[permaculture] From Mexico - Thoughts on PDCs

Holger Hieronimi holger at tierramor.org
Sat Dec 12 08:19:56 EST 2009

This discussion on the PCDs is as old as the PCD, I think

at least it´s around since I made my PCD, some thirteen years ago-

al allways, there are those who think that the PCD is the ONLY way of 
teaching and learning Permaculture

sometimes wishing even to "centralize" the issuing, having only 
acredited teachers from some central institution, at best copyrighting 
the word and having everything "under control".... forgetting about some 
basic system principles, that also apply to the so-called "permaculture 

as an old rebel from academia, I do not really know, what a piece of 
paper "certificates" ....  somewhat, I hold a design certificate and 
even a diploma (but here I allready will get in trouble with some of the 
centralizers and "purists", since my diploma was part of a somewhat 
self-issued version, that was created once and never again in 1999, for 
the first generation of mexican PC activists, to celebrate ouselves and 
our projects, credited by the now extinct PC drylands institute, 
Earthcare education, and the now extinct mexican PC institute...)

the only time when I used those papers, was to get a working permit as a 
PC designer and teacher from the mexican migration offices .... I prefer 
not to weave around with them too much....

maybe we should apply PC principles on the permaculture teaching isuue 
(well, then we maybe have a problem, that now there are quite a few 
different sets of principles around,....personally I stick on Holmgrens 
set, which, in my case, proved to be an incredible help as a thinking 

whats happening with the principle Nr 10 "Use and value diversity...."?

personally I tend  to accept this, in this context I remember a comment 
made by darren Doherty a few weeks ago:

    Otherwise the clear option is to make your own institutes, your own certificates and deliver the course (s) that the 
    people in your markets need. Sure the imprimatur of giving a TPI PDC certificate is great but it is not the be all and 
    end all....

Here in mexico, I found the traditional PCD-sceme rather limiting. First 
of all, you need people having time and money to pay for it. Then, the 
TPI curriculum  discourages explicitly bioregional expressions. Then, 
quite easy, it seems that you just copy the content of the designers 
manual and call it curriculum, send it to australia, pay 2.50 dollars 
for each "original" certificate, prove your own certification, and THATS 
IT.... ????

How somebody from Australia can certificate what I´m doing here ??? How  
can they charge for that ???

We do not need necesarily more Design certificate holders, *we need more 
Permaculture Activists. *Its your action that certificates you. Master 
designers like Darren or Geoff Lawton dont need to walk around showing 
their certificates and diplomas. For them, as for me and many other 
PC-teachers/ practitioners, the PCD was the STARTING PIONT for serious 
learnig and  action. And this I hope to communicate in our courses and 

Since i facilitated my first two week course, seven years ago, we found 
out that its easier to stay marginal to this PCD sceme, allthough those 
first courses were problably closest to the original DesignCertificate 
sceme we did, since the Designers Manual was by then nearly the only 
textbook we used- luckily, my bibliografy as well as the content and 
scope of the courses, widened a lot since then-

For many years, we were lucky that there was no discussion on this topic 
here in mexico, but now there are quite a few people who travelled all 
the way to australia, took courses there, and come back claiming to be 
the only REAL permaculturists, credited legally and internationally to 
be the only authorized PC teachers here, by the way ignoring all the 
work done by the pioneers during more than twenty years. Possibly, this 
is a sign, that the mexican permaculture scene gets finally "mature", 
but in my case its making me consider, if I should drop the word 
permaculture once again from my activities.


Holger Hieronimi

More information about the permaculture mailing list