Comments

  • From Cliff Davis on In Dialogue with Ben Falk (E04)

    Great work Dan. As a farmer, designer, educator and ecosystem participant I find the points you are making in what I call Adaptive Design Systems are poignant in permaculture transformation. Thank you for pushing the edge. Great podcast and various articles on this subject.

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    2017/11/02 at 2:03 am
    • From Dan Palmer on In Dialogue with Ben Falk (E04)

      Thanks for that Cliff and what with all the various kinds of encouragement I’m getting lately I’m feeling it might be time to start pushing a little harder! I’d love to hear more about Adaptive Systems Design if you have any links to more about it, or would consider writing something – a guest post perhaps? Just took a quick look at your site and I very much liked what I saw. Be great to stay in touch as this wider conversation unfolds and evolves.

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      2017/11/02 at 1:39 pm
  • From Joshua Msika on In Dialogue with Ben Falk (E04)

    Hi Dan. Thanks for the podcast.

    I was recently in conversation with someone who critiqued permaculture for being a movement of architects, not of farmers. The insights that you and Ben bring forward in this podcast are helping me work through that.

    But there’s a niggling question: If permacultures can be evolved through the daily application of common sense and skill to a piece of land in a particular context, then how can that be taught? How can one teach common sense? Can common sense be taught separately from skills, or does one need to acquire skill in a particular area (gardening, housebuilding, plumbing, fixing tractors, whatever) in order to develop the common sense necessary to develop a functional system?

    This would suggest that permaculture would have most value for those who already hold a set of relevant skills.

    Anyway, lots of thoughts to keep thinking about – and occasionally doing something about too!

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    2017/11/06 at 10:29 pm
  • From John Carruthers on Darren J. Doherty on Design Process, the Regrarians Approach, and Making Permaculture Stronger (E05)

    Many wisdoms here from the gravel-voiced Darren J. Doherty. Encouraging too to hear that he’s still good from 50m out on the flank. Darren’s encouragement to be strategic, incremental and pragmatic made a lot of sense. Likewise, not flitting onto the next thing before some mastery is obtained doing what you are (a commonly Western malaise it would seem). ‘Do it 1000 times and then you will understand’, I recall my martial arts teacher chiding me. Thanks a lot Dan.

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    2017/11/13 at 10:26 am
  • From Anthony Briggs on Darren J. Doherty on Design Process, the Regrarians Approach, and Making Permaculture Stronger (E05)

    Fantastic interview, especially the parts about the purpose of Permaculture and how it and Regrarians fit into our culture. For me, a lot of the potential of Permaculture is in undoing the damage that we’ve done both to the landscape and ourselves, and putting things back into balance. (Whether we’ll achieve that in the face of the opposition from mainstream culture is another thing entirely though).

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    2017/11/13 at 1:47 pm
  • From Anthony Briggs on In Dialogue with Ben Falk (E04)

    A thought: At around 25:00 – 30:00 you and Ben are talking about Alan Savory, Holistic Management, the expense of having multiple rounds of design and leaving clients to “do the work”. Is there an opportunity for a rebrand or pivot and instead of “design”, talk about Permaculture coaching? (or counselling? 😉 ).

    I’m pretty sure you’re already on this path Dan, but it might be a “culturally-legible”* pivot into (eg.) an initial consultation, then a few ongoing hours a month of checking in and feelings stuff.

    * – ie. when you say “coaching”, people will pretty much instantly get it

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    2017/11/13 at 2:46 pm
    • From Paul d'Aoust on In Dialogue with Ben Falk (E04)

      Yes, I think ‘coaching’ (also ‘facilitating’) is a good way to brand such a dramatic departure from the ivory tower style of professional design.

      Part of me thinks that this is the only proper way to do permaculture design (and software design, and architecture, and…) I realise that’s a sweeping statement, but I hold that it’s generally true. We bring expertise and really good people skills (e.g., knowing how to coax out deeper motivations, empower clients, balance tensions between stakeholders); the clients bring the vision and the drive.

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      2017/11/23 at 4:06 am
      • From Anthony Briggs on In Dialogue with Ben Falk (E04)

        To me, “facilitating” sounds a bit too much like a management-y buzzword bingo phrase, hard to tell from afar whether it’s actually helping.

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        2017/11/27 at 5:20 pm
        • From Paul d'Aoust on In Dialogue with Ben Falk (E04)

          Fair enough 🙂 I’m not the hugest fan of the word myself; just trying to think of words that would click with certain clients.

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          2017/11/28 at 4:30 am
          • From Dan Palmer on In Dialogue with Ben Falk (E04)

            Will share my thoughts on permaculture “designer” vs “facilitator” vs “coach” vs “trainer” vs “counsellor” in an in-preparation post where I’ll link to these comments – thanks Anthony and Paul!

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            2017/11/28 at 1:00 pm
  • From Goran Christiansson / Netherlands on In Dialogue with Ben Falk (E04)

    Thanks for this great interview with the inspiring leader Ben Falk.

    I would like to point in the direction of “agile” instead of “waterfall” methods in project management and product development.

    In the 1970s, the dominating idea was to plan first and then execute (a.k.a. “waterfall”). This works great in automotive industry, where every new car looks more or less like the last one. The plan was detailed, and it was implicitly assumed that all necessary knowledge was present at the outset.
    It does *not* work well when the solution space is large, many things are unclear or unknown, and there are many good solutions. In those cases, learning by iterative development is the key to getting to a good solution at a reasonable cost.

    You can read much more about this in the software field, where it is called “agile” and in the process development field, where it is often a part of the “continuous improvement” aspect of “lean”.

    I am convinced that these metaphors and ideas are useful for a permaculture site evolution. (Sometimes the focus on the word “design” implies that “here comes a clever guy who knows it all and selects the best solution beforehand”.) I think it helps to be humble about all the unknowable things when we start.

    Looking forward to hearing more episodes!

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    2017/11/15 at 1:26 am
    • From Paul d'Aoust on In Dialogue with Ben Falk (E04)

      Oh boy, if you’re interested in Agile/Lean and how it can be applied to permaculture design, you’re in for a real treat! Dan, the author of this blog, is a big fan of Christopher Alexander, who of course was a huge influence on Ward Cunningham and the rest of the early Agile folks. A few months ago, Dan asked the question, “If permaculturists are big fans of Alexander, why have we not benefited from his wisdom in the same way the software profession has?”

      It’s a really engaging read, a rabbit hole. It starts here: http://makingpermaculturestronger.net/2017/01/28/on-the-relation-between-designing-and-implementing-in-permaculture/

      Here’s a podcast with software developer Alex Bayley about agile permaculture: http://makingpermaculturestronger.net/2017/07/27/alex-bayley-e03/

      And here’s Alex on her own blog talking about agile permaculture: http://spinstersbayley.com/blog/agile-permaculture-an-introduction/

      Welcome to the conversation! If you have an idea for an article that further develops the concept of agile permaculture, talk to Dan; he’s looking for authors for this blog.

      (Dan has also registered the domain name agilepermaculture.com, but he hasn’t yet revealed what he’s planning to do with it 🙂 )

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      2017/11/23 at 4:00 am
  • From Milton Dixon on The Resilio Studio Design Process Primer: Part One - Introducing

    Very nice! I notice (and like) that there is a subtle shift in the names of the design phases from what I’m used to. Sort of a softening of the control aesthetic into a more emergent one.

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    2017/11/18 at 10:36 pm
  • From John Carruthers on The Resilio Studio Design Process Primer: Part One - Introducing

    Dan, Another thought-provoking post (and very generous too of the talented team at Resilio). Struck me that a at least a couple of factors, not fully explicit, could play into the choice of process (e.g. waterfall versus emergent or a hybrid). One of those is “risk” (let’s leave that topic for another time when we have time to walk the lake!). And another is “personality”. Which is when up flashed a Landed Venn diagram with people / land / process. I think the fit between between people and process (and the sweet spot that intrinsic motivation plays) is worthy of a little discourse. Thanks again. John

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    2017/11/20 at 2:11 pm
    • From Gary Marshall on The Resilio Studio Design Process Primer: Part One - Introducing

      Thanks for the comment John. Regarding the choice of process, I think there is something in your observation of risk and personality and I would add to that, the related and undeniable pressures of time and money. While in our experience, this can be worked through with garden and landscape designs for residential clients, it isn’t always the case. An example might be useful. In New Zealand when working with architecture there are two basic paths – a consented structure or a non consented structure. Given the time and expense a building takes we find few people are interested in undertaking a large non consented structure (if nothing else, it is likely that it is at least in part, paid for via a loan from the bank, who will not lend for an un-consented building). The waterfall process for designing and building a consented structure is legislated in New Zealand and widely recognised by industry consenting bodies and is pretty well summarised in the following link I came across recently from a local ‘main stream’ practice – http://svb.co.nz/the-architectural-process/ .

      While the overall waterfall process is dictated by the statutory context, it doesn’t mean that we can’t use ‘design tools’ more aligned with a generative process – mark the building and layout on site, experiment with different orientations, leave some aspects of the interior (not subject to building consent) until the major build is complete etc. This is where other design tools such as model making (either physical or virtual are also important)

      Another example is designing landscapes in public spaces, which is a good example of the ‘risk’ you referred to. We have spent many years, without any luck, promoting and pitching ‘tactical urbanism’ projects to Auckland Transport (Local council controlled organisation who own and manage all roads and streets that aren’t motorways and other transport infrastructure – rail, ferry terminals etc). Tactical urbanism is essentially an agile methodology applied to public space design – we have previously described Tactical urbanism in this way:

      “Tactical urbanism, often described as the ‘lighter, ‘quicker, cheaper’ approach to placemaking, is a design methodology that involves a number of temporary ‘design experiments’. These ‘experiments’ test the design, programme and arrangement of a public space (such as a street) in a low- cost, low-risk and low-commitment way. The aim is that these experiments are measured for effectiveness and those that work are either left in place, or implemented in a more permanent manner. Tactical Urbanism can be adopted by Council or local boards as a ‘top-down’ strategy, or by citizens and community groups as ‘bottom-up’, grassroots initiatives or a combination of the two, possibly involving others as well.” see also – https://www.pps.org/reference/lighter-quicker-cheaper/

      In short – the risks are deemed too high, and the subsequent checks and balances needed to overcome these risks, such as traffic management plans, engineering reviews or any structures in public spaces to ensure no one will get hurt, and no property will be damaged are such that they totally undermine the intent of the agile ‘lighter quicker cheaper’ approach. In saying that, we continue to promote more generative process and are having some success in working in parks and public spaces with less heavy and expensive infrastructure. Some of this may be attributed to people working in this space being more comfortable with working with evolving process like ecosystem management, but this is just speculation.

