[permaculture] 9-day PDC???

Toby Hemenway toby at patternliteracy.com
Tue May 6 02:42:36 EDT 2008

Similarly to what Steve Read wrote, it's a misconception that the PDC 
makes you a "certified Pc designer."  That was never Mollison's 
intention, and he and others have gone to great lengths to make that 
clear. My certificate from the course I took from Bill and Scott Pittman 
in the early 90s says that I "have completed a Permaculture Design 
Trainee Course," so I was a Pc design trainee. I've never seen a 
certificate that declares that the holder is a certified designer. Does 
anyone out there have a certificate that says that?

The course is about permaculture design, and you get a certificate 
saying you have completed a permaculture design course. That seems 
straightforward to me; I see no need to rename the course, since the 
term PDC is an accurate description of it.

So there's no error in the name or structure of the course, but there is 
one in the minds of people who believe that it certifies them as a 
designer.  I'm not sure how that erroneous idea got started. It's like 
any other course. If you take a course in chemistry, you say you've 
taken chemistry; you don't call yourself a chemist. You need a degree, 
experience, and employment to say that.

BTW, I can think of lots of less-than-72 hour courses that result in 
certification: equipment operators, inspectors of various kinds, master 
gardeners, restricted chemical appliers, etc.

One correction of Steve's post: the word "permaculture" is not 
copyrighted, as Bill has learned. A word or brief phrase cannot be 
copyrighted. It must be trademarked, which Mollison did not do. It is 
now too late to trademark the word; it is in the public domain.


tom wrote:
> Could this be a first order error of the PDC course concept and  
> design?  It seems to me that the problems, extant and potential, that  
> are being discussed and worried about are a result of the naming and  
> structure of the PDC course as it currently exists.  A 72-hour course  
> and one is handed a design "certification" with the somewhat vague  
> exhortation to please not call yourself a designer without spending  
> some time interning, volunteering, etc., etc?  Certainly I know of no  
> other field of endeavor in which one can get a 'certification' after  
> a scant 72-hours.  Years of study are spent in other design fields  
> which have nothing like the breath of information and sub-topics  
> permaculture encompasses (not to mention the significance and  
> imperative immediacy of permaculture).  Perhaps it was the pressing  
> demand to 'get permaculture out there' that led to the flawed  
> structure of the 'certification' aspect of the course, but I wonder  
> if building further structures on top of this flawed foundation is  
> the best solution.  Why not fix the foundation- admit that, well OK,  
> a 72-hour course does not a permaculture designer make, and therefore  
> the designer "certification" element is somewhat meaningless.   
> Assumptions were made at the time the model was created that have  
> proven to be less than accurate and the time is arriving when those  
> inaccurate assumptions are undermining the overall structure.  If we  
> take the stand that the PDC course as it is and has been named/ 
> structured is now institutionalized and permanent (calcified?) are we  
> not violating some of the basic permaculture principles and spirit?   
> Further institutional structure as a means to remedy flaws in the  
> foundation strikes me as problematic and unstable.  Renaming the PDC  
> course to reflect what it really is- an intensive foundational  
> introduction to permaculture concepts should be considered.  Then  
> additional requirements, etc. can be considered for true permaculture  
> 'designer' certification.
> Just $.02 or .03
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