Comments

  • 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 https://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?

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    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 Dan Palmer on Making Permaculture Stronger at IPC17 India

            Paul thanks and I for one would LOVE to hear a few paragraphs explaining Holochain and Ceptr for dummies and especially how they draw on and embody biomimicry and systems thinking.

            Go to comment
            2018/07/16 at 2:30 pm
        • 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
    • From Dan Palmer on A question asked of David Holmgren during his closing address to the 14th Australasian Permaculture Convergence

      Thanks muchly for this thought-provoking contribution Trevor – I’m not sure about all your points and comparisons but I love and second your closing statement!: “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” damned straight!

      Go to comment
      2018/07/16 at 2:27 pm
  • From Alexander Olsson on Summary and Conclusion to our Inquiry into the Relation between Designing and Implementing in Permaculture (Inquiry 2, Post 26)

    Looking forward to future posts! Will be great to get stuck into generation again.

    Go to comment
    2018/06/27 at 7:40 pm
  • From Alec on The Resilio Studio Design Process Primer: Part Three - Finn and Gary's reply to the first instalment of Dan's review

    This is just a quick, self-indulgent brain-splurge on the rational bias in design, and on the previous post’s question about whether to stick with the word “design” at all.

    I feel like the rational bias in definitions of design actually allow us to put it in its proper (subordinate) place in a generative process. I’ll take Alexander’s two-part transformation as the template of a generative process: perceive the whole and what transformation it suggests to you, then make that transformation, then repeat. (Bit of a cartoon rendering, but I don’t have any of his giant tomes open in front of me to quote from.)

    Anyway, when the the less rational, more juicy-feely, pre-conscious stuff is appropriate, it happens in step one: perceive the whole (with your whole squishy mind-body), and let the best transformation come to you.
    I see “design” coming into it like this: depending on how consequential the transformation is, something may need to be done between these two steps (perceiving and transforming).

    If the whole we are transforming is, for example, a flow of improvised music (very low on any scale of permanence), nothing need be inserted here, perception and transformation can be a virtually undifferentiated whole. If what we are transforming is part of a landscape that we’re turning into a large dam (high on scales of permanence), a crinkle in the perception-transformation whole suggests itself: there needs to be something between them to prevent unintended or undesirable consequences.

    What that actually is could be any of a number of cognitive processes: engineering, permaculture principles, holistic decision-making tests, financial calculations, even rational reminders to check in on our emotions. I guess we can either conceive of design processes as mental models to apply alongside these others, or if we really want to elevate its importance, we can think of it as the tool that allows us to choose the best mental models to use in this particular transformation.

    So in the example of a dam, our deep perception of the people and the site suggest to us a water feature, so now we do some design: we map, mark and draw, we calculate capacity and cost, lay out water levels for the earth mover, and so on. Then we do the transformation, then we go back to perceiving the whole.

    So I see design as a small part of the generative transformation as a whole. It’s okay that it’s biased towards the rational because its role can be to serve the warm, complex, touchy-feely stuff with whatever cold, complicated, rational process will be most helpful in getting the overall transformation right.

    And why not just call the whole generative process “design”? Because the word already has a meaning, and that meaning (as you’ve so ably demonstrated on MPS) is antithetical to generative transformation processes. So if we relegate design to a useful little piece of the process, it gets to keep its meaning, and we can draw on it whenever we need to while we lovingly generate wholeness-preserving transformations everywhere.

    Or something. Sorry that got so long, this stuff gives me designarrhea.

    Go to comment
    2018/07/09 at 11:26 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

      Beautifully put Alec! Or something indeed. It is a pleasure to read someone thinking/writing so fluently about this stuff.

      I have found one potentially complicating factor in pursuing this line of thought. In my experimentation with this kind of approach, the boundaries between perceiving/sensing/feeling the whole situation as it is now, ‘designing’ and crash testing possible transformations (or what I’ve come to call a BNS or best next step) and then actively transforming the situation are very very fuzzy (I’d also argue that rational operations are very much present in all three phases). Like Alexander’s ‘gradual stiffening’ pattern, I tend to find that I cannot point at any particular moment in an attempt at living process and say “okay, now we are done sensing, let’s start designing” or “okay, enough design, let’s start transforming.”

      What this means for me is that it seems like either “design” gets the flick all together (which was probably Alexander’s inclination) or it gets generalised, spread out to encompass the whole, which as I explained above remains my temporary strategy in trying to move this whole conversation forward. Do keep chiming in though please – I particularly appreciated your “a crinkle in the perception-transformation whole suggests itself” and how the permanence continuum relates to whether there even is a crinkle and if so how large it is…

      Go to comment
      2018/07/09 at 4:29 pm
      • From Alec on The Resilio Studio Design Process Primer: Part Three - Finn and Gary's reply to the first instalment of Dan's review

        Hi Dan, thanks for the reply! As always, you strike a great balance between deep thinking and clear expression. Unfortunately for you, I’m going to reply with some half-baked thoughts, because it helps clarify my thinking and will hopefully draw out some more of your thinking for us to enjoy.

        I agree fully with the second paragraph of your reply, and I think what you’re describing is sort of the ideal state for a generative process. But I do take issue with stretching design to encompass the whole process, and I think design itself might in fact be permaculture’s Type One Error (which you’re having to expend so much energy to correct). Leaving aside for a moment the more theoretical concerns of what design is and what we’re actually doing in a generative process (which I could uselessly waffle on about forever), I have some more down-to-earth concerns.

        I’m a beginning farmer working on rented land. There’s a lot of us in this situation, and I don’t thing I’m the only one who started farming because of inspiration from permaculture, but who at the same time finds permaculture close to useless in making decisions about my farm enterprise. On a theoretical level, reading Allan Savory and Christopher Alexander made me feel that design is in fact an error in itself, and without design permaculture basically offers nothing. Since I’ve started my own farm, the practical realities have pretty much confirmed this. (In fact, your efforts on MPS are the only thread keeping me attached to permaculture at the moment).

        Part of the reason for this is that when land tenure is insecure, you work exclusively at the low end of the scale of permanence, where (as I’ve argued above) you don’t need design very much: it’s lean, agile, test-driven, fail-fast, quick-feedback stuff (think pastured broilers or intensive salad crops). I constantly need to plan and make decisions, but if the verb of permaculture is to design then it doesn’t help me much with these (unless you totally change its meaning, as suggested by you and many other deep thinkers on this).

        I do, however, find Holistic Management very helpful. In an odd way, I also find Alexander’s work helpful, because of the simplicity and near universality of the differentiation, BNS and gradual stiffening approaches. Always hanging just out of sight, I also have a cloudy vision of some simple process that unites all these modalities in a useful way, which I’m sure is what we’re all groping towards. I would love it if permaculture became that umbrella process, but if it defines itself as design, I don’t think it will, for two reasons (both of which I think you’ve already alluded to, but don’t really feel resolved to me).

        One, we would have to change the meaning of design to encompass all conscious action (as suggested in the above blog post). When I try to apply this kind of definition to my life, it feels pretty useless. Maybe when I do some budgeting work in a spreadsheet, I’m actually designing a budget or designing my expenditures. But it feels more useful to say that I’m budgeting (which is a really-existing, practical procedure). It’s conscious, future-oriented action, but it’s not design. And if I’m doing it in the context of a holistic or ecological understanding, then it can be permaculture, even though it’s not design.

        Two, if design just becomes any conscious action, we lose the use of the word for those things that it really applies to. When I do a drawing of a chicken tractor I’m going to build, it’s a useful application of design that has practical benefits, like knowing what materials to buy. Again, what might make it permacultural or generative is that I do it within a context of a holistic understanding. But it’s still design as a subsidiary activity, in the same way that budgeting, planned grazing, composting, and tooth brushing are all potentially useful actions to perform within a holistic context.

        I’m guessing here, but I feel like this becomes even more important if we want people in various design professions to embrace permaculture. If they they have to abandon their well-developed (if flawed) understandings of design and replace them with something new, they might be less likely to come along than if they can place their existing understandings within a more holistic context. In this way, for example, architects, engineers, landscape designers and farmers could all feel that they are performing their professional activity within the context of permaculture, rather than replacing their practices with a new process.

