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

Toby Hemenway toby at patternliteracy.com
Fri Aug 22 11:23:50 EDT 2014

Jono, PINE members, and all--

These are all very valid concerns. I'd like to bring in a little history here, to show that there have been efforts made over the last 4 years to address virtually all these concerns.

In July of 2010 (4 years ago!), Jude Hobbs sent out a letter to roughly 35 established permaculture teachers, asking for their help in building an organization for supporting permaculture teachers and developing a set of standards for PDCs, among other things. It also asked for help including other established permaculture teachers in the process. Jono and several other PINE members were among the first-round recipients. The effort was going to be made under the umbrella of the Permaculture Institute.

Jono sent a reply a day or two later expressing almost exactly the same list of concerns as he wrote below, four years later: outdated curriculum, need for more inclusiveness, transparency, etc. There was a good deal of back-and-forth on these concerns and on others that other people had raised.

Two years later, although some working groups had been formed, nothing material had come of this work. In late 2011 and early 2012, Jude abandoned this effort, and she and a group of others decided to form another organization, PINA, in an effort to have more transparency and participation than the previous format had allowed, and to re-group with the core of people who were actually contributing, as most of the others had dropped out. This effort was broadcast very widely via a large number of channels, including face to face conversations at many permaculture gatherings. Several PINE members were made aware of it. PINA has been working at it ever since.

When the word of NAPC began circulating many months ago, the organizers made it clear, as did PINA members, that NAPC was going to work on standards and curriculum. News of NAPC has been circulated via a very wide array of channels, virtual and real, in the US.

My point is, people at PINE have been aware of these efforts toward standards and a national organization for 4 years, and have been in the loop on every major development. At some point, it becomes incumbent on people to take action about activities that they know will affect them, and a response of "we have concerns" and "it's moving too fast" one week before NAPC, after 4 years of knowing about it, seems, well, less than proactive. 

Did any PINE members join working groups at PI-USA or on PINA? Not to my knowledge. They were invited.

Is PINE sending representatives who have decision-making power to NAPC to forward their interests? I hope so. At some point in an entity's maturity, it needs to move from "everyone must be involved in every single decision," (a paralyzing stance) to "I trust my representatives and my colleagues enough to make good decisions." (I personally trust PINA to make good decisions, even though I don't know all the board members, and will be happy to wait for the comment period that I know will follow).

I think the efforts made by PINA and NAPC to be inclusive have been as good as is humanly possible. I don't see how the PINA board can be expected to have face to face meetings or make phone calls to all 243 people on Skeeter's list of teachers, or to all the many, many other people who are going to suddenly realize that these decisions might concern them. At some point, people have to look after their own interests themselves, especially when they know about relevant efforts, and get actively involved.


On Aug 20, 2014, at 4:05 PM, Jono Neiger <neiger at csld.edu> wrote:

> 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.
> Scott:
> 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.
> blessings
> Jono
> Western Massachusetts
> ******************
> *​Letter from PINE- Permaculture Institute of the Northeast to PINA Board​*
> *Permaculture Institute of North
> America
>          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
> more
> 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
> outcome.
> 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.
> *Conclusion*
> 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.
> Sincerely,
> 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 --
> _______________________________________________
> 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