[permaculture] Open Letter To Mr. Davidzon and the ibiblio Permaculture Community

deston denniston abundancepc at gmail.com
Wed Dec 16 22:26:14 EST 2009

Mr. Davidzon, and all others,

I just came to this forum, and so did Mr. Davidson, for apparently the same
reason- people were concerned about our validity as teachers. Mr. Davidzon,
who I have never met, please lets resolve this in a community discussion. It
does not need to be discussion of politic or policy.

I have had the experience of both politics and community and found that
communing was never accomplished by policy.

Ecological and Biological Systems tend to self organize, and sometimes the
best a community can do is work to create appropriate 'containers' for the
spirit of things that move through a community, whether fire, water, wind,
earth, people of all species, or the intangible and unseen.

I'm a relative unknown outside of the people I have worked with face to
face. It would be unethical for me to propose I had any legitimacy aside
from those connections, which must say as a prefix to what follows: I have a
bias in this matter that is fairly strong, and must state it up front.

Mr. Davidson, I have been observing Common Circle for perhaps two years,
after having been shown this thread:
http://portland.indymedia.org/en/2005/10/326467.shtml, while I was a college
student in Portland, Oregon. I am vaguely aware of your history there with
various projects and some of the discourse that followed your work.

Over time I have become aware of several professional and personal
complaints regarding your company's, some of which have been registered at
the Better Business Bureau. The BBB gives Common Circle "B-". I know of no
permaculture teachers with a body of complaints  clearly lodged in public
discourse. I also dont know of any permaculture teachers who have entered
the mainstream. You are doing unique work, perhaps the complaints are
primarily an effect of the size of your clientele? There's always a few
people who bring some complaint to the table, it cant be avoided.

I am of the mind that legitimacy is determined as much by merit as by
credentials. Mr Davidzon, you have listed credentials to which an inquiry
can be made, namely contacting your teachers, Starhawk, Bill Mollison, et
al. Starhawk lives in California, if I recollect, perhaps she will speak to
your merits? I took my PDC with Penny Livingston and Brock Doleman; I was
given encouragement and certificate to teach by Jude Hobbs and Tom Ward. Tom
is one of the most anti-political persons I have ever had the opportunity to
meet. Though I cannot guarantee a positive outcome, I have no hesitation in
referring people to my instructors. It is simply good business to have a
open peer review of ones work in both education and consulting.

Of course, this kind of radical action- asking for teacher's to give report
cards, let alone having an examination of our public records- is completely

Permaculture, in my estimation is correct, sublimates the mainstream and
redistributes the energy to Ecos, to bio-proliferation. Set limits to
consumption and reproduction, and equitably distribute surpluses. It means
to apply humans energy to resolving ecological crises, and community crises.
Do you agree?

Most of the permies I know are of more or less 'off grid' folks, so getting
up the communal gander to squawk about claims,credentials, etc. is
troublesome. Were farmers, gardeners, tactile hands in the soil kind of salt
of the earth folks, and such effort, let alone a lawsuit is really not our
socio-cultural agenda. Perhaps I'm being a bit too all encompassing here-
I'm sorry if I just forcefully included permies who do want to use policy to
make money from lawsuits.

"Creating Community" requires sublimated effort. In fact we cant create it,
we have to let it generate itself through our interactions- I'm an Army
Veteran, and have studied martial arts and zen as a layman for some 15
years. I've seen some of the worst most godawful failures of community,
people dying horribly in front of my eyes due to mistaken relays of
numbers.I myself spent 3 months hospitalized to to a traumatic head injury.
Your experience on the issues of peace between Palestine and Isreal is not
alone in its experience of heartache and suffering.  My experience of the
best and the worst community interaction on the planet, all without leaving
the the USA, have led me to be the kind of gardener who figures that
observation which leads to eventual, but timely, conscious placement of
elements in a functional assembly will sort out any issues if we understand
our design arena and constraints.

