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A Permablitz to change the world

                          


Joined: Aug 05, 2010
Posts: 7
I know the permie way of doing things is to pay attention to the little circles of influence that surround us and that connect us and to do what we can within those circles to make beneficial change where we are best able to make that change.

But the Permie way is also about caring for that one last largest circle that surrounds us all and ties the world together.

I sometimes ask myself what could possibly be done to shake up and wake up the world all at once, not on a time scale of generations, but instead in just a few years?

What would it take to make Permie thinking absolutely mainstream? What would it take to make it the most contagious and most beneficial meme in history?

What are your ideas for ways to wake the world quickly?

My idea is to create a foundation (or gather a confederation of foundations) that will take as it's cause the goal of establishing large permaculture based food forest gardens right in the middle of every major metropolitan area on the planet.

We need everyone to understand the difference between agriculture and permaculture. 

The place that first came to my mind was to transform New York City's Central Park into a food forest?

Imagine being able to not just maintain but grow the beauty of the place, keep it's function as a public park, and also provide the people there with vitally needed education, food, and jobs?

For each city the goal would be to place the garden as near as possible to the largest most visible historical landmarks there.

Imagine Tienanmen Square re-purposed as a garden? Imagine if the holiest shrine for all the world's religions were not churches, mosques, and temples but instead were gardens?

It might sound impossible? But not as impossible as just hoping the great masses will discover all this good stuff all on their own without some rather obvious signposts pointing the way forward.

Maybe Permies needs a reality TV show?

How about a world class video game?

What would you call it? (And please don't say "Farmville!"

- Steve

Now I really want to read about your (really big ideas) for how to spread the Permie word quickly, far, and wide?
Amedean Messan
pollinator

Joined: Nov 11, 2010
Posts: 768
Location: Burlington, NC - Woodland, Clay - Zone 7
    
  24
I commend your concern for the direction you are wishing to take yourself.  Your concern and ready to take charge attitude mimic aspects of my personality as well (ENTJ), therefore I respect your selfless determination to better humanity and empathize for this drive.  For the issue, I don't see the problem of permaculture adoption as a  matter of organization and communication, nor ideas.  Plainly, it is due to the lack of interest.  Here on this site I believe most of us have a consensus of this harsh reality and most of us work on our own "practice" while sharing our knowledge and hard researched approaches.  We accumulate here because we have common unique interests.

For years people have been trying to push permaculture with little progress.  I honestly believe that until there is a famine of some sort or when "necessity meets demand" will our belief and practice of permaculture thrive.      For now, either by desire to be closer to nature or to sustain oneself in an age of depleting resources we will accumulate on working with those of us "FEW" who desire to take this path.  Not everyone wants to be a farmer.  I apologize for the lack of inspiration but I have lost my desire to persuade aro-sustainability after much discussion among my peers and in research on the matter.  People believe in the false hope that agro-sustainability can fix the resource requirements of the booming population and save the world, but in reality it just delays it.

Due in part in a boom of documentaries in the last decade people are gaining interest in sustainability and even fewer have been inspired to make change in the world, but ultimately the vision of wide spread adoption is wishful thinking until our bad habits inflict pain on people.


Those who hammer their swords into plows will plow for those who don't!
John Polk
steward

Joined: Feb 20, 2011
Posts: 6456
Location: Moving to: NE Washington USDA zone 5 Western steppes to the Rockies
    
133
For the vast majority, there will be no interest until the day happens where they can no longer to buy food (perhaps because they can no longer afford to drive to work).

Until a problem hits somebody so hard in the wallet that it causes pain, they will continue to bury their heads in the sand, and pretend that the problem does not exist.
Human nature, and our culture have convinced us that tomorrow "will be better".
Ken Peavey
steward

Joined: Dec 21, 2009
Posts: 2092
Location: FL
    
  49
The 100th Monkey Theory is a start to understanding social change.  I cant say I subscribe to the paranormal concept of jumping overseas, but it makes for a good story.

The objective is to make permaculture a viral entity.  

