[permaculture] NAPC: Scarcity?

mIEKAL aND qazingulaza at gmail.com
Thu Aug 14 09:55:15 EDT 2014


It's remarkable to me that this kind of justification is even
necessary or called for, but once again illustrates perfectly the
great divide between permacultue and Permaculture™. Bless you Skeeter
for taking the time to key it in.

~mIEKAL

On Thu, Aug 14, 2014 at 4:10 AM, Michael Pilarski via permaculture
<permaculture at lists.ibiblio.org> wrote:
>
> 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
>
>
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