[permaculture] Certification Consensus

Darren Doherty darren at permaculture.biz
Wed May 7 05:16:01 EDT 2008

Thanks Steve, my reply is below and may well be added to by my colleagues
here in Australia....

1. How does the Diploma system run with you-TPI-APT-Australia?

I personally received my TPI Diploma of Permaculture back in 1995 some 2
calendar years after I completed my PDCC. The details for the current
situation with the TPI Diploma is listed at:
http://www.tagari.com/index.php?page_id=50 with the TPI 'Foundation Year
Book' listing all of the Diploma details at:

My message to my PDCC graduates is that I would like to hear from them in 2
years or so to not just hear from them, but also with their Diploma
applications. For me the PDCC is an introduction to the world of
Permaculture and helps to consolidate the whole process logic.....these days
I add discussion on 'Holistic Management Decision Making Frameworks' (see
www.Holisticmanagement.org) to bolster some of these processes as I believe
these are vitally important. In addition we also constantly refer to Dr.
George Chan's Zero Emissions work (see www.Zeri.org)....plus a lot more of
the 'Emerging Co-evolutions' as I term it.

Most of my PDCC graduates simply go back to their lives, families, jobs,
mortgages etc. but do so with a different mindset, a garden, a spirit of
self-reliant activism, a forest, new soil etc. etc. and perhaps a
determination to help facilitate others along similar pathways. It doesn't
matter really that they call it Permaculture or whatever - as long as they
don't become useless people wasting oxygen. That's all I ask for.

Permaculture is an utterly informal and unregulated industry and these
smatterings of 'formal regulation' from relatively under-resourced
institutions only continues this framework by remaining often disparate or
(bio)regional in their focus. This former is due in part to politics, the
dynamics of various egos/personalities or to people becoming territorial to
the point where 'Competition overcomes Cooperation'. Attempts or murmurings
to professionalise Permaculture have been many over the years though to date
have been largely unsuccessful. This is perhaps underpinned by the influence
of the initiators of the movement...this may well change in the future with
some of the new generation of Permaculture activists...especially where they
have engaged in more formal training processes such as APT and that provided
by the Gaia University.

As for the APT Diploma this is a 50 week process of experiential training.
To do this and the Certificate 4 in PC in the APT system you need to have
completed a PDC in either stream (please confirm this Robyn Francis et al !)
and so honours the PDC by doing so. So there you go: you need an informal
and unregulated PDCC to qualify for a government-accredited training!! Some
people here in Australia (and this would I'm presuming be open to
internationals) can also apply for the APT Diploma of PC by Recognition of
Prior Learning (RPL). I will get around to this one day as I clearly can
demonstrate the required competencies through my 16 years of work just as I
could back in 1995 when I applied for my TPI Diploma of PC.

2. Which is working the best TPI, APT?
Talk about a 'Sticky Wicket' ! My feeling at this stage is that the TPI
system is very effective and continues to be one of the most powerful means
we have to changing paradigms, which is to the main game. Here in Australia
those folk who deliver PDC's outside of the TPI system are often doing so
because of relationship breakdowns or personality conflicts....there are
other reasons as well that those involved are better placed to talk
about....Don't ya love it!!! Beautiful foibles!!! I don't know the figures
on the numbers of people doing the APT Cert. 3,4 and Diploma, again someone
like Robyn Francis might well chime in on that one, but these are
trade/professional qualifications that are undertaken over quite a long
period and extend on a lot of the techniques and practical issues perhaps
mentioned in a PDC...In Australia there are only a few institutions that are
convening Cert3,4,Diploma including Robyn Francis' ERDA Institute (go to
and Tim Winton's PermaForest Trust (go to:
http://www.permaforesttrust.org.au/apt) both of which are in northern New
South Wales. The great thing is that students in these APT courses can get
government funding to do so (Austudy - relatively equivalent to unemployment
benefits) which means the Australian government will fund your formal
Permaculture training!