        One immediate benefit of making design a subsidiary, optional part of permaculture is that the many of us proceeding with ecological regeneration by starting on rented land with Salatin-style enterprises or annual market gardening can feel like we are still doing permaculture. We’re not designing much, but we’re constantly performing transformations of our life-business-wholes. These transformations are necessarily low on the scale of permanence, but they are guided by the holistic vision and ethics of permaculture, and we hope they will gradually stiffen into more mature wholes. Maybe someday we’ll even need a design procedure that tells where to plant big trees. In the meantime, it would be nice if permaculture could embrace these activities even when they don’t include design.

        So to summarize all this guff: permaculture feels most useful to me when it can be the broad holistic process that includes useful subsidiary procedures. The basic process is to perceive the whole as fully as possible and transform it incrementally to become more alive. Within this process we may draw on procedures such as design, budgeting, surgery, meditation, breakdancing etc. Permaculture is less useful when it focuses on design as the thing we should be doing, because most of the time it’s not the thing we’re doing.

        OK, all finished. Apologies for spraying this mess all over the place, if nothing else it’s been therapeutic for me.

        Go to comment
        2018/07/10 at 12:53 am
  • From Meg McGowan on Morag Gamble on Permaculture, Life, and Citizen Design (E13)

    Thanks so much for this wonderful interview, Dan. I have often thought that permaculture provides us with the model for the best way to be human, and Morag is just one piece of hard evidence for that. Such a generous and inspirational person.

    Go to comment
    2018/07/15 at 3:57 pm
  • From Will Heffernan on Morag Gamble on Permaculture, Life, and Citizen Design (E13)

    Already looking forward to the next instalment. About the head down the Our Permaculture Life blog and Morag’s YouTube page rabbit hole for further information and inspiration.

    Go to comment
    2018/07/16 at 1:37 pm
  • From Dan Palmer on Positive, negative and neutral design - guest post by Shane Simonsen

    Thanks for these thoughts Shane. I was interested in the obvious synergy between this distinction you’re exploring and a past comment I made a while back that I’ll be coming back to and developing further in a few posts time:

    Differentiation just means to make different. Whether you use the word differentiate, transform, make different, change, modify, reconfigure, etc etc, the upshot is any process of design and/or creation is a sequence of [insert your preferred word here]. Each of these changes might involve addition (I bring home an apple tree to plant), multiplication (I decide to times that by ten), subtraction (I get rid of the rose bush), division (I partition the yard into two terraces), or morphing or merging or otherwise rearranging what is already there, or any number of other change types. In all cases you have differentiated the whole you are working with. You have made it different. In most cases, each change or differentiation simultaneously involves many of these things. I divide a room in two by adding and assembling some bits of wood and screws. And so on. The take away point is that we tend in our culture to display an unconscious bias in our designing and creating toward adding/assembly, when this is not only missing most of the tool box, but it is out of alignment with the fact that in nature things tend to grow where addition/assembly is an underling of division (e.g., in order for a cell to divide various molecules etc must come in from outside the system, and, sure, if you like, be assembled). It is also going to get harder and harder to do in an energy decent future. But most importantly, it is not the whole shebang. Hopefully over time we’ll all enlarge the vocabulary with which we describe the changes going on inside permaculture design process (where a problematically strong bias toward addition/assembly has been evident).

    Go to comment
    2018/07/25 at 10:32 am
  • From John Carruthers on Positive, negative and neutral design - guest post by Shane Simonsen

    It required some reflection on my behalf to absorb the underlying value of Shane’s three-part classification. Better still when I saw beyond the troika to understand it as one long spectrum of choices it gained even more potency. Asking the right question up front is worth the effort because it reveals alternatives. Like not doing. Or only doing a bit. Lao Tzu would nod in approval. Useful Shane (and Dan): thank you.

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    2018/07/25 at 10:53 am
  • From Paul Meagher on On the Relation between Designing and Implementing in Permaculture – Part 22

    First observation: In your diagram, over the “Hybrid” approach you have the “unfolding” label. Shouldn’t the “imposing” and “unfolding” boundary lines meet above the middle of the “Hybrid” box? Adhering to the high-level design involves an element of imposition while assimilating feedback into your detailed design involves an element of unfolding? Connecting the boundaries above the Hybrid box, instead of to the left, would potentially clarify what “hybrid” means in your diagram.

    Second observation: Seems to me that engineers are expected to take a fabricating approach to design. So are your cross marks and check marks contextual – true in the context of landscape design but not necessarily true in other contexts? One might even say that winging it is appropriate in cases of significant uncertainty. Just putting in a garden without much knowledge is better than putting in no garden at all because at least you set yourself up to learn. I appreciate that you are trying to make recommendations for doing design better, but certain disciplines like civil and structural engineering seem like they are pretty heavily invested in a fabricating approach and their clients are often expecting quite detailed designs from them. Perhaps they would adopt the approaches you are suggesting if given the time, resources and creative leeway to do so. The fabricating approach may be the compromise position given the constraints engineer-types typically operate under.

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    2018/07/26 at 11:42 pm
    • From Dan Palmer on On the Relation between Designing and Implementing in Permaculture – Part 22

      Thanks so much for your comment Paul. After about ten seconds of considering your first observation, I was sold. Thanks for that – will update exactly as you suggest. Interestingly just two days back I was visiting some friends on a property who were talking about how long it had taken them to realise that the concept design completed a few years prior was pulling them in one direction whereas the right direction for them had changed.

      Re your second observation I agree there are places where up front plans and winging it make sense (no need to be dogmatic here!), though yes given the time and support I suspect it is possible to take the generating attitude to the creation of about anything. If anyone is interested, in V. 3 or maybe 4 of the Nature of Order series Christopher Alexander shares an example of the engineering of some complex wide-span trusses in a large building using a generating approach.

      Thanks again Paul and please stay in touch!

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      2018/07/30 at 4:29 pm
  • From Greg O'Keefe on What is Design, Anyway?

    Peter reminds us of Rafter SF’s 4-fold analysis of permaculture, and that it’s not just a design system but also a movement. It is as a movement that permaculture can be effective, and possibly save the world. Therefore I’d like us to think about making permaculture the movement stronger. Maybe the first step is to agree what we are actually on about. Is it design, or a vision for a better, simpler, more natural life?

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    2018/08/09 at 2:42 pm
  • From John Carruthers on What is Design, Anyway?

    Design, for me, is about giving decisions time to breathe. About being imaginative, while overcoming our unconcious biases (and those of others who we may enlist to help us). “I count him braver,” observed Aristotle, “who overcomes his desires than him who conquers his enemies; for the hardest victory is over self.”

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    2018/08/09 at 2:48 pm
  • From Alexander Olsson on Breaking News: The Making Permaculture Stronger book is well under way

    Yesyesyes!!

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    2018/08/15 at 3:05 pm
  • From Jason on Breaking News: The Making Permaculture Stronger book is well under way

    sweet! aim high with your kickstarter it deserves it!

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    2018/08/16 at 4:15 pm
  • From Delvin Solkinson on Bringing it all together in just. one. diagram. (Part One of Five)

    Fascinating and holistic work. When I have been sharing these ideas from Dan Palmer in Canada and USA its amazing how relieved people and permaculturalists are to hear that they have been right all along not to spend too much time fabricating a design before diving in. Wonderful to muse on an evolutionary approach to design and decision making process.

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    2018/08/25 at 9:00 am
    • From Dan Palmer on Bringing it all together in just. one. diagram. (Part One of Five)

      Thanks so much Delvin and that is great to hear – I find a similar response in the antipodes and one related thing that makes me chuckle is that professional designers I know always are generatively transforming their own places, even those that fabricate assemblages for their clients!

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      2018/08/27 at 4:33 pm
  • From Alec on Bringing it all together in just. one. diagram. (Part One of Five)

    Great stuff as always, Dan. Just a nerdy little observation: I’m noticing an interesting relationship between the rows and columns in this diagram, where it feels like each of the letters on the vertical axis has a natural partner in one of the numbers on the horizontal.

    So when you’re assembling, it tends to lead to a fabrication approach (pre-existing parts having pre-existing characteristics whose interactions have to be predicted beforehand).

    If you’re partitioning, (say on a site map), it leads quite naturally to the hybrid approach, where you define loose bubbles of space down to some desired level of detail, then fill in the finer detail as you go.