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      2017/11/21 at 8:37 am
  • From Dan Palmer on The Resilio Studio Design Process Primer: Part One - Introducing

    Great comments/insights John and Gary and I get what you’re saying Milton. Wanted to say I made a start on a comment sharing my reflections on the primer but that it has grown. And grown. And grown. Into a post sharing an in-depth review that also pulls in various relevant recent comments too. Will publish when ready (I’m still on the first page!) and look forward to engaging more with your comments then.

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    2017/11/28 at 12:49 pm
  • From Dan Palmer on The Resilio Studio Design Process Primer: Part One - Introducing

    Just sharing this message Stephen Bailes left on a facebook reference to this post:

    “A little unclear about ” implement ” . Is this the process of implementation or the outcome of it ? Is implement classed as an event or a series of events . It looks to me that ” initiate ” ought to precede implement in order to produce something for discover to work on . If we knew in advance what the ” problems ” would be then we could prevent them from ever occurring . This would render the whole process invalid . Most of this stuff only becomes apparent with hind -sight , after the event . What we don’t know is whether or not this is a one off event or a series of similar events . We cannot interpret anything from a single event . Any system that learns has to have been subject to , and recovered from an event or set of events for the selection process to work . This would be the refine bit but also encompasses the discover element . Clearly there is a huge range of time scales involved here which may fall way outside of the normal design effort . Only many long term projects and and studies of them will yield a large enough sample size of projects that we could describe as permanent .”

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    2017/11/29 at 3:35 pm
  • From Anthony Briggs on In Dialogue with Dave Jacke (E06)

    Dave’s piece on culture and cultural inhibition (0:52:00 or so) reminds me of one realisation, which is that a lot of the early PDC stuff with Bill Mollison (I have the tapes from one of his PDCs circa 1983) seems to be more about shaking people out of that cultural stasis rather than communicating a particular process.

    eg. “the problem is the solution”, “you can’t do any worse than what’s already being done” and the various stories re. rats and wild rice, ducks vs. snails, having positive attitudes to weeds, even the crazy whale story, all seem to be trying to push people out of the dominant culture, and keep them there for a couple of weeks, after which time you can come up with much more varied solutions, some of which will be better.

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    2017/12/04 at 12:35 pm
  • From John Carruthers on A Delightful Day of Designing with Dave Jacke

    A really granular description of a process made real. Very helpful for those of us just starting the journey. And timely as I walk around Kyoto’s temple gardens. Thanks Dan.

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    2017/12/11 at 11:24 am
  • From Harry on In Dialogue with Dave Jacke (E06)

    Hey Dan,

    I’m really enjoying your podcasts.

    I’m new to permaculture, I’ve watched a bit of Bill Mollisons course on YouTube, read a bit of Gaias garden by Toby hemenway, and listened to some podcasts.

    I’m interested in permaculture design as I want to be able to build sustainable systems on land and also apply it other things like community and even product development.

    If you were taking an 80/20 approach to learning permaculture ( ie the 20% of things that give you 80% of the results) what would suggest?

    From what I can gather it would be broken up into principles and process.

    Principles being
    – David holmgrens revised book principals sustainability
    – Christopher Alexander’s book – ‘a timeless way of building’

    Process being
    – a permaculture design course that runs through the process.
    – observation sounds like a big area to focus on.

    Any info from anyone would be great.

    Keep up the great work.

    Thanks.

    Harry
    Fitzroy North

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    2017/12/15 at 2:48 pm
  • From Jason Gerhardt on The Resilio Studio Design Process Primer: Part Two - The first instalment of Dan's review

    Checking back in with your blog as a colleague wants me to join him on your and David’s design process course coming up this year. You’ve been at it, strong, Dan! I just spent a couple hours reading through many of your posts, quickly albeit. I have many thoughts, but a couple I’ll share. Years ago I found the definition of design in my old Webster Collegiate dictionary as “to have as a purpose in the mind; to intend”. In my courses I describe design as “decision making”, which to me fits the above definition and encompasses conscious and unconscious (which is inescapable), and I add that one of the intentions (or designs) of permaculture is to make decisions more consciously with more information, and thereby shine a light on our unconscious, which is mostly what’s ruining the world. That implies a knowing, which is a life long quest that sets permaculturists on a journey of growing, therefore it is regenerative for us as humans, and therefore eventually regenerative for human culture. My goal as a teacher is to instill in my students that design is a way of being, not doing, but a state of mind/heart that then gets applied to what we do. What we do then becomes a by product of our way of being. I think it’s difficult for western minds to come to terms with that one, but I’m not sure I see anyway around it. At least I haven’t found it. Is there more discussion going on another platform that I should follow, Dan?

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    2018/01/04 at 6:07 am
    • From Dan Palmer on The Resilio Studio Design Process Primer: Part Two - The first instalment of Dan's review

      So great to hear from you Jason!

      Thanks for reminding me about the upcoming course with David – I’ve been focusing on other things (like this one) and your reminder has me looking forward to finding out what happens in this next round of deep design process explorations with David. A few days after that workshop is the Australian Permaculture Convergence so I’m looking forward to taking the energy of the course into that wider space of sharing and exploring.

      I love what you say about your goal as a teacher – resonates big time :-). Yep our western minds have some work to do (or rather undo or not do ;-))! Re design as decision making I’m simultaneously exploring design process as design process and what I’m calling holistic decision making. But the further I go the harder it is to hold them apart – the both of them revealing themselves as different perspectives on the same thing.

      Re more discussion I’ll shortly post sharing some of the behind-the-scenes private email conversations I’m part of with permaculture practitioners around the world, but apart from that no, nothing much is happening that I’m aware of, as as you’ll have noticed the commentaries on MPS posts have really died off. I seem to remain motivated nonetheless so will be pushing on for quite a while yet though!

      My best,
      Dan

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      2018/01/09 at 7:24 am
  • From Anthony Briggs on The Resilio Studio Design Process Primer: Part Two - The first instalment of Dan's review

    If you really want to blow your mind re. “What is design?”, then consider a bare minimum design strategy like evolution. There’s no upfront plan, not even a goal to speak of, other than survival, and the only “plans” created are in the organisms and their DNA. There’s not much that humans would pick as a process, just trying things blindly and keeping what survives. And yet, over hundreds of millions of years, trees, dinosaurs, fungi, mammals, humans and whole ecologies emerge.

    There’s a pretty strong argument to be made that all other design strategies are efforts to mimic the beautiful, elegant forms and patterns of the natural world, but without the massive costs involved in using an evolutionary process – millions of iterations, death, destruction, etc.

    Genetic algorithms are an extreme example: computer processes which generate forms that minimise material, or maximise an effect, given a particular set of constraints like stresses and particular form factors. And they produce very organic-looking forms (eg. https://www.designboom.com/technology/airbus-ap-works-3d-printed-motorcycle-05-24-2016/). Is it designed? Maybe, maybe not. It doesn’t lead to better understanding of the world, for one thing. But it can produce much better designs than people can, and do it extremely cheaply.

    A couple of examples: the original was Tierra, a computer environment used to study evolution that developed parasites, counter parasites and cooperation (short doco here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wl5rRGVD0QI). You can see an evolutionary process in action at http://boxcar2d.com/, which evolves better and better cars, given an initially random population. Yes, they mostly suck to start with, but leave it running overnight and be amazed 🙂

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    2018/01/04 at 2:37 pm
  • From Adam Shand on The Resilio Studio Design Process Primer: Part Two - The first instalment of Dan's review

    Hey Dan, there’s a minor typo in your Christopher Alexander quote:

    “in creating an ethos where where buildings”

    Interesting reading!

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    2018/01/05 at 1:58 pm
  • From Greg O'Keefe on The Resilio Studio Design Process Primer: Part Two - The first instalment of Dan's review

    I’m so pleased that you shared more widely from your reply to my email. Those ideas and your analysis of the Papanek quote lead me to think that ‘design’ can be taken so broadly that it includes all purposeful activity whatsoever, and is therefore a really important idea. The part I like the most is where you suggest that permaculture is “an alternative approach to co-creating the world, or at least some solid and extremely worthwhile preliminary fragments or reachings in that direction.” What a shame you instantly dismiss it as a “rant” that you must “tone the heck down” 🙁 Your humility limits your potential! I say go for it, reformulate permaculture as the mindspace and discipline that will transform humanity from a planetary cancer into the Earth’s custodians and gardeners.

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    2018/01/05 at 3:04 pm
  • From Trevor Lohr on The Resilio Studio Design Process Primer: Part Two - The first instalment of Dan's review

    Hey Dan,

    I’ve been a lurker for a while here, and I love this dialogue you’ve stirred up. I really appreciate your dedication to presenting Christopher Alexander’s work because I haven’t been able to get into his books yet. You’ve provided so much context to his relevance to permaculture, design and just being a decent human being. It seems to me that there’s a lot in common between Alexander’s concept of wholeness and the worldview espoused by many world religions, specifically the non-duality between subject/object, self/other, body/mind. I really believe that in order for humanity to continue on this planet for the long term, we must change the perspective that man and nature are separate, or that human beings are fundamentally different from each other. Luckily, I see people sharing similar sentiments from all walks of life and corners of the world. The dominant cultural worldview is shifting, and dare I say it even appears to be speeding up as we speak.

    I hope that we can take it even further than just viewing ourselves as stewards or custodians of earth, and treat all creatures, and even the rocks and rain, as we do family. Indigenous peoples around the world related to all things alive and (apparently) inanimate as valuable as a parent or sibling; not only by caring for and loving them, but by allowing themselves to be loved by such things as the wind, or to learn from the mountain, or find one’s purpose from a bear. One step at a time of course, I’d be happy with a cultural transition towards global stewardship in my lifetime.

