[permaculture] Advance notes on Permaculture Standards and Principals for NAPC

Jono Neiger neiger at csld.edu
Wed Aug 20 19:05:39 EDT 2014

Below is a letter carefully crafted by the PINE (permaculture Institute of
the Northeast) Board to the PINA Board outlining some concerns with the
process, concept, and strategies employed around certification and
diplomas. There was a wide spread in our groups feelings around the effort.
As designers, I think we can come up with strategies that are inclusive but
also ensure integrity in permaculture courses. Also, I think a major goal
should be to support and foster the creativity and innovation that is
underway in permaculture education. Any structure that looks to fall back
on an education system and curriculum outlined decades ago misses the boat,
IMHO. We need to move forward.

I very much respect your work and perseverance over the many years before
permaculture was even "on the radar". That said, as I was participating in
the early PINA discussions, and we looked to collaborate with you and
Pi-usa, I felt (and still feel), that it is confusing that you project a
public- non-profit agenda of giving diplomas and certification from a
personal organization and website. The pi-usa website (and i believe the
organization) is your personal vehicle for offering courses, tours etc.
There is no indication of who pi-usa is, how you make decisions, and if
people can be involved or if leadership changes over time.

I think a huge part of this stage in the permaculture movement is about
innovation and mentoring the next generations. Leadership should be very
clear about how organizations operate, how are  decisions made, and what
feedback and group process in involved, if any. Elders need to be honored
for their work, just as youngers need room for exploration and innovation.
There are some superb facilitators in this network. They should be engaged
to help us through discussions and finding consensus or at least alignment.
Values such as transparency, inclusion, openness to new voices and new
leadership, and accepting feedback are really critical.


Western Massachusetts

*​Letter from PINE- Permaculture Institute of the Northeast to PINA Board​*

*Permaculture Institute of North
          Friday, May 16, 2014*

*Board of Directors*

*℅ Jude Hobbs *

*cascadia at wildblue.net <cascadia at wildblue.net>*

*Dear Jude, Wayne, Sandy, Peter, Penny, and Darryl:*

On behalf of the Permaculture Institute of the Northeast (PINE), we send
our greetings and appreciation for the permaculture work that you do in the
world and for your leadership in the creation of PINA. You have each made a
tremendous investment in supporting permaculture students and teachers in
North America. We also deeply appreciate your request for feedback, a
reflection of your commitment to using dialogue and discussion to inform
actions. PINE shares this value and goal, along with cultivating a strong
and resilient regional network. We also welcome your openness to additional
feedback, as some PINE board members have been in contact with PINA Board
members individually.

The purpose of this letter is to continue the dialogue with you about the
development of PINA and to seek mutual understanding. We wish to hold the
larger goal of ensuring the integrity of permaculture education into the
future in partnership, in mutual support, and in a way that work for as
many stakeholders as possible.

To support this goal, we offer several specific questions and concerns
about the proposed PINA design, clarifying the ways in which PINE would
want to participate in the processes as they are currently described. We
would also like to offer for your consideration some alternatives for
ensuring the quality and integrity of permaculture education.

We recognize that as a group of busy individuals working toward a goal,
timetables have been set for this process. We also understand that the
development of PINA arose, partly in urgent response to individuals who
have been seen as threatening the integrity of Permaculture. At the same
time, we want this letter to be received as a strong and clear call for a
more open and iterative design process, even if that process requires more
time to complete. We want to offer our support in creating and
participating in that process, particularly across our region.

Broadly speaking, we want to encourage the design of a more robust process
that invites wider participation (for instance, from stakeholders who may
not be online). While it may take more time, we believe this would result
in a more useful structure. We also feel that some of the current standards
do not necessarily reflect what we have experienced in our region. These
reflections come from our journey of the past five years, building a
regional organization with some of the same values and mission in mind.

*Inclusive Process*

Our largest concern at this point is the method and timeline that has been
laid out by PINA, which doesn’t allow for adequate “site assessment” of
existing regions, organizations, and stakeholders. We believe more time is
needed to clarify what the larger North American movement needs most from a
continental organization. Without the necessary time and due process with

stakeholder engagement, any action threatens to divide the movement
regionally. In the Northeast, PINE is well situated and interested in being
involved - possibly as a hub. However, we need time to engage with our
people and to discuss the issues at hand before we could sign on to any
larger organizing effort.

While we appreciate the posting of documents and request for feedback
online, this alone is not adequate to receive meaningful feedback. Some
people simply don’t work much online, or didn’t see the Facebook or email
notices and so missed out on the opportunity to comment. The timeline for
response was not very long, and it is unclear to us whether any major
organizations or individuals were contacted with requests to share the
documents and feedback process with people in their community. Simply
posting a survey online and asking for people to respond highly limits the
responses. Face-to-face dialogue, phone conference calls, videos, and other
media tools would greatly expand reach and encourage a more representative
harvest of information.

