[permaculture] Permaculture Ethics

farmer1 at gasperfarm.com farmer1 at gasperfarm.com
Sat Aug 9 11:06:40 EDT 2014

Its hard to understand the third ethic when everyone has their own version
of it and it inevitably gets used as a hammer for whatever their own
political ideology is.

The aspects of permanent agriculture seem to be fairly agreed upon but if
permaculture aspires to be relevant to the larger society and to be about
permanent culture it is going to have to involve all the aspects of
culture including those two lightning rods politics and religion.


> <http://www.permaculture.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/Fellfoot_Drove_Sheep
> fold_-_geograph.org_.uk_-_1155943.jpg> Fellfoot Drove
> SheepfoldPermaculture
> Touchstone
> Permaculture ethics were presented in my first Permaculture Design Course
> as
> the touchstone of designing towards sustainability - whether as a
> landscape
> designer, as an architect, urban planner, as a farmer/gardener, as a
> teacher
> or activist, as an urban dweller seeking to find balance and create an
> ecologically-sound life.
> I was amazed that I hadn't been presented with a statement of ethics in
> any
> other discipline I had studied; I had known about the Hippocratic oath
> taken
> by medical practitioners, but not for professions that deal with the
> health
> of the land, of our communities or our cities and ecosystems.  Since that
> time I have realized how critical ethics are in my permaculture design
> work
> and my teaching of permaculture.  Ethics guide my work and my daily
> activities.
> The three ethics of permaculture are:
> 1.Care of the Earth, 2. Care of people, and 3. Set limits to consumption
> and
> reproduction, and redistribute surplus to the benefit of the Earth and
> people.
> At first reading, this seems a simple guide, but, like all things
> permaculture, a little reflection leads us into a morass of implications
> and
> decisions to be made.
> Care of the Earth
> How does one care for the Earth when we have such an elementary level of
> understanding of the Earth's processes?  Care of the Earth has an
> implication that we are knowledgeable enough to become the caretakers of
> the
> planetary processes.  We, humans, are just learning the basics of the
> foundational knowledge of life processes!  What mankind has exhibited in
> the
> last 10,000 years is an incredible ability to lay waste to the Earth with
> little to no care for it!
> The first ethic sets a very high bar for those of us aspiring to teach
> about
> and work with nature-inspired design, striving to achieve resiliency that
> we
> observe in truly natural systems.
> The second and third ethic are, really, a reiteration of the first one,
> but
> with more specificity.
> Care of People
> Care of People is also a very grand aspiration especially within our
> culture
> of individualism, and narcissistic tendencies.  The evolution of the
> Western
> society into a class system of the "haves" and the "have-nots" is a  sad
> testament to a lack of care for the "have-nots".  This is not just an
> economic divide but a social justice issue encompassing health care,
> housing, meaningful work, education, justice, equality between genders
> (not
> just male and female), racial equality, and the pursuit of happiness.
> I find caring for people particularly challenging since we have been so
> wounded by a culture that judges one's worth by the possessions one owns,
> and by one's conformity with cultural norms of beauty, education, income
> and
> behavior.  Living in a culture that is primarily in corporate hands does
> not
> allow us to truly explore our humanity or to express it, particularly as
> it
> pertains to care of others.  To a sociopath this humanistic attitude is
> the
> ultimate failure in the scrabble to the top echelons of the social order.
> Anyone who has seriously thought about the implications of permaculture
> soon
> realizes that herein lie all the answers to the dysfunction of our society
> and yet we continually default to the destructive behavior we have been
> indoctrinated into by an educational system that's primary purpose is to
> engender an attitude of obsequious servitude to the corporate bosses.
> Set Limits to Consumption and Population
> The third ethic is a troubling one to me, not because it is unnecessary
> but
> because it is so little understood.  The third ethic does not want to fit
> into a comfortable sound bite, it is wordy and long and that has inspired
> many  generations of permaculture teachers to morph it into something
> simpler, easier to digest.
> I often hear that the third ethic is: "a return of all excess to the care
> of
> the earth and people".  Somewhere along the line "set limits to
> consumption
> and reproduction" was dropped from the lexicon.  I think this may have
> been
> because of the political climate surrounding birth control and the holy
> rite
> of consumption.
> To be fair, the third ethic is so unwieldy and it does not trip off the
> tongue as poetically as the first two ethics.
> It would be great to have one of the pioneers of permaculture shine some
> light on the history of this critical ethic.
> More recently the third ethic has further devolved into "fair share" which
> is a far cry from the original intent of this ethic.  Fair is an ambiguous
> word that changes with the user, what is fair for me may be totally unfair
> for you.  What is the gold standard of "fair"?  I am certain that this
> misstatement of the third ethic derived from that constant quest for the
> "sound bite" that sounds good but, sadly, conveys very little information.
> I am much more concerned with the meaning conveyed by the third ethic than
> the meter or prosody of the words.  It is critically important that we
> state
> the permaculture ethics in non-compromised form so there is no doubt in
> their meaning or necessity.
> The ethics of permaculture are the core; around that core everything else
> -
> permaculture methods, approaches, design concepts, practical applications
> -
> converge.  If all our decisions are seen through the lens of the three
> permaculture ethics we will not stray far from our best intentions.
> "To change something build a new model that makes the existing model
> obsolete"  Buckminster Fuller
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