    Anyway, I’m digressing from my appreciation because I figured you wouldn’t mind if I took your time- I don’t think this will be as long as your post! By applying your perspective to others’ design processes, you’ve condensed much of your work in this blog down to smaller chunks (relatively speaking when you compare this post to your whole body of work). I took a couple pages of notes on your three main points about Design Thinking/Rationality, Creation and Conservation, and Problem Solving because I’m actually starting a college class in design tomorrow.

    Don’t cringe too fast though, I’ll explain a bit about myself and what I’m doing so I can ask a few questions. I went to college like a good little suburban white boy should, starting out in Philosophy and switching to Biology half way through. After 4 years with at least 1-2 remaining years to finish the BS, I took a break because I felt that my heart was not in it, and I didn’t want to keep taking loans for a degree I wasn’t sure I needed. A few years later I attended a PDC and learned a kind of holistic ecological perspective not taught in a typical biology classroom; and though I did know a few outdoorsy permaculture kids then, I didn’t really get the full picture from them.
    Fortunately, a nice little school in Vermont offers a program for students to finish up an undergrad degree from home or any state college courses, and they let me create my own plan of study. I call it Regenerative Development and am taking a variety of classes in: Landscape/Horticulture, Diversified Agriculture, Community Development and Entrepreneurship. None of it is on the frontier of regenerative business or permaculture, it’s just what’s available to me to be able to balance my priorities of finishing my nearly complete degree with classes that teach me some relevant skills and all for a fair price. Meanwhile I’m digesting your blog, Dave Jacke, Christopher Alexander, working in landscaping during the summer, growing a little food and trying to get involved in community where I can.

    So now that you know a little about me, I can get into some relevant thoughts and questions. Naturally, (or rather unnaturally, you might say) this horticulture and landscape design program from which I am cherry picking a few courses requires you take Graphics before Intro to Design. So last semester I got to work on my drawing ability where we just fabricated imaginary landscapes and courtyards, and it drove me a little crazy. I had some okay conversations with the teacher about the difference between fabrication and generative design process, but she didn’t really get it when I suggested that “design process” (quotes are for you because I’m not going to repeat everything you just wrote about those words!) and particularly observational skills be taught before blueprint level drawing. She just insisted that students need to get on board with the “language” of modern design before they can learn to see and draw landscape. So my fellow students are being encouraged from the get go to make decisions without any context, and certainly zero emotion.

    I piped up every now and then in class to share some of your wisdom because these are potential future designers who are not being given any realistic context about the world and economy that they are [not] being prepared for. Unfortunately, the class really encourages students towards a career in commercial architectural design and big projects for institutions with big funding; a path that likely requires higher credentials than the associates degree from this program. There’s very little specifically about doing useful projects for lower class working people or food production at different scales, and it drives me to speak up when it seems appropriate in or outside of class. Tomorrow, the Intro to Design course begins with the same students and I’m a bit anxious about whether it will continue down the same trajectory. I feel bad for my fellow students and will try to pepper in different perspectives where I can, but I’m not sure many of them are very interested or aware about the different theories and practices behind design (and I don’t expect them to either, being ten years younger than me).
    Do you have any advice for getting the most out of this kind of standard design course which I’m taking for a variety of reasons that do not include submitting to the fabrication ideology? I want to do landscape design/coaching/build and maintenance type work for the people who need it most, but can’t afford it because fewer and fewer working people have discretionary income for things like “landscaping”.

    I’d really like to take what you’re doing to the small town context in Vermont. What do you think about applying such a living process to town planning? I’ll also be taking a course in Land Use Planning this semester, which I suspect will be similarly steeped in the expensive, lengthy, up-front town plan fabrication. I would love to see lower cost, more inclusive and adaptable strategies come into the small community context because many little towns in Vermont are in economic decline for a variety of reasons. I believe the heart of the issue has existed throughout VT history and that’s the impact of global capital markets on local community resilience and resources.

    People in my community have even recently started a conversation on a local online forum about what to do about vacant storefronts in town. A few even liked my proposal to convert the ailing public/private golf course into a cooperatively owned regenerative farm and community hub that can act as a center for education, business incubation, food/fiber/fuel/fodder/fertilizer/”farmaceutical” production, and especially as a space for gathering and celebration.

    Gosh, I don’t want to write a comment longer than your original post. I’ll write more in the future now that I’ve finally broken my silence. Again, I love what you’re doing and saying Dan. Please keep it coming, you’re truly an inspiration!

    Much Love,
    Trevor

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    2018/01/15 at 12:11 pm
    • From Dan Palmer on The Resilio Studio Design Process Primer: Part Two - The first instalment of Dan's review

      Okay Trevor – yours is one comment that deserves a proper reply!

      First thanks for coming out into the open where I can see you – may that your doing so encourages other lurkers to do the same :-).

      One step at a time, yes, but I do like your statements about indigenous ways of being where it’s all alive and we feed into the rest of life as it feeds into us.

      I appreciated hearing about your experiences in classes on design – because I lack much direct exposure to the mainstream of design education it is good (if demoralising) to be reminded that people really do still think, teach, and practice this way. Fabricating masterplans with deadlines, some of these words themselves carrying clues to their own impotence…

      I don’t know about advice, but one thing I’d mention is that I’ve found it helpful when engaging in certain projects to have the ability to draw up pretty scaled diagrams on computer etc etc in terms of not being intimidated with all that stuff (or belittled and pushed aside due to its absence). It can be useful to know the standard practice approach in terms of being most informed toward where the nodal intervention points are when it comes to disrupting it. Sometimes a little stealth may be in order – “yes, here I am the expert who can whip you up a masterplan! But now I am in the door, here’s what we’re really going to do, and why it is going to serve you better…”

      Applying living process to town planning sounds like a bit of fun to me! Alexander does give several examples of this kind of thing in Book Three of the Nature of Order, though I personally have not applied it in this context. I’d be keen if the opportunity comes up though, my word.

      Please do keep chiming in Trevor and yes, I’ll keep it coming to, don’t worry about that! I’m just getting warmed up here!

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      2018/01/28 at 10:47 am
  • From Dan Palmer on The Resilio Studio Design Process Primer: Part Three - Finn and Gary's reply to the first instalment of Dan's review

    Huge thanks to you Finn and Gary for penning Making Permaculture Stronger’s first guest post! I’m loving the feeling of relaxing my grip on the reigns here and am happy to report that several guest posts from others are already in the release queue. Now I can’t resist a few comments on your lovely and much-appreciated reply to the first part of my review of your primer.

    Alexander and form

    You write: “Christopher Alexander’s design process which, in our judgement, assumes ‘form’ as the inevitable outcome of design… …For us (and in a fair bit of our work) ‘design’ outcomes are not focused on ‘form’. If permaculture design is about more than physical form (which we feel it definitely is) we need a broader conception of design and design process than we feel Alexander provides…”

    I have three points to make here:

    Point One
    While Alexander emphasised form as the object of design process in his 1964 book Notes on the Synthesis of Form (which was a thesis he wrote as a student in his twenties), he to my knowledge gave it less emphasis in the huge collection of books he subsequently authored (not to mention his marked decrease of emphasis on design at all). For the bulk of his career as a practicing architect, he instead emphasised what he called the quality without a name, wholeness or living structure as the outcomes of what he called living process (as opposed to design process).

    What I’m getting at here is that it feels a little unfair to me to judge someone’s work by extrapolating from one tiny, early bit of it (especially when he explicitly rejected many of the ideas therein once he starting practicing as an architect and discovered their limitations).

    Point Two
    That said, he did continue to use the term form here and there, and I myself have become quite partial to it, perhaps more partial than he was. But here’s the thing. Though Alexander was an architect interested in how we go about creating buildings and other solid objects (among much else), I have never sensed any block or barrier in using his conception of living process to generate other kinds of form in the dictionary definition of “the shape and structure of something.” To me a book, or a dance, prayer, or poem, or a day has a form, in the sense of a format, shape, configuration, arrangement, etc.

    When you say “For us (and in a fair bit of our work) ‘design’ outcomes are not focused on ‘form’” – I am therefore left scratching my head trying to imagine a design process outcome that is completely formless. In my experience all design process starts with a whole-and-its-parts, which is another way of saying a form or format (in the sense of something with preexisting internal differentiation), and further transforms or differentiates it in one direction or another.

    What I’m getting at here is that I’d be cautious about equating “form” with “solid static physical three-dimensional object” and using this as an argument for writing off words like “form” prematurely. If something is formless, as in completely homogenous, then, well, I’m not sure it even is a something any more. It is a no-thing, and it would feel strange to say that the objective of a design process is nothing!

    Point Three
    I’m sure this is not the place to get into this matter, but I also think we need to be careful here not to uncritically accept a dualism between the physical and non-physical worlds. This is kind of hard to do, given the deeply buried dominant narratives of our culture, and in Alexander’s case (not to mention other thinkers such as David Bohm) required an attempt at an non-mechanistic alternative cosmology.

    The upshot is that I think these matters are more nuanced than they might seem at first, and that unless some comprehension of Alexander’s later and more central concepts of life, wholeness and beauty are evident I’m not sure how fruitful this line of thought is (though I am curious to learn more about Herbert Simon and Victor Papenek’s work in terms of what they have to offer and for the record while I can hardly overstate the extent of Alexander’s work on my own, I do see him as one of many true-but-partial influences as opposed to someone I want to dogmatically imitate or impose on others.).

    Design Thinking as being about much more than Design Thinking

    Good to know – again look forward to learning more about these “mode-of-being” and “collaborative practice” aspects to design thinking. Got some links to any concise online summaries or introductions (or, if not, books) for me?

    Potential
    “exploring unreleased opportunities” – lovely phrase! I”d like to see it in your primer! I also think this adaptive cycle concept has much value to offer – thanks for mentioning.

    Just a quick comment to share that I’m personally drifting away from the word “vision” or “shared vision” toward “intention” and “joint intention.” Be interested to have other’s thoughts on this but I’m finding the word vision too caught up with where it came from – the verb “to see” where in this image driven and hungry culture of ours I don’t want to know what people want to see as a first step. I want to hone in on how they want to feel which equally involves all the other senses too.

    Design process as journey
    I really like what you say here and rather than commenting now will work this into the second instalment of my review, which is well under way, and in which I look in detail at your actual process diagram.

    Finally – I like your concluding misquote – much better!

