[permaculture] Answering questions about credentials, "QUALITY CONTROL" and "INTERNAL ASSEMENTS".

deston denniston abundancepc at gmail.com
Wed Dec 16 17:05:27 EST 2009

HI All, Im new here on this list, and It seems my name came up in a similar
"what credentials?" discussion. I cant find my way to that thread (possibly
due to joining after it was published?), so am unsure of what it said, but
this is a similar enough thread that perhaps not inappropriate to chime in.

www.abundancepermqaculture.com is my website (under construction, watch your
eyes). My credentials at a PC Instructor were questioned in the other
thread;the following was forwarded to me:

Abundance Permaculture Home

"We offer Permaculture Design and construction ecology education in a
variety of courses ranging from a 2 hour introductions for youth aged
9-up to 72 hour Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) courses specific
to your site and vision. The PDC, coupled with our Design & Charette
Facilitation is a direct path towards creation of an enduring, vibrant
Ecos for people of all species."


"Proven Methodology for the Realization of Sustainable Visions"
Deston Denniston, MSA, Steward

- no sign of any Permaculture training

Nathan Nathan Waldren, BA, BS, Forestry Technical Associate

- no sign of any Permaculture training

here goes:

When I got this fwd I went to my bio, linked above- had I forgottern to add
the line that said " Instructor of Permaculture System Design, Certified by
Jude Hobbs and Tom Ward, 2004" ?

 I attended the instructors course with Jenny Pell of
http://www.permaculturenow.com, who is a wonderful woman and who I hope to
co-teach with in the not so distant future.It was a great week at Applegate
with Tom and Maude, our hosts, and a crew of lively, inteeligent and warm
folks. And the food... im still hungry!

I hadn't forgotten,I did make reference to the credentials, its right there,
plain for all to see. Furthermore, my PDC was with Penny Livingston and
Brock Doleman and was taken at Skywater.

Nathan Waldren has not ever taught or taken a permaculture course; he is an
associate, not a partner, and has no ownership or employment part in the
company. I contract to him for the specific purpose of maintaining
trade-standards in forestry management plan writing. He is a Department of
Defense regiestered forester, and a National Wildfire Coordination Group
member, and since I do alot of work reviewing timber plans (which does not
entail permaculture training or certification) I ASSOCIATE with him in a
technical peer review. His credentials for this work are listed on his bio.
Nowhere is the intimation made that he teaches permaculture, nor have I
asked him to.

Ive never given a Permaculture Certification. I have taught a few modules
with folks on other courses, but ive never even certifeid my own site
interns due to lack of Peer review. I offer the PDC on my website, but even
when approached by Clark County Washington and asked to teach a PDC for them
to staff, I declined to certifcate the course for multiple reasons.

Toby Hemenway opened the course. I had a long discussion with him about the
ethics of certifying the course for a room of people who see certifications
as JOB SKILL REQUIREMENTS. Since no agency that I am aware of in the USA
considers the PDC as a required or even desirable certification, handing it
out to a bunch of people with MS and PhD degrees, HAZMAT, ISO140001, and
other job required certifications seemed dubious. So we offered 60 hours of
the 72 hour course and did not certify it. I ran this by Toby, Jude
Hobbs,and  Marisha Auerbach (who also taught atthe course), and perhaps a
few more. I am into peer review. And establishment of credentials through
preofessional organizations. I am concerned that a lack of organization in
this areana is holding back Permaculture as a practice that can affect deep
change in the land use patterns of the USA, despite all the great work done
by everyone from Dave Jacke back east to Scott Pittman in The SW and the
dozens of other groups who I admire and hope to someday meet, collaborate

Another reason I have never given a certification is because I have not had
the opportunity to teach with peers aside from Toby while in the context of
a permaculture education course, which I did in 2005 at Portland
Pemraculture Institute. I'd like to work on a PDC teaching team, so please
feel free to invite me. Ihave a pretty open schedule and plot of land that
can hold a few dozen students. I can travel too, come spring.

I believe in Peer review and transparent, legitimate "pedigree"- a lineage
that shows where ones practice came from, and a regular mentorship program
with opportunities in ever bioregion of the world. There are many excellent
systems designers who figured out PC principles on their own ( for instance,
Sepp Holzer, who I had the pleasure of building terraces with at our project
in Vancouver Washington), but as a practice of leveraging change it does
nobody any service to claim to deliver goods without backing it up with
credentials. I find that claims "I can teach Permaculture, its all free and
good man, love the earth!" are a discredit to professional and ethical
people who deliberately seek and participate in peer review. Sep is not one
of these obviously; he found permaculture on his own terms, but has the
project and professional cred to back it up.