At this year’s Northeast regional convergence in July, we plan to host
discussion sessions and teacher-focused meetings to gather feedback for
proposals. Feedback on PINA could be gathered here and funneled towards
larger meetings at the North American convergence in Missouri in August,
and the results of that meeting widely distributed. In the Northeast, we
would have the opportunity to address the topic in person again in October
2014 at our regional organizing gathering.  Extending the timeframe to
allow conversations at these two meetings would allow us to better
represent our region. We imagine that other regional gatherings, along with
the North American Permaculture Convergence, would be valuable
opportunities to collect information which could be fed back to PINA.

Second, it is extremely concerning to PINE that the PINA Board has no
members from outside the United States, and that there doesn’t appear to be
a clear goal and approach to reach out to permaculture organizations and
people in Mexico and Canada. If PINA wants to encompass the entire
continent, it must engage more deeply and directly with stakeholders in
neighboring countries. If we don’t attend to this responsibility, we
perpetuate the “American” and USA pattern of dominance and ignoring our
neighboring nations. The Northeast Convergence in 2013 was held in Quebec
and began a dialogue between groups in both nations, but there is much more
work to do. We strongly urge more substantial engagement and participation
with Mexican and Canadian permaculture organizations and individuals. A
change of direction here will be an important consideration for PINE’s
participation in PINA.

We (PINE) want to participate in the PINA conversation and work with
regional groups in the United States, as well as into Mexico and Canada, to
develop a process that works for everyone. Again, this will take time.
Participatory design needs to go beyond the initial survey done by the PINA
board. As a community of designers, we are ready to collaborate with you to
develop a creative and elegant solution—once the key goals are identified.

*Certification and Diplomas*

We recognize the intention to protect the integrity of PDC courses, but
wonder what is being protected by the structure as proposed. The assumption
is that that "PDC" has some sense of consistency across the U.S.  In
reality it only offers some loose metrics. We do not feel that 72 hours,
covering the outdated curriculum in Mollison’s Manual is enough to lump all
PDCs together. We would like to invite a conversation focused on gathering
curriculum, developing standards, and

defining the PDC based on the current climate. We believe a more holistic
set of parameters for the PDC would create a highly useful process and

On the issue of certification and an organization to do certification, we
have mixed feelings. Overall we applaud the intention and effort that has
clearly gone into development of PINA. Our challenge is that our
organization, and the Northeast network as a whole, is on an entirely
different trajectory in many ways. Early on in PINE’s development, we
determined that we had no interest in becoming a certifying body.  We
observed that certification was not a service that the regional network
really needed. We also saw that the process would be highly time-intensive,
while reinforcing paradigms of the modern culture that we felt did not
align with our values. These factors were amplified by the fact that since
PDCs have been going for a long time, it is very difficult to suddenly
impose a regulatory system.

Instead of being a body for certification, our efforts have taken a
different focus. We want to engage teachers in curriculum sharing and
dialogue, in an effort to improve teaching quality. We are working on
documents that propose parameters for good PDCs, including items such as
hands-on/participatory learning, visits and work on active permaculture
sites, and other qualities that make for a great PDC. As an organization,
we would post these standards and groups and individual teachers could
pledge to adhere to them; much like a “farmers pledge” some organic farming
organizations have adopted in response to the takeover of organic
certification by the USDA. In our opinion, this approach is more
constructive, proactive, and more realistic for a network to manage.

Further, for individuals seeking diplomas, the number of years teaching or
number of courses as a measure of quality is simply not an accurate measure
of a teacher’s abilities. More robust standards and qualities need to be
articulated if teaching diplomas are to be a useful tool for the community.

Overall, there are many challenges associated with both certification and
regulation. We recognize the need to maintain the integrity of the
Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) and design practice in North America,
but issuing diplomas and certifying courses may not be the most effective
practice to achieve this goal. We want to shift the paradigm from top-down
efforts that seek to regulate to forms that encourage voluntary,
transparent feedback, curriculum sharing, and co-development of better
learning opportunities as a network.


PINE would enthusiastically support and engage with PINA given a
willingness to slow down the timeline, collect more information about
stakeholder needs, and design a more holistic response to those needs. The
process needs to be open, transparent, and participatory. We need voices
from traditionally marginalized people, especially people from Mexico and
Canada. It is our belief that at this point in the history of the
Permaculture movement, we can make tremendous progress if we focus on:

Work on designing a process for “site assessment” and feedback that draws
more participation

b.     Gather and share feedback from the Northeast region during 2014
gatherings and events as well as online.

c.      Help refine a network of nodes and connected organizations

We stand ready and willing to support and collaborate with PINA to steer
the process in this direction.  We would welcome more conversations about
how to design and implement an inclusive vision for the future of
Permaculture in North America.


Permaculture Institute of the Northeast

Board of Directors

Keith Morris, President

Lisa Fernandes, Treasurer

Steve Gabriel, Clerk

Jono Neiger

Uma Alice Lo

Alice Oldfather

Laura Weiland

On Wed, Aug 20, 2014 at 6:20 PM, mIEKAL aND <qazingulaza at gmail.com> wrote:

> There's several initiatives already, this is the one I've referred people
> to in the past: http://opensourceecology.org/wiki/Open_Source_Permaculture
> On Aug 20, 2014, at 4:55 PM, Gordon Simms wrote:
> > How about Open Source Permaculture?
> _______________________________________________
> 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