    Cheers guys for this interchange and for the contributions you are making toward a stronger permaculture, and I look forward to where our dialogue evolves to from here (at least I hope it deserves to be called a dialogue – I am certainly finding myself in new places including some significant new insights I’ll share in my next review instalment!).

    Go to comment
    2018/02/01 at 12:47 pm
  • From Gary Marshall on The Resilio Studio Design Process Primer: Part Three - Finn and Gary's reply to the first instalment of Dan's review

    A couple of thoughts on your response to design as form in particular these to sentences:

    “What I’m getting at here is that it feels a little unfair to me to judge someone’s work by extrapolating from one tiny, early bit of it (especially when he explicitly rejected many of the ideas therein once he starting practicing as an architect and discovered their limitations).”

    and

    “I have never sensed any block or barrier in using his conception of living process to generate other kinds of form in the dictionary definition of “the shape and structure of something.” To me a book, or a dance, prayer, or poem, or a day has a form, in the sense of a format, shape, configuration, arrangement, etc.”

    Finn actually challenged me on your first point and I should own this and it might be worth sharing a summary of some of the points that were raised through our conversation.

    While I understand it is “a little unfair” to use a quote from the first sentence of Mr Alexander’s first book his subsequent works are overwhelming focused on the built environment – objects and space – “The Timeless Way of Building”, “The New Theory of Urban Design”, “The Nature of Order: An Essay on the Art of Building and The Nature of the Universe” (actually four very substantial books – not what I’d call an essay) to name a couple of title off the top of my head.

    I also appreciate the that Mr Alexander’s work is profound and many of his deeper messages are probably beyond my capacity to engage with meaningfully, and I have not yet given these ideas the time they deserve – particularly his “more central concepts of life, wholeness and beauty” (you have motivated me to get my copies of the Nature of Order back off of the shelf and get back into them). However, my current understanding is that while Mr Alexander has made profound observations of a very wide range of phenomena outside of the built environment to explore his conception of “wholeness” and the “Living Process” and there is no block or barrier to using this conception to generate other kinds of forms – as far as I am aware, Mr Alexander’s concepts on the “Nature of the Order / Universe” are predominantly filtered through the lens of the built environment and his completed works have only ever been applied to built form. If this is not the case I would love to be pointed in this direction, if not, I can see value in expanding Mr Alexander’s works and applying it to non-physical form. In the meantime, I have four very large books to reacquaint myself with.

    PS – As a somewhat humorous side note – we too quite like the phrase “exploring unreleased opportunities”, however it was meant to read as the much less poetic “exploring unrealised opportunities” 🙂 Not sure which phrasing we will use from now.

    Go to comment
    2018/02/02 at 7:51 am
  • From David Ing on The Resilio Studio Design Process Primer: Part Three - Finn and Gary's reply to the first instalment of Dan's review

    I’m responding here to a question raised in the Pattern Science Community at https://www.facebook.com/groups/1717511025189767/permalink/1992693767671490/ .

    Dan writes:
    > For us (and in a fair bit of our work) ‘design’ outcomes are not focused on ‘form’. If permaculture design is about more than physical form (which we feel it definitely is) we need a broader conception of design and design process than we feel Alexander provides…”

    From the comment of Gary Marshall:
    > Mr Alexander’s concepts on the “Nature of the Order / Universe” are predominantly filtered through the lens of the built environment and his completed works have only ever been applied to built form. If this is not the case I would love to be pointed in this direction, if not, I can see value in expanding Mr Alexander’s works and applying it to non-physical form.

    In my opinion, a lot of the questions on applicability of Christopher Alexander’s ideas go to philosophical roots. If permaculture is seen as a human activity, then it not only has material aspects, but also non-material aspects. The systems sciences open up design in this way, e.g. “Social Systems and Design” | Gary S. Metcalf (ed) | 2014 | Springer at http://doi.org/10.1007/978-4-431-54478-4 .

    Christopher Alexander himself worked on the built physical environment, and declined to extend his work to other domains — in particular, with the 1996 OOPSLA speech at https://ingbrief.wordpress.com/2014/04/06/19961008-christopher-alexander-patterns-in-architecture-oopsla-96/ — except to exhort software developers to use pattern language not just to write code, but to improve the world.

    Some of my research has been on the design and pattern language, in particular towards a service systems orientation (i.e. customer/consumer oriented, related to outcome) over a production orientation (i.e. output). The fullest description of that, to date, is presentation of a paper at the PUARL 2016 conference, see http://coevolving.com/blogs/index.php/archive/pattern-manual-for-service-systems-thinking/ .

    In a footnote to The Nature Order, Book 4, The Luminous Ground (p. 336), Christopher Alexander recalls that Bohm “declared that in his view this material was the most interesting. … somehow he though the conception of matter contained here was the most significant aspect of these books. It came closer, perhaps, to providing a complement to his own views”, in his meeting over 2 days in 1986. This, to me, indicates the orientation of Alexander’s worldview towards physics.

    The direction that I’ve been encouraging, for a generative pattern language on services systems, suggests an alternative view compatible with the ecological epistemology of Gregory Bateson. This steps outside Alexander’s work within a single paradigm, towards a multiparadigm inquiry, see http://coevolving.com/blogs/index.php/archive/multiparadigm-inquiry-generating-service-systems-thinking/ . I’ve only gained a deeper appreciation of this perspective through the ecological anthropology of Tim Ingold, e.g. https://ingbrief.wordpress.com/2016/12/10/20161210-0915-tim-ingold-thoughts-on-movement-growth-and-and-anthropologically-sensitive-isorganization-studies-ifip-wg8-2/ .

    In the domain of design, Susu Nousala (Tongji U., Shanghai), Peter H. Jones (OCADU Toronto) and I have a paper in final review for FORMakademisk following through from a RSD5 workshop described at http://coevolving.com/blogs/index.php/archive/some-future-paths-for-design-professionals-designx-and-systemic-design/ . Since the focus of this blog is on permaculture, and this blog entry on the intersection with design, there are some deeper philosophical questions that could be worked out.

    Go to comment
    2018/02/04 at 12:58 am
    • From Gary Marshall on The Resilio Studio Design Process Primer: Part Three - Finn and Gary's reply to the first instalment of Dan's review

      Thanks David – the links you sent through look great – I’ll get back with any questions etc once I’ve had a chance to delve into them.

      As a side note, since writing the response Dan I remembered that William Ophuls has applied Christophers Alexander’s pattern language to politics in his book ‘Sane Polity’ which I thoroughly enjoyed (but think it needs to read in conjunction with his book ‘Plato’s Revenge’ which plug some of the wholes noted in this review:

      https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/william-ophuls/sane-polity/

      Go to comment
      2018/02/05 at 9:44 am
    • From Dan Palmer on The Resilio Studio Design Process Primer: Part Three - Finn and Gary's reply to the first instalment of Dan's review

      Huge thanks for your comment David. I’ll reply properly when I’ve followed up some of your links. I have one burning question though- do you know if the Alexander-Bohm dialogue was recorded in any way? I would kill to get access to it!

      Go to comment
      2018/02/04 at 11:37 am
      • From David Ing on The Resilio Studio Design Process Primer: Part Three - Finn and Gary's reply to the first instalment of Dan's review

        @Dan, the most that I’ve found on Christopher Alexander visiting David Bohm was the description in the footnote in The Luminous Ground (p. 336).

        Alexander cites very few references in his writings. My critical appreciation of the foundations of generative pattern language have had the benefit of conversations with Alexander’s graduate students (Hiroshi Nakano, Max Jacobson, Howard Davis) at PUARL conferences. I’ve been so busy that I haven’t had the opportunity to fully process the audio recording of the workshop that is described at http://coevolving.com/commons/20171021-exploring-the-context-of-pattern-languages . I’m launching a book in a few weeks, so that the blog post with the audio recording may be more than a month before it turns up at http://coevolving.com/blogs/ .

        Go to comment
        2018/02/07 at 1:14 pm
  • From Kyle Smith on David Hursthouse's Presentation at the International Permaculture Convergence in India

    Thanks a lot for this post, and for creating this blog. I resonate with many of the things that Davids says, and have had many discussions with my friends and colleagues involved in Permaculture how we can address some of these weaklings as he puts it..

    It would be really great if we could write a list of the weak links he mentions and create some dialogue around it.

    Thanks again for creating this platform and I am looking forward to being immersed in the discussions and insights that come out..

    Go to comment
    2018/02/11 at 10:10 pm
  • From Sharn on Some Recent Email Conversations

    “..one can’t deny that we are often accused of being the contemporary equivalent of hippies – as in we are deluded with dreams of grandure and imbued with an aura of self-righteous epiphany fueled by cannabis, magic mushrooms and ayahuasca.” Haha, gold 🙂

    So much interesting perspective from around the globe. Its hard to know where to start in a comment, but its so heartening and thrilling to feel the ripple of deep thinking resonance. So I’ll just say thanks for sharing these conversations Dan.

    Go to comment
    2018/02/17 at 3:28 pm
  • From Lorenzo Costa on Some Recent Email Conversations

    Been passing by often. I have to get into reading all the posts again…. lots if inspiration.
    Can I ask what article you refer to by David Holmgren? The one you refer to speaking with Jacke
    Thanks

    Go to comment
    2018/02/17 at 4:29 pm
    • From Dan Palmer on Some Recent Email Conversations

      Thanks Lorenzo – that article was:

      THE PERMACULTURE MOVEMENT AND EDUCATION: SEARCHING FOR WAYS FORWARD (1993, available as part of DAVID HOLMGREN: COLLECTED WRITINGS & PRESENTATIONS 1978-2006). Here’s a quote for you:

      “We can take a permaculture approach in any (reasonable) job or profession but to jump to the conclusion that permaculture IS a job, career or profession is false. There is nothing wrong with people using permaculture design as a short hand way of saying they are garden or farm designers who use permaculture principles in their work. But when people suggest we need to make permaculture a design profession which can sit alongside other design professions and so achieve credibility in the wider society they are making several mistakes” (David Holmgren, 1993)

      Go to comment
      2018/02/18 at 12:34 pm
  • From lilian on Some Recent Email Conversations

    interesting but lot of text to scan through.

    Was wondering if you could use a pattern to highlight “golden nuggets” (specific things that made think twice, surprised you, great insights, themes, questions …) without diminishing the value of the original mails from the various authors ?

