At this stage, I’m not feeling qualified to give my own description. So I’ll refer to our universal knowledge base at Wikipedia:
Permaculture is a system of agricultural and social design principles centered around simulating or directly utilizing the patterns and features observed in natural ecosystems. The term permaculture was developed and coined by David Holmgren, then a graduate student, and his professor, Bill Mollison, in 1978. The word permaculture originally referred to “permanent agriculture”, but was expanded to stand also for “permanent culture”, as it was understood that social aspects were integral to a truly sustainable system as inspired by Masanobu Fukuoka’s natural farming philosophy.
And refer to this:
It’s part of a complete, free online Permaculture course, provided by the University of Oregon – I can highly recommend it. Here is the full playlist: http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLS4lHBC1I2vgwnvdatQ-TRcNyYxMC3EB3
Why I like it so much
It’s a response to my search for a universal theory
It feels like my search for a manual, a perspective on how to tackle the problems of the present and enroll on to the path towards a more hopeful and positive future, found an answer. I think that Permaculture is that answer, because I am convinced that the way the world is currently functioning, in a hierarchical, competitive way, is not going to create solutions that include everyone and bring fair chances to any human being (because they would deserve it). In order to change it, we need different incentives, mindsets, structures. We need a universal recipe which includes a manual to get there. Permaculture offers that recipe (see illustration below). I like its wholistic approach, taking into account various aspects of a society, spanning from nature, to energy, building, community, economy and leaves room for spiritual and other aspects, where people find it fitting.
It seems to tie in perfectly into my life’s journey
I find myself so at home in Permaculture theory because a lot of aspects connect and come together. My desire to live more sustainable and have a positive impact, my quest for an alternative thought model that includes all people and my experience with building new “products” in a pragmatic, iterative approach. For example Design Thinking has been a central topic in my IT/startup work for the last 2+ years and it’s heavily referenced in David Holmgren’s “Permaculture – Principles & Pathways beyond Sustainability”. See also my blog post for Panter about building products.
It’s a flexible manual, rather than a dogmatic theory
Two quotes from David Holmgren’s book:
I offer my thoughts in the believe that discomfort, especially ethical discomfort, is a healthy alternative to ideological certainty.
…I believe it is hard for us to proceed very far with ethical frameworks without at the same time acting in the real world to develop ourselves as whole persons.
The past and current systems in the world, be it religious or political, have shown to divide people over who is right and wrong. Basing our behavior on ethical principle that – let’s be honest – the large majority of all capitalists, communists, sunnis and shiites, catholics and jews share, gives us a better tool to unite and to work together.
It is based on science but is very pragmatic
It perfectly fits into my mindset of understanding the basic principles, logically basing them on facts and experience – but then just doing it. It is a pragmatic, iterative, very much based on observation and learning as you go. I like that it is open to newer scientific studies as well as ancient and forgotten knowledge, to create solutions that have been proven to work. Other than approaches like biodynamic agriculture, it’s based on logic rather than believes – like my own background. It also makes sense that you design a high-level plan and vision of where you want to go first, but then implement it bottom up, start small and scale up while you learn – again, very much in line of how I’ve been teaching building business solutions. Last but not least it is a universal concept that leaves a lot of freedom for individual, local situations. I believe there is no point in trying to turn the wheel backwards: we do live in a global, connected world, but at the same time it’s worth looking back for old or local wisdom and utilizing it.
It’s a modern evolution with heart and brain
Permaculture talks and acts in a way, as I would imagine humans of the 21st century to talk and act.
- it has a big heart and wants to create a better place for humans, animals and plants – not only the current ones but for many generations to come.
- it accepts humans position in nature as a subordinate one and tries to let nature take the lead while manipulating it to our needs as minimally as possible.
- it doesn’t try to create a one-fits-all solution but understands and respects the land and its people with their differences.
- it is conscious that our attitude towards energy consumption has to change.
- it learns from the mistakes made in the past and is careful not to repeat them.
- it is not ego-centrical but puts community first and respects cultural differences.
Learn more about Permaculture
For further reference, here are a few books that were recommended to me – and I have yet to read: http://www.amazon.com/registry/wishlist/33W2C8TTHPJW7