[permaculture] Thoughts on PDCs

Lee Flier leeflier at comcast.net
Sat Dec 12 14:55:15 EST 2009

Interesting thread, again.  I'd say that probably how much someone would 
benefit from a PDC depends entirely on the individual student and 
teacher!  I have no doubt there are some poor teachers out there, who 
really don't stick to the curriculum and include a lot of fluff that 
isn't necessarily relevant, or have their own agenda as to what 
permaculture "should" be which may or may not be helpful.  Not to say 
that permaculture shouldn't continue to evolve in its specifics, but IMO 
the PDC is meant to install general concepts which can then be applied 
to specific things; it usually does teach some specifics as examples, 
but the primary consideration should be in communicating the paradigms 
and stressing that they can be applied to any endeavor in any field.

I also have no doubt there are some people, especially at this stage of 
the game, who've learned enough from online discussions and reference 
materials, books and perhaps shorter courses or permaculture gatherings, 
that what they'd gain from an actual PDC is fairly minimal and may not 
teach them anything they don't already know.

I feel fortunate that I was able to take a PDC straight from the horse's 
mouth, that is from Bill Mollison, and it was co-taught by Scott Pittman 
who was also amazing.  I will say that at the time, even though I had 
been gardening organically for a long time, was enamored of the forest 
garden concept, had been studying anthropology and sociology and 
ecology, had a keen interest in ecovillages, intentional communities, 
and alternative energy, had done volunteer aid work... and even though I 
am by and large a pattern based thinker...  and even though I already 
had an excellent weekend permaculture workshop under my belt... even 
given all of that, the full PDC was a mind blowing and life changing 
experience for me.

I'll also say that the level of BS was very minimal because Bill and 
Scott kept things on track and did not mince any words.  If people 
brought up any kind of New Age stuff or anything otherwise not based in 
reality (and some certainly tried...LOL), they were called out on it.

I'll also second what a couple of people said in that the point was well 
driven home that permaculture isn't just about gardening or farming.  
Its principles could be applied to any field of work and sometimes that 
isn't emphasized enough.  I think that a garden is a great place to 
start, because a garden based in permaculture principles demonstrates 
the ways that natural systems will work for you if you work with them 
instead of against them.  But natural patterns can just as easily be 
found in any other area of endeavor, and once you understand that 
they're there and can look for them, you can find them.

So I would say if you want to do a PDC, it's well worth it but you 
should just be very careful choosing a teacher.  Find some other people 
who've taken the course from them and don't just ask whether they liked 
the experience, but specfic questions about what activities the class 
did, etc.  It's like anything else, you gotta shop around.

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