[permaculture] NAPC: Scarcity?

Koreen Brennan cory8570 at yahoo.com
Wed Aug 6 04:26:45 EDT 2014

Toby and all, 

I totally agree that it is all solvable and it's all about design. Early in the process we discussed the idea of taking longer to put this event on so that we would have more time to implement a full design. We decided to go forward because we felt that the value of having a convergence this year outweighed the downside. We have engaged the design process, but we have realized that because of the time frame, we would not be able to create an optimum design. So the question then becomes what is most important - what will get the most future yield? We are still getting what we feel are key parts of a permaculture design for this event done. 

For the record, I feel that there are important distinctions between convergences and conferences, and we need both of them. Conferences focus on experts giving others information. They are often focused on a one-way flow of communication. Sometimes there are decisions made or break out sessions but usually not. 

Converging on a point (meaning a physical location), in order to facilitate rich energy exchanges is an ancient practice that is quite sustainable. Many indigenous people have done it at times of necessity. I am currently working and living at Pine Ridge Lakota reservation - the tribal traditions of tiospayes (small, extended family localized units) converging for larger gatherings go back at some length. I just attended a national level powwow and observed the patterns there. 

Convergences stack functions, creating opportunity for cross-pollination amongst tribes in a number of ways - historically,this has included an increased field for selection of mates, strategical alliances and agreements, and the exchange of tools, horses, seeds, culture, etc. Tribes might hunt together or do other things where economy of scale matters. I don't think the concepts of convergence and conference should be collapsed as they hold two very different functions. There are many elements of permaculture design present in the convergence model. I'm so happy to hear that Jono and others will be presenting info about the successes of the NE convergences and guilds as there are many regions that can potentially benefit from that information. A convergence can be many things to many people and the regional convergences have been exploring that edge. It will be interesting to get them together to compare notes! 

Some have voiced concerns that we aren't ready for a continental convergence. My view is that things are marching forward in a number of sectors on this planet, whether we are "ready" for them or not. Therefore, we perhaps need to push ourselves harder and get ourselves ready, and a continental convergence may be able to assist with that process. My hope is that some of us at least will look outward, at the larger patterns in society, and engage in thoughtful discussions about opportunities and challenges, strengths and weaknesses. 

I would of course like to get paid for the work of organizing - it is part of the third ethic of fair share.  The concept of receiving energy for valuable energy contributed is part of a sustainable system. There are some of us out there who will do the work whether we are paid or not when we think the job is important enough. Whether that is the best possible way to do things or not, we are filling niches that no one else has stepped up to fill. I'm feeling that it will be worth it on many levels, but I do agree that we need to tweak the finance model, not just in this one case but overall. 

And there are a number of us interested in addressing this at the convergence. Financial Permaculture is slated to be a working group there and it may end up breaking off into more than one. It is a huge subject, and there are many ways in which permaculture design can be applied more thoroughly. I hear Scott's comments about invisible structure - it is my reality that invisible structure is almost always the make-break point of any design. 

I'm personally interested in many permutations of cooperative models and looking forward to linking with others of like mind.  I think that financial structures in our community that truly use the tools, principles and elements of permaculture are much too few and far between (a scarcity that can be remedied with abundances) and am  interested in hearing about and supporting any that do. I agree that there is an abundance of money and we should be better at tapping into it because we will use it more wisely than many out there are doing.

I've been talking to various bright lights in the movement about prospective cooperative models and we are coming up with some creative ideas that we feel meet everybody's needs. I'm very interested in connecting with anyone who is serious about creating better models than those being currently used in our movement. I think it would be good for all of us to consider how we can help each other and collaborate more than we do, and I feel that in order to make that happen, we need to create structures that facilitate that. 

I am re-studying Donella Meadows' Thinking in Systems and am reminded that structure and model can make huge differences in system outcomes. I personally feel that the subject of economics of convergences and everything else in permaculture goes much deeper than marketing ploys. I personally got involved with this project in large part because I want to use intelligent design to move to the next stage of succession, and I see how meeting together in working groups, breakouts, etc, can assist that process. We are continuing to design these sessions for maximum effectiveness and are very interested in people's suggestions, thoughts and co-creation on that design process. 

How can we bring the maximum amount of consciousness to the process of converging? What does that mean, specifically at this time in our history and in the succession process? What would that look like, at the convergence? What can each of us bring to this gathering that will contribute to that consciousness and to an enlightened succession process that results in increased yields, abundance, ethics, and sanity? These are questions I'm asking myself regularly as the time draws near.

Best, Koreen

On Tuesday, August 5, 2014 3:12 PM, Bob Waldrop <bob at bobwaldrop.net> wrote:

I agree this has been a valuable thread.

In my preevious experience in the convention business, generally you 
develop your budget based on previous experience.  The absolute hardest 
and most knuckle biting conference to present is a new conference, one 
without an established record or constituency.  The knucklebiting is 
because people always wait until the last minute to book their 
attendance and every conference I was ever involved with sold a lot of 
tickets in the last two weeks.  Of course "the last two weeks" is 
useless or nearly so when it comes to program, because your program is 
generally arranged months in advance of the final two weeks before the 

I think crowd sourcing some seed money for the next event, or to fund 
the planning committee on an on-going basis, would be a great idea.

I also think that establishing a permanent organizing group is a better 
idea than handing the convention off to new people in different regions 
each year.  In other words, I'm assuming there will be a conversation at 
the event about the NEXT event.  One of the options is for local 
committees throughout the country to bid for the convention, the other 
is to have a permanent planning committee, which possibly could work 
with local groups.  I'd vote for the permanent planning committee.

Bob Waldrop, Okie City

On 8/5/2014 1:50 PM, Toby Hemenway wrote:
> I'm gaining a lot from this thread and appreciate everyone's conscientious, thoughtful comments. Thomas brings up many good points, and I also want to get to a few of Koreen's. I think we are getting to some solutions here. A few responses:
> On Aug 4, 2014, at 11:27 PM, Thomas Allen <thallen at nwlink.com> wrote:
>>   Do we put on an event with volunteer labor at a very low price so young entrants into permaculture can attend or do we put on the best event possible.
> Where I'm trying to go with this is: it is not either/or. It's possible to put on excellent events with options that low-income people can afford,

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