    Go to comment
    2018/02/18 at 3:12 am
    • From Dan Palmer on Some Recent Email Conversations

      Always great to hear from you Lilian!

      You are asking me to catch the fish, prepare them, and lay them out on a nice plate for you? 🙂

      My invitation, for anyone interested in such nuggets, is to wet a line yourself.

      Take in the whole scene: water, trees, clouds. See which fish leap up and grab your line.

      Along the way, should anyone find it “heartening and thrilling to feel the ripple of deep thinking resonance” (like at the least Sharn and myself do) – then please consider sharing in a comment or otherwise!

      Go to comment
      2018/02/18 at 11:46 am
  • From Spencer McGregor on Hannah Moloney on Permaculture Design, Business, and Life (E07)

    Interesting podcast but maybe let the guest speak more to follow their thoughts to a natural conclusion, you seem to interrupt quite a bit. Also, try to avoid saying “yes, ya, yep” etc. in agreement as it breaks up the flow a lot. Just some suggestions. Great job!

    Go to comment
    2018/02/20 at 4:33 pm
  • From Sue on In Dialogue with Dave Jacke (E06)

    Enjoying your podcasts.
    This was particularly insightful and has pointed me in good directions for exploring permaculture more as I was starting to feel there was a lack of credibility in the design field…….aka put in a swale 😀

    Go to comment
    2018/02/21 at 12:41 pm
  • From Anna Kingsley on Some Recent Email Conversations

    Thank you so much for posting these insightful comments Dan. I love the respect and kindness that the permiculture community affords each other.
    In my own experience I see a lot beautiful design plans from professionals bleaching in our ozone deficient sunshine on friends coffee tables in the ‘gunnado’ pile for years, while the reality outside the window remains an enormous lawn with a borer ridden lemon tree and a rotting rabbit hutch in the corner. While such features are often imbibed with their own subtle charms, they usually result in a plethora of mournful looks and dispirited sighing from the garden owner who gazes wistfully at the yellowing design under their coffee cup.
    I wonder if the long term stalling is an engagement issue between the designer and the land owner. I am guilty of it myself – friends will enthusastically ask me to visit and give them some ideas for their garden. Armed with a glass of wine I start pontificating at great length, waving my arms around enhancing vista’s with imagined plantings, vege plots, orchards etc, and will even write quite a bit down on a tomato sauce stained serviette. A year later they have one small distintergrating flax sogging in a mound of clay. It wasn’t their vision – it was mine. They weren’t engaged with it, they couldn’t see what I could see and it probably just didn’t resonate with them.
    I doubt many of us started with our entire garden plan laid out in front of us, the reality was probably baby steps, a lot of experimentation with what works best where and lots of mistakes (I like to refer to mistakes as ‘adding compost to the soil’ rather than ‘oh crap it died again’). And then there is the incredibly valuable years of relaxed evenings strolling around the garden discussing what we could do with this fabulous whatsit we just picked up for free, and would it work over there as something really useful and how it fits in with everything else. Surely that is the fun part, the evolution, the learning and doing it on the cheap. To me the idea of having a professional design your garden from scratch takes away a lot of that engagement, enjoyment and satisfaction.
    I find the concept of ‘professional’ permaculture designers a tiny bit of an oxymoron. I, perhaps naively, assumed that permaculture was all about the love, sharing knowledge, community building and gently trying to disrupt the world – not about charging $50 an hour. Personally I find it much more valuable to be part of a rich vibrant permaculture community of friends who visit, and with a glass of wine in hand, say “Oooh, have you thought about growing beans over that whatsit.”

    Go to comment
    2018/02/22 at 5:32 am
    • From Dan Palmer on Some Recent Email Conversations

      Thanks for your reply Anna – love it – you had me chuckling away merrily. I hope you’ll write more comments or a guest post some time and I am going to have to quote your words – you are able to make important points in such a fun and accessible way (are you a writer, per chance?).

      Now I shouldn’t reply here without owning the fact I regularly charge people a fair bit more than $50 per hour for something that might seem an awful lot like professional permaculture design (where I feel GREAT about the value I bring). It isn’t though. It is more like process mentoring or facilitation where permaculture is one important influence. Furthermore, there is zero time spent creating magnificent grand plans for the coffee table. It is all about being present to what is going on then honing in on a sensible next step, making it, then repeating. The sorts of rock-solid beginnings and continuings such processes generate in my experience are not possible over a casual friendly glass of wine. Invariably, however, in working this way we soon (maybe in the 6-12 month frame) become friends and the financial exchange gives way into a gifting space of friends helping each other out (when now the wine works wonders :-)).

      I realise as I write this there is an important discussion point here. My belief, which I’d be interested to have contrasted with that of others, is that is is HARD, as in really, really HARD, to kick off and gain momentum with a process of design and development or creation that deeply honours permaculture’s core aspiration to mimic natural process. Process that generates the flavours of deep beauty and life we feel in other healthy natural systems. It is easy to pepper a wish list of apparently desired elements around the place but hard to authentically unfold an organic system that manages to exclude all the imposition and mechanical thinking our culture is made of. That said, it is only hard because we’ve forgotten how easy it is, but that is a topic for another time.

      I welcome anyone’s thoughts on this!

      Thanks Anna and I hope to be in touch with you again – ideally to share good conversation over a wine in a beautiful garden :-).

      Go to comment
      2018/02/22 at 8:58 am
  • From Catherine Dunton-McLeod on A Second Dialogue with Dave Jacke (E08)

    Dan and Dave
    I really appreciate you sharing your lively conversation. It’s a delight to listen in on two colleagues leap frogging into deeper territory. I am changed by hearing it.

    Go to comment
    2018/02/25 at 6:04 am
    • From Dan Palmer on A Second Dialogue with Dave Jacke (E08)

      Thanks so much for sharing Catherine :-). I sure come out of every chat with Dave changed (though I might have to do some some leg stretches before I play leapfrog with him again…).

      Go to comment
      2018/02/26 at 4:28 pm
  • From John Carruthers on In Dialogue with Dave Jacke (E06)

    Undertaking a permaculture design is a very intentional act of personal responsibility. David Jacke’s assertion resonated powerfully with me. Working with you Dan, I’ve learned as a client just how integral is that wisdom to your practice. You can’t outsource design; you can outsource decorating or drafting: but they’re not the same thing at all, I’m coming to understand. Can’t wait to listen to part two. Colourful, super high-energy interview Dan.

    Go to comment
    2018/02/25 at 3:08 pm
  • From Tim Hill on A Second Dialogue with Dave Jacke (E08)

    Just finished the podcast- theres a great chemistry there for sure.
    My only observation is that there is very little explicit discussion of the role of strategy in design- either strategy without design or design without strategy. How might strategy be different from process and influence the final design? I just compared the cover page of permaculture one and two and there is a shift towards design in two whereas it is suprisingly absent in one- maybe this is where your fundamental answers might be found. However, as someone who is transitioning from full time employment into the permaculture space over the next 5 years I value your contribution and efforts. Thanks again.

    Go to comment
    2018/02/26 at 12:43 pm
    • From Dan Palmer on A Second Dialogue with Dave Jacke (E08)

      Greetings Tim! Hey before I reply would you mind clarifying what you mean by strategy, maybe with an example. Many thanks!

      Go to comment
      2018/02/26 at 4:23 pm
      • From Tim Hill on A Second Dialogue with Dave Jacke (E08)

        https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Strategy

        Also consider one of the oldest works on strategy- The Art of War by Sun Tzu

        look forward to your thoughts…..Tim

        Go to comment
        2018/02/27 at 11:03 am
        • From Tim Hill on A Second Dialogue with Dave Jacke (E08)

          Hi Dan
          This TedX talk is relevant to farming- not war.

          Go to comment
          2018/02/27 at 11:17 am
          • From Tim Hill on A Second Dialogue with Dave Jacke (E08)

            Hi Dan
            A fair point you make. My reflection is that Design is for the production of something which is relatively fixed in time (a watch, a hospital, a car) but for most of us meandering our way through a permaculture journey there is no fixed point or product- unless its the point we opt out of permaculture or leave the property. I was thinking of the ways we apply strategies in our business and personal lives and how they might also apply to permaculture.
            For example working with nature not against it could be seen as a permaculture strategy- there might be some instances where working against nature is a strategic decision to achieve a broader goal. ‘Diversification’ is a good strategy for some contexts but not others -particularly those with significant monthly outgoings.

            I chose to place my house lower than my septic trenches in order to maximise solar and wind access- but it means I needed an electric pump to move wastes up hill. In doing so I also freed up an area of high ground for a future market garden and flower nursery. So working against nature was a good strategic decision I made.

            I have recently joined a seed savers group- I will provide a small amount of plants/ seeds for free (a strategic loss) but will access an equivalent amount of plants/ seeds- which as a strategic investment will be massive and in line with my 5 year permaculture goal of a somewhat diversified perenial greens market garden.

            I just don’t think you need a masterplan or equivalent deign if you continually apply strategic thinking…

            Look forward to your next podcast.

            Go to comment
            2018/02/28 at 3:00 pm
          • From Dan Palmer on A Second Dialogue with Dave Jacke (E08)

            Thanks Tim and sorry for the delay in delivering my promised reply! What you’re calling strategic thinking is highly reminiscent of the strategic planning approach that David Holmgren learned from his design process mentor Haikai Tane. Was also alluded to here under the title David Holomgren.

            Go to comment
            2018/04/23 at 9:44 am
          • From makingpermaculturestronger on A Second Dialogue with Dave Jacke (E08)

            Thanks Tim though I would need a sentence on what you mean by strategy before replying – amongst your links there the word strategy is used/defined in so many different ways that it only amplifies my original motivation to ask for clarification as to what exactly you are talking about.

            Go to comment
            2018/02/27 at 8:45 pm
  • From John Carruthers on Hannah Moloney on Permaculture Design, Business, and Life (E07)

    What a lovely interview: Hannah was wonderful. Commonsense and joyful. The discussion about working with clients and saving them from being too hasty was very grounded. It was an effective counterpoint to other (albeit interesting) metaphysical discussions in this series around permaculture design process. Leavening! The design images and photographs filled out the the story beautifully too.] Good work.