    And if you’re transforming, that is you’re conscious that no matter what part you’re working on, it’s the whole whole that’s getting made over, then it naturally leads to a generating approach, in which each step is an action generated by the new configuration of the whole (which didn’t exist yet when you were doing the previous step, so you couldn’t have designed around it).

    So it feels like the central squares (the ones your arrow passes through) are sort of attractors, places where actually-used processes are more likely to be found. It’s harder to think of an example of A3, for example (generated assembly) than for B2 or A1. And if you look at A2 (fabricated partitioning), although you could theoretically partition down to any level of detail, it’s unlikely that a really detailed up-front design would ever come from that kind of process. In creating detailed plans for a building, you might start by partitioning it up into rooms, but at some point you’ll move into assembling construction elements to really get detailed (or do the detail as you build, in which case you’re over in B2).

    This is definitely not some grand rule and I’m sure there are real (possibly quite useful) processes in all the peripheral squares. In fact any one project will probably wander through more than one square on its journey to completion. But I think it does kind of confirm that the route indicated by your arrow is one that can actually be followed in the development of a designer, which might not be the case for an arrow that marched all the way up to C1 then took a hard right, or one that slunk over to A3 then started a steep climb.

    I guess another way of saying it would be that our understanding of wholeness (vertical axis) and the generative potential of our process (horizontal axis) have to develop together, not separately. Almost like they’re aspects of one whole or something.

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    2018/08/26 at 12:38 am
    • From Dan Palmer on Bringing it all together in just. one. diagram. (Part One of Five)

      Thanks and quite right Alec! This is something I want to explore more in a few posts after I’ve reviewed each of the two axes – the fact that the two are not really independent. I think it could be done, but you’d have to be pretty pig-headed to be transforming without being powerfully drawn toward generating (especially if you start by fabricating), or to be generating for long without being drawn toward transforming (especially if you start by assembling). Call it wishful thinking, but if the three central squares kissed by the arrow are like attractors, it’s like we just need to turn down the magnet in A1 a notch, turn up the magnet in C3 a notch, and permaculture’s centre of gravity will get sucked up there within a year or two :-). Your other point I’ll be exploring too – that any given project will wander or jump about from square to square (and maybe at times be straddling a few).

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      2018/08/27 at 5:13 pm
  • From John Carruthers on Bringing it all together in just. one. diagram. (Part One of Five)

    Dan, having staggered resolutely along the path your arrow points upwards, at times with you beside me the last six months, I can declare you’re well and truly on the right track. It was several months ago, that I put down my first permaculture book, and remember, apart from feeling inspired, being troubled by illustrations of pretty plans that seemed to have been pieced together. Since doing a PDC I’ve seen plenty more. Neat maps that falsely claim to be the territory. Answers that have been prematurely orphaned from their questions. So, what you’ve started to do here is to lead a way out of that unsatisfying cul de sac. Well done. Can’t wait to read the next two installments.

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    2018/08/26 at 7:39 am
  • From Milly on Bringing it all together in just. one. diagram. (Part One of Five)

    Thanks so much for this Dan. I’m working my way through your website now (can’t believe I hadn’t come across your work before) and it has reinvigorated the direction I want to take my own understanding and practice of permaculture. The ‘assembly of parts’ framework for design has always sat uncomfortably with me – maybe because my background is in nursing. It has always been clear to me that people are not best understood by reducing them to their parts or, indeed, observing them outside of their lived context and their relationships with others and their environment. The same goes for any scrap of life. Everything is integral to and actively influencing the systems in which it lives whether or not that process is consciously directed.

    I had a bit of an epiphany when I first read Stuart Kauffman’s ‘At Home in the Universe’ and saw his explanation of the extraordinarily simple maths of increasing complexity and emergent properties in systems as a result of the ratio of (random) connections to components. In one of your videos your phrase ‘facilitate the unfolding’ really stuck with me because I think our job is more about allowing the connections to happen rather than defining the elements or controlling the direction of emergence. I realised that what I’m doing is seeking a way to create an approach to ‘facilitate the unfolding’ of people and communities through a combination of compassionate communication (based on Marshall Rosenberg’s nonviolent communition) , solution focus (from the therapeutic application developed by Steve de Shazer and Insoo Kim Berg) and permaculture design. For me they are both complementary and synergistic.

    thanks again – I look forward to what your blogs and podcasts are going to offer.

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    2018/08/27 at 2:48 am
    • From Dan Palmer on Bringing it all together in just. one. diagram. (Part One of Five)

      Thanks so much for your comment Milly it means a lot to hear this stuff is resonating and motivates me to continue seeing where it all unfolds to from here. I love the sound of what you are up to and would love to hear more about it as you proceed – maybe one thing the podcast can offer some point is a chat with you!

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      2018/08/27 at 4:44 pm
  • From Will Heffernan on Breaking News: The Making Permaculture Stronger book is well under way

    Fantastic. I will continue to enjoy the journey.

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    2018/08/27 at 4:00 pm
  • From Tom Sparrey on Bringing it all together in just. one. diagram. (Part One of Five)

    Hey Dan, well done on getting to this point, can’t wait for the punchline! At Mayberry, we’ve been knee-deep in generative transformation since the beginnings of Making Permaculture Stronger and it’s been a privilege to have been part of the feedback loop of these concepts being tested on the ground.

    By honouring the existing patterns of this land and our particular context as a bunch of humans living on it, Mayberry’s parts have slowly revealed themselves to us.

    It has not been without its challenges however. It’s an easy thing to slip into a “doing” space where your context and the existing patterns of a place are rolled over. In our experience, the real trick with the design process is learning how to remain tuned into deeper underlying patterns and allow solutions to unfold and enhance existing patterns rather than break them. We’re far from perfect at it here, but after plenty of practise we’re much quicker to recognise when our design process needs to be re-aligned.

    Keep up the good work mate, looking forward to reading the next few posts.

    M Crew.

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    2018/09/02 at 9:27 pm
  • From Susan Cousineau on Bringing it all together in just. one. diagram. (Part Two of Five)

    Really looking forward to giving this (and so many previous) post(s) a more focused and thoughtful read. Your contribution here is so valuable Dan – thanks for the thought, effort, and conscientiousness you bring to the permaculture (small “p”) conversation.

    Great job, lovely visuals – hope to return to this quickly and digest, although it may take a few reads! I thought your design process (patterns to details vs. details to patterns) post series was fantastic, too.

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    2018/09/03 at 2:59 pm
    • From Dan Palmer on Bringing it all together in just. one. diagram. (Part Two of Five)

      Thanks so much for your comment Susan! Yes indeed maybe I ought to change the “P” in the title of this blog to lowercase :-). For your possible interest a book bringing together an edited and smoothly flowing version of all this stuff is in preparation. Updates on that project will be posted here. Best and thanks again for taking the time to comment.

      Go to comment
      2018/09/03 at 4:35 pm
  • From Delvin Solkinson on Bringing it all together in just. one. diagram. (Part Two of Five)

    Awesome brilliant and inspiring commentary, a deepening unlock for understanding the deeper potential of design.

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    2018/09/04 at 5:06 am
  • From Alex on Bringing it all together in just. one. diagram. (Part Two of Five)

    Holy f*** yes! This has links (I believe) to some things I’ve been pondering.

    So permaculture points to “observation” as a part of a principle, but I believe it is a skill and a process in itself (which is not to say it can’t also be a principle), of which not enough time is dedicated to the development of the skill, or what the processes of observation even are.

    Importantly, particularly from an Australian perspective, but probably also more broadly, the trauma that the land has experienced – of the attempted wide scale separation of “organism” and “environment” – needs healing, and I don’t believe this is possible while we continue to ignore that trauma. David Holmgren says that you’re never starting with a blank slate, as is reiterated in your post, but without the skills of deep observation, we continue to act or design almost as though each piece of land is blank (aside from a few climate sectors and obvious landmarks). The belief of Terra Nullius is ongoing. To me this aspect is of critical importance. On lands with tens of thousands of years of human observation and land management, is the best we can do really just an appropriation of some indigenous knowledge?

