[permaculture] NAPC: Scarcity?

Neilbertrando neilbertrando at gmail.com
Mon Aug 4 03:35:56 EDT 2014


Great thread. Thanks to everyone who is organizing the event and thanks Toby for your Critiques and for everyone's thoughtful responses. 

I want to share a couple reflections  and opinions. 

There is a high leverage potential for amazing work to come out of the type of collaborative gathering being designed. We need these opportunities to meet peers, share stories, brainstorm ways to work together on the ground and create systemic change. That said people putting a lot of time in to creating and adding value to the event need to be compensated and supported to avoid burnout as mentioned. If we really want to effect change, we need the tool of money in our kits. Otherwise we'll be too small and slow and get swallowed in the wake of industrial ag, mining, logging, and all the heavy funded degenerative actions our society fuels. 

How about a permaculture endowment?  Something that can build value over time and be continually reinvested over time?

I am grateful to participate in these events and share my passions and experience. To meet and brainstorm with great people. To learn from all the great work and trials amd errors of others. And I spend a considerable amount of life energy to make it happen. Both time and money.   For example I presented twice at permaculture voices and my attendance was subsidized but I was not paid. So not all presenters were paid 'well'.  

I'm not claiming to be the best designer teacher presenter or money manager. I am just trying to share my successes failures and ideas to get feedback and find opportunities to do more of this work. To learn from those more experienced and wise than I. And to apply that learning to build real world examples of regenerative systems and communities. I'm willing to work hard to make these things happen. And know others are too. But what I want to know and don't have a good design for is how so we make this pencil in real time to engage the large # of people that are looking for solutions and want to be involved?

How are we going to attract more people into permaculture careers if they don't pay a living wage?

A friend recently told me that if we don't value ourselves and our time, how can we expect others to value it?  As a whole we bring some high value to the table but I'm not sure we even have a seat in the big picture. 

I also see a need for better support networks quality control and clear pathways for vocational training. 

Of course these things require both time money and dialogue to build. 

I definitely could not do a better job organizing than the napc core group. So thank you all for your work.  I do hope we can work together to channel more $ and opportunities into this movement to raise quality of life for all the people places and ecosystems of the planet 


