[permaculture] Overly optimistic permaculture attitude towards land

Scott Vlaun scott at moosepondarts.com
Thu Dec 3 14:47:40 EST 2009

Well said Larry!

We've struggled with the intentional community building far more than  
with the physical systems. (It's easier to throw a sump pump in a  
poorly designed root cellar a couple times a year, than negotiate  
you're way through a bad relationship with someone). We now have one  
set of "intentional neighbors." Doing simple labor trades, a loose  
CSA arrangement, managing our forest together, and treating each  
other to dinner weekly has dramatically improved all of our lives.  
Having the occasional partner on a moonlight ski is a bonus.

We all dream of taking it to the next level. We've consulted with the  
folks at Occidental Arts and Ecology Center and they've been  
extremely helpful. We've also met with our town and the are  
supportive. After 10 or 20 meetings with sincerely interested folks  
the challenge is a little clearer although still a bit daunting. For  
many reasons, including  a few people being "upside down" on current  
dwellings, folks just can't commit to making it happen and the ones  
that have wanted to, have turned out to be in a hurry to join an  
existing community or just turned out to be a bad fit in the end.

Our original idea was to get around 10 core people to initiate the  
process and create the legal structures. We are now thinking along  
the "build it and they will come" model for the short term. That is,  
creating dwelling space so that people can test the waters and still  
be participating in a worthwhile way.

Any experiences along these lines?

Scott Vlaun
Moose Pond Arts+Ecology
Design Solutions for a Sustainable Future

450 Main Street, Studio 2
Norway, Maine 04268
207-739-2409 Studio

On Dec 3, 2009, at 12:49 PM, lbsaltzman at aol.com wrote:

I think another missing element is invisible systems.  Our culture is  
designed around the rugged individualist myth.  With the exception of  
some successful intentional planned community my sense is that too  
many people are tackling land solo or as couples.  I don't criticize  
that because that is the way it is at this time, particularly in  
America. But in truth some of these systems should be built by  
communities of people that are committed to staying on the land for a  
long time as a true community. How we go a bout building this kind of  
community is I suspect far harder than designing a food forest or  
building a straw bale house.


-----Original Message-----
From: Toby Hemenway <toby at patternliteracy.com>
To: permaculture <permaculture at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: Thu, Dec 3, 2009 8:12 am
Subject: Re: [permaculture] Overly optimistic permaculture attitude  
towards land

Rain, it sounds like the problem you and Nicholas have is mostly with
ill's salemanship. He knowswill definitely catch more flies with honey
han with vinegar. But for every time I've heard him say "the designer
ecomes the recliner" I've also heard him say, I still don't know how to
efine permaculture and nobody seems to be doing it well. And if you've
ver  worked with a film crew, they don't encourage you to say how
ifficult it's all going to be. So I'm okay with cutting Bill some
lack. I don't see much support for a sweeping claim that "permaculture"
s doing people a disservice. And I've definitely seen large areas of
oil made fertile and local climates (over acres) changed using
ermaculture. Yes, it's easier to start with good soil, and much land
sn't meant to be farmed, but I can't blame Bill if I don't know that.
I think we take home what we are predisposed to learn. And westerners,
specially college educated ones who've never used a shovel, like it all
o be easy. Probably after 20 years of doing Pc, Bill may have felt that
ost of it was pretty easy. I was with him when he went to a place to do
  design consult, and he told me he had the whole design worked out
etween the time he saw the house from down the lane and when we parked
he car. If you watch a calligraphy master make a lifetime's work look
asy, and then get pissed off when your first brushwork is a mess, I
on't think it's fair to blame the master.
What I see in the permaculture literature--like the Designer's
anual--looks pretty damn challenging to me, so I'm not sure how anyone
ho digs into it would think it is easy. It's true that people make lots
f mistakes similar to the one Christopher mentioned, but I suspect
hat's partly because we carry our own preconceptions with us ("now I
an be master of the landscape!") and because some people  consider
hemselves an expert after taking one PDC ("now I'm a certified
ermaculture designer!" Uh, hardly.) We're also so terribly disconnected
rom the land that our idea of how much work planting and caring for,
ay, 20 nut trees, is based on nothing but romantic Hollywood fantasy.
hen you put up the deer screen for the 30th time or haul the 50th
ucket of water, and you want to cry. But it's hard for me to see how
hat is permaculture's fault, rather than that of our own ignorance and
onviction that there's got to be a magic bullet that will make it all  

Rain Tenaqiya wrote:
  Well, Toby, I don't have the time to do a literature search to back  
up my
laims, but I run into a lot of people like the one Christopher  
mentioned who
idn't seem to get an appropriate permaculture education.  As for  
myself, I was
eeply influenced by Bill Mollison, and he definitely seems like a  
booster to
e.  I remember him saying not to worry too much about soil since you  
can always
ransform it with organic matter and amendments (which is common in  
iven the poor soil).  His Global Gardener videos make it all look so  
easy.  He
alks about how cheap earthworks are (not!) and gives inflated  
statistics about
ow radically you can transform local climate.  For results within one  
ifetime, I'm learning to expect much less.

  If you are only wanting to grow food for a small household (which  
is probably
ll that is truly sustainable in the long run), it is possible to do  
hings in tough circumstances, if you are willing to do all the work.   
But it
akes a long time without unsustainle inputs from outside.   
Agriculture (which
s not sustainable, even though included in Mollison's books) is not  
onsidering on most marginal land, in my opinion.

  Gotta go,


  permaculture mailing list
  permaculture at lists.ibiblio.org
  Subscribe or unsubscribe here:
  Google command to search archives:
  site:http://lists.ibiblio.org/pipermail/permaculture searchstring

ermaculture mailing list
ermaculture at lists.ibiblio.org
ubscribe or unsubscribe here:
oogle command to search archives:
ite:http://lists.ibiblio.org/pipermail/permaculture searchstring

permaculture mailing list
permaculture at lists.ibiblio.org
Subscribe or unsubscribe here:
Google command to search archives:
site:http://lists.ibiblio.org/pipermail/permaculture searchstring

More information about the permaculture mailing list