I’ve now been on the road since July 2nd, with the exception of four days home earlier this month. The rest of 2013 is going to feature about a month at home, all told. The map above shows a draft of the routes I’m traveling and the rough locations of the farms I’m visiting. Things often end up changing a bit once I’m actually on a route, as you might imagine. I’ve done my first pass at the northeastern route, and I’m most of the way through the southeastern route as I write. I’ve been to about half of the Great Lakes Region farms. Coming up next is the biggest chunk: the West Coast / Southwest route: 23 farms in two months. It’s exhausting and intense – and there is nothing I would rather be doing in the world. I’m visiting permaculture-identified farming operations all over the country. I’m spending, […]

Field Research: The Overdue Update #1

My response can’t do this discussion the justice it deserves, but given that my current choice is between debate on the internet and being ready for field research, I’m going to presume on your understanding for any clumsiness, typos, lack of formatting, etc. Let’s not descend into arguments about taxonomy (i.e. the ‘real’ definition of movement) – the tedium will drive me quickly back to the statistical analysis of survey data. The tensions animating this discussion are about cultural identity and competing theories of history – they aren’t about the definition of movement. Jason mentions a fear factor, and it’s a reasonable observation. There is a lot at stake. But let’s apply it fairly, and notice how fear informs his and Toby’s position as well. They’re trying to defend permaculture from a perceived threat – the messiness, confusion, and stigma that comes with being a movement (or just being described […]

Continuing the Conversation – Permaculture as a Movement

Now that Toby’s interesting essay (in response to my post on definitions in permaculture is making the rounds, I think it warrants a reply. (Some of this post assumes some prior knowledge of those posts, and a general awareness of agroecology). If you haven’t read Toby’s piece, he’s making an argument that permaculture is really, fundamentally, a design discipline – and that’s how we should regard it. It’s not a movement, a set of practices, or a worldview, and we shouldn’t confuse it with those things. It’s clear how  this reduction could be attractive for people who are interested in supporting the professional sector in permaculture, and Toby makes his argument well. His definition tidies up a messy ecosystem, drawing clear boundaries that focus attention on a single aspect of interest. While such linear and reductive thinking can be useful in the right context, in this case it does not serve. Permaculture’s spread […]

the convenience and poverty of simple definitions

Each summer for the last five years, I’ve had the privilege of teaching a permaculture design course with Steve Gabriel of Finger Lakes Permaculture Institute. He’s an inspiring, dedicated, and thoughtful teacher. I’m happy to say that he’s also part of the crew of up and coming permaculturists who are helping reconnect permaculture with scientific research. He’s currently working on a book on forest farming – the cultivation of crops in the forest understory, with Cornell professor Ken Mudge. They are running a crowdfunding campaign in order to visit and document forest farming operations across the US. Their work is worth your support. Check out a podcast interview with Steve, by Scott Mann over at Permaculture Podcast. Then head on over and check out the short video and other info at their crowdfunding campaign. You won’t regret it.  

Forest Farming with Steve Gabriel

  Great, thought provoking article by Rhamis Kent now up at Permaculture Research Institute of Australia. “Permaculture and Slavery: A Systems Analysis” kicks off a welcome and badly needed discussion of the legacy of African slavery in the development of the US economy – all through the energetic lens of systems ecology, long beloved by permaculturists. Go check it out. You’ll find me in the comments.

Permaculture and Slavery

From the fine people at Finger Lakes Permaculture Institute – with whom I teach every summer. The Finger Lakes Permaculture Institute (FLPCI) and The Permaculture Institute of the North East (PINE) are delighted to offer four fellowships for the upcoming Permaculture Design Certification course (PDC) offered this summer, in upstate New York from July 26th through August 11th. This fellowship is both need-based and merit-based. It aims to support community organizers, educators, and activists to share their permaculture knowledge with their communities. We encourage fellows to use their earnings as seed money for community-based permaculture education and activism. Women, people of color, and individuals from other historically marginalized groups are strongly encouraged to apply. We will begin selecting applicants on a rolling basis after April 17, 2013. More information can be found at http://FingerLakesPermaculture.org _______________________________________________

This just in: Permaculture Fellowships for Organizers, Activists and Educators

Summary: Neil Bertrando just authored a great article, in which he adapts my adaptation of the Scale of Permanence to generate some extremely useful strategic discussion of permaculture education and research in the USA. The content of his article is worthy of it’s own discussion, but here I’m just discussing method. Over the past few years I’ve been ‘experimenting’ with the underlying structure of Yeoman’s Scale of Permanence – trying to see what it is about it that makes it so compelling and useful for site analysis and design. My interest has been to see what concepts it might be related to in other disciplines, and how it might be applied in other domains than landscape planning. I’ve come to think of the Scale of Permanence as a form of ordered constraint analysis. At it’s most general, it involves identifying all the most pertinent factors that shape the possibilities and potentials of the […]

Adapting the “Scale of Permanence” for diverse design challenges

I’m preparing for my preliminary exams, which are next week. I’ve gone subterranen until after they are done. I will be tweeting from my cave, however.

Where am I?

Just returned from Miami and the Financial Permaculture course. Just catching up with life, and realized I forgot to post a link to the very fun interview I did with Scott Mann at Permaculture Podcast a few weeks ago. Check it out! http://www.thepermaculturepodcast.com/2013/rafter/ My guest for this episode is Rafter Sass Furguson, a PhD student at the University of Illinois whose doctoral thesis involves visiting and documenting 50 self-identified permaculture farms across the United States. Though that work forms the body of our discussion, along the way we touch on science literacy, permaculture education, crowd-funding of scientific research, permaculture and metaphysics, farms and financial permaculture, and his work as an agroecologist and how that discipline informs his teaching and practice of permaculture. Quite a bit to cover in the 45 minutes or so of our conversation. As Scott notes, the interview is actually a pretty good introduction and overview to my work […]

Interview on Permaculture Podcast

Details and registration here: http://www.financialpermaculture.com/ Some thoughts on making the investment: • $657 for 5 full days (and evenings) with an (ahem) star-studded 16+ person teaching team is impressively cheap. • Food is included in that figure – lodging is $165 for dorm-style, $60 for camping, or you can arrange your own. • If you enter LIBECOL at registration, they’ll knock $80 off your tuition. • Scholarships are available. • If you refer others to the event, your tuition will be reduced by 10% of whatever they pay. I’m teaching this workshop for expenses only* because I’m excited about this format and teaching team – and because, as I’ve mentioned in other posts – I think it’s getting at the heart of the economic bottleneck that regenerative businesses are facing. I think it’s going to be an amazing event. *Expenses, in this case, means that I’ll be provided with food and lodging, […]

Scholarships available for Financial Permaculture!

Permaculturists face a wicked contradiction. We want to create, and support the creation of, businesses and organizations that point the way toward a new way of doing things. If we want to claim that permaculture is ‘design that meets human needs while increasing ecosystem health,’ then we need to be able to demonstrate how the enterprises we design are meeting this description. Otherwise, our ethics aren’t meaningful, and the claims we make about the value of permaculture aren’t credible. The trick is that these enterprises also have to thrive right now, under industrial capitalism. If no one but the independently wealthy can use permaculture systems to both survive the current society and transition to whatever comes next, then permaculture isn’t much help at all. I don’t want to make lifeboats and pleasure gardens for the rich, and I don’t want to have to wait until after the apocolypse for permaculture […]

Toward Financial Permaculture: New Farms in the Old System