    Generative transformation totally makes sense to me (it’s how I live my life, and although that’s taking me towards death, I think it’s also life enhancing…), and I think a major obstacle to pursuing this is being able to perceive what is already there. If permaculture wants to have any chance of success (and defining what I mean by this could be a whole other post, so I’ll just leave that out), we need to be able to learn how to observe (and if/when people have a negative reaction to ideas within “making permaculture stronger” or “living design process” I believe such reactions are stemming from a fear that we don’t have the skills of observation). Rather than taking a Western/Cartesian/European approach to the methods or understandings of indigenous cultures, we need to have a more robust collaborative approach toward the healing process of the land and the folks within it.

    What do you think? And if this is the case, my challenge to the permaculture community, but particularly those that folks look up to as leaders, is what can we do towards bringing about this collaboration? (Though this might be hard to answer exactly; I’m thinking finding a process of collaborative healing and generative transformation would also be generative… if that makes sense.)

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    2018/09/04 at 7:53 am
    • From Dan Palmer on Bringing it all together in just. one. diagram. (Part Two of Five)

      Thanks for your comment Alex – your observations resonate with me. As touched on in my conversation with Darren Doherty, conventional design process understandings (that I believe I’ve shown permaculture is not immune from perpetuating) routinely combine superficial observation and full-scale imposition. Now this I see as a key part of the pattern that has created the damage in the landscape and its people that permaculture clearly aspires to be part of redressing/healing. If this analysis is even partially correct, we’d best get serious about weeding out anything from our basic design process understandings and practices that might be unwittingly perpetuating this damage. In particular I totally agree that we have a long way to go toward deepening our observational abilities and that this is key to a stronger permaculture. On that front I am planning next year to create a full-length documentary film about David Holmgren reading landscape which I hope will contribute something toward this deepening.

      Go to comment
      2018/09/06 at 9:12 am
  • From Leon on Positive, negative and neutral design - guest post by Shane Simonsen

    Really enjoying these posts Dan. I’ve just done my PDC with Nick Ritar in Bali and although haven’t got any design experience am enjoying these more in depth articles about the process.

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    2018/09/06 at 10:15 am
  • From Joshua Msika on Bringing it all together in just. one. diagram. (Part Three of Five)

    I like this and it makes intuitive sense. But how do I deal with different levels of permanence? Some things – like earthworks, or building location, need to be thought through because a bunch of other things cascade from those decisions.

    In specific terms, I am currently designing a greenhouse for the NW corner (I’m northern hemisphere) of my garden. I like the idea of a gradually stiffening design, and that’s how it’s happening in my notebook, as I incorporate considerations raised by different articles, books and videos that I’m consulting, but I can’t really figure out how to make the process more generative in *reality*, rather than my imagination. Building a structure requires me to think through the materials I’ll need ahead of time and how they’ll fit together, so that they’re available when I take a week off and have friends round to help me build it. I guess I could build in stages, and design the next stage after I complete the first? So maybe my priority should be figuring out what needs to happen in the first stage and which decisions I’ll be better able to make once I’ve built the first stage?

    It sounds so simple now I’ve thought about it, but what does it actually mean in practice? I’ll maybe report back at some point.

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    2018/09/17 at 8:50 pm
    • From Dan Palmer on Bringing it all together in just. one. diagram. (Part Three of Five)

      Greetings Joshua and thanks for chiming in! Such a great question that cuts to the chase of the issues and the opportunities at stake. I’ll not attempt (or pretend I even have) a concise answer here, but I will be exploring it with lots of clear examples in future posts and podcasts. Part of the picture is that pictures, as in drawings or design sketches, totally and will always have their place. It is always about finding and surfing the sweet spot between:

      -excessive or superfluous premeditation (up-front planning) that ultimately compromises the best, most adapted outcomes by overly dominating subsequent happenings,
      -too little premeditation where you cut off opportunities and steer yourself into a dead end or cacophony of clashes

      For me there is a lot caught up in this innocent-sounding little idea of the best next step. For a series of best next steps, if they are indeed the best next steps, define a solid or sensible sequence. For me the scale of permanence is a surface manifestation of the deeper idea of doing things in a sensible sequence, much like zones are a surface manifestation of the deeper idea of getting your access and circulation patterns right.

      I cannot imagine a building project where taking it in stages (where you plan what you need for that stage, get it happening, then reassess what is to become the following stage) doesn’t get you to a more adapted, functional, beautiful, elegant outcome than planning the whole build up front then implementing strictly to plan. Again this is not to say that there is not a time and place for buying a prefab kitset and throwing it up, or planning an entire build on paper or screen first. Hopefully, however, such cases don’t result in a lack of adaptivity as the thing then goes up and once built continues to evolve.

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      2018/09/19 at 6:31 pm
  • From Aaron Clifft on Morag Gamble on Permaculture, Life, and Citizen Design (E13)

    That was a fantastic podcast Dan.. I really appreciate you relaxing into the flow and letting Morag express her passion.. Keep the episodes coming mate!

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    2018/09/18 at 3:54 pm
  • From Niva Kay on Bringing it all together in just. one. diagram. (Part Three of Five)

    Hi Dan,

    Great work with this framework it is so clear and focused and well argued.

    I still think that this approach is intrinsic to permaculture and always has been rather than a new idea, but I hugely appreciate your ability to define, clarify and promote it.
    I will definitely save a copy of this diagram for my toolkit.

    Best,
    Niva

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    2018/09/19 at 2:24 pm
    • From Dan Palmer on Bringing it all together in just. one. diagram. (Part Three of Five)

      Thanks Niva and right on! Here’s a line from the in-preparation part four (of what has now grown into a five-parter!):

      I want to make it clear that I don’t think that generative transformation is in any way a new thing. It is an attempt to describe not only nature’s default operating system, but what already happens when permaculture is at its best. As in generating real, adapted solutions that wrap themselves beautifully into and around the specifics of given situations.

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      2018/09/19 at 2:51 pm
  • From John Carruthers on Bringing it all together in just. one. diagram. (Part Three of Five)

    What an extraordinarily rich and robust concept you’re articulating. A river building from its tributaries. One thing that struck me was how we can get stuck and misled by labels . Winging it is a fine example: a set of behaviours mistaken for something else. Strategic planning (something I’ve had a lot to do with) is another. There’s a lot conducted in that name that is nothing of the sort. But when it’s conducted with a sound evidence base, incisive thinking and excellent service no novo problem solving, it’s highly successful…Much like the demanding journey of truly sound design in any realm worth undertaking (like permaculture or restorative agriculture). Thank you, Dan.

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    2018/09/20 at 9:14 am
  • From Goshen Watts on Bringing it all together in just. one. diagram. (Part Three of Five)

    Great Dan! It confirms how I’ve gone about design for my own 1/4 acre in the previous 10 years or so. I’ve now done about 15 designs for clients, yet still haven’t done a full design for my own place, something which I often felt a bit funny about… and thinking I should really get it done someday. However, now I realise that I’ve been doing Generating design – almost exactly as you describe it. Overall concept sketch; but detailed design on individual elements / areas as the implementation progresses. Mistakes still made; but gee – I think given all the unknowns about how/when/what-with, each area actually gets done, doing an entire design upfront never made any sense.

    Of course I can do this design/implement as you go for my own ‘context’; but this same process would be far more difficult to offer to clients; not so much because they wouldn’t get a detailed / pretty design; but because it’s (often) THEM doing the implementing, and it’d feel ‘micro managing’ or very expensive to continue to be involved as it goes, not least because the client is as much the variable as the actual design!

    I guess this is where the Hybrid comes in… but again, for a client; a more detailed design upfront will allow more time to collate and consider more information, which results in a more accurate starting point. With few exceptions, most people then also start implementing in a ‘generating’ kind of way – doing certain sections at time, and making changes as required.

