02-6689 1755  /  0429 147 138

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