Bringing it all together in one diagram (Part Eight) – Mapping the design process signature of permaculture, culture, and even nature herself (Reader contributions)

Hey all. This post shares the several submissions I’ve been delighted to have land on my desk after Part Seven’s request for reader input. First though, here’s the original chart as a reference point:

(Joshua) Finn Weddle (UK)

Finn (who featured in another recent post) has gone beyond the call of duty and not only given a process signature centre of gravity for the four things I asked about, but also had a crack at their trajectories inside and in two cases outside the chart. I also love that he got there through feeling, or as he put it:

Fun exercise, although admittedly I did it entirely from intuition and gut and not by reviewing others’ designs and thinking from head. 

Here Finn has permaculture in general starting with good intentions at B2 (hybrid partitioning), then collapsing back to the easier A2 (hybrid assembly), before just throwing the thing together in A1 (fabricated assembly) until shit goes down promoting a transition back to B2.
So here Finn has permaculture’s cutting edge starting by getting a feel for it at the same place (B2 or hybrid partitioning) but then heading up through C2 in seeing a complex picture then relaxing into ecological processes and practising patience up in C3 (generative transformation).
Finn has modern culture fabricating assemblages (A1) briefly wondering about a bigger picture in B1 (fabricated partitioning) before exiting the chart altogether to become a complete merchant of chaos with a lack of anything you could could design at all before wriggling back to doing shit in A1 again. Love it!
Mother Nature saying “screw your chart, Dan!” This one had me laughing out loud – love it and how could anyone disagree!

Peter Kopp (Australia)

I was delighted to hear from Pete who has been following MPS where it took this request to flush him out of the underbrush :-). Speaking to how he approached the exercise, Pete explained:

I deliberately didn’t think much about the placement of each point, rather I just went with my gut feel/first thought as I read the directions. The result seems fairly predictable – I will be interested to see the combined result.

An interesting aspect of my perception is that the centre of gravity of Permaculture is closer to that of the mainstream than to its cutting edge. That could indicate an upturn of interest in Permaculture, with a resultant large number of relatively new people in the mix who are only just beginning their progression along the ‘life line’. It could also be indicative of a general stagnation within Permaculture, which is guess is what you are trying to shake up and acupuncture out with your project. Or it could be that it’s just bloody difficult for many of us the break free of the way we have been conditioned to think. I think the proximity of Permaculture’s COG to the mainstream – if it is real – makes Permaculture vulnerable to being co-opted by mainstream forces looking to make a buck. Actually I think this is virtually inevitable – if it hasn’t happened already – once Permaculture reaches a critical mass and becomes a big enough market for the mainstream to exploit. Mainstream infiltration, coupled with frustration at the cutting edge of Permaculture that the rest aren’t following as quickly as they might, can cause those at the cutting edge to cease to identify with Permaculture – but continue to pursue the ideal under a different banner. I think this ‘breakaway’ at the cutting edge has definitely already happened with some, and others – maybe including you? – have grappled with the issue but decided to remain. Anyway, that’s probably enough of me rambling about what might be the meaning of what might be in the data. I’m looking forward to seeing the collective result.

These brilliant insights fully resonate with me – what about you? Anyway, here’s Pete’s diagram:

M = mainstream culture, P = permaculture-in-general, C = permaculture’s cutting edge, N = the rest of nature.

Ryan (Australia)

Here’s Ryan’s1 first take:

Dude! psychedelic!

It’s funny as Ryan doesn’t come across as someone who takes acid when you meet him :-). So let’s move right along to his much clearer second take:

Thanks Ryan and thanks to the three of you. Anyone else who wants to chime in don’t be shy – I’ll add any additional submissions as updates to this page as they land. Then, in the next post in this series I’ll share my own take before bringing things to a close so as to make space for all the exciting stuff that will then be ready to kick off. Cheers all and you have yourself a lovely day and oh yes – don’t miss the Carol Sanford interview if you haven’t heard it – it’s pretty wild and it rocked my world.


  1. I met Ryan in April on the last iteration of the Advanced Permaculture Design workshop I run annually with David Holmgren

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