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    2018/09/26 at 11:50 pm
    • From Dan Palmer on Bringing it all together in just. one. diagram. (Part Three of Five)

      Thanks Goshen and lovely to hear from you again! All good observations – I am enjoying finding ways of working with clients generatively that are affordable for the client, viable for me, avoid micromanaging, and waste no time on unnecessary detailed designs (that are problematic whether they are followed or not). It has been a transformational journey, I can tell you, but I can also assure you and anyone else that it can be done and done well. Part of my trick has been sitting in the space of the question “how am I going to make this work” rather than the presupposition “There is no way this can work!” But I am aware it is no walk in the park and involves some degree of paradigm shift and I want to find ways of supporting others who are keen to transition in this direction. Maybe I ought to offer a webinar some time where I can share some of my adventures and fellow designers (or should I say design process facilitators) can do the same…

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      2018/10/01 at 9:14 am
      • From Goshen Watts on Bringing it all together in just. one. diagram. (Part Three of Five)

        Cheers… A webinar or workshop would be great…! Over the last few days I’ve been thinking of how I could offer more generating type designs, and would def like to explore the idea further. For me personally, I do find communication easier by delivering a design, but would be good to include a ‘generating’ component, some way of being involved in updates or changes at the implementation stage, just unsure of how to go about this now… No hurry to this, I’ll keep thinking about it.

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        2018/10/01 at 9:36 am
  • From Jason Gerhardt on Bringing it all together in just. one. diagram. (Part Three of Five)

    Hi Dan, this is exactly what I thought you’d arrive at, that is, design as an evolutionary process. It’s kind of the only logical outcome, to build living systems by processes of evolution (the guiding principle of life), which is what happens in design regardless, even though it may not yield the desired outcomes. On some level I think Mollison had it right with “allow systems to demonstrate their own evolution”. Humans tend toward control and have a very hard time when things don’t go to plan, so we need to ease up on our expectations (and our plans), not become more and more rigid about getting exactly what we want. At least to some degree I hear this in your conclusion. However, we definitely need things to not fail. There is a difference between failure and deviation.

    Don’t make too big a leap in minimizing the importance of designing upfront, however. It is integral to the overall process, just not the end (because there is no end!), and not more important than any other stage. The design process is circuitous and loops back on itself continually, never ending, and it includes implementation and management, which are equally important design stages to send one back through every other stage. This is an affront to the image of the know-all architect while mere laborers put the pieces together. And it is why the mere laborers always grunt and grumble behind the architects back because they are the ones that save the day when things deviate from plan, as they always do. So we need to be careful in codifying a new process that favors the on-the-ground work over any other piece because eventually we will end up right back at the same place with a lopsided design process. This will be especially true on large projects with multiple elements being designed, implemented, and managed by multiple teams, which is the way most of the design world works outside of residential landscape design. So on some level, we simply need a leveling of the playing field in the design trade, and we need to educate everyone as if they were a designer (because everyone is). No player’s role is more important than any other. This might get us even closer to permanent culture 😉

    I do want to be clear that I think your articulation is the way the design process has always been. I also think a good designer is able to decipher when even a fabricating approach is the best method (because sometimes it is!) considering the greater context of the ongoing evolution of a clients paradigm and/or project. It takes a lot of time and gradual paradigm shifting to achieve wholism, which is why most people who are fresh out of a PDC can’t design for squat, nor should they be expected to, able to, or allowed to (especially when the stakes are high).

    You have articulated this thoroughly and more fully than previous articulations of the design process, and I applaud your hard work, Dan. I’m excited to see your thoughts on how we share this with students and advance it in the design trade (beyond the confines of permaculture).

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    2018/10/23 at 9:29 am
    • From Dan Palmer on Bringing it all together in just. one. diagram. (Part Three of Five)

      Thanks so much for your comment Jason! Everything you say resonates with where I am coming from and nicely recaps many of the main points I’ve been exploring (which, as you say, at the highest level includes framing “design as an evolutionary process”). A few little reflections in response:

      As regards easing up on our expectations, and not becoming “more and more rigid about getting exactly what we want,” I think there is a crucial (and under-appreciated) distinction here between what you could say is what we think we want (which is usually a superficial wishlist of desired elements or outcomes) and what we really want (which is around deeper intention & quality of life). I mention this because when reality either invites, or, if we don’t accept the invitation, forces us to deviate from imposing our wishlist according to our plan, we can deem this failure. But when we get clear on the above distinction suddenly the degree that the details of what happens where when and how can vary enormously, indeed need to vary enormously in order to deliver on the deeper intention or reason for getting involved in some project in the first place. Where yesterday’s failure is transformed into today’s success (even if it means moving to another property or project or whatever) :-).

      I love your

      So on some level, we simply need a leveling of the playing field in the design trade, and we need to educate everyone as if they were a designer (because everyone is). No player’s role is more important than any other. This might get us even closer to permanent culture

      As these inquiries proceed (even though I take a long break when other parts of life call, it’s all feeling very alive, and after two years I feel like that things are only just getting started here!) I’ll be looking closely and critically at the whole idea of framing design as a circuit of separate stages occurring one-after-the-other (design-implement-manage or whatever variation) and developing an alternative framing where these phases are more accurately construed as proceeding simultaneously inside healthy process (where the usual understanding of what defines the line where design stops and implementation starts becomes highly problematic). But I absolutely agree that any way of dealing with lopsidedness that simply moves the lopsidedness somewhere else is not transforming the underlying pattern (and is a trap I have to avoid falling into, or even coming across as having fallen into).

      This is also so spot on!:

      It takes a lot of time and gradual paradigm shifting to achieve wholism, which is why most people who are fresh out of a PDC can’t design for squat, nor should they be expected to, able to, or allowed to (especially when the stakes are high).

      Also in an upcoming post I’ll try and get across the confusing fact that fabricating and generating are more attitudes than technical facts about this or that process. I know of projects that, though they involve much fabrication on a technical level, are in spirit highly generative, and vice versa!

      Thanks again Jason – it is gratifying to be in conversation with experienced colleagues such as yourself, who not only get what the hell I’m going on about, but enrich and enlarge the conversation by sharing from their own experiences.

      I might have to hit you up about recording a podcast interview sometime!

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      2018/12/10 at 10:49 am
      • From Jason Gerhardt on Bringing it all together in just. one. diagram. (Part Three of Five)

        Dan, this is really soulful work you’re doing. I think about it all the time (and wish I remembered to check your site more often). I think about it so much because my work demands me to keep trying to get closer to the core. I say “soulful” because you’re onto the core of something very important about life in general, and how we make sense of failure, success, and so much more. I agree with everything you said. It’s tricky work too. We’re all so prone to falling into various logic traps and dualities. We really need each other as a community to stay on course. So thank you for laboring away. It has enriched the last few projects I’ve been doing. I’d join you for a chat anytime.

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        2019/01/14 at 3:59 am
    • From Goshen Watts on Bringing it all together in just. one. diagram. (Part Three of Five)

      Great insights Jason… Good to read additional, yet confirming, viewpoints.

      Go to comment
      2018/11/08 at 8:31 pm
  • From Finn on Bringing it all together in just. one. diagram. (Part Two of Five)

    Have you taken down the image, Dan? This has been on my reading list for SO long and finally getting round to it, but the graph has gone. I have tried in both Firefox and Chromium, so I doubt that it’s my end not working… 🙁

    Go to comment
    2018/11/21 at 8:10 am
  • From Jason Gerhardt on A mini-conversation with Jason Gerhardt

    Dan, this is really soulful work you’re doing. I think about it all the time (and wish I remembered to check your site more often). I think about it so much because my work demands me to keep trying to get closer to the core. I say “soulful” because you’re onto the core of something very important about life in general, and how we make sense of failure, success, and so much more. I agree with everything you said. It’s tricky work too. We’re all so prone to falling into various logic traps and dualities. We really need each other as a community to stay on course. So thank you for laboring away. It has enriched the last few projects I’ve been doing. I’d join you for a chat anytime.

    Go to comment
    2019/01/14 at 5:17 am
    • From Dan Palmer on A mini-conversation with Jason Gerhardt

      Jason thank you so much – it is messages like this (about this stuff resonating) that keep me motivated to keep pushing forward. So true about needing to support each other as we fumble around in this beautiful landscape we used to call home :-). Let’s make sure that chat happens!

      Go to comment
      2019/01/31 at 12:18 pm
  • From Jason Gerhardt on Bringing it all together in just. one. diagram. (Part Four - the Nine Spaces)

    Hi Dan, (length warning)

    This latest post and the diagram are wonderful. It allows me to see the growth of my own journey in the diagram, which frankly is a revelation after many years of trying to understand what was happening to me. I want to recount that a little, mostly for myself to further ingrain this diagram in my mind, but I’m posting it here for what it’s worth.

