[permaculture] NAPC: Scarcity?

Koreen Brennan cory8570 at yahoo.com
Wed Aug 6 21:00:28 EDT 2014


Toby, 

First, I wanted to clarify one detail. NAPC lodging is NOT camping only and never has been. We offer motel contact info on our web site for those who don't want to camp. Harmony Park also offers RV sites with full electric, etc.We are well aware that some people can't camp or don't want to and that has always been a part of the conversation from the beginning.  Here is the actual information from our web site, which has been up for a while now. 
http://northamericanpermaculture.org/lodgingaccommodations/


I am totally with you Toby, regarding the importance of being more accessible to mainstream people who understand that change is needed and presenting permaculture in a way that enables them to see the power in the design process. I am working toward that end myself and will continue to do so. 

I was not aware of the New Age connotations of the word "convergence" - it's too bad that people get so fixed on word connotations but I understand that this is sometimes the reality. I also do understand that some people do not want to participate in ceremony, and I respect the diverse religious backgrounds and beliefs of participants.  
I think that the situations you describe can be addressed with design - without inhibiting people's desire to build community through circles, etc. I've brought government officials to events and explained beforehand what to expect to avoid the walk out phenomena, and have suggested that they come after the "opening circle" ceremony if they prefer to skip that. When inviting officials to such an event, I tend to tell them what presentations I think they would be most interested in and they usually appreciate that. 

Because the NAPC is so new, and because per survey this is what most people wanted, and because we are applying (to some degree) the principle "Start slow and small", the focus of this convergence is internal. We have much to discuss and work out internally. I also have envisioned, like you, future gatherings that would include to allied groups, organizations and individuals - I am very excited about the cross pollination potential that is already happening in some areas. Networks are an incredibly powerful pattern and have many uses and permutations.  

One thought, Toby - could it be that convergences are an internal function and conferences are external? And the reason officials were invited to an internal gathering was because there weren't any external facing events in that area? A scarcity? I think it's vital that we differentiate the various needs and functions that exist within the community, and not try to collapse them all into a single event. We are talking about succession here to some degree. We need multiple models to meet the growing diversity of needs in our community.  Should we be free to internally define what we want to experience in our gatherings, without outside people judging us? Will our gatherings evolve as a wider diversity of people join the movement? Will new "tribes" form as part of the succession process, to meet a widening diversity of needs? Already, preppers are having their own permaculture type meetings with their own flavor. 

Maybe there is something in between spiral dances/camping/drum circles, and uber-expensive conferences in casinos - no? I would love to be a part of creating a conference that would bring together permaculturists, officials, and other forward thinkers and solution-oriented people to work out some collaborative solutions. That activity is right up my alley - it is the type of work I did before I got into permaculture, bringing together diverse elements in coalitions around common interests. 

But wait, Bioneers does that already, right? And there are other already existing models doing that; perhaps more of us should attend those functions and be a part of them. 

What I'm getting from your comments (and correct me if I'm mistaken) is a call to more closely define needs and resources of the growing diversity in our networks as well as those outside of our networks who might become interested in permaculture, and find ways to meet the needs with the resources. It entails close observation of an evolving system, and reassessment of some of the design elements. That doesn't mean there isn't a place for those elements any longer - but there are new elements in the system; how can we integrate for the greatest yield?  

Koreen Brennan


 



On Wednesday, August 6, 2014 4:51 PM, Scott Pittman <scott at permaculture.org> wrote:
 


The IPC is an example of both of these models.  First there is a Conference
held at a very posh Hotel or Conference center where various pundits hold
forth on some aspect of the theme of the IPC.  In the lobbies there are
various permaculture displays offering seeds, books, technology, and other
items for sale.  

I usually find these "conferences" extremely boring with an occasional new
idea or technique that makes me think and offers the occasional aha moment.
The idea of the conference has been to interface with all strata of society
and to spread the word of permaculture to the unwashed.  I don't think this
has been accomplished in any significant way.  Certainly the conference in
Havana was mostly permaculture presenters singing to the choir.  The
conference in Jordan had one outstanding presenter who has done some amazing
work reforesting arid lands in Africa otherwise it was pretty bland and a
show case for Geoff Lawton and an embarrassing presentation by Bill
Mollison.

The convergence follows the Conference and this is a gathering of those who
are certified through the Permaculture Design Certification course.  This
was established to be an in house event that dealt with those things
specific to permaculture as an organization and design system.  It is also
an opportunity for interaction with old friends and companions from afar and
a chance for anyone who wants to do show and tell of their projects and any
break throughs or new technologies.  

While I always love seeing old friends most of the rest of it is as exciting
as a new type of herb spiral.  I could have better spent my money just going
to visit old friends without the pretence. 

I say this not to dismiss the functions of either Conferences or
Convergences but to point out that so far I have only seen poorly organized
and unimaginative events that seemed more an excuse to party than to get
anything else done.  As I said before in this list I am a participant in
these events because I want to see us tighten up our game.  I don't think
that permaculture design has ever been applied to these events and it shows.
For the most part we are parodying models that have been designed by
corporations and professional organizations, and since we are neither we
don't do a very good job.

