[permaculture] NAPC: Scarcity?

Michael Pilarski friendsofthetrees at yahoo.com
Thu Aug 14 05:10:18 EDT 2014


 
NAPC holding hands
 
Since
Toby has mentioned the topic of holding hands several times in the Scarcity
thread, I would like to respond to his comments.
 
Toby
posted that he has “heard from some permies who live more
middle-class lives that they are not going [to NAPC] because they were put off
by the camping and the probability that they would be asked to hold hands in a
circle and sing.”
 
Toby
knows that I usually encourage people to hold hands in a circle and sing
songs.  In my own defense, I will state
that I do not badger people to join circles nor do I like to see others do
so.  Some people do not like circles or
holding hands or singing.  That is okay.
It is their right to stand aside and not participate.  I am all about freedom. On the other hand, if
some of us do want to stand in a circle, or hold hands, or sing songs, that is
our right and those who prefer not to, do not have the right to enforce their
preference on us. 
 
I
hardly think that holding hands, circling up or singing are some sort of scary
spirituality but some people consider some of these things as risque’ or a form
of spiritual expression and are uncomfortable participating. At NAPC we will
warn people before doing any of these things so that people can step aside. 
 
I’ve
never been at a permaculture convergence where people didn’t circle up
occasionally. In my long experience with permaculture convergences at least 90%
of the attendees participate in the circles and most look like they are having
a good time doing it. Circles are a great way for a group to come together and
face each other.  Everyone can see each
other.  No one is in a state of
prominence.  Another way for people to
assemble in a gathering is to stand (or sit) in straight lines, often with one
or several speakers in front.  This will
happen at NAPC as well.  We can expect
that the discussion groups and working groups who meet at NAPC will arrange
themselves in circles. 
 
An
opening and a closing circle are planned at NAPC. We would like to have a
Native American do a welcoming blessing. Those peoples who do not like circles
can skip them or watch from the sidelines.  The rest of the time the NAPC will be focused on serious information
exchange, working groups, presentations, conversations, and the hundreds of
other things that will take place.  
 
The
permaculture community is large and diverse.  Some people like circles and some don’t.  Some have spiritual beliefs and some do not.  Some like to sing songs and some do not.  Viva la difference.  I hope that no permaculturist misses this great opportunity because
they are offended by circles and holding hands.  Please tell them that this is optional in the few occasions that it
happens. 
 
Permaculture, spirituality and religion
 
Here
are a few of my personal thoughts on the matter.  In my opinion, permaculture is irreligious.
In other words, it has no religion and it does not discriminate on the basis of
religion or spiritual belief.  There are
Christian permaculturists, Buddhist permaculturists, Muslim permaculturists,
Hindu, etc, etc. We would suppose that most all religions in the world are
represented in the greater permaculture community including indigenous
people with tribal spiritual beliefs. There is also a strong contingent in
permaculture who practice some form of Earth-based spirituality.  There is also certainly a strong share of
atheists and agnostics in permaculture. 
 
By
and large, my experience is that permaculturists don’t spend a lot of time
debating religion or spirituality. Perhaps you might say that they “live it”. I
think that most permaculture teachers (and students) would agree that it would
be in bad form for a pdc teacher to promote a particular religion or spiritual
pathway at their course.  At the same
time, I don’t think that a teacher needs to hide their spiritual beliefs. They
can state them if they wish, but certainly should not discriminate against
anyone on account of religious beliefs.  
 
Hippies in the permaculture movement
 
I
know it drives some people crazy to call permaculture a movement, but I
certainly feel like part of a big movement with lots of camaraderie.  I know it also drives some people crazy that
permaculture has such a bad reputation as full of hippies.  They kind of insinuate that we hippies should
put on suits and ties or hide under bushel baskets, act straight, look
straight. The fact of the matter is that this is now history. A lot of the
early adopters of permaculture were what are typically called hippies.  I don’t mind the term myself because it means
counter-culture to me.  I am a member of
the 1970s and 1980s hippie, counter-culture movement and I am proud of what
we’ve done.  We were anti-war,
pro-environment, anti-discrimination, human-rights, freedom-loving,
anti-establishment, kind of folks. During our watch we played a big part in the
development of organic agriculture, the environmental movement, human
development, natural health care, education reform, and so much else.  We certainly didn’t win the war but we made
some strides.  We also helped use up a
chunk of the world’s resources even though many of us adopted voluntary
simplicity and consumed far less than the average American. 
 
There
is a whole new cohort of young hippies these days although the term isn’t used
as much. Permaculture is definitely spreading to the mainstream and the
diversity of people involved in permaculture is growing substantially.  This includes some people in the monied
classes and middle classes as well as more people of color.  Hippies are coming to be less of the
permaculture population.  Anyone who is
open-minded and looks into permaculture will see that it is a diverse crowd and
can find people who can work with them where they are at. In the meantime, all of
us hippie permies aren’t going away tomorrow. 
 