Jude Hobbs, whose academic and professional credentials, even without the
Permaculture Teachers Courses she offers, has an exemplary CV. That she
chooses to focus on permaculture teaching is a gift to us; her professional
work backs our marginalized practice in a way that forwards the work we do
in the world very powerfully. When people claim that "im a teacher, and I
dont thinnk is right to show my creds cause permaculture is natural love and
harmony, and i go that, man", I get red flags. Its a discredit to the work
Jude and so many others, all the way back to OZ with Geoff Lawton, Bill
mollison, and David Holmgren. They make no bones about showing thier creds
and professional history, so no student of thier's can claim they are
teaching what they were taught by refusing to do this.

If anyone had emailed me and asked me for credentials and reference I would
have handed them over and suggested we do coffee. I might land a contract,

I have a background in real estate, and left when my academic education
(ecology) collided with my work (real estate development) and I landed in
Penny and Brocks Course at Skywater in 2003. Itook the teachers course the
next year: I became a fanatic, and bought 16 acres which I can barely
manage, but love dearly and want to share and build an ecovillage on. And
ive got the savvy to do it legally and in a manner that catches the "status
quo" way off gaurd. I want to us PC to radicaly alter land use,a nd I want
to build legal, viable, visable demos to do this. Im not into hiding out in
a permie 'compound' waiting for the 'peak oil endtimes'. I want to plerk in
a cob mosh, and cut the oogs from the natty walls, grow mad produce at the
David Blume "minimum production" of 3# a square foot, and have a barn full
of soft hay so we can dance, play music and maybe even get into a cuddle
puddle in on a cold star struck winter night with the goats and chickens.
Lets get barefoot for awhile, huh?

If some one asks me for written refernces, I have them. Accedited university
graduate degrees, professional references from top pacific northwest
regional permaculture pratitioners, and a list of clients who are happy with
my work. no complaints so far. As a one time real estate slinger I see this
e-communication is as valid and necessary if we want to keep abreast of a
quickly changing and too often degraded world. Balanicing that activity with
"I love you!" is not just important, but necessary- but it has to be a
balance. Furthermore, I think its something of a permaculture ethics
violation (see 'care for people') to claim inscrutability. I'd never do
business with anyone who didnt provide me with a trail of their work,
academic history, professional contacts and references. A mere "satisfied
customer" comment section doesnt cut it. and then ill offer a hug.

Now, if any groups offering PDC's in 2010 would like to inquire as to my
credentials, Ill be more than happy to provide them, including both my
linneage, references from peer professionals and examples of professional
work. And a few satisfied customers just to drop the cherry on the sundae.

one last thing- thanks for bringing this topic up, as it has been an item of
concern for me for some time. As an MSA grad of WSU who thinks the PDC has
more juice in it than the 4 years I spent doing university grad work in
sustainable agriculture and ecology, I want to protect and advance this
community and see that the PDC becomes recognized as a highly desirable
credential for any land-use associated employer, including government jobs,
andthat it becomes a note of high regard for freelancers and entreprenuers.
So this kind of conversation is tagged as "QUALITY CONTROL" and "INTERNAL

And by way of stacking functions, its also genereated alot of hits for my
site. Thank you. Now I need a web designer whose willing to trade a PDC for
rebuilding it- I havent had a contract in since last April, and Im broke.
(though as a permie, I do eat well!) I'd be overjoyed to come on as
co-teacher, as im simply getting by on my perrenial polycrop. pickling was a
good idea this year, a hard freeze wiped out alot of my winter crops...

Any of the other services I offer are of course available as well.

thanks for keeping it real and green, nice to be here, and thanks for
engaging these topics.

Warmly, just like your functional compost piles,

 Deston Denniston, Steward
Abundance ( OS! PERMACULTURE!!!) Consulting LLC

On Wed, Dec 16, 2009 at 10:24 AM, <LINDARAY at att.net> wrote:

> Hi Scott,
> I do understand why they might be cautious, and while I think it's a shame
> they probably have to be, I certainly don't blame them for it. It would be
> interesting to read the first letter you wrote them.

