[permaculture] NAPC: Scarcity?

Koreen Brennan cory8570 at yahoo.com
Mon Aug 11 19:26:36 EDT 2014


Thank you for your vote of confidence in the event. I do understand that there is always room for improvement, and we are keeping a list of how to improve it next time. 

I feel I need to take up a couple of things you said. It is unfortunate that the people who aren't coming because of "camping" and "hand holding" didn't do a little more investigation, as a number of people will be staying in motels nearby, we list these on our web site with contact info, and even arranged group rates. I personally checked out a couple of them which are very nice. There is no hand holding on the program that I'm aware of. We are in fact conscious of various cultures of people coming to this event and have taken a number of steps to accommodate them. If we wanted to indulge in feeling insulted, we might feel insulted by this presumptive attitude. 

It appears that these individuals will be missing some great activities because they made incorrect assumptions without any effort to actually find out. I personally think that this is a significant invisible structure design problem. I would go as far as to say that incorrect assumptions paired with an omission of actual observation are at the root of most of the evils of this planet.  We are dealing with a world where many people make incorrect assumptions regularly instead of actually LOOKING. We are all prone to it, but as permaculture designers we have some training that helps prevent that. I personally might respond to such assumptions by giving those individuals a chance to up their game as designers, by applying the first principle of permaculture to this event - observe and interact (starting with the web site, and go from there). 

On the Canadians, I'm hoping that you asked them to let their networks know about it! 

I'm sure that we could have reached more people. We did contact several Canadians with networks and asked them to inform their networks. We've also had ads out, have gotten some media, advertised in Permaculture Activist, and have attempted to reach people through a variety of networks. We have built up (from scratch) some great resources that we weren't able to fully utilize this round, for next time. We got some nice help from some individuals and regional reps which is appreciated. Others may have wanted to "wait and see" or had other reasons they were unable to get the word out. This is something that is likely to take time and personal dialogue to improve upon.

On presenters, there has been little concern about getting paid - it just hasn't been an issue for the most part. Most presenters clearly see the win-win aspects and are happy to participate. 

I think it's important to realize what the history of the NAPC is. The fact that this event is happening at all is kind of amazing. There were a number of efforts to get this off the ground in the past that have failed for a variety of reasons. We felt that it was important that we make it happen, we did take the time to get some actual design done on the event and structure, we got some useful input from some wonderful individuals, and that has made it possible. Like any good garden, it gets better with time when the soil is correctly prepared. We did a lot of soil prep this time around. There is more to be done. We are striving to look at the long term, not just short term profits or results - most of our attention has been on those things that are long term movement builders.

We have done quite a lot of behind the scenes work to put together the structures that have gotten us this far. I know that those who have put on events can appreciate how far we've come and understand that because of the "soil prep" work that we did this time, the next event will be easier and even better. 

Koreen Brennan

On Monday, August 11, 2014 1:04 PM, Toby Hemenway <toby at patternliteracy.com> wrote:

On Aug 9, 2014, at 5:02 PM, Koreen Brennan via permaculture <permaculture at lists.ibiblio.org> wrote:

> I'd like to interject that it sounds like there is an assumption that there is a problem with this event. None of the organizers is complaining about not being paid. We plan to put on a fantastic, blow your socks off event. So what problem are we trying to solve, exactly?  

This thread got started--and I know it's hard to remember with all that's been said--by my reply to Skeeter's post in which he asked us to imagine how much tickets would cost if they paid people for their work (and my frustration at how little it would actually be!). One of the other organizers had made a similar remark to me privately. I took that as an indication that more than one presenter was not happy about not being paid for working at their profession.  

There were also statements about the organizers feeling overwhelmed and not having time or help to do things that could have added to the event. So we were working on how to develop more resources for them, and not necessarily money.

It sounds like the organizers would like more sign-ups, so that's part of it. (BTW, many of my Canadian friends tell me they heard nothing about this event). 

Also, I have heard from some permies who live more middle-class lives that they are not going because they were put off by the camping and the probability that they would be asked to hold hands in a circle and sing. 

(relevant story: When I was doing a workshop in Minnesota years ago (where NAPC will be held), I joked to the class that if we were in Northern California, I would now ask them to hold hands, but instead would just ask that they stand near their group-mates. Someone said, "Here in Minnesota, we don't even like to stand near other people." When in Rome . . . let's remember local culture.) 

So those seemed like "problems" worth solving. And then there were the whole "scarcity in permaculture" and "free is not sustainable" pieces as larger issues triggering all this that go beyond NAPC. Those REALLY seem like problems worth solving, because they are huge limitations.

That we are tackling both site-specific and larger issues that are now constantly cropping up for us is, I think, why this has been such a great thread.

For a first-time event, I think the organizers have done a very good job. And there is always room for improvement, and room for gleaning knowledge from the collective mind, especially from other people who have (also) put on lots of events.

Given the resources made available (especially in the form of talented people), I am sure that NAPC will be a terrific event--or else I wouldn't be going.

And now, having fired off a spate of quick emails, I will return to my first real vacation in ages, at awe-inspiring Yosemite.


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