The Cert 1&2 programs are more for upper primary & primary school kids and
this is where in the interim at least APT has had the greatest numerical
success with one Melbourne School (Eltham College with Virginia Solomon)
qualifying in excess of 500 students in that program. Whenever I talk to my
school teacher/principal friends, they are particularly interested in this
kind of training as it is legitimate, works in frameworks they are familiar
with and importantly is fundable. Apart from this if fits in with their own
creative/experiential learning ideals....the next step is for them to then
to do the sell to their school councils....this may well work with some
communities better than others depending on any number of factors. Again
having a very under-resourced PIL (the owner of APT) does not help - bloody
pity as APT could be THE environmental education program that schools are up
for these days....and here in Australia they are up it - if only they knew
about it.

So in terms of comparing the 2 streams I would say that it difficult because
one (PDC) is basically a informal and largely adult, pre-vocational (at
best), mostly life-changing event. To do the APT Cert 3,4 Diploma one has
already had some paradigm change (s) toward Permaculture thinking and is
formally demonstrating this by committing to these long term training
programs. The APT Cert 1,2 programs are perhaps more involuntary or
potentially elective-based activities as part of the general school
curriculum....Time will tell as to how many of these folk become activists
of whatever level but it is likely to be quite powerful and only increasing
in effectiveness as time goes on and more shit hits the fan.

3. What can students do with their PDCC?

See above....as far as I understand (and Lisa Mollison might give me an
opinion here) PDCC holders can use the word Permaculture in their business
(though as Toby pointed out this is a mute and tested point in Trademark law
at least here in Australia). This has been the tradition at
least....Otherwise with the PDCC or PDC or APT people have an integrated
awareness & skill base they perhaps lacked previously and an ability to
understand how to act.

Thanks, Dinner's on the table (Kangaroo Bolognese would you believe it!)

All the best,

Darren Doherty

2008/5/7 steveread <steveread at free.fr>:

> www.permaculturefrance.com
> Thanks for that Darren, some questions..
> How does the Diploma system run with you-TPI-APT-Australia?
> Which is working the best TPI, APT?
> What can students do with their PDCC?
> Kenavo,
> Steve
> Directeur de     l  'Université Populaire de Permaculture
> Biographie     (SteveR) http://permacultureinstitute.pbwiki.com/
> 2008-05-0707:54:21
> Re: [permaculture] Certification Consensus
> G'day,
> I trust that this greets you all well...
> It is perhaps timely to give something from the, or rather 'an' Australian
> experience.
> We basically have 3 systems at work:
> 1. The Permaculture Institute or TPI (Australia ie. Bill Mollison's)
> "Permaculture Design Certificate Course" or PDCC (copy of current
> Permaculture Design Certificate or PDC is at:
> http://picasaweb.google.com/permaculture.biz/PermacultureInstituteTeacherRegistration29/photo#5197386852660307586
> ).
> Since
> 2002 this certificate has only been able to be given by Registered
> Teachers
> of TPI (copy of TPI Teacher Registration Certificate is at:
> http://picasaweb.google.com/permaculture.biz/PermacultureInstituteTeacherRegistration29/photo#5119561015762903090
> ),
> whereas before there was an 'unregulated' system where basically anybody
> who
> had done a PDC could buy PDCC's from TPI and provide them to graduates of
> their respective courses. There was some disquiet at the time about this
> system being established but now it is there and people choose to be a
> part
> of it or not. The basic process is pretty simple: you submit your syllabus
> and any course materials demonstrating that you cover the curriculum:
> 'Permaculture: A Designers Manual' or PDM....this is a heady task in
> itself
> and we have managed it I'll say just: todays' various creative teaching
> methods certainly helps as has going out to 14 days instead of 12 or
> 13....9
> would be tough, if not impossible for many students....
> I am in two minds about putting up my syllabus online (alone with just
> everything else at Google Documents!) as at once I want to be having these
> discussions with my peers but I don't want any prospective students seeing
> what is really my script or running sheet....especially when in a course I
> change it all of the time due to their requirements or unforeseen time
> constraints - I have had negative feedback from some students who have
> been
> inadvertantly given my syllabus prior to the course only to find that I am
> a
> bit more 'flexible' than that, as I believe one needs to be! For the
> record
> we do 'Day to a Subject' in the same order of chapters as in the PDM.
> Bill's strategy for making the PDC as 72 hours was that that was
> equivalent
> to one subject of one semester in mainstream tertiary institutions. More
> information on the TPI Teacher Registration process and the register of
> teachers itself can be found at:
> http://www.tagari.com/index.php?page_id=18
> 2. Accredited Permaculture Training or APT which is owned and administered
> by Permaculture International Limited or PIL. This was organised by some
> of
> Australia's leading Permaculture Teachers as a means of getting
> Permaculture
> training into mainstream education....It has been successful at doing so
> and
> will continue to be as it is attractive to mainstream institutions,
> educators and to businesses who require that their employees have
> appropriate trade qualifications. Whilst the PDCC is apparently
> 'recognised'
> (the nature of this recognition is unclear to me) as such by a number of
> institutions, the APT does work within the Government accredited process.
> More information on APT can be found at:
> http://www.permacultureinternational.org/apt
> 3. Unaccredited/Unregistered system: the 'old' way if you like of people
> teaching PDC's and issuing their own certificates from their own
> institutes
> or otherwise according to their own standards and curriculum's, the latter
> often aligned with the PDM but then often having a more regional focus and
> therefore not covering all of the climate zones or missing earthworks or
> whatever...This suits some who don't want to have a relationship with TPI
> for whatever reason or who have their own institutions and outlooks on all
> of this. This type of course is by far in the minority here in Australia
> as
> many of the more experienced PDC teachers are now in one or the other
> aforementioned systems, with a few notable exceptions...some of whom
> deliver
> very high quality courses and outcomes others who don't. To Bill the law
> of
> the jungle applies, as it does to the other modes, "if you are a crap
> teacher then you won't get any new students"....
> On the latter point I think that the same crude rule of feedback applies
> to
> Professional PC Designer's as well....this places some natural/financial
> limits on some, and I would suggest most, who are endeavouring to enter
> into
> the foray of Pro PC Design. Clearly the ratio of students of PDC's:Pro PC
> Designer's and PC Teachers for that matter is pretty low....PC
> practitioners
> is another matter though and these folk are the 'grunt' of the movement
> with
> their daily application of the principles of Permaculture, and in the
> conversations that they have with their families, neighbours, communities
> and by the consumer choices that they make along the way, not least the
> way
> they vote mindful of all this stuff.
> All the best,
> Darren Doherty
> 2008/5/7 Keith Morris  <earthsurfing at yahoo.com >:
> > Hello Friends and Colleagues,
> >
> > I am so glad to see the topic finally on this list-serve, thanks to
> those
> > who brought it up!  And thanks to everyone who's chimed in.  (I only
> wish it
> > weren't happening during a time of year when I try to (need to) have as
> > little to do with the computer as possible!)
> >
> > When a Texan began advertising 9 day certification courses in New
> > Hampshire and Massachusetts on the Northeastern Permaculture webpage- I
> > drafted a letter wondering how he could be doing full certification in
> only
> > 9 days.  After doing the math, I realized that, technically, 9
> eight-hour
> > days is "72 hours", so I didn't send the letter...  but still I wonder
> about
