[permaculture] Permaculture Research Institute of Australia

Robyn Francis erda at nor.com.au
Tue Jun 12 04:39:43 EDT 2007

On 12/6/07 3:21 AM, "Sean Maley" <semaley at yahoo.com> wrote:

> Who now has the rights to the "International Permaculture Journal"?  This
> could be useful for international Permaculture fund raising.

 The journal ceased publication in yr2000 when our government introduced GST
which would have meant a $6000 unplanned-for tax burden on pre-subscription
sales - the risk of insolvency was too great so the mag went onto the big pc
compost heap of history. However the organisation Permaculture International
Ltd still exists.

> 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.

Sorry, I was most definitely NOT just referring exclusively to the
institutes you quote. I repeat, many permie institutes (and there are heaps
of them around the planet) are set up as trusts (a legal structure heavily
promoted by Bill). Trusts by their inherent nature are not democratic unless
the parent trustee entity happens to be a democratically structured legal
organisation. In the absence of this, the appointed trustees have absolute
control, even in a charitable trust, and even charitable trusts can be
operated for personal gain with a smart accountant (please, please don't
misconstrue this last statement as an oblique accusation about any specific
individual or organisation, once again I am simply stating facts about
trusts and how they operate or can be manipulated, for example under
Australian law). 
I will state however that the inherent lack of democratic process in trusts
is definitely one of my issues with the Permaculture Institute and the
policy changes about PDC's & teachers made without any consultation with the
wider pc community. In the early years of pc these decisions were thrashed
out at IPC's and recommendations made to the Institute. This system operated
on goodwill but the democracy of goodwill without a legal framework can be
easily dismissed.

I state the above not in any form of derision or negativity but simply as

I, and many other international pc trainers have also helped people in other
parts of the planet establish local and national bodies for permaculture
work, not all call themselves institutes and not all are trusts. Legal
structures and requirements vary from country to country.

I simply feel that if we want to discuss the possibility of a pc portal or
any form of central entity it should be based on a democratic membership
framework with membership being people who have at least a PDC and are
actively practicing/teaching pc.

> ------------------------------------------
> The PDC and Teacher Registration:
> ------------------------------------------

> 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.

Sean, after receiving PDC certificates from the Institute for 17 years for
over 70 PDC's including co-teaching with Bill, in 2002 I was suddenly
informed I'd have to register and so sent in a course outline and program
accordingly. My application was rejected because my course program taught
subjects in the wrong sequence and not in the order they appear in the
Manual. The check-list of the Manuals table of contents with a tickbox next
to each is the methods of 'judging' an application. Permaculture experience,
track-record and teaching ability is immaterial in this process. I wrote a
very polite and thorough response to the institute demonstrating that all
the key areas of the Manual were covered in my courses and never received
any reply. I am not prepared to send in a lie sheet with a fictionary course
program designed so that all the check boxes can be easily ticked off. I
provide an excellent PDC and have produced many outstanding teachers and pc
designers in the past 25 years.
I continue to teach PDC's internationally (the July course here will be my
98th PDC) but my key focus now-days is on post-PDC advanced training and the
more in-depth Accredited Permaculture Training Certificates & Diploma. (see

I keep on pioneering new edges of permaculture, especially in the area of
education and training to support new permaculturists in their journey and
help them fast-track the processes of gaining the additional knowledge and
skills that can't be imparted in a 72 hour course, to be more effective
agents of change.

I share this not as argument but simply stating where I am coming from in an
honest response to your posting.

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

PDC - Permaculture Design Course
Advanced Courses:
Working with Diverse Cultures and Sustainable Aid
Sustainable Settlement and Ecovillage Design
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Training And Assessment Cert IV (teacher training)

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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