[permaculture] the gardener's shadow falls both ways

Robyn Francis erda at nor.com.au
Sun Dec 13 20:49:16 EST 2009

 Lee Flier wrote:

>> Or worse - they're control freaks using the mantle of "permaculture
>> teacher" to push their personal agenda on others.  I've seen this a lot,
>> unfortunately.  Most of these folks try to hoist Mollison on his own
>> petard by pointing out that permaculture is meant to be decentralized,
>> therefore if they disagree with Mollison on something, Mollison must be
>> wrong, he's not a god or a guru, etc.  All of which is true, but beside
>> the point.

In some respects I find the above statement a little disturbing,
disagreement with Bill for good/sound reason is essential for permaculture
to evolve and maintain currency. The Designers Manual, which unfortunately
many refer to as the permaculture 'Bible' (I really cringe when I hear that
from permevangelists), perpetuates a permaculture frozen in time (1988),
this attitude is a bit too cultish for my inquiring mind, and the
publication unfortunately contains quite a few mistakes, i.e. Scientific
errors. (e.g. A qualified aquaculturist who was asked to proof the section
on aquaculture found quite a few mistakes pertaining to water chemistry,
none of which were corrected for the final publication -- this is not an
isolated incidence).
I note very little mention of David Holmgren and his contribution to the
ongoing evolution of permaculture in these discussions. David refers to the
PDM as the Permaculture Encyclopaedia (I'm more comfortable with that
description than "Bible").
BTW I love and respect both Bill and David, and disagreement on some points
does not negate the great legacy they've given us.

Re the topic of PDCs...
In my PDC's (minimum 80 hrs) I cover the essence of all the chapters of the
PDM, but as my own curriculum/insights and with some additions e.g. I
include Holmgrens principles, a session on integrated pest and weed
strategies, annual veg and maincrop production, Zone V includes ecological
restoration with an intro to native wildfoods and ethno botany, soil
includes soil-food-web (also not mentioned in the PDM) and brief explanation
of biodynamic practices (not cosmology), and I have completely revamped the
invisible and settlement aspects of the PDM in line with my considerable
permaculture experience in human settlement design, community and
organisational development (I find Chapter 14 very 70's and somewhat
deficient in some areas), I commence the course with a session on learning
styles and creative problem solving, and the list could go on.
Depending on the group, we will sing songs as energisers, and most courses
might include a circle dance or two (usually tied to pattern learning in
traditional cultures), but songs and dances are chosen with care to be
inclusive and not alienating.
Zone zero is a subliminal component and I find those not inclined to
spirituality will usually experience some kind shift in earth connection as
a result of a practical-oriented PDC, not as a result of pushing the barrow.
The course inherently contains enough challenges to personal dogmas for most
folk to deal with. 

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