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

Robert Waldrop bwaldrop at cox.net
Sat Dec 12 03:28:27 EST 2009


Tripp, I'm sorry you apparently took my comments so personally.  I was 
simply sharing my experience, for what it's worth.  As with all things, 
others' mileage may differ and that's fine because that's the way the 
world is.  I think it certainly is possible for someone to understand 
permaculture without a PDC, but thus far that has not been the ordinary 
way this happens. 

Like everything else, the permaculture movement evolves and adapts as 
the situation around it changes.  If we do see a mass immigration into 
the movement, especially if it is under the press of increasingly 
extreme circumstances, I am confident that the permaculture movement 
will adapt accordingly.  The permaculture designers who went to Cuba 
from Australia when the Soviet Union collapsed and the Cuban economy was 
cut off from its oil supplies, didn't go there to charge $1500 tuition 
per enrollee in a PDC.  I don't even know that they taught formal PDCs 
as we know them in the US (maybe they did, I don't know either way).  
But they did make their design experience available to the Cuban people, 
and so it came to pass that permaculture helped the Cuban people design 
appropriate responses to the crisis situation which was upon them.

I don't doubt a similar response from the permaculture teaching 
community if we hit another punctuated equilibrium and life as we know 
it in these United States ratchets itself down a few more notches on the 
energy-intensive scale. If a permaculture educator were suddenly to be 
surrounded by newly-poor neighbors who are increasingly hungry and 
without prospects, advertising a $1500 PDC to them would be a stupid 
response.  I have always thought that what we are doing now is "getting 
ready" for a day when hundreds of millions of people suddenly discover 
that they are interested in permaculture, because they have no other 
choices.  This is the "get there the firstest with the mostest" 
strategy, which is what happened with Cuba, fortunately for the Cubans.  
The North Koreans, on the other hand, did not have an influx of 
permaculture designers, and as a result, when they lost their oil 
supplies at the collapse of the the Soviet Union, several million people 
died of starvation, because they had no other choice due to the utter 
toxicity of their situation (ecologically and in terms of the invisible 
structures in which they were embedded).

There are not many people in Oklahoma who have been through a PDC.  I 
know of maybe 3 other people with formal permaculture training.  We've 
been having discussions in our local transition town group about how to 
do some permaculture training without doing a full-scale PDC with all of 
the expense that that would involve, e.g. bringing in a teacher, 
tuition, etc.

So I'm looking at doing a series of workshops over the next couple of 
years, on kitchen permaculture, energy permaculture, financial 
permaculture, disaster permaculture, housing permaculture, and water 
permaculture, along with some specialized gigs like "permaculture your 
college lifestyle".  

It's somewhat controversial to think about permaculture in this way.  It 
would be more correct probably to say something along the lines of . . . 
"Applying permaculture principles to your kitchen", and etc., but that's 
a mouthful and I like terms kitchen permaculture and financial 
permaculture and catastrophe permaculture.  Permaculture embraces a 
large body of information.  In a PDC, the whole thing gets thrown at you 
at once in an intensive environment, sink or swim.  Another approach is 
to nibble on it a bite at a time, and integrate each new aspect with 
what you've acquired previously, and along the way, develop the ability 
to "think permaculturally", which is what I think the point of 
"permaculture education" is anyway. This is the "how do you eat an 
elephant/one bite at a time" approach.  These workshops will provide 
people with information, experience, and exercises to help them learn 
permaculture principles and do design work in their own lives.  No one 
will get a PDC certificate, and they won't spend $1500 each, but they 
will, if they do the readings, the exercises, and participate in the 
work, learn something about permaculture design in their own lives.

The velocity of everything is speeding up.  Rome rose and fell over a 
millinium, we seem set to do it in much less time.  I'm glad the 
evidence seems to be that people are increasingly fast learners in the 
present situation, as we will need to adapt rapidly as the circumstances 
around us are also moving with increasing velocity.  I had a late lunch 
today with my godson who is a student at a local university, and he was 
carrying on just about as fast as he could talk about what was 
essentially permaculture, although he never once used the word.  That 
was where the idea to add a "permaculture your college lifestyle" 
workshop to the list originated, as he was bemoaning the fact that he 
had no land and thus couldn't grow his own food and etc.  I pointed out 
that he lived in a tiny apartment, on very little money, did not own a 
car, walked everywhere he went, rarely bought new stuff, was thinking 
intentionally about the way he lived his life, was concerned about his 
personal praxis, and had a long list of ideas to work on to change the 
invisible structures that governed the university.  "Compare with", I 
told him, the average suburban resident who lives in a 3500 sq ft house, 
with 3 large energy hungry vehicles in the garage, and a house and 
storage unit full of useless stuff they bought with borrowed money to 
satisfy their interior emptiness and angst in an age of change, and 
consistently votes to support the status quo.   Godsonski is on his way 
to understanding permaculture.  I hope I and other permaculture folks 
can help him and his friends in their journey.