Permaculture as revolutionary
 
People
talk about mainstreaming permaculture and making it acceptable to the
mainstream. How can we make more livelihoods for permaculturists?  How do we fit into the marketplace? How do we
become “acceptable”.  I believe these are
valid pathways to pursue but I don’t think that permaculture lends itself well to
incorporation into capitalism.  I think
that permaculture is inherently revolutionary.  Our ethics of: care of people, care of planet and  dispersal of surplus to above ends leads to
the opposition of socially inequitable and ecologically destructive behavior; ie.
opposition to the current greed-based , repressive structures that currently
rule the world  to a large extent.  Permaculture is on the side of the people and
on the side of the planet.  
 
I
don’t mind that some permaculturists charge $100 an hour or more and work for
high-end clients.  The banking industry
could use lots of permaculture advice. But some permaculturists want the more
radical members of the club to tone down.  Look straight, act straight. Don’t look threatening to the status quo.
Don’t rock the boat. 
 
I would
like to state my admiration for the permaculturists who serve the more
marginalized populations of the world. They are numerous and largely unsung.
For instance, Koreen Brennan (on the NAPC core group) is currently at the Pine
Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, on one of her annual trips to help people
there. Pandora Thomas works in low-income neighborhoods of California’s Bay
Area andrecently co-founded the Black PermacultureNetwork. I think of my British friends
Mike Feingold and Chris Evans who have worked in the back country of India and
Nepal (respectively) for decades. With a little research we could list hundreds
and thousands of permaculturists who do good work in the front lines for no or
little pay. Please note that some of this front line work (with the so-called
poor) is being done by permaculturists who were raised in comfortable
circumstances and spend only part of their time working in marginalized
situations. Most of the time they live in comfortable situations and without
overt repression. Some permaculturists are embedded in marginalized
populations. They are from the culture and live in it. They are not from
outside the situation. They are full-time witnesses to (and participants in)
the difficulties of living in places like Gaza, Afghanistan, Malawi, the slums
of the two-thirds world, the inner cities of the over-developed world, etc.  
 
There is a brilliant article by
Abigail Conrad in the August 2014 issue of the Permaculture Activist about “Permaculture Farmers in Malawi”.  It is obvious from the article that it is no
piece of cake to be a subsistence farmer in Malawi (which is the majority of
the population). Conrad points out that “While permaculture farmers gained
diverse benefits, their permaculture practice did not influence broader
political, economic, and social systems.  This raises questions about the scope of change that can result from
smallholder farmers practicing permaculture in low-income, agriculture based
economies.  Beyond practicing
permaculture, it is likely that permaculturists would need to engage in other
efforts like broad dissemination, community organizing, lobbying, and civic
engagement to effect change beyond the household or village level.”
 
Looking
forward to crossing paths with everyone who shows up at the NAPC. 
 
Michael
Pilarski, known instigator of circles, holding hands and group singing. 
 
PS. Sorry Toby, if some of this
inflames you further.  Your last post on
August 12 was very good and I agree that this NAPC is largely appealing to the,
as you stated,  “mostly
to the same small demographic we have appealed to for 30 years”.  Actually I see nothing wrong with appealing
to the permaculture community of the last 30 years.  I think they are pretty good, by and large.
Yes, we do need to be reaching out to new constituencies, but at this first
NAPC, we are trying to get the battle-hardened veterans of the permaculture movement,
not the people who are just timidly venturing into it.  Permaculture Voices is doing a great job of
appealing to the new, mainstream subset of permaculture you are sticking up
for.  Thank you. 
 


On Tuesday, August 12, 2014 10:41 PM, Koreen Brennan via permaculture <permaculture at lists.ibiblio.org> wrote:
 


OK, I think I am understanding your point. I wish this had been brought up when we were in the formative decision making stages!  Nonetheless, I appreciate the feedback. It will be useful for future events. 

Koreen Brennan
www.growpermaculture.com
www.northamericanpermaculture.org






On Tuesday, August 12, 2014 8:00 PM, Toby Hemenway <toby at patternliteracy.com> wrote:



(to reiterate: I'm not just throwing stones at NAPC. I want to see it be a successful event that appeals to as broad a slice of the permaculture community as possible. Even if it's too late to do much now, if I wait until after the event to write my thoughts down about this, I won't remember them.)

On Aug 11, 2014, at 4:26 PM, Koreen Brennan via permaculture <permaculture at lists.ibiblio.org> wrote:

>  It is unfortunate that the people who aren't coming because of "camping" and "hand holding" didn't do a little more investigation [snip] 
> It appears that these individuals will be missing some great activities because they made incorrect assumptions without any effort to actually find out.

I can see I'm still not getting my point across. First, I'll tackle the smaller issue of camping, and then use it as a lead-in to summarize, as succinctly as I can, what I've been trying to communicate from the start.