In the discussions I've been aware of about Common Circle, it appears that
complaints were also filed with Co-op America; The have become Green America
and your company is not listed among their promoted business as best as I
can tell. If your company was once there, as the emails I am privy to imply,
and your company has been removed, it may set some premise for inquiries to
your teachers. Of course, I'm a ragamuffin with a self built half broke
webpage that I'm not quite sure how to program, so I'm not on Green American
and only just now, due to a herniated disk in my spine, having having the
chance to catch up on e-communications after a year of building, planting,

You are certainly welcome to practice without legitimacy, and I have no
bones about anyone who wants to hang a "Illegitimate!!!" banner on their
shingle, but I doubt It will be good for business. If your teachers credit
or discredit your work and efforts, that is a community, not political,
discussion. People don't need policy in order to cooperate, harmonize and
thrive. Perhaps you can help me demonstrate this?

As a General Policy, I don't like Policy. Perhaps that's why I've doomed
myself to the 7th plane of Hell by embracing landscape scale design,
management, and planning as career. I'm insufferable to my own
interests...and becoming an educator is how I've survived being radical
about my vision, since (as I was recently told by a department head in our
Washington State Department of Ecology) "perhaps it is unwise to get so far
head of your troops that they confuse you for the enemy." At least as an
educator i can hold my own inner radical up and enjoy it some, whereas many
other arenas don't allow this.

Before nations, many tribes seemed to have dealt with inner-tribal conflicts
by use of private shame, and then public shame, and so on unto exile.

If an inquiry to our teachers indicates we've got every 'right' to teach,
then we are still left with an ethical issue, as members of a shared
community, which we must resolve. Your decision about how to engage this
community is yours. This is not politics, it is an offer for connection.
This kind of connection is not always easy, but it should not be confused
with politics.

If our teachers suggest they are in some manner concerned with the work we
are doing, then we can internally, with the community seek cohesion and

This is not politics, it is not policy, it is congregational assembly for
the purpose of creating harmony inside our community and in order to
demonstrate it to those outside the community. This is how we, as
permaculturalists will best survive and thrive: it is not by entering the
'mainstream', but by softly, gently bringing it down to a human speed free
from need of lawyers and politic.

I submit this in the understanding the came here, both of us, to respond to
inquiries about our credentials. we are both equal in our tenure and our
initiation reasons.

I have been a real estate developer, a partner in building a group of
holdings valued at $20 million, a vet who saw a few good people die
horribly, and have lived in a rustic cabin without running water or
electricity while building a forest garden for 6 years, half of which was
wiped out last year when a fellow on meth pulled a bulldozer through it. I
cant sue, and the land is severely damaged. I gave a up lucrative business
to be a part of the permaculture community, and walked away from 80K+ a year
with just a 16 ac. woodlot and old run down pig barn, which is now a half
built cottage. I wouldn't trade it for the world.

I am tired of politics, and wars, and the damage wrought on behalf of a
crazy race with crazy Gods.

Ive seen enough to know that no one here has an intent to attack, and that
conflicts can be resolved in this community- and I have enough experience in
conflict to trust my sense deeply about this. Yes, I'm new on this group,
but I know many of these folks face to face, my favorite way of being with
family and friends- so please, there is no politics. if you want to teach
permaculture, great.  Please join us.

I'd like to come to Berkeley in March and teach with your PDC course. I
often Visit international peace activist and master calligrapher Kazuaki
Tanahashi at this time of the year (www.brushmind.org), so I can stack
functions - wonderful.
I'm certified, have all the academic cred you could ask for and teaching
experience. Ill do it for the cost of the flight, and $250/day. I can take
care of my room and board from that.

Ask aroun; I think its a pretty fair price for a fellow with 10 years
teaching experience on some of the most cutting edge natural buildings
you'll find on the west coast, over 15 years of ecological activism a
Masters degree in Agriculture and Economic Development, and a Permaculture
TeachersCredentials to boot. heck, Ill be an Ambassador for the
International Living Building Institute come january 12, if all goes well.