> After watching the Biodynamic bunch (several years ago) and the Seedsavers
> Exchange get hijacked, who knows what's coming over the horizon next.
> They can't tell whether to expect a handshake or a lawsuit from you, so
> they are well justified in being cautious. You have sent them a letter on
> paper on letterhead, right? A phone call would have been less threatening,
> and gotten your answers for you without the delay of snailmail. Someone *who
> wants to know you* would call. Someone who's documenting something would
> send a written letter.
> If my first contact with a new neighbor were a written letter, I'd think
> something was wrong with them too.
> There's a difference between someone introducing themselves and extending
> the hand of friendship, and sending them a written inquiry wanting to know
> 'who the h_ll are *you*, and justify to me whether or not you're
> legitimate'.
> They're probably just folks who are trying to do good work, and don't want
> to get embroiled in a monumental and counterproductive waste of time dealing
> with expensive litigation from out-of-the-blue, instead of the work they
> meant to do in the first place.
> I can't speak for them and am not trying to, just giving you my perspective
> on it.
> Myself, I'm glad more folks are out there spreading the word for
> Permaculture, as no doubt you are also doing.. Makes your work easier too.
> The more the word gets out, the better a world we have.
> Namaste,
> Linda
> Save the Earth, it's the only planet with chocolate...
> -------------------------------------------------------------
> -------------- Original message from "Scott Pittman" <
> scott at permaculture.org>: --------------
> > I sent an email to Common Circle Education and asked them about their
> > instructors and who taught their instructors. I received a very cautious
> > reply and hope to hear more.
> >
> > I find myself doing this more and more and wish that more pc graduates
> took
> > it upon themselves to protect the integrity of our discipline by
> questioning
> > unknown teachers and organizations. I certainly don't mine when people
> > contact me questioning my bonafides.
> >
> >
> >
> > Scott Pittman
> > Director
> > Permaculture Institute
> > www.permaculture.org
> >
> ____________________________________________________________________________
> > -----Original Message-----
> > From: Vladislav - Common Circle [mailto:info at commoncircle.com]
> > Sent: Tuesday, December 15, 2009 8:58 PM
> > To: scott at permaculture.org
> > Subject: Re: Site Contact Form {5SYQG}
> >
> >
> > Hello Scott,
> >
> > I am quite curious about the nature of your request and the claim of
> > 'legitimacy'. Could you please give me a bit more information as to the
> > nature of these requests?
> >
> > As you are no doubt aware, anyone who does a PDC class is allowed to
> teach
> > permaculture under the guidelines set out by Bill Mollison; so your
> > question about our 'legitimacy' is curious.
> >
> > I hold several PDC certificates, one from Bill Mollison directly and we
> have
> > some really well-known instructors who teach for us (I do not teach
> > directly). We do things very differently than any other permaculture
> > training center out there -- we're truly committed to taking this work
> > mainstream and really reach audiences that traditionally aren't reached
> by
> > this knowledge.
> >
> > If you can provide me with more information as to the nature of the
> request
> > that would be helpful and would certainly make me far more willing to
> answer
> > your questions.
> >
> > With gratitude,
> >
> >
> > Vladislav
> >
> > --
> > Vladislav Davidzon
> > Common Circle Education
> > www.commoncircle.com
> >
> >
> > Just as you are curious I am also curious why a simple question of who
> are
> > your instructors and who were there instructors is such a daunting
> inquiry.
> >
> > I am asking because it is sometimes the case that people and
> organizations
> > use permaculture and permaculture design course without having any
> training
> > or self education in permaculture. As we are a permaculture institute
> > established by myself and Bill Mollison in 1997 to protect the integrity
> of
> > permaculture education and practice we are often contacted by people who
> are
> > interested in taking a permaculture course asking for our opinion of
> courses
> > offered or design competence.
> >
> > Unfortunately as permaculture has become more well known and accepted by
> the
> > mainstream we find that there are more and more bottom feeders moving in
> > with dollar signs in their eyes. This is far from the permaculture
> > developed by Bill Mollison and David Holmgren. As a student of Bill
> > Mollison I am sure that you too are concerned.
> >
> > Since I had never heard of you organization I have been unable to assure
> > people of your integrity based on educational background and
> certification.
> > In our own educational programs we are insisting on our teachers having a
> > diploma as well as a certificate or that at least a diplomat oversees the
> > program.
> >
> > I hope this answers your questions and look forward to hearing from you.
> >
> > Sincerely,
> >
> > Scott Pittman
> > Director
> > Permaculture Institute
> > www.permaculture.org
> >
> >
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Deston Denniston, M.S., C.P.I.
Principal, Abundance Consulting LLC
(360) 673-2124

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