Sent from my iPhone

> On Aug 3, 2014, at 11:41 PM, Toby Hemenway <toby at patternliteracy.com> wrote:
> 
> Loren, Koreen, Wes, et al--
> 
> Thanks for the thoughtful remarks, and Koreen for your constant openness.
> 
> Of course $150 is a lot for some people. Those are the people that we make sure get in for free or really cheaply, and pay for their travel. My point was that there are ways to design so it is affordable for everyone, without defaulting to "must charge lowest price possible." There are many models out there, and what's more, we as brilliant designers could have designed a new, even better model. It looks like you are still only seeing "must all be cheap" or "must all be expensive," or "could have charged a bit more," and I invite you to move off that whole axis, go 3D. So, find donors. Get matching grants. Have multiple tiers. Ask people to pay what they usually pay for really great conferences. (Bioneers is $495 without meals or lodging; that "elite" would kick down a bunch!) Get the affluent to fund half a ticket for someone else. Ask who has air miles for travel. Charter some buses and pick people up. Raffle some free tickets for $10 a chance. Do a fundraiser. Give work trades to help the organizers. Have a bake sale. Post a picture of a kitten and say you will kill it if people don't send money. There are a ton of ways! Isn't there's a permaculture principle about doing important things multiple ways? So we coulda combined a bunch of them. 
> 
> I did not ask to be paid for presenting at NAPC. It was obvious there was no budget for it. I only charge when people can afford it and there's enough to share. I  also help arrange so the income will be there. I've actually thought about all the stuff you mentioned, Loren; I charge a sliding scale right down to zero, consider a great deal of other yields besides money, love that I am lucky enough to help my partners prosper, and try to set it up so everybody wins very big, including attendees. AFAIK all the other lucky "elite" do too. (I try not to be both stupid and a greedhead at the same time.)
> 
> Like I said, it's not about paying a speakers fee. It's about valuing people's work in some form. Of course the organizers put zillions of hours into it, and I'm very grateful. That's how conferences are. But It would have been great to use the collective generative power to let a whole bunch of people--not necessarily the speakers, but certainly the staff and many more--go home with enough money to do something good with it, and to create a nest egg for great projects. "One low price" rules out those gifts.
> 
> NAPC is a different event from Pc Voices, yes, but so far it looks like every regional convergence I've attended: camping in a field, bringing in the usual crowd, having lots of panels and discussions, and charging one, really low price "so everyone can afford it." I confess that some of my reaction here is my disappointment that a different model wasn't chosen-- has there been no succession in 30 years? But I really, truly hope that a lot comes of NAPC. 
> 
> Topic shift: The fact that a few high rollers are perceived as getting most of the work (where I live we distribute it) tells me that we're still a tiny group and still on the fringe. Niches are few and simple. It tells me that there are still few jobs in teaching and designing, so the pattern literate will look for employment elsewhere or create a new niche. We need permaculture-trained lawyers, repair people, dental hygienists, mechanics, carpenters, security guards, investment managers, and a lot of other professions and trades, much more than we need more teachers and landscape designers. Let's have that conversation, and many others, at NAPC.
> 
> My intention is to have a great time at NAPC and help make a bunch of great things come of it.
> 
> Toby
> http://patternliteracy.com
> 
> 
>> On Aug 3, 2014, at 7:04 PM, loren luyendyk <loren at sborganics.com> wrote:
>> 
>> 
>> 
>> 
>> Toby- you bring up good points, but I think you may be missing an important one.  This is not about scarcity, it is about reality.  $150 is a lot of money to some people, especially when you consider travel to get to the event.
>> 
>> I was one proponent of keeping the cost of the event low enough so that folks from "the rest of the Americas" could join (especially after the way overpriced Cuba IPC).  This event is not just for well-to-do USAliens, it is the NORTH AMERICAN Permaculture Convergence.  There are other countries in North America other than the USA and Canada, "the rest of them" (ie Mexico) will sadly not be equally represented because of- you guessed it- money.  
>> 
>> And what about the rest of the PC movement, the other 99%?  Those who are just getting started, or those who are not as fortunate as some of us, who may have travels expenses that far exceed the cost of the event- so in effect it becomes a $1000+ affair?  Many in the PC movement deliberately avoid making money (reduce the need to earn) because they are not into supporting a degenerative, fiat based currency system.  Also, many are on the frontier, are pioneers in their area (geographically) or field, who are waiting for the rest of the world to catch up.  For this reason they may not earn what they deserve, or will soon.
>> 
>> It is easy for us to type on our $1200 computers how we should be compensated for our work in order to obtain a yield (ie pay off the computer).   Is money the only yield here?  What about inspiring the up and comers?  What about sharing what works and what doesn't with your peers?  What about tithing?  I can think of dozens of other yields that will be harvested that far outweigh the speakers fee.
>> 
>> I am honored to be a speaker at this event.  I am honored to do it for free.  I get paid very well with my work as a permaculture designer and teacher, and I am able to subsidize my trip to the NAPC with this income.  I am glad to support this historic event in this way. 
>> 
>> Furthermore, not everyone can garner as high a speaker fee as you, Toby.  Not that you don't deserve it, its just not equal.  Also, many of us don't get called to speak at these events because we haven't written books or are not very good at promoting ourselves.  Its all good, this is just reality.  Though not yours, obviously.  
>> 
>> I think PC Voices was a great event for the PC movement- taking it to the masses, the mainstream, the capitalist patriarchal model- the ones who need to get this info.  But PC Voices was HEAVILY subsidized by John Roulac as Wes noted, without his help it probably wouldn't have been such a success.  (Perhaps we could have had some sort of sliding scale for the NAPC also.)  I personally am glad the PC Voices was successful, and that the PC Elite was able to make some good cash speaking.  But to me the NAPC is not about the elite, is is about the other 99%.  
>> 
>> I hate to phrase it this way, but I do see PC becoming the model of capitalism that Scott warned us of- where a small group of the regular speakers are getting 99% of the speaking gigs and design jobs, while the other 1% subsidize their PC career with outside work.  To me the NAPC is about sharing this wealth- of giving those who normally don't get the calls up on stage.  (I know several speakers who have A LOT less field experience than me, who are full on teaching because of a few good career moves.  I am not bitter because I have enough, I am just making an observation.  Is this what we want to create for PC?) 