I don't think anyone assumed that camping is the only option. But here's all the text of the first screen (you know, the one most people stop at) from the NAPC "Lodging" page:

Lodging/Accommodations

Camping – If you are purchasing a full weekend pass we welcome you to build community with us by camping on-site at no extra cost. Campsites are rustic with no hook-ups, a short walk from bathrooms and water. Bring your own camping supplies. 
Please arrive and set up your campsite before dark.
A limited number of RV spaces are available for an additional cost.
If you do not want to camp, there are a number of motels nearby.  Please see the comprehensive list below.

Shower Building – The shower building has ten pay stalls that feature on-demand hot showers.
Firewood – Firewood is available for purchase on site. In order to protect the natural surroundings from tree-borne disease, we request that no off-site wood is brought in.

Clearly, camping is the primary, expected lodging mode (tons of references vs. one "motel,") and the only one supported by the event (having spent 2 years based in an RV, believe me, it's camping too). If you want a room, this says, you're on your own. There is no block of rooms reserved for attendees, nor at a discount, as motels are glad to do. (I know, I know, what if the rooms didn't get taken . . . . Sigh. ) 

The turn-off for some people I've spoken to is that the above, and other ways this event is being framed, suggest (as it does to me) that this will be another "permies camping in a field" convergence, but farther away. 

To sum up, here are my bullet points:

--Permaculture in North America is 30 years old. We are no longer in the pioneer phase of succession.

--The Australians and Europeans are far ahead of N. Am. in organizing, accrediting, setting standards, fund-raising, getting sponsors, and other aspects of maturing permaculture, while still remaining true to the ethics and intentions. We have access to good models and experience.

--In the last few years, we've seen a maturing of N. Am. Pc. It's being adopted by policymakers, elected officials, businesses, NGOs, universities, K-12 schools. PhD theses and major articles are being written about it. These people are not your old-style permies. They also have skill sets that we badly need, in terms of organizing, maturing, funding, and accrediting permaculture. We have lacked these skills (and I include myself in that).

--The hope for NAPC is that we will make good progress there on our own organizing, maturing process. 

BUT:

--NAPC is being framed in the same pattern as every other "convergence" of the last 30 years. We're applying a pioneer succession strategy to a system that is much more mature than that (I'd say, early mid-succession).

--Billing the first continent-wide gathering of permies as a convergence, emphasizing camping as the primary lodging, and talking about how we don't have any money is appealing mostly to the same small demographic we have appealed to for 30 years. Our community is much bigger than that now, and this framing is excluding them. The permaculture-savvy policymakers and other leaders I've spoken to (in my region, many officials have taken PDCs) have told me, "NAPC doesn't look like my cup of tea." We could have used their skills and influence (and their ticket money). Some of the Pc elders who are working on influential, visible projects have told me, "This looks like every other gathering I've been to, so why go?" We have created an early-succession container for a mid-succession event. We've chosen a limiting pattern--from where I sit, the same pattern we've been using for 30 years. We're bigger than that now. 

So here's hoping that we can make the most of what we have, have a great event that moves N. Am. permaculture forward, learn from it, and do even more next year. 


Toby


_______________________________________________
permaculture mailing list
permaculture at lists.ibiblio.org
subscribe/unsubscribe|user config|list info|make a donation toward list maintenance:
http://lists.ibiblio.org/mailman/listinfo/permaculture
message archives:  http://lists.ibiblio.org/pipermail/permaculture/
Google message archive search:
site: lists.ibiblio.org/pipermail/permaculture [searchstring]
Permaculture Institute USA http://permaculture.org
How to permaculture your urban lifestyle
http://www.ipermie.net
Avant Geared  http://www.avantgeared.com
https://plus.google.com/+Avantgeared
Permaculture: -- portal to an expanding global network of landtech pioneers practicing and teaching permaculture
while designing ecological, biointensive land use systems with integrated elements for synergy, sustainability, regeneration and enhanced nature-compatible
human habitat --

_______________________________________________
permaculture mailing list
permaculture at lists.ibiblio.org
subscribe/unsubscribe|user config|list info|make a donation toward list maintenance:
http://lists.ibiblio.org/mailman/listinfo/permaculture
message archives:  http://lists.ibiblio.org/pipermail/permaculture/
Google message archive search:
site: lists.ibiblio.org/pipermail/permaculture [searchstring]
Permaculture Institute USA http://permaculture.org
How to permaculture your urban lifestyle
http://www.ipermie.net
Avant Geared  http://www.avantgeared.com
https://plus.google.com/+Avantgeared
Permaculture: -- portal to an expanding global network of landtech pioneers practicing and teaching permaculture
while designing ecological, biointensive land use systems with integrated elements for synergy, sustainability, regeneration and enhanced nature-compatible
human habitat --


More information about the permaculture mailing list