    Go to comment
    2018/03/07 at 5:53 pm
  • From Chris Smyth on A Delightful Day of Designing with Dave Jacke

    Thanks for taking the time to share! I know what it takes to encapsulate such exhilarating and messy processes.

    I love the flexibility of the design process, and in particular, Dave’s work with it. Happy to learn what a whirlwind of a design day might look like.

    Go to comment
    2018/03/14 at 5:43 am
  • From Alexander Olsson on On the Relation between Designing and Implementing in Permaculture – Commentary from Anthony Briggs (Inquiry 2, Post 25)

    Great post Anthony, I really enjoy reading this knowledgeable response to Dan’s many inquiries.

    I totally agree with you that the design scale is a gradient from generative to fabricating, but I still feel strongly about winging it being an end-point on the scale of more arbitrary to less arbitrary. I recognise that there might be other areas of design where a fabricating approach might be warranted, but I am staring to feel like it doesn’t belong in permaculture.

    I see winging it as a step down a black hole. You are either in its grasp and sucked down or you are well aware of its potential pull and stay on the design path. There is a singularity that defines the point at which you are in the winging it zone. And about fabricating it, as I pointed out in my post here on MPS recently “Perhaps surprisingly, these fabricated designs, if not given plenty of time and flexibility for the implementation, have more elements of winging it than does the generative design approach.” and it feels like we are just “afraid of going too far in the process away from fabricating into the dangerous land of generating (a feeling I totally relate to)”, and that is the reason we so desperately want to place winging as an extreme of generative.

    What I think it boils down to is this: How does the implemented design make you feel when using the space that has been designed? If you are in a garden that has been winged, then you will feel the total randomness of stuff in wrong places. If you are in a garden that has a fabricated design, then you will feel the disconnectedness between the elements although you might find the master plan really pretty, when the owner or designer no doubt pulls it out to explain away why the garden has a certain bad feel about it (it is just not ready yet according to the master plan). When you are in a garden that has been generatively designed, then you will feel that someone was in the garden when it was designed and the physical details are not blurred by the scale of the drawn map (because there is no drawn map).

    If you did wake up every morning on a new farm with new animals and climatic conditions, winging it would still create a mentally uncomfortable place to be in. Hopefully, you would instead develop an adaptive attitude to the constantly changing environment, and generate a response to this peculiar situation.

    Go to comment
    2018/03/18 at 12:13 am
    • From Anthony Briggs on On the Relation between Designing and Implementing in Permaculture – Commentary from Anthony Briggs (Inquiry 2, Post 25)

      Hi Alexander,

      I think the core is that I disagree with the “more arbitrary” to “less arbitrary” scale. If a situation is clear and easy to understand, then it makes sense to be closer to the fabricating end of the scale – it’s not an arbitrary choice. Similarly if you don’t know which way to proceed, and wing it with something that looks promising – that’s not arbitrary either.

      I think mostly what you’re focusing on is “Fabricating gone wrong”, ie. where it’s been used in very changeable situations, and “Extreme winging it”, where you literally put things in at random. If your master plan has disconnection between the elements, is that because of the fabrication process? or has it just not been done very well?

      Say that you’re thinking of starting an organic market garden. That’s a well-trodden path: what to grow and how to lay it out, composting, market and competitor research, distribution, etc. are all pretty much solved problems. Lots of books, blog posts, Youtube videos, etc. You’re unlikely to gain much by dealing with any of that in a generative fashion (and if you did in that context then it would definitely be an arbitrary choice).

      If you plan it out, including the finances, wages, how much you’ll sell, how many polytunnels, seeds, compost, water, irrigation equipment, etc, you’ll make a lot of (cheap) mistakes on paper at the planning stage. While researching, you might even find it’s not viable at all, and save yourself a couple of years of pain and suffering.

      Of course, once your plan is “done”, then you monitor how it’s going as you implement it and prepare to deal with issues as they arise. But the act of planning ahead is not necessarily going to wreck a design, and is 100% necessary in some cases.

      Go to comment
      2018/03/18 at 6:29 pm
  • From John Carruthers on On the Relation between Designing and Implementing in Permaculture – Commentary from Anthony Briggs (Inquiry 2, Post 25)

    Great post Anthony. Good things will come from Permaculture making itself and the design-and-execution process thoughtfully porous to other domains of expertise. Your software pollination was a great example.

    Go to comment
    2018/03/18 at 9:50 am
  • From Alexander Olsson on On the Relation between Designing and Implementing in Permaculture – Commentary from Anthony Briggs (Inquiry 2, Post 25)

    I don’t agree with the “solved problem” statement. That’s only true if you are imposing a market garden on nature. For example, it is a known fact that you “need to drain your soil” if your soil is water-logged and you want to grow vegetables or even fruit trees. But what about working with this? How about growing things when the soil dries up or using the water to grow water-loving plants and animals? How about digging a pond and turning your veggie market garden into a aquaponic market garden? If we are stuck on one solution, then we always have to go to the text book of solved problems and force nature into this. I think you may have drifted away from permaculture design here somehow… the design starts well before you decide to start a market garden and that’s where it get’s interesting.

    Go to comment
    2018/03/20 at 3:57 am
    • From Anthony Briggs on On the Relation between Designing and Implementing in Permaculture – Commentary from Anthony Briggs (Inquiry 2, Post 25)

      I think you might be missing the point a bit here. It’s still a similar problem: Where will you sell your fish? What sort of fish grow well? How much will it cost to dig ponds and install pumps/filters/infrastructure? What foods will local restaurants buy? Are there even any local restaurants nearby? Talking to an established aquaculture person (for example) will give you tested answers to a lot of these questions.

      If your context is that you’ve bought a piece of land and you’re wondering what the hell to do with it, then sure, the solution has to fit that context too. Do aquaculture or whatever works for that land. But given a particular personal context, that land might not be right for you, and planning ahead will show that up *before* you put any money down.

      Go to comment
      2018/03/21 at 12:30 pm
  • From Paul d'Aoust on Jascha Rohr on the Field Process Model (E10)

    Heh, I recognise those books! How far have you gotten into them, Dan? How have you found them so far? I started on #4, The Luminous Ground (only because it was the only volume my library has), but I found it a bit dense, like the Silmarillion. I got through the Silmarillion… wasn’t so successful with The Luminous Ground. I’m happy people like you are distilling it for people like us.

    Looking forward to this interview; I’ve downloaded it into my podcast reader already!

    Go to comment
    2018/03/24 at 2:45 am
    • From makingpermaculturestronger on Jascha Rohr on the Field Process Model (E10)

      Hey Paul! I’ve read them all carefully and I’m a different designer and person for it. I would absolutely not recommend starting with The Luminous Ground – it really doesn’t make sense outside the context of the first three books. So I would say it is a good thing you didn’t get through it and hopefully you quit sooner rather than later :-). Volume Two, The Process of Creating Life was by far the biggest game changer for me, though Volumes One and Three were important also. But I agree that there needs to be more accessible introductions to them – something I’ll be putting more and more effort into in the coming years. Do let me know what you make of this episode by the way – is one of my favourites so far for sure…

      Go to comment
      2018/03/24 at 10:11 am
  • From makingpermaculturestronger on Jascha Rohr on the Field Process Model (E10)

    Thanks to Ed Christwitz for permission to pass on this comment he made on the episode (originally in the Pattern Science Community facebook group):

    Thank you for this relevant inter-dynamic generative metaphysical genius. The crystal melts, opens to re-informing, and re-crystallizes more in tune with the environment.

    Go to comment
    2018/03/25 at 7:51 am
  • From Angie O'Connor on In Dialogue with Dave Jacke (E06)

    Love this, Dan. Thank you so much – as much as Dave nuances that rationality and feelings are inextricable, I am very grateful that you call out permaculture for being afraid of feelings. I agree that the tension between adversely manipulating the natural landscape to service human needs and desires, really could resolve better if we intuit with humility, love and gratitude the “desires” of that landscape and all the living ‘elements”, while employing the rational analyses. Permaculture takes us closer to the Care ethics than other design processes, but sometimes it seems that our delight in clever intradependent generative systems can blind us to the hubris and sometimes even cruelty of our solutions. I’m thinking here of the occasions where we look to mechanistic animal services (say tractored pigs or chooks, and cell grazed animals left without protection from our harsh weather).
    I dunno, I love permaculture. But it is difficult indeed to achieve a balance between the Rightness of a permie livelihood and the ethics of care. I guess in the end there are as many subjective interpretations of the ethics and principles as there are practitioners 🙂
    Congrats on this venture. A philosophy of permaculture that will hopefully actually inform future practice! Wonderful!

    Go to comment
    2018/04/13 at 4:14 pm
  • From Angie O'Connor on Rosemary Morrow on Permaculture Design Process (E01)

    Dan,
    Rowe has the wisdom and compassion of a sage. Bless her.
    I hope she publishes again.
    Bill seemed to arrive at a similar place. He speaks of the importance of protecting the profound beauty of life in his Intro to PC text. He even exhorts us to refrain from taking animals’ lives unless absolutely necessary.
    As we can hear with Rowe at the end of your podcast, holding this position publicly is problematic and actually takes more courage than even Rowe, and certainly the rest of we mere mortals in permie-world dare admit.
    My own feeling is that if we raise young people to care for the plight of the ant in our path (when possible), let alone the forest and her communities, we raise a generation that could turn this clusterfuck around. Empathy, not rationality, is the human experience that could elevate us to a place of true stewardship.
    Really enjoying your podcasts while I knit my stepdaughter a jumper :), You’ve got me thinking about the “design” of our community of elements (teen students) in Drew and my Sustainability project at Templestowe College. Hope to touch base with you about it. It’s pretty amazing for lost young guys with some grouse sustainable building, plumbing, forging, duckaponics, micro-enterprises etc as well as very bad language when they think you’re out of earshot!! They’re fantastic! As are the girls of course
    Angie

    Go to comment
    2018/04/14 at 6:04 pm
  • From Jason Ross on Video Update from Dan (April 1st, 2018)

    Thanks for the video Dan, good to see the face behind the words again! Keep up the stoking!

    Go to comment
    2018/04/22 at 6:04 am
  • From Jason Ross on Jascha Rohr on the Field Process Model (E10)

    Epic! I now find it useful to imagine this field process model in the form of a sweet round fruit when approaching a project. For example a couple upcoming projects, both suburban gardens with an already established gardens but with new owners wanting to make changes. The whole of the property as it is, the people that live there, myself employed to facilitate this evolution, the plants and animals already there; I can visualise as participateurs together in this evolving field, coming together for the tranformation that is required at that time. A node in a continuing process.