> > the integrity of this course.  My understanding was a 12 day minimum,
> and
> > even really isn't enough time...
> >
> > If the organizers of this course are on this list- please share your
> > perspective!  I certainly don't intend to make assumptions- but am now
> > wondering aloud what I had been wondering privately- the topic is
> certainly
> > worthy of discussion...
> >
> > But at the heart of this, as Tom pointed out, is a great deal of
> confusion
> > about what "Certification" really means.  I think we need to reach some
> > consensus, but don't think that this can (or necessarily should) be
> codified
> > or enforced.  Allow me to explain...
> >
> > When I graduate students, its explained that the "Certificate" means
> > they've completed the 'Internationally Recognized Course', not that they
> are
> > "Certified Permaculture Designers".  (Dave Jacke's certificates actually
> > state 'Design Trainee'.)  Its asked that any student document at least 2
> > years of work designing, implementing, studying with a mentor, etc.
> before
> > they use the word Permaculture in a business (farm, designer, whatever).
> >  Its further specified that after the two years, a Teacher Training and/
> or
> > Teaching Apprenticeship is needed before one can offer the course, and
> even
> > then ideally as part of a more experienced team.
> >
> > The required building of a portfolio for two years is one of the
> greatest
> > assets of this system.  In my experience, this is how people's own
> homes,
> > youth groups, churches, boy and girls clubs, homeless shelters, and
> other
> > organizations that could use permaculture but aren't looking to hire
> > someone, get designs done and planted for their sites.  Its also how
> > designers can work in their home communities and helps breaks the cycle
> of
> > permaculture as strictly 'landscaping for the rich'.  It also how a
> number
> > of good designers have built their reputations.
> >
> > That being said, it all needs to be balanced by two facts:
> >
> > 1.  Permaculture solutions need to begin to be implemented wherever,
> > whenever, and as soon as possible.
> >
> > 2.  Every person is different!
> >
> > These both may be obvious, but they are specifically why 'codifying' or
> > 'enforcing' may be antithetical to permaculture.  I teach at colleges,
> where
> > the classes are filled mostly with young people trying to figure out
> what
> > they will do with their lives.  In this context, the extended study/
> design
> > course as spring-board to lifetime of learning and doing is particularly
> > important to stress (as well as how to live permaculture even if you
> don't
> > 'own' land).
> >
> > But, I also teach at a Design Build School where most participants are
> > already professionals established in their fields: architects, farmers,
> > educators, whatever.  Here, the same 'expectations' are stated, but I
> > certainly hope that an architect with her own firm begins to integrate
> > permaculture solutions into her work the very day she leaves the course!
>  I
> > also hope the same would be true of the grade school teacher, and don't
> > really care whether he calls the educational forest garden he has
> students
> > designing and planting 'permaculture' or not.
> >
> > I think there are two quotes from the founders of permaculture
> > particularly relevant here:
> >
> > When we had David Holmgren here for a NEPC networking event, he
> stressed:
> > "Permaculture is not a profession."  I'll paraphrase the rest... we need
> > permaculture to inform all professions: attorneys, accountants, school
> > teachers, etc.
> >
> > I think we need to escape the mindset of permaculture only espousing
> > 'designers' and 'teachers' and let people live it in the millions of
> ways
> > we've yet to see it expressed.  There may not be 'demand' for legions of
> > more designers and teachers, but there certainly is demand for everyone
> to
> > start living this!
> > Permaculture design and teaching aren't specialized fields, this is a
> > CULTURE.  These ideas should be in every grade school: growing plants,
> > supplementing classrooms and cafeterias; in the design of every home,
> town,
> > farm, business, city, whatever...
> >
> > In 1996, Bill Mollison wrote: "...Today, with hundreds of itinerant
> > teachers turning up anywhere, the system is beyond restraint.  Safe at
> last,
> > and in a geometric growth stage.  We won.  Permaculture is permanently
> > ungovernable."
> >
> > This is not to say that it isn't our role to have conversations just
> like
> > these to maintain integrity, and continue to build consensus.  I am glad
> to
> > know there are more than one 'Permaculture Institute', shouldn't there
> be?
> >  Why would we want to recognize political boundaries that are held
> contrary
> > to ecological communities and culture groups?
> >
> > Adam, thank you for your offer of a wiki- there has been a loosely
> > organized discussion focused on these issues on the Northeastern
> > Permaculture Network Wiki since 2005.  I'd invite anyone to contribute,
> and
> > there are a number of resources valuable to folks from any region.
> >
> > I also like Steve's idea of publishing people's designs on the web,
> > something else we have been playing with the northeastern wiki.  Wiki's
> are
> > one potential model for this collaboration in providing feedback.
> >
> > Thanks everyone for your ideas, and thanks for letting me babble on the
> > topic!
> >
> > In Solidarity,
> > Keith
> >
> >
> >
> > Keith Morris
> >  Prospect Rock Permaculture
> >  earthsurfing at yahoo.com
> >  (802) 734.1129
> >  PO Box 426
> >  Jeffersonville, VT 05464
> >
> >  "If we do not do the impossible, we shall be faced with the
> unthinkable."
> >  -Murray Bookchin (1921-2006)
> >
> >
> > ---------------------------------
> > Be a better friend, newshound, and know-it-all with Yahoo! Mobile.  Try
> it
> > now.
> > _______________________________________________
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> >
> >
> --
> Hooroo,
> Darren J. Doherty
> www.permaculture.biz
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+61 (3) 9010 6220
skype: permaculture.biz

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