    I much agree that permaculture has existed in the state of fabricating. I have certainly met many permaculture students and maybe a pro designer or ten who practice in the A1 space. I’m happy to say I was never taught permaculture design as an A1 process though.

    While I’m very certain a lot of PDC’s are taught in the A1 space, I feel pretty sure that I was taught permaculture in the B1 space (not much better really). After a couple projects I realized how prescriptive the B1 space felt, and therefore how unartful it was as a process. I wanted more than that, so I worked to transform my practice into what looks like the C1 space. I existed there for a few years. It allowed me to build my foundation for working with clients, carrying projects out, and getting a lot of experience. Ultimately I realized how mechanized even the C1 space felt. I became a design-churning machine, still prescriptive, but more organized and a little more artful. Eventually, in addition to the grind of the work, what made me question what I was doing was seeing how only some or none of the pieces of my designs were being built once I stopped doing full installs along with the design.

    Then along came a client, a family actually, and we organically found a way to work together on a different level. We befriended each other, and actually came to really cherish each other. We transformed their yard primarily via the C2 space because of that closeness, which is to say the closeness of the relationship allowed my practice to grow to that space. We were able to develop the comfort, trust, and relaxedness to be able to play beyond traditional confines. Ultimately, I saw their lives change through their interaction with the landscape. I hadn’t actually witnessed the changes I made in the physical environment leading to profound changes in the inner worlds of my clients. That told me I was on to something. Though the clients moved on from that property, the space still exists and functions well 10 years later, but the funny thing is I don’t even care about the site because I recognized the design was about the people not the property. Since that point, I felt my design practice grow at a rapid, and honestly, bewildering pace. I feel like I’ve been meandering through the second and third hybrid and generative spaces ever since that project. I had to try stuff out. Sometimes the design work was just too cumbersome for my clients to engage with thoroughly, and some work became highly functional and cherished environments. As a side note, I think teaching with Joel Glanzberg for a few years contributed to this evolution of my process as well.

    Now, I feel like I can use the C1, C2, C3 and B2 and B3 spaces depending on what’s called for by the project. I feel the most artful in my process than I ever have because I’m not trying to do a specific thing or attain a certain level or result. I just want to do what’s appropriate to each situation without expectation. At this point, 15 years post-PDC, I’d say I primarily spend my professional design time in the C2 space, partly because that’s what the market can bear, or the most artfulness that the design profession (clients and design teams) can embrace at this point in time, in my experience that is. I tend to work on commercial projects, public spaces, and large-scale ag properties. It may be different for smaller residential or garden design.

    Last, I want to illustrate a current project that I don’t know where to place in the Nine Spaces. It feels very generative, and maybe has elements of C3. I feel like I get to dabble in the C3 space, primarily at the beginning of a project where I’m trying to design the right design process for the project. That feels like the case with this current project. These clients have hired me to guide them through a design process rather than complete a design for them. They called me about designing their farm, and after spending 4 hours on-site and sharing a meal with them (bread breaking is something I do a lot as part of the relationship building process) I realized it would be a disservice for me to design their land for them. These folks already have a lot of knowledge. They are the next generation of farmers from a family that were until recently the largest fruit growers in the US state of Illinois, and they will be applying permaculture to the family farm for the rest of their lives. I wanted to equip them with the skills they need to adaptively plan all along their journey. What we arrived at was giving them a customized, private PDC where their land is the design project. This gives us a lot of face time for conceptual understanding, and gives them an in-depth design practicum (generative, not fabricating) with my feedback and guidance. I’m curious how you might view this type of designing of the design process?

    Truly, I have to thank you for developing this. Sometimes I wonder whether I’m just playing around like a kid, but this gives me a more concrete way to interpret and articulate my journey, and gives me further confidence in where I’ve been and where I’ve come to. Thank you so much, Dan.

    The question most on my mind now is, can this be taught, or do individuals have to go through their own iterative paradigm change process? It probably depends. I can say I’ve had students on both ends of this spectrum.

    I’d love to stay in touch as this develops. We’ve been doing very similar work internally at the Permaculture Institute for the last two years and are preparing to release some big insights and structural changes because of it. I can say we very much agree that permaculture is at risk of becoming irrelevant, and we hope to shed some light on its potential future, which is up to all of us to actualize.

    Best,
    Jason

    Go to comment
    2019/02/11 at 4:44 am
  • From Finn on Video Update January 2019

    Thanks for keeping us in the loop Dan, and good luck in developing all the different strands of the project you’ve created! I’ve become a bit of a podcast addict in the last year, so I’ll be awaiting eagerly to hear the conversations you’ve recorded 🙂

    Go to comment
    2019/02/12 at 1:46 am
  • From Mike on Bringing it all together in just. one. diagram. (Part Four - the Nine Spaces)

    Inquiry: Is there an actual extant example of a fabricating/assembling Permaculture design? Is a mostly fabricating/assembling approach to creating a site (or invisible structure) even possible?

    As someone who’s formally studied creative arts, the sculpture example is telling: You start with an idea, a subject, and a portrayal of the subject. Maybe you have ideas about some details. Perhaps you do a few design sketches on paper, or perhaps the rendering just stays in your mind. Prior to the first rendering, there isn’t going to be a 3D, comprehensive draft. It’s not possible to snap your fingers and make “Abraham Lincoln” appear out of stone according to the the conception. It’s not possible to splat the canvas with paint such that the Mona Lisa appears in a flash as intended. You start chipping away the extra bits. You simply must start in one place, perhaps the focal point, perhaps a feature that speaks to you… let’s say the eyes. Will they be kind? Wise? Will they be suspicious of assassination? As you chip away, you’ll still have to make determinations, how the light plays on the stone, how to correct a misplaced strike, etc. And we’ll have to step back, reflect, view from different perspectives.

    Yet in art school, you might often make a draft of a concept, as we do in PDCs, because it is a learning and assessment tool.

    Certainly, no one has ever mistaken the map for the territory?

    So, in a physical/temporal world, won’t all designs be hybrid? Then, is there a way to quantify relative positions along a spectrum, or in various boxes? Can we measure and test whether and how movement in one direction is more life-enhancing?

    My observation (and I have collected some formal data on the topic) is that most actual Permaculture site designs are currently Generating/Transforming. I’ve often felt that’s why they’re prone to type 1 errors and not meeting people’s expectations well. How can we distinguish between sites that were not designed, and sites that were supposedly designed using a pure Generating/Transforming process?

    Go to comment
    2019/02/18 at 5:10 pm
  • From Graham Bell on Making Permaculture Stronger at IPC17 India

    I agree with Ian. Great article beautifully written. Here at Garden Cottage and in our connected work we try to respect many of these points. Some are certainly worthy of further consideration than we have given them… It is important to understand that the PDC Curriculum cannot possibly be taught in 72 hours. It’s more like we are lighting the blue touch paper and standing back to see where the rocket will shoot off to. I also have grave doubts about the linear concept of design… I think teachers in the UK have by and large learned that it is always an iterative process, but I feel too much emphasis is still placed on drawings and literacy and not enough on practical application and learning from the experience that offers. Personally I agree that there is no perfect permaculture (and have been saying so for thirty years) . For the above reasons I don’t think any permaculture design can ever be complete… after all one of the key guidances is to plan for succession, and that is always an unkown quantity.

    Go to comment
    2019/02/18 at 10:01 pm
  • From Ian Lillington on Meg McGowan's Take on Permaculture Design Process (E14)

    Thanks. One of my first P’c teachers was an ex police officer [in UK] in 1990; and one of my best students in Adelaide was a [soon to be] ex police officer. Seems there are systems thinkers in every walk of life; [and the first guy I mentioned still likes to drive at 150 kmh.]

    Go to comment
    2019/03/01 at 10:41 am
    • From Dan Palmer on Meg McGowan's Take on Permaculture Design Process (E14)

      🙂

      Go to comment
      2019/03/01 at 2:45 pm
      • From Peta Hudson on Meg McGowan's Take on Permaculture Design Process (E14)

        Thank you so much Dan! As you say Meg has a certain clarity in her way of communicating which must be such an important part of her design process and permacoaching. I heartily agree with her obsevation of how the most beautifully worked out plan can fall apart if the people who are implementing and living in it don’t understand the underlying principles. We need to be an ongoing part of the process of creation. You will be familiar with the Maori principle he tangata he tangata he tangata. The people the people the people. How can any of it work if the people aren’t connected? I’m gleaning that the way you work does just that. People info meets lamd info. Perhaps an edge effect where the diversiry is increased eh! Nga mihi.

