Sunday, January 7, 2024

What is Permaculture?

Permaculture is the multidisciplinary design philosophy that suggests human behavior should emulate or expand upon natural systems rather than see them as a tool to subjugate or an enemy to vanquish. It sees people as inhabitants, rather than conquerors. It is the understanding that unconstrained urbanization and modern industrial agriculture is disruptive to the natural processes within the soil biome and thus destructive to the ecosystem.

It puts forth that, by moving toward regenerative practices, we can become sustainable; with clean food, water, textiles, and construction materials all produced locally. Not only is the reliance on the global supply chain reduced and the distress of scarcity limited, stress associated with mental illnesses, crime, and violence are also reduced through created opportunities.

In short, the solutions have always been here, it is simply a matter of harnessing these natural forces.

I am certain setting off on this course will help develop enriching cultures centered around fertile, productive landscapes… and, in fact, within them. We face many obstacles… legacy politics, petrochemical profit incentives for corporate “science”… time itself… but, the solutions are here… all it takes is one viral meme

We will have to change practically every facet of our daily lives; from the moment we wake, we must be intimately aware of the impacts of our behavior. It’s not just about consuming less, we need to give back.

We need to connect with our communities, spread the gospel, help people break out of cycles of abuse and depressive spirals. Meet with our local churches and other non-profits, school, municipal representatives. Find our tribes and get to work building capital based in production through organic synthesis, both agriculturally and politically. Rhizomatic organization – orchestrated autonomy, synergistic panarchism – fluid and dynamic responses to material and social requirements. Hands on and direct approach to fulfilling basic needs. Fewer web orders and more enjoying the outdoors. Picking up picks… and shovels and hoes and trowels and seed. Get our butts moving and sweat!

We need to restore health to our soils. Healthy soils, healthy plants, healthy people. Healthy people? Happy people!

Ordination 101

Permaculture Design is, fundamentally, an Applied Philosophy – that is, as a body of sciences – and this blog series will explore terminology of associated fields to help build an image of the complex network in order to create a prototype form methodology what then is adapted to the space/time/culture which is the object of study.

As these associations are expanded upon, somewhat linearly, it’s important to remember that the design process is not truly a linear process, even though there are key determinative conditions that must be factored as the design and, ultimately, construction of the project begins and is then realized.

Design is a creative and artistic endeavor, but also a rational, mechanical process.

You may be familiar with the scientific method; you have the subject – which is the object of study – and some inherent problem you are attempting to solve. The problems, we as permaculturalists are facing, are geographical in nature and thus must take into consideration the full complexities of the physical and social sciences.

Geology, hydrology, meteorology, chemistry, biology, botany, horticulture, agriculture, psychology, sociology, politics, logistics, humanities, and the arts… all inspired by observation.

We will research each site, form a hypothesis, experiment, record results, and adapt our hypotheses.

Though we must be mindful of these intricacies, do not be overwhelmed by details outside the scope of your experience. As Permaculture is a wide field, so are the social networks of specialists who make up a permaculture community. You, as an individual, may find yourself occupied in any number of positions; from laborer to foreman, engineer, or architect, whatever might be required on any given permaculture project and according to your individual skillset. You will work alongside a veritable army of persons with technical acumen as well as lay practitioners and even nescient bystanders. Along with the contractual obligations of our employment, it is the duty of all permaculturalists to inform and educate, for as they say, “No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.”

Firstly, we should take note of the differences between etymology of a word – or its literal definition -, the lawfully adjudicated or “legal definition”, and colloquial usage within the common vernacular.

As we move foreward we will be keeping somewhat of an overhead view from the Architects perspective and then examine various focii as needed for exemplification.

Using the Architect as an example, the etymology is from greek, “arch”:chief, and “tekton”:builder, so a literal translation would be akin to a Lead Designer. In the olden days, the duties of an architech might have overlapped with both engineering and overseeing but dependent on the scale of a project. In larger and more modern projects, likely those duties will be split among various individuals, teams of individuals, or even entire firms subcontracted to fulfill those certain rolls.

While smaller permaculture projects can flourish with a few hands, with each fulfilling a range of roles where the designers operate more in the traditional sense of the term, larger projects will require individuals to meet the requirements of the legal definitions – architects required to complete accredited education and become licensed. Likewise, a small permaculture project may require certain engineering calculations not necessarily performed by a licensed engineer, where a large project will likely require hiring an engineering firm.

The legal requirements for various sites are outside the scope of this documentation, as the law varies from locale to locale, not only the legal requirements for accreditation, but also zoning, and building codes. As a permaculturalist, you should be aware of these nuances, if not intimately familiar with the local ordinances on a per site basis; you should always work with the local ordinance offices to ensure compliance, if you are not familiar with the local laws, you should coordinate for example with a local General Contractor.

As local laws vary from site to site, so do environmental factors such as climate and habitat; permaculture design then, can be thought of as an exercise in critical thinking and problem solving… not a one-size-fits-all generic checklist.

Permaculture thiking can be applied from the smallest scale of tending your personal garden to the largest, City Planning and Civil Engineering with a central focus on regenerative ecology.

In this blog series, we hope to help you orient yourself on this network map, provide examples of career paths, and provide for you a basic toolset you can carry with you through whichever career within you might choose, from hobbyist to residency. Stay tuned for more parts!

Written by Night Shift


The contents of this blog post are not representative of Firley Nonprofit and are the sole work of the respective, independent authors.