    That particular field (project) swells in significance in the lives of the participateurs for that time, linking & merging with the other fields of our lives also evolving at the same time (family, home, personal projects, other overlapping jobs!).

    Again these enquiries illuminate the value of working the the unique qualities of the place and the people, including myself employed as the ‘professional help’. Jascha’s point that there has not been a quality process unless all of the participateurs have been transformed is both empowering and freeing of conventional restraints that I impose on myself in an attempt to provide a ‘professional’ service. The best result will emerge through my participation being natural, honest and subjective. All great stuff to highlight and to work on.

    Go to comment
    2018/04/22 at 7:25 am
  • From Jason Ross on On the Relation between Designing and Implementing in Permaculture – Commentary from Anthony Briggs (Inquiry 2, Post 25)

    Hey Anthony, thanks for this. Being a visual rather than wordy person I appreciate your diagrams a lot.

    The “act of planning ahead is not necessarily going to wreck a design”, true, except if you then follow the plan without constant reassessing of the site context as you move along.

    I am glad you mention different scenarios, we need to talk about specific projects otherwise this is all very abstract!

    All projects and people start with a history, “winging it” is impossible, we all carry knowledge and cultural norms and influences into whatever we do.

    Is our goal in Permaculture is to enable humans to lead productive, enjoyable lives engaged with the beauty and life energy of nature? We invite nature in, we humbly work in co-creation of landscapes. Perhaps this is the most important ‘yeild’, to be engaged in the ongoing process of of doing, observing while doing, being active, making decisions, tweaking the system we are a part of.

    We aim to be engaged, see Ben Falks ‘Habits of the Mind’. I saw a book recently titled “Know Maintenance Gardening”, haven’t read it but that title says so much about the mistake we make in trying to design ourselves out of the system (low maintenance gardens) when we want to be engaged, as in chop and drop systems. To know plants/animals etc intimately, what a pleasure.

    Experiencing the evolution of a system is a yield. Allow it in. Overwhelming Fabrication/Construction excludes this also. Therefore in your Actual Control diagram we would want to guide the actual control of our situation towards ‘Changing’ to allow for the ongoing yield of experiencing system evolution. To move into chaos or predictability reduces this yeild.

    Thanks for the space to articulate thoughts Dan!

    Go to comment
    2018/04/22 at 10:06 am
  • From Peta Hudson on Rosemary Morrow on Permaculture Design Process (E01)

    I am listening to this sometime after it was recorded and many years since I studied with Rowe back in ’91. I have since taught and designed both in Oz and Aotearoa NZ and I am hearing much of what she taught to us which is very heartening! There have been so many developments of the permaculture approach and I have often wondered if I am too ‘old school’ but the foundations are strong and Rowe has always been clear on them.
    It was interesting when she talked about teaching micro climates as it brought back the very simple walk she took us on over the road from the Blackheath Neighbourhood Centre in the Blue Mountains where we found an avocado growing against a brick wall with a tarred road alongside and with bamboo growing on either side. One example after all these years and it’s as if I saw it yesterday! I am eternally grateful for her teachings.

    Go to comment
    2018/04/24 at 6:12 pm
  • From Grifen Hope on Jascha Rohr on the Field Process Model (E10)

    Wonderful! Thank you

    Springs to mind sympoiesis and sintropy – as Nature.

    I can see in the model internal and external, mind-like and matter-like emerging entities. I see culture and nature, and landscapes. Beautiful!

    Great! Aha 🙂

    Go to comment
    2018/04/26 at 12:22 am
  • From Will Heffernan on Weak Link Analysis – What is it?

    Dan,
    It is so bizarre to end up here where it began with regards this ‘project’ and see you referencing bodybuilding. I have been reading about permaculture whether it be under that label or not and watching videos on youtube on homesteading, composting, farming, organic farming etc etc etc for around a year and about a fortnight ago almost simultaneously stumble across your involvement in VEG and Wicking Beds from completely different angles. This past week I have been driving to and from work listening to your podcasts and thinking about you examination of permaculture and smiling at the huge number of parallels there are with sport science which like permaculture is quite a young ‘science’.
    Listening to your discussions made me think about all the new practitioners that come into the ‘science’ getting exposed to all these new processes, procedures, tools and wanting to use and experiment with them all. Wanting to race forward and put them ALL into practice immediately….and I know this because it is EXACTLY what I did when I started 🙂
    The thing is the more time that passes the fewer tools, the more basic and stripped back the process becomes. If you compared programs that I write for full time professional athletes operating at the highest level and compared them to the programs that newly qualified personal trainers write for beginner trainees I am sure that most people would think them reversed.
    I look forward to talking to you in the future as I see so many intersections and similarities in the relationships between permaculture and sports science and permaculture designers and coaches.

    Go to comment
    2018/04/28 at 9:30 am
  • From John Carruthers on A Taste of the Fourteenth Australasian Permaculture Convergence

    Brenna’s lyrical drawings will make a fabulous complement to your thoughtful musings in your forthcoming book. Bring it on! Slowly.

    Go to comment
    2018/04/29 at 7:46 am
  • From Ian Lillington on Making Permaculture Stronger at IPC17 India

    In response to http://makingpermaculturestronger.net/making-permaculture-stronger-at-ipc17-india/

    A great read, quite poetic, but also level-headed when it comes to the 20 numbered dot points. In SE Australia we have a Permaculture Educators’ Guild {PEG} with 71 p’c trainers on the mailing list and 20 active teacher/trainer/mentors who meet and actively address these points. Not all of them, yet, but most. The PEG approach could be replicated as a ‘guild’ of teacher/trainer/mentors in any area. Practically, for us, it works best for people within about 200km of Melbourne, and why not similar for 200km from any other metro area as the hub. Or in other areas where there is not a dominant hub, other patterns apply.

    Of course there are more than 20. No denying it, and I dont deny that there are culture-wide issues such as patriarchy and colonialism. But i do question whether they are being “problematically perpetuated within the permaculture community.” Altho not at IPC I have talked to many who were there and they almost all seem to repeat this as a stock phrase. It is possible that culture-wide issues such as patriarchy and colonialism are being problematically perpetuated within the permaculture community. But when I ask for examples, none are given. Nor do I see much evidence that Holmgren’s suggestion that ‘self criticism is essential ‘ …is being … ‘balanced by affirmation and recognition of self worth’. Did u not hear about the women and men of p’c in Africa, Asia and latin america who are doing the very opposite of perpetuating the problems that we have worked so hard to counter? Is there not a risk of a p’c dogma developing here that amounts to unhelpful and destructive self-flagellation?

    Go to comment
    2018/05/07 at 2:14 pm
    • From David Hursthouse on Making Permaculture Stronger at IPC17 India

      Kia ora Ian,

      Thanks for the feedback! A similar Permaculture Educator’s Guild exists in New Zealand as well – likely inspired in part by you and your peers. Many thanks for your great work. There was also a focused Hui (Convergence) last year in NZ involving education-oriented Permies focusing on improving Permaculture Education in NZ – part of that involving conversations around PEG and standards/Code of Ethics etc. I am wondering if your PEG and our PEG are in touch at all?

      It is good that you question that idea. That is the intention here – to question. As stated ‘we haven’t even touched’ on those questions yet. At this stage, I personally am not prepared to say definitively either way whether Permaculture as a whole is perpetuating or breaking down some of those patterns. I can share that in New Zealand there is an ongoing struggle to make Permaculture relevant to indigenous peoples and to engage them in the movement. Our Permaculture population is overwhelmingly of European descent. There is an ongoing discourse here around those themes, and I know in many other places around the world – plus active online dialogue. If this is something that interests anyone, I encourage them to seek those conversations out.

      I sure was fortunate enough to meet and speak with a number of people from the places you mention – Africa, Asia, Latin America. No one could deny the brilliant work being facilitated in countries all over the world. Remembering as well that this event was deep in the heart of rural India – I lived and worked with a multi-cultural team for many months. I also witnessed large-scale conversations about ‘Decolonising Permaculture’ both at the IPC and in a number of other locations, attended by a diversity of people including those doing such great work in Africa, Asia and Latin America (among many other places). If nothing else, these sessions demonstrate that there is energy for these conversations.

      I don’t think this comment thread is the place to unpack such enormous and nuanced topics (they really need a space of their own), but I encourage you to continue asking those questions, to ask a diversity of people and to listen to the answers. Maybe you could share with us one day the reflections that emerge!

      Go to comment
      2018/05/07 at 3:51 pm
      • From Ian Lillington on Making Permaculture Stronger at IPC17 India

        Hi David; thanks. Aside from the content of this discussion, I am becoming increasingly focused on WHERE IS the place to unpack such discussions. I had been somewhat involved in the Global Colab and the PIRN, but not sure they have the right space either. Meanwhile I do my bit to save [on my computer] some relevant threads of conversations; hopefully to be useful later.

        Go to comment
        2018/05/07 at 4:28 pm
        • From Paul d'Aoust on Making Permaculture Stronger at IPC17 India

          Ian, I like the idea of a permaculture database. I know a lot of people have tried it before, with varying levels of success… Lots of years ago, I was part of a group that forked from the permaculture mailing list on ibiblio. Lots of talk, but we didn’t get anywhere, because there were so many diverging ideas about what it should be. For now, we have PFAF, Appropedia, the wiki at Apios Institute, and a couple others whose names I forget.

          So the question is, is this a valuable resource? Are the existing tools enough, and we just need one more wiki to map out the nature of permaculture itself? I think the biggest problem with creating a resource like this is, how do you get a critical mass of participants, actively co-creating the content? I think the problem is twofold:

          Critical mass always the problem of new initiatives, especially digital shared spaces. What sort of energy does it take to get this resource snowballing?
          The best permaculture designers are busy out there, building stuff and regenerating ecosystems of all sorts. They would rather not be tapping away on the computer. Is there any way to connect into the processes they’re already part of, to make it as frictionless as possible for them to contribute?

          Building the software is easy, and fun. Building the community is hard. But I for one ache for that sort of resource.