        Go to comment
        2019/03/05 at 4:22 pm
  • From Ian on Exploring Synergies between Possibility Management and Permaculture with Clinton Callahan (E15)

    Hi Dan and Clinton;
    Good stuff. As an early adopter type, I love this type of reflection on where permaculture is at. Stewart Hill set out some healthy criticism [along these lines] in 2005 at the APC then. And others since – esp Joel Glansberg – who I will research and share about. In the past, these invitations to evolve [consciously] have mainly been ignored by permaculture folk who just want to continue gardening. So Clinton’s comments around 48:00 onwards are encouraging and reassuring. Permaculture is part of the ‘next culture’.
    Around 44min, there is discussion about the ‘broader permaculture agenda’, but the Holmgren 7 Domains don’t get a mention. Areas like health, spirituality, finance, etc are embraced by the 7 Domains and it’s why I emphasise these in my teaching.
    The 7 domains IMHO are the main bridge between current permaculture and the next culture. More to come … need a green smoothie now.

    Go to comment
    2019/03/11 at 8:04 pm
    • From Dan Palmer on Exploring Synergies between Possibility Management and Permaculture with Clinton Callahan (E15)

      Thanks so much Ian and I’d love it if you’d elaborate on your statement “The 7 domains IMHO are the main bridge between current permaculture and the next culture.” I’ve had some discussion with David H about the relation between permaculture’s core understandings of design process, the ethics and principles, and the seven domains, which I think I have written about somewhere on this blog, but I’d love to hear how others think about this stuff!

      Go to comment
      2019/03/12 at 10:16 am
  • From Ian Lillington on Exploring Synergies between Possibility Management and Permaculture with Clinton Callahan (E15)

    Joel Glanzberg’s 2015 call for permaculture folk to use their tools to the highest use – it’s still on his website, http://patternmind.org/an-open-letter-and-plea-to-the-permaculture-community/

    “First of all, I want to thank you, not only for your good efforts, time, and energy but for your caring…your caring not only for this living earth but for the people and the beauty of life. Thank you.
    Many of you may know of my work from the example of Flowering Tree in Toby Hemenway’s excellent book Gaia’s Garden and the video 30 Years of Greening the Desert, others from my regenerative community development work with Regenesis. In any case I know that you share my concerns for the degrading condition of the ecological and human communities of our biosphere and I am writing to you to ask for your help.
    We are at a crisis point, a crossroads and if we are to turn the corner we need to use everything at our disposal to its greatest effect. My concern is that we are not using the very powerful perspective of permaculture to its greatest potential and that we need to up our game. We know that the living world is calling for this from us.
    I often feel that permaculture design is like a fine Japanese chisel that is mostly used like a garden trowel, for transplanting seedlings. It can of course be used for this purpose, but is certainly not its highest use.
    Permaculture Design has often been compared to a martial art such as Aikido because at its heart it is about observing the forces at play to find the “least change for the greatest effect”; a small move that changes entire systems. This is how nature works and is precisely the sort of shortcut we desperately need.
    The lowest level of any martial art is learning to take a hit well. Yet this is where so much of our energy seems to be directed: setting ourselves and our communities up to be resilient in the face of the impacts of climate change and the breakdown of current food, water, energy, and financial systems.
    The next level is to avoid the blow, either through dodging, blocking or redirecting it. Much of the carbon farming and other efforts directed toward pulling carbon out of the atmosphere and developing non-carbon sources of energy fall into this category.
    At their highest expression practitioners track patterns to their source, shifting them before they take form, redirecting them in regenerative directions. This is what is behind principles like “obtain a yield” or “the problem is the solution” and the reason for protracted and thoughtful observation. We learn to read energies and to find the acupuncture-like inoculation or disturbance that changes the manifestation by changing the underlying pattern. Problems are turned into solutions and provide us with yields if we can stop trying to stop or block them. This is the pattern of Regeneration.
    Every permaculture technique is a small disturbance that shifts the underlying pattern and hence the system. Water-harvesting structures, rotational grazing, chicken tractors, mulching, spreading seed-balls, setting cool ground fires in rank meadows or forests, transforming spoiling milk into creamy cheese, revolving loan funds, libraries, and even the design course itself all follow this pattern. The point is to disturb brittle senescent systems to allow the emergence of the next level of evolution, even if the system is our preconceptions and habits of thought. This is at the heart of self-organizing systems and the key to effective change efforts.
    In a changing world it does no good to teach a man to fish. What happens when currents or climate or communities change? It is essential to teach how to think about fishing, whatever can be fished with whatever is at hand. This is why it is called permaculture DESIGN.
    In its highest form permaculture is not about designing anything. It is a pattern-based approach to designing systemic change efforts. This is the point of the PDC as well as all that time spent in the forest or garden. It is to learn how living systems work and how to observe them to find the effective change so that we can apply those skills to shifting the living systems most in need of shifting: human systems including how we think about the world.
    Changing paradigm tops systems thinker Donella Meadows list of the most effective places to intervene in systems. To effectively change the systems that are causing global degeneration we need to change the human paradigm and we need to start by shifting our paradigm of what permaculture is. If we do not shift these larger human systems our lovely gardens and beautiful hand built homes don’t have a chance.
    Although the PDC contains many techniques and ways of doing, it is about changing how we think about the world primarily. It is meant to crack our certainties about everything from agriculture to economics and how the world works. This is why so many of the principles are like a whack on the side of the head. “What do you mean the problem is the solution? Or that yield is limited only by my mind?”
    If the PDC is designed to shift our paradigm, then it shows us the pattern of shifting people’s paradigms. And this is the greatest use of our skills. Not to create gardens or to train gardeners, but to shift the thinking of folks who understand business and economics, laws and governance, so that they can all be re-thought and re-worked to follow the patterns of living systems.
    We have been warned that “the map is not the territory” and then have mistaken the map of permaculture as the territory of permaculture. Living in a materialistic and mechanistic culture we have grabbed onto the stuff and mechanisms of permaculture rather than the essential patterns. Just because we learn about living systems through gardens, forests, and fields, does not mean that is where our art is most fruitfully applied.
    So what am I asking of you? Please just think about this. Let it burn out the choked underbrush of your certainty. Watch how it affects how you think, and teach, design, and work. Let it open room to let something new emerge in the sunlit space. While cracks in structures need to be fixed, in nature from splitting seed coats, hatching chicks, or birthing babies or ideas, cracks are the doorways to new life.
    Please forward this around your networks. Debate it. Trash it. Try it on and try it out. If you would like to know more or let me know your thoughts please go to patternmind.org.
    Many thanks for your open hearts and minds,
    Joel Glanzberg

    Go to comment
    2019/03/11 at 8:15 pm
  • From Jason Gerhardt on Exploring Synergies between Possibility Management and Permaculture with Clinton Callahan (E15)

    Ian, this is exactly what we are preparing to release at The Permaculture Institute. There are more than 7 domains though, and some of them require more of our focus than others. Love seeing our advisory board member, Joel Glanzberg’s, name constantly coming up too. He’s on it.

    Go to comment
    2019/03/12 at 10:14 am
  • From Bill on Exploring Synergies between Possibility Management and Permaculture with Clinton Callahan (E15)

    Having gone through the steps of conscious incompetence to unconscious competence in my career, arriving at “mastery” (or the 10,000 hours that are often discussed), I realize I am in this process again with Permaculture. At first, it is the “ah-ha” experiences (resonance) that propel and compel us to keep reading, investigating, attending PDC’s, listening to podcasts, etc.. It feels good. But, then eventually, a certain discomfort sets in. Finding limitations, not knowing, not having answers is uncomfortable. During the middle years of my career, it was confusion (not knowing) that kept me searching for answers. Thomas Kuhn’s “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions” read like a novel for me. I couldn’t put it down. I discovered a huge solution to my “not-knowing” puzzle that literally freed me from the pain I felt from not knowing. Listening to podcast 15, I recognize that the process toward mastery is at work in Permaculture. The limitations we are discovering are causing us discomfort and compelling us to search for solutions. We can’t know what mastery is going to look like, but it seems obvious that as we find answers, we will continue to improve how Permaculture is implemented, moving us further down the road toward mastery and making Permaculture stronger.