I have also attended those professional conferences outside of the
permaculture realm and also find them lacking in grabbing my imagination and
inspiring me to go out and do great things.  Mainly they seem to provide an
enormous list of presentations that make it impossible to partake of but a
few.

Personally I am happy this is a "convergence" because I would like to have a
serious conversation with my peers about how do we become more relevant in
the world.  I am operating out of the same urgency that Bill Mollison
conveyed when I studied with him some 30 years ago.  Thirty years have
passed and our numbers have increased geometrically, thanks in large part to
Bill's missionary zeal, but our influence has not grown proportional to our
numbers.  Time is running out and if not us who is going to provide real
solutions to the physical and social cataclysm we face. I don't see anyone
else out there who has the tools, ethics, energy, and will that would come
close to what permaculture has to offer. 

I am happy to hear you say, Toby, that rather than mainstream permaculture,
you want to permaculture mainstream!  Good for you and I agree that is the
task.  

If we are going to continue having these large international, national,
regional gatherings then we certainly need to make them relevant to the task
at hand rather than a poor imitation of what "mainstream" provides.  There
is so much we need to talk about, decide and act on and my hope is that this
NAPC will provide an atmosphere that is conducive to these tasks.

Scott
Permaculture Institute


"To change something build a new model that makes the existing model
obsolete"  Buckminster Fuller


-----Original Message-----
From: permaculture [mailto:permaculture-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org] On Behalf
Of Toby Hemenway
Sent: Wednesday, August 06, 2014 3:07 PM
To: permaculture
Subject: Re: [permaculture] NAPC: Scarcity?

Koreen, etc--

Lots of good stuff here; thanks for all this. Mostly my comments have been
to encourage us to up our game; to sometimes bemore professional, to appeal
to a wider audience, and to tap into resources that permaculturists have
largely ignored, and I appreciate the other efforts to do this, too.
Wonderful that NAPC can be a stimulus for this and more.

Re the word "convergence." Most permaculture convergences I've attended have
been just as oriented toward lectures and talking heads as conferences,
while I've been to conferences that have been dynamic and interactive. I
think the distinction is primarily one of advertising and an attempt by
permaculturists to say that they are doing something different. A conference
is what you make it. 

For most people, the connotations of "conference" are simply a group of
professionals coming together to share their work with each other, though
usually at some classy joint.

But "convergence" has strong connotations that are very class-specific. The
first convergence that I know of was the 1987 "Harmonic Convergence," a New
Age gathering based on an well-hyped astrological "convergence" of the
planets and a misinterpretation of the Mayan calendar (like 2012) in which,
if only enough people came together, the world would enter a new age of
peace. Only hippies and new-agers hold convergences. I have nothing against
hippies; I am one myself. But I would like permaculture to appeal to more
than hippies, and if we market ourselves using hippie, dated New Age
language, we won't do that. I run into pushback from professionals in many
fields on our language and presentation, over and over again.

At "La Convergence," a large permaculture gathering in Quebec that I just
attended, a group of the most influential people there (the site owners, who
are serious movers in the community and fiber-hemp farmers; an
internationally known artist who also pioneered virtual reality software;
one of Canada's best known environmentalists, and several others) all
disliked the word "convergence, and asked why not call it a conference,
because that's what it was. And these people love permaculture. Imagine how
others feel.

At a NW Pc Convergence a few years back, several high-ranking policymakers
from Portland attended, arriving in time for the opening ceremony. People
circled up, held hands, sang, did circle dances, and made an invocation to
the earth goddess. That was more than the officials could stand, and they
left before the main events began. Will they ever consider permaculture
seriously again?

So, if we want to reach anyone outside of those already in the
counterculture, we need to stop using exclusive language and practices that
are alienating to most of the population. Many of us are so used to speaking
our language that we don't know how off-putting and class-specific it is. To
attract people out of their usual mode, we need to actually be attractive.
I'm not interested in mainstreaming permaculture, but I do want to
permaculture the mainstream.

And that gets to Koreen's question about events that only offer camping as
lodging. Right there, we've just ruled out most of the population, and put a
burden on those who are flying to attend (tent, sleeping bag, pad, etc on a
plane? $50 bag fee right there) and on those who are older. At a conference,
I want to be at my best, and after 2 nights on hard ground, in a crowd of
tents with people talking till late, coughing and snoring, and waving
flashlights in the dark, I'm a wreck. I was fine with that 20 years ago, but
not now. 

This is all fine for NAPC this time, because we're creating an event
primarily for insiders. But if we want to take advantage of permaculture's
potential to change all of society, we need to reach out to the vast
majority who don't think like us or use words like convergence and Gaia. 

I think permaculture has done a fine job in serving the alternative
community and reaching out to low-income activists and farmers, but it's
been to the exclusion of serving the rest of society. I'd like to see us
develop a more professional component, more outreach, and more willingness
to meet outsiders where they are.

Toby
http://patternliteracy.com


On Aug 6, 2014, at 1:26 AM, Koreen Brennan via permaculture
<permaculture at lists.ibiblio.org> wrote:

> 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
> www.growpermaculture.com
> www.facebook.com/growpermaculturenow
> 
> 
> 
> 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 
> event.
> 
> 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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