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


Tripp Tibbetts wrote:
> We've heard from the 30 years, and now from the 10s...
>  
> If I concede that there are 50 different people on this listserv that could relate stories of life-changing, paradigm-shifting PDC experiences, could those 50 people concede that it's possible, given certain backgrounds and experiences, for a human being to grasp permaculture without one?
>  
> If not that, would someone please quote me on this thread where I claim to be a "master," or talk about teaching permaculture to others in a professional setting?  I think I've been quite careful to avoid statements like that.  And in truth, am not nearly so presumptuous.
>  
> Neither David Holmgren nor Bill Mollison took a PDC.  Masanobu Fukuoka never had a Natural Farming course in college.  Allan Savory didn't find enlightenment at a HM workshop.  PA Yeomans wasn't a water management district official.  And Adam and Eve didn't have belly buttons.  As I very quickly point out that I am none of these uniquely gifted people, I try to bring attention to the fact that there is only one correct answer to my first question.
>  
> Whether or not that describes me, or others on their way here, only time and experience will tell.  
>  
> I read a new age piece recently, maybe on Reality Sandwich, that described how humans are evolving.  That the more recent the awakening -- the more recently that ignition point is fired -- the faster that individual is likely to come to grips with what's happening.  In other words, one who went back to the land in the 70s may have taken 30 years to find that unifying moment, while someone beginning their journey in the 90s may have found it in 10, and someone in my situation (someone hard-headed enough to miss the boat until 2008) may catch up in a year or two.  We can never duplicate your experience, but we might have a better grasp of your world than you think.  There's an event horizon that isn't waiting for us to raise funds, pack our bags, and convince our friends.
>  
> I want to be very serious here.  As most of you are well aware, global energetics equations are entering new territory.  I wish, above all, that I had been one of the truly early adopters of behavioral innovation like a lot of you guys.  If only so that my head wasn't always spinning with the pace of evolution, and my feet might touch the ground periodically.  But that's not how it worked out.
>  
> I'm not special.  Just a late arrival with a hot fire.  And now that the tide has officially turned, I think you can expect a lot more people like me to start showing up.  People on the edge, absolutely bewildered by what's happening to them, breathless and dizzy, looking for a safe harbor.
>  
> Here's to edges.
>  
> Tripp out.
>
>
>  
>
> The best fertilizer is the gardener's shadow.
> -Chinese proverb
>  
>
> --- On Sat, 12/12/09, Robert Waldrop <bwaldrop at cox.net> wrote:
>
>
> From: Robert Waldrop <bwaldrop at cox.net>
> Subject: Re: [permaculture] Thoughts on PDCs - Was US National Permaculture Conference (lengthy post)
> To: "permaculture" <permaculture at lists.ibiblio.org>
> Date: Saturday, December 12, 2009, 1:12 AM
>
>
> 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
>> _______________________________________________
>> permaculture mailing list
>> permaculture at lists.ibiblio.org
>> Subscribe or unsubscribe here:
>> http://lists.ibiblio.org/mailman/listinfo/permaculture
>> Google command to search archives:
>> site:http://lists.ibiblio.org/pipermail/permaculture searchstring
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>        
>> _______________________________________________
>> permaculture mailing list
>> permaculture at lists.ibiblio.org
>> Subscribe or unsubscribe here:
>> http://lists.ibiblio.org/mailman/listinfo/permaculture
>> Google command to search archives:
>> site:http://lists.ibiblio.org/pipermail/permaculture searchstring
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>    
>>     
> _______________________________________________
> permaculture mailing list
> permaculture at lists.ibiblio.org
> Subscribe or unsubscribe here:
> http://lists.ibiblio.org/mailman/listinfo/permaculture
> Google command to search archives:
> site:http://lists.ibiblio.org/pipermail/permaculture searchstring
>
>
>
>
>
>       
> _______________________________________________
> permaculture mailing list
> permaculture at lists.ibiblio.org
> Subscribe or unsubscribe here:
> http://lists.ibiblio.org/mailman/listinfo/permaculture
> Google command to search archives:
> site:http://lists.ibiblio.org/pipermail/permaculture searchstring
>
>
>
>
>   



More information about the permaculture mailing list