[permaculture] Thoughts on PDCs - Was US National Permaculture Conference (lengthy post)

Robert Waldrop bwaldrop at cox.net
Fri Dec 11 20:12:10 EST 2009


I studied permaculture on my own for 6 years before getting involved 
with the distance-learning PDC offered by Barking Frogs Permaculture, 
taught by Dan Hemenway (no close relationship to Toby, Dan says he 
thinks they have a common ancestor in colonial times).  I got a lot of 
things "right" in my self-study and praxis, but two things I was missing 
was the concept of permaculture as a wholistic design art/science, and a 
good sense of how many seemingly disparate elements are integrated 
together in a design.  After six years of self-study, I was focused on 
permaculture as kind of an advanced gardening class with an emphasis on 
"forest gardening".  Well, that's certainly part of permaculture, but 
it's sort of like saying that canvas, because it is used in making an 
oil painting, is art.  I've been involved with the BF PDC for 4 years 
now, and do not consider myself qualified yet to run a PDF on my own, 
although I am more confident of my ability to do the shorter workshops.  
I consider myself maybe just getting out of the "apprentice" stage and 
moving into the "journeyman" level, and still years away from becoming a 
"master".  Once a tadpole, now a froglet.

Bob Waldrop, Oklahoma City
www.energyconservationinfo.org
www.barkingfrogspermaculture.org

Tripp Tibbetts wrote:
> Ben Martin Horst wrote:
>  
>   
>> I had read all the permaculture literature then available, subscribed to this and other
>>     
> lists, etc, but nothing made permaculture "click" as a comprehensive systems
> practice and pedagogy the way that PDC did.
>  
> So what if it already "clicked?"  If it clicked any more than it already has, I'd be a different species.  And I wouldn't look sideways at that already being the case...
>  
> Some really freaky interesting things have happened to me in the last year since I discovered permaculture.  I'd be glad to chat with anyone off-list about stuff like that if they're interested, but I'll leave it there for now.
>  
> Look, I'm not asking for an exception to the rule.  I'd love to take a good PDC, and have in fact been chatting off-list with my bioregional neighbor, Michael Pilarski,  about getting that done.  But it just hasn't worked out yet.  And I'll be honest, the money is a big deal.  Hence the "smoldering embers of a dying economy" image in my original post.  But the idea that I don't "get" permaculture, in all its parts, because of that one void, is argumentative at best.  No disrespect to Toby.
>  
> Thanks Mitch, for relating that PDC horror story.  Puffy paint and sparkles.  Although I think I can safely assume that if that were the norm none of us would be having this discussion...
>  
> Tripp out.
>
>
>
> The best fertilizer is the gardener's shadow.
> -Chinese proverb
>  
>
> --- On Fri, 12/11/09, Ben Martin Horst <ben.martinhorst at gmail.com> wrote:
>
>
> From: Ben Martin Horst <ben.martinhorst at gmail.com>
> Subject: Re: [permaculture] Thoughts on PDCs - Was US National Permaculture Conference (lengthy post)
> To: "permaculture" <permaculture at lists.ibiblio.org>
> Date: Friday, December 11, 2009, 9:54 PM
>
>
> Lest those who haven't done a PDC be frightened by Mitch's description of
> his, I'd like to mention that I cannot speak praise enough for the teachers
> of the one I took (Jude Hobbs, Toby Hemenway, and Tom Ward). I had read all
> the permaculture literature then available, subscribed to this and other
> lists, etc, but nothing made permaculture "click" as a comprehensive systems
> practice and pedagogy the way that PDC did. Frankly, my only problem with
> the course was that so much was packed into 72ish hours ... I easily learned
> more in that one course than I did in four years of college, and I'd love to
> have had more of a chance to explore some of the topics more fully with the
> instructors and fellow students. Having lurked on this list for several
> years, I've seen people's bad experiences with PDCs or poor instructors do
> come up occasionally, but I'm convinced that this is the exception rather
> than the norm.
>
> If the "permaculture movement," for lack of a better term, was more
> centralized, we'd likely have more obvious ways of dealing with poor
> instructors, though I'd never advocate for that. Mollison and Tagari have
> tried to keep some control over pedagogy and qualifications, but it would
> surprise me if even a majority of the permaculture instructors in the US
> were Tagari-certified, and, frankly, I wouldn't necessarily trust that to
> make a whole lot of difference. Essentially what we've been left with is
> word of mouth: "My instructor was great!" or "That PDC was a huge waste of
> money." It would be interesting to think about how, as a community dedicated
> to permaculture, we can better ensure that the most people possible get the
> most value from their PDC.
>
> As a brainstormed example, in the Pacific Northwest / Cascadia (where I
> live) I could envision a regional permaculture body that would evaluate the
> credentials of instructors practicing in the region. One requirement might
> be that new instructors apprentice to a seasoned, respected instructor for
> the duration of one or two 72-hour courses before being "accredited." Of
> course, at this point at least, there would be nothing legally significant
> about such accreditation, but if implemented effectively, prospective
> students might look for "Cascadia Permaculture Guild Certified" on an
> instructor's curriculum vitae. Such regional bodies, ideally with similar
> certification criteria, could exist throughout the world. One side benefit
> of such regional certification bodies might be that it would be more likely
> for students and instructors to belong to the same bioregion, and the 72
> hours of standard PDC could be supplemented with learning on strategies
> specific to a given climate and region (as some already are, of course).
> These thoughts are just off the top of my head, and I'm sure actual
> instructors and folks more involved on regional levels would have better,
> more realistic ideas.
>
> -Ben
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