          One question I have is, how does one make that resource mimic natural systems? It seems like having one monolithic resource, no matter how open it is to contributors, leaves little room for diversity and neglects the excellent resources that already exist. If there were one resource, it’d be nice if it were at least in part an aggregator of existing information. Fortunately, the killer feature of HTML is the humble hyperlink, so this might not be all that hard.

          One of the reasons I’ve been out of touch with the MPS conversation is that I’m part of a team building Holochain, a platform for distributed applications that are governed by their users. It’s exciting stuff, lots of biomimicry and systems thinking going on in the minds of the core dev team. (It’s as if some permaculture designers got together and decided to redesign the Internet.) I wonder if Holochain could provide a platform to help solve some of these problems of governance and cultural norms in the permaculture community — and perhaps even some of the problems of designers not being able to make a dignified income.

          If anyone is interested in this but has come away from the above websites more confused about what Holochain and Ceptr are all about, I’m totally happy to have a conversation here about it.

          Go to comment
          2018/06/05 at 3:47 am
        • From Ian Lillington on Making Permaculture Stronger at IPC17 India

          In answer to my WHERE question – I’m thinking that we may need an Independent Permaculture Data Base {IPDB} like imdb, where each topic can have an on-going space for ‘review’.

          But also considering that perhaps MPS is The place for IPDB?

          Go to comment
          2018/05/09 at 8:07 pm
          • From Paul d'Aoust on Making Permaculture Stronger at IPC17 India

            Ian, I like the idea of a permaculture database. I know a lot of people have tried it before, with varying levels of success… Lots of years ago, I was part of a group that forked from the permaculture mailing list on ibiblio. Lots of talk, but we didn’t get anywhere, because there were so many diverging ideas about what it should be. For now, we have PFAF, Appropedia, the wiki at Apios Institute, and a couple others whose names I forget.

            So the question is, is this a valuable resource? Are the existing tools enough, and we just need one more wiki to map out the nature of permaculture itself? I think the biggest problem with creating a resource like this is, how do you get a critical mass of participants, actively co-creating the content? I think the problem is twofold:

            Critical mass always the problem of new initiatives, especially digital shared spaces. What sort of energy does it take to get this resource snowballing?
            The best permaculture designers are busy out there, building stuff and regenerating ecosystems of all sorts. They would rather not be tapping away on the computer. Is there any way to connect into the processes they’re already part of, to make it as frictionless as possible for them to contribute?

            Building the software is easy, and fun. Building the community is hard. But I for one ache for that sort of resource.

            One question I have is, how does one make that resource mimic natural systems? It seems like having one monolithic resource, no matter how open it is to contributors, leaves little room for diversity and neglects the excellent resources that already exist. If there were one resource, it’d be nice if it were at least in part an aggregator of existing information. Fortunately, the killer feature of HTML is the humble hyperlink, so this might not be all that hard.

            One of the reasons I’ve been out of touch with the MPS conversation is that I’m part of a team building Holochain, a platform for distributed applications that are governed by their users. It’s exciting stuff, lots of biomimicry and systems thinking going on in the minds of the core dev team. (It’s as if some permaculture designers got together and decided to redesign the Internet.) I wonder if Holochain could provide a platform to help solve some of these problems of governance and cultural norms in the permaculture community — and perhaps even some of the problems of designers not being able to make a dignified income.

            If anyone is interested in this but has come away from the above websites more confused about what Holochain and Ceptr are all about, I’m totally happy to have a conversation here about it.

            Go to comment
            2018/06/05 at 3:46 am
  • From Angie O'Connor on Rosemary Morrow on Permaculture Design Process (E01)

    Hi Dan
    Didn’t see your reply till now.
    As is my schtick, I started that comment above motivated by concern for animals in permaculture. I always feel they draw a short straw in any consideration of ethics. We’re very comfortable with the notion of care of people, and of course we are all about rescuing the planet, but with animals we tend to see utility, not wonderment and empathy. So yep, dear Rowe gets a superwoman vote from me for her comments on this.
    Now, her cape 😉 I’ll commission our students to knit it from the handspun alpaca and sheep fleece harvested from our permie urban farm at Templestowe College. I’m thinking a lot, Dan about the iterative design process we guide, as each semester new and continuing elements (students) interconnect through interests and skills, to generate new projects, all in the advancement of an overall student community sustainability enterprise, manifested in physical space. What Drew and I love most is not so much teaching applied permaculture, but that through permaculture students can realize themselves in new and unexpected ways. Permaculture opportunities are the real teacher. This is fantastic for the fledgling eco-warriers of course, but we have come to believe, such programs should be available generically if schools are to prevent disaffected youth falling through the gaps. Permaculture with its eco-construction, resourceful problem-solving, old and new technologies, fundamentals of multiple branches of science (especially interpersonal psychology!), alternative and responsible small economic ventures, food, animals, art, ethics, and also physical work… permaculture with all of this has become at TC a welcome home for boys, girls, and as it happens some gender-fluid youngsters, who are drifting and hurting.
    It’s pretty damned powerful! So go you good things with its strengthening (and don’t forget the non-human animals 🙂

    Go to comment
    2018/05/23 at 5:13 pm
  • From Trevor Lohr on A question asked of David Holmgren during his closing address to the 14th Australasian Permaculture Convergence

    It’s great to see this conversation flourishing at the international level. It seems like different communities and industries all over the world are approaching the same issue when it comes to making decisions, creating functional and beautiful structures and spaces, sharing dialogue and changing systems.

    I have been seeing a common thread across most disciplines of the story of interconnection of “wholes” and their iterative evolution of form through adaptive growth and release. The concept is so much older than the more modern view of separation between people, between humans and nature, or even between matter and space. It may seem superfluous to talk in such philosophical terms, but the difference between the story of separation and the story of inter-Being is clearly at the core of the systems we are talking about, whether it’s design, ecology, politics, economy or the nature of the self. Surely I’m preaching to the choir here, but I’m building towards a point.

    Most recently I came to realize the similarity between Christopher Alexander’s Nature of Order, Socratic Dialogue, Buddhist Dialectical teaching and Marx’s Dialectical Materialism. They all view the world through the lens of interconnected processes which are constantly evolving. Marx describes the processes through three stages: Thesis is the existing order and processes which maintain it, Antithesis is the negation of the existing order and the processes that force change, and Synthesis is the resulting order of the balance of those forces over time and the “negation of the negation”. So a chair is not a static object, but a balanced and evolving result of the order of particles existing against the forces of time and gravity which degrade the initial conditions. The point is that systems do not just change in a vacuum, but evolve through the processes which shape them, and always from a state of existing conditions to another.

    Socrates, the Buddha, and many other named and unnamed people recognized this pattern thousands of years ago. Whole societies grew out of the recognition of the natural processes which generate systems through unfolding patterns. Socrates and the Buddha both used a system of dialogue that focuses on listening to others’ abstract perspectives and claims about the world and then responding by demonstrating their negation. They realized, like Alexander demonstrates, that our notions of systems and how they work are often abstractions that only serve to disconnect us from the real world, and thereby reinforce the story of separation. It is only through the story of interdependence and holistic connectedness that we can truly understand, on a deep intuitive level, the influential balance between self and other, subject and object or matter and space. I think many stories across history tell us that humans are their most human selves when they recognize the dance between individual and environment as a coherent whole.

    Luckily, it appears that the core belief in the connected Being-ness of all things has not only survived the 20th century, but it is rapidly spreading around the world. Many Americans seem to feel like they are taking a breath of fresh air as they learn about natural systems and old/new ways of holistic management in its various forms. I don’t want to start a war in the comments here by getting political, but I think the various historical and present “communist” movements by people to gain control of their own communities were, at their heart, based on permaculture ideals of earth care, people care and fair/sustainable reinvestment of surplus value. They were reactions to the forces and conditions of a predatory global market system.

    Recently, I’ve seen wealthy New York City hedge funders talk about the segment of billionaires who want to contribute to community resilience and regeneration, and help shift the market economy to more of a gift economy with human values at the center! Yet, few of these Americans realize that this conversation has been happening in developing countries for over a century, and that America waged war to stop that conversation and that new type of economy from evolving and spreading here into the heart of global capitalism. Our citizens have been persuaded to view those people and countries that have been externalized and exploited for our way of life as the enemy, as communists and terrorists. If those words raise the hairs on the back of the neck, please realize that we should not be afraid to talk about a democratic economic system for acquiring the things we need and desire. Please understand that no one has the answers for how that system will look and function, except that it will likely take many different local forms.

    I bring this up because I hear this conversation happening in so many communities, but if I bring up the fact that there’s an existing, century-long body of knowledge, experience and hardship that people around the world have been through under the generalized label of “communism”, everyone automatically rejects that that’s what we’re talking about. Usually the reaction is the rapid citing of atrocities that were actually the result of many forces and conditions clashing between different systems, least of which were the people trying to cooperatively organize and build their own communities without exploitation by exterior organizations. Now, America is becoming familiar with the feeling of worker exploitation and inequality, and similar ideas for change are bubbling to the surface. This is what Marx called class consciousness, which is the growing awareness of the 99%.

    Despite my rhetoric, I’m actually not a communist; I just believe that people should have a voice and power over their own lives. Isn’t that what’s at the core of permaculture? Community self sufficiency was the norm for thousands of years because local economies were based on unique cultures and trust, and sustainability meant preventing too much runaway growth. Holmgren’s concept of energy descent is the only realistic way for regular people to empower themselves to meet their needs and wants in the face of a great reduction in the flow of energy through global society. I think he’s right that Permaculture will cease to be a named concept as communities transition to a leaner localized economy because their diverse practices will just become the normal way of life (maybe that’s not exactly what he meant?).

    In conclusion, can we let go of divisive generalizing labels which trigger old fears, and welcome the experience and wisdom of all who have engaged in the great experiment to rebalance power at the community level? I think we have to recognize that designing from an intuitive place in our hearts and minds to build beautiful, functional, regenerative communities and landscapes is at its core an antithesis to designing and building from market conditions. Breaking those chains is an ongoing process which extends through all disciplines and aspects of our society and communities. Getting to that place where we can actually talk about the creative process inside the black box of “design process” requires nothing less than a radical shift in the stories that define our worldview from one of separation to the story of inter-Being… or whatever you want to call it.

    Go to comment
    2018/06/06 at 1:55 am