    Go to comment
    2019/03/14 at 9:51 pm
  • From Robert Mathieson on Bringing it all together in a diagram (Part Five) - Mapping the Evolution of your Design Process Signature

    Many Years ago I attended a small workshop called “Owning Organization” in which the Facilitator had created a process whereby a synergistic effect could happen. He called it the 5 P’s and diagramed it in the shape of a triangle. It can be applied to any purpose and the Fifth P was that ….. “Purpose”. A well-defined end goal of where the process would lead to. This was at the top or apex of the Triangle. Without that there is no getting there if you do not know 100% where you want to be. The First P is “People” Those that would participate constantly and consistently within the process, elemental to the function. Each Individual should be assigned specific tasks and would be required to commit to doing only those specific tasks. No overlaps. The Second P is “Planning” A roadmap if you like of who does what, when and how. The Third P is “Professionals” Those that need to be brought in or rather outsourced for specific tasks at specific times with expertise in areas needed to achieve the end purpose. The Fourth P is The “Process”. The release time, the ready set go after all the preparation and purpose building blocks are ready and everyone and everything is available and tuned and focused into where they need to be to get that Synergy happening. The result is a Well Organized System of Events that lead to the desired outcome efficiently and amazingly quickly. Maybe some of these elements of Synergistic Development could assist you in your quest for evolving the design process of Permaculture. The Facilitator that spoke to me all those years ago was Robert Prindable from Sydney. I have often used this simple technique of Five P’s when organizing civil construction right down to my permaculture gardens over the years and have found it extraordinarily simple fast and efficient. I hope this is of some interest Dan. You can reach me on my Email below if interested in further discussion.

    Go to comment
    2019/03/17 at 10:57 am
  • From Jason Gerhardt on Bringing it all together in a diagram (Part Five) - Mapping the Evolution of your Design Process Signature

    I like how this is developing, Dan. You more or less got my process trajectory down, no change required. 🙂 I’m excited for what you hinted is coming.

    I’ve started looking at the nine spaces in terms of the process that gets applied to a project. What led me into this line of inquiry is realizing that I apply the top three spaces in a single project starting with C3 as site and people analysis—a very generative and transformative phase. The trajectory moves from C3 to C2 for concept design and then to C1 for detailed design, and then doubles back on itself with implementation, and sometimes back yet again. The spaces change as the phases of work change. For example, I often do project proposals with a minimum of three phases of design work. This is often required by the nature of my work. This helps elucidate the non-linearity of design process in general. Further, that helps me avoid the better-than concepts and ideas of superiority that trajectory could hint at. I continue to feel that all of the possible approaches in the nine spaces are appropriate in some specific context from a general design perspective. Whether they are Permaculture Design is another question.

    Lots to play with here, and lots of logic traps continually coming up for me. You are bravely exploring this so publicly and deserve much respect for doing so. Excited to see what’s coming.

    Go to comment
    2019/03/18 at 6:02 am
    • From Dan Palmer on Bringing it all together in a diagram (Part Five) - Mapping the Evolution of your Design Process Signature

      Thanks so much Jason. Once again you are anticipating with uncanny precision the topic and even some of the details of the next post. It’s almost like you hacked the site and can see posts-in-preparation :-). Your point about this not being about superiority is so important and something I have to be careful about with my language. On the one hand, I see no approach as better or more true than any other. They are just different, and they create different results, where my focus is trying to more clearly understand what our options are and to increase my own process literacy. On the other hand, if the particular genre of results we seek are to do with re-infusing landscapes and people and places and spaces with life, well, then I’m repeatedly finding some process dynamics more effective that others. That said, the process itself must be adapted to its context, and if we inappropriately impose any particular type, then, well, we’re missing the point. Thanks again and I’ve already quoted you again in the upcoming next post. You’re becoming my accidental co-author :-).

      Oh and I hear you re logic traps. I always like to remind myself how puny any attempt to characterise or pigeonhole reality is. So long as we’re dealing with fingers pointing at the moon and not the moon itself, there will be flaws and contradictions.

      Go to comment
      2019/03/20 at 7:18 am
  • From Delvin on Bringing it all together in just. one. diagram. (Part Four - the Nine Spaces)

    Brilliant work. Really insightful to explore these ideas and to see the inspiring responses. Thanks for helping to take design to a deeper level.

    Go to comment
    2019/03/21 at 11:17 pm
  • From Delvin Solkinson on Bringing it all together in a diagram (Part Five) - Mapping the Evolution of your Design Process Signature

    I feel so enriched by this offering by Dan and the expansive comment dialogues. Thanks so blazing a trail and using permaculture to evolve permaculture.

    Go to comment
    2019/03/21 at 11:55 pm
  • From Jason Gerhardt on Bringing it all together in a diagram (Part Five) - Mapping the Evolution of your Design Process Signature

    It’s almost like you read my newest article in pre-publication with the finger pointing at the moon metaphor. Ha! 🙂

    I have to agree that some processes definitely bring us closer to our desired goal of regeneration and lastingness in human culture. And that is the point of exploring this beyond greater design literacy, as you said. It brings up the importance of aims, goals, and achievement. This is something that I feel permaculture itself has not articulated fully yet, and something we hope to contribute to at the PI. With a focus on aims, goals, and achievement we can move closer to the edges of right and wrong/good and bad, and have a more well-defined scope and context for the nesting of permaculture in the first place.

    Go to comment
    2019/03/22 at 2:28 am
  • From Robert Mathieson on Dan Palmer talking about permaculture and life and creation and related stuff (e16)

    It reminds me of when I facilitated a few Introduction to Permaculture Workshops in Western Australia that I likened the whole experience or process of growth to ourselves. When Parenting our children we should endeavour to provide the best local soil available for them to grow in. That is our relationships should be healthy rich and full of creativity love and emotional stability. That our friends visit often and our community has a part in the air, water and energy around them. That their needs are met no matter what winds that change may bring. That our intentions are always for the betterment of their survival and we are consciously active and responsible for that purpose. It went something like that, I did it as a brainstorming type comparison on paper at the front of the class in understanding all the elements required to create a healthy adult was almost identical for any living organism. It helps to realize that we all instinctively know what we know already in terms of fostering good relationship to our environments.

    Go to comment
    2019/03/23 at 5:42 pm
  • From Jason Gerhardt on Bringing it all together in one diagram (Part Six) - Mapping the Centre of Gravity and Trajectory of a Project

    Just quoting you here: “I cannot stress how important I believe this sort of process literacy is to the future of permaculture and, frankly, the future of humanity.” I couldn’t agree with you more. You’re work, to me, is a big part of articulating the paradigm shift that so often gets mentioned in permaculture, but not analyzed and described in detail.

    Go to comment
    2019/04/04 at 2:43 am
  • From Siddiq Khan on Christopher Alexander's Challenge meets Darren J. Doherty's Design Process - Part Two of Two

    Hi Dan, thanks for all your fantasticly provocative reflections, freely shared for all the world to grapple with. I am however confused by your formulation “we can describe some of the same core acts we saw inside Darren J. Doherty’s design process as both the differentiation of a whole and the assembly of parts. This fact renders inadequate our prior conclusion that these two acts are complementary partners inside design process.”

    If you can´t differentiate between assembly and differentiation when considering acts within a design process, how could these NOT be considered complementary? It seems like they are so complimentary as to be almost indistinguishable!

    That said, we just had Darren over this weekend and the way he suggested we begin designing the farm was definately differential, in explicit opposition to assembly: first dividing into areas based on what activities are possible, then dividing these into parcels using geographic drainage lines and roads as boundaries. This is spatial differentiation. Then there is also the sequential differentiation: dividing into the areas with highest marginal utility which are to be focused on first, then dividing these areas into a sequence of successional interventions leading towards permanence — progressively dividing a single landuse into multifunction landscape, from haymaking only to adding grazing covercrops (which serve as hay) to adding trees (yeilding hay, livestock and tree crops or timber).

    Just my two cents.
    Keep it up!

    Go to comment
    2019/04/16 at 11:46 pm
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