I wont teach this course alone. Ill need a co-teacher, another certified
instructor- not just a PDC graduate- and one with more experience than me. I
don't want to lead this course; I'm not local. The person for that job must
also be local to the east bay, orcentral california at least, have depth in
the ecosystems on the ground knowledge for the East Bay Area.  You'll have
to draft a contract with that teacher yourself, It's a bad habit of mine and
I must remember to not speak for others.

I'm very open to the comments of my peers regarding this offering. Perhaps I
have spoken too much for the community regarding the vision of politics and
community, especially having just arrived on the boards and with so many
people reading whom I don't know, who I haven't had face time with. I'm
sorry if I have been presumptuous in forcing my idealized notion on every
permaculturists regarding community v. politics.

If any of my peers think my above request for energy exchange as a financial
transaction is unreasonable in its generalities of specifics, or have any
other concerns, please tell me. I would like to understand how we can keep
PDC's affordable while maintaining a modest but honest living wage for

Finally, Mr. Davidzon, and everyone else, thank you for reading this. I look
forward to your thoughts and feelings.

may peace prevail on earth,

Deston Denniston

Deston Denniston, M.S., C.P.I.
Principal, Abundance Consulting LLC
(360) 673-2124

On Wed, Dec 16, 2009 at 10:37 AM, Udan Farm <udanfarm at yahoo.com> wrote:

> I posted something on the Earthactivist list (Starhawk's) and received this
> response...
> --- On Wed, 12/16/09, Vladislav Davidzon <vladislav.davidzon at gmail.com>
> wrote:
> From: Vladislav Davidzon <vladislav.davidzon at gmail.com>
> Subject: Re: [earthactivist] Does anyone have info on?
> To: earthactivist at yahoogroups.com
> Date: Wednesday, December 16, 2009, 12:55 PM
> Hi there,
> Common Circle Education is my company;  we're in our fifth year
> of operations and have programs in three states;  we just opened
> our new school in Berkeley, CA where I am based, offering over
> 200 hours *every month* of permaculture, nvc, yoga, and meditation.
> I have studied with Starhawk, Bill Mollison, Geoff Lawton,
> Marshall Rosenberg, Joanna Macy and other really well known
> instructors.  My own background combines a very strong
> knowledge of marketing and business (I've been starting
> companies since I was 16) with a pretty solid grounding
> in this work.   I've also spent time doing human rights
> work in Palestine/Israel and bring quite an understanding
> of the political layer into this work.   The result of all this is
> a completely unique company -- we're doing something very
> different with tremendous potential resulting.
> Our instructors are some of the most well-known folks in this
> movement;  but because we cater to really mainstream audiences
> my experience has been that we simply do not need to provide
> more information than what we provide on our website.  I am
> also fiercely protective of the relationships I have
> developed with our instructors over the last five years --
> and tend to simply shy clear of all the politics of this
> movement.
> Providing less information is a very deliberate marketing tactic
> on our part for two reasons:  the majority of the people who
> sign up for our courses (90%+) never contact us once before
> paying for the course on our website;  and the 10% who really
> want their hands held, we want to e-mail us so we can then
> really follow up with them and get them signed up.
> I hope this answers your questions!
> Much gratitude and love,
> Vladislav
> --
> Vladislav Davidzon, CEO
> Common Circle Education
> www.commoncircle.com
> On Wed, Dec 16, 2009 at 5:55 AM, Udan Farm <udanfarm at yahoo.com> wrote:
> >
> >
> > Does anyone know anything about CommonCircle  (commoncircle.com) in
> > Berkley?
> > They are promoting really expensive courses with no mention of who their
> > teachers are or even a phone number, or "about us" page-so it's hard to
> tell
> > who's running this place.
> > There has been at least one other group lately promoting PDC's who have
> NO
> > permaculture teacher, and I was just wondering about this group.
> > ThanksIsa
> >
> > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
> >
> >
> >
> [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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Deston Denniston, M.S., C.P.I.
Principal, Abundance Consulting LLC
(360) 673-2124

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