>> 
>> I have a solution/suggestion.  For those who feel that they should be paid to speak at the NAPC, why don't you put a donation jar at the podium, or pass the hat during your talk?  I am sure nobody would object.  I tell you why I wouldn't- because I would feel like a dick unless I really needed it.  
>> 
>> How much do you need in order to feel motivated to speak?  This to me is the real scarcity situation going on here-  feeling like you cannot afford to speak for free, for fear of denigrating your own work.  I was delighted to see Darren Doherty, one of the world's leading PC Designers, take the stage at the last minute during the IPC Conference in Cuba- for free.  This to me shows that he has the 3rd ethic firmly rooted in his heart.
>> 
>> Furthermore, I suggest we take up donations for the organizers during the event, who apparently are doing a lot of this work for free- they deserve this support more than speakers IMO.  This was one unintended consequence of keeping the event fees so low (agreed not the best design, but this is the first in a series hopefully so there are always better next times).  I agree that we could have charged another $50 and most people wouldn't have felt the pang, but why not save that for those who can voluntarily donate to the event organizers, those who can afford it?  Like you and I, Toby.  
>> 
>> I am good for $50.  Heck, lets make it $100.  How's that for abundance consciousness?
>> 
>> Loren Luyendyk
>> (805)-452-8249
>> Accredited Permaculture Teacher, PRI-AUS
>> ISA Certified Arborist WE-7805A
>> www.sborganics.com
>> www.surferswithoutborders.org
>> www.globalpermaculture.com
>> 
>> 
>> 
>> 
>>> From: lakinroe at silcom.com
>>> Date: Sun, 3 Aug 2014 14:32:34 -0700
>>> To: permaculture at lists.ibiblio.org
>>> Subject: Re: [permaculture] NAPC: Scarcity?
>>> 
>>> hi 
>>> i agree with Toby i agree but what scale would be fair for each speaker that presented , my understanding when NAPC was first organized/conceived  that they did not want taking heads , it would be a series of panels/circles that you could or could not be part of if you attended, that has changed i think, 
>>> 
>>> i love Permaculture Voices and supported Diego from the start with hand outs are our events and also at many festivals. I felt with needed a professional conference for PC. I knew he would be sweating it as PC community waits till the last moment to register. John Roulac of Nutiva save the day by subsidizing  a  low fee that drew the large numbers in the end. The end result is that Diego was able to have a successful event and now is willing to host this next year. 
>>> It could of failed and never happen again as many PC events get starved because of lack of support. the International Permaculture Conference /Convergence is always facing a lack of financial support for all the same reasons Toby has mentioned.
>>> 
>>> I agree everyone need to be part of sharing economy and yes share resources  to create a economy that supports the change
>>> 
>>> more later thanks Toby
>>> wes
>>> ps at Santa Barbara Permaculture Network we have always paid PC teachers and travel expenses since our first event in 1997 .  
>>> 
>>> 
>>> 
>>> 
>>>> On Aug 3, 2014, at 12:09 PM, Toby Hemenway <toby at patternliteracy.com> wrote:
>>>> 
>>>> 
>>>>> On Aug 1, 2014, at 12:55 PM, Michael Pilarski via permaculture <permaculture at lists.ibiblio.org> wrote:
>>>>> 
>>>>> Can you imagine how much it would cost
>>>>> if we had to pay each one of them what they currently get paid for giving a
>>>>> workshop or keynote speech!?  . . .  We don’t want to set up a
>>>>> hierarchy. Come because you are excited about participating ... not because you
>>>>> are getting paid.
>>>> 
>>>> Since you mention it publicly, I gather that a number of presenters have asked if they can be compensated for their work. (Warning: rant ahead, and Skeeter, this isn't personal--since I've gotten, like, 8 copies of this notice, it's repeatedly hit one of my hot buttons.)
>>>> 
>>>> What if a corporation or plantation boss had said, “Can you imagine how much our products would cost if we paid our workers fairly?” Permies don’t get a pass on that just because we’re doing good work; corporations think they are too. It’s also a guilt-tripping argument, which is kind of embarrassing. 
>>>> 
>>>> Here's the answer to the question: Given the expected 500 attendees, another $50 would generate $25,000. More than enough to pay everyone well, including the hard-working organizers. Since the fee structure of NAPC already has a set of $50 tiers, one more would have fit in fine. 
>>>> 
>>>> People aren't asking to be paid just to get money. It's hard work to put a talk together (takes me 40-80 hours for a 90-minute talk), and if our work yields no return, we've designed a bad system that burns us out. Remember "Get a yield?" Not to do so is unsustainable. We should be modeling abundance, not scarcity. "Here, come be a permaculturist, stay broke, live in scarcity, and get nothing for your hard work but good feelings!"
>>>> 
>>>> 
>>>> The price of NAPC is ludicrously low. $150 for 3 days of presentations, workshops, awesome conversation, meals, and camping? That’s just nuts! For $50 more, NAPC could have compensated everyone well for their work and had broader appeal. And at a regular conference rate, we could have funded the projects we'll conceive there. I know a lot of people who aren’t attending because it’s just the usual folks, camping in a field, like every convergence. 
>>>> 
>>>> It feels like the guiding principle for NAPC is “let’s spend as little as possible so we can charge as little as possible.” That’s a brutally limiting design ethic. Imagine how much richer the event would be if the ethic was, “How do we make this as awesome as we can, pay everyone fairly for their work, and still find ways for everyone to afford it?”
>>>> 
>>>> One of many ways is how Permaculture Voices did it: A block of very expensive, full-price tickets (which sold well because not every permaculturist is poor!), blocks at half and one-quarter price, and a large block of free tickets. They had 650 very diverse attendees, and a presenters budget of, I estimate, over $100,000 to pay 70 speakers very well. There are many ways to design it to be affordable for all, beyond “do it as cheap as we can.” 
>>>> 
>>>> When 500 people come together, they can generate a surplus that will provide enough for everyone. How did NAPC miss that resource? (I assume, since NAPC isn't paying others for working, that NAPC staff, too, are all doing this for free). 
>>>> 
>>>> It’s not that there is a “hierarchy,” as the letter puts it. There is true diversity in skills, experience, and income. To deny that reality, to not take advantage of it, is poor design. 
>>>> 
>>>> Please, let’s get over the idea that everyone in permaculture is poor, that there is no money out there, that this is a world of scarcity. What kind of a vision to hold is that? This is a huge limitation for permaculture that we have to break out of!
>>>> 
>>>> Maybe we need a session at NAPC on how to break the scarcity mentality of permaculture.
>>>> 
>>>> Toby
>>>> http://patternliteracy.com
>>>> 
>>>> 
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