Let's look at permaculture as if it were a new technology.  Any new technology has a life cycle: Creation, Implementation, Common Use, Replacement, and Obsolesence.  It's interesting that this pattern foolows the life cycle of an organism: Birth, Growth, Maturity, Decline, Death.  

An example would be the history of the wood stove in America.  Wood stoves came into being in the mid 1800s as industrialization and iron technology allowed production of the devices on a scale which allowed a great percentage of the population to acquire and use them.  At first they were expensive, but costs came down, people found out about them and everyone saved their pennies.  By 1900, most homes in America had a stove of some kind, be they in the kitchen or parlor.  As new technology developed, these stoves were replaced by electric and gas models.  Today, although there can still be found numerous examples of their use (I have one in my garage), the devices have fallen out of use in the mainstream.

Where is Permaculture in its life cycle?  In some parts of the world, it may be seen as a Common Use technology-rural homesteads in undeveloped countries.  In other parts, it might be in the Implementation stage-post soviet Cuba is making great progress.  In much of the developed world, as studies and experiments continue, there would be an argument that Permaculture is still in the creation phase.

A technical debate can be developed as to whether or not Permaculture is a new technology.  They say Columbus discovered the new world, but the place has been there all along with people living there.  Permaculture is a lot like the new world.  People have been practicing it for centuries in some form, here and there, but as a technology, these methods are being studied and documented, with results disseminated across the globe.  While the methods are not particularly new, our understanding of the principles involved is.

As a technology, Permaculture has a distinct advantage when it comes to the Replacement and Obsolescence Stages.  Natural Ecosystems never become obsolete, and will eventually replace our species as we evolve into some other species or go extinct.

I think there is much work to do in developing permacultural methods and understanding the processes involved.  In the meantime, the methods are being implemented just a little bit more every day.  Replacing the global agricultural paradigm won't happen overnight.  An industry as vast as that takes several generations.  Automobiles have been around for over a century, and there are countries where most of the population doesn't even have a bicycle.  Moreover, the strides in science and technology over the past couple of centuries has been steering the population away from nature.  In the developed world, your entire life can be dropped off in a box, FedEx-Overnight.   The ways of the world are massive indeed, with tremendous momentum.  

It will be like trying to stop a battleship using a canoe paddle.


Seed the Mind, Harvest Ideas.
http://farmwhisperer.com
Ken Peavey
steward

Joined: Dec 21, 2009
Posts: 2092
Location: FL
    
  49
There are inherent obstacles with changing the world from Industrialization to Permaculture.  Huge corporations who own vast tracts of arable land, globalized supply and demand oriented markets, and scores of sovereign nations all looking out for #1.  There are ordinances and regulations, labor laws and taxes, and an endless parade of life enhancing products barking out "CONSUME CONSUME CONSUME!!"

Advantages can not be ignored in permacultural methods.  It is a self-replenishing system which uses the natural environment to expand and grow.  It is the most efficient food growing system the world has ever seen, outperforming all other systems, from hydroponics to GMO to slash and burn to combines and chemical.  It can be implemented by anyone, anywhere, and is entirely scalable.  Poisons are detoxified, excesses are tempered, scarcities are rectified, pollutants are neutralized.  Health is promoted in the soil, plants, creatures and people.  Life WANTS to thrive. 

You post displays zeal in your support for permaculture, and zeal is oftentimes a driving force for the better.  In the rush forward to promote that which you consider to be a good idea, you must bear in mind the personalities involved, the cultures formed around our current paradigm, and how change is not necessarily a good thing, rapid change especially.

I'll talk about the US because I live in the US and I am familiar with things here.  Looking at the statistics, 60% of the farmers in the US are 60 years old.  These guys have been doing things the same way for 30, 40, 50 years and then some.  Spray the chems, spread the ferts, drive the tractor, haul the product off to the depot.  They have thier entire lives and fortunes invested in a way of life, a method of growing.  They won't soon be changing their ways, even if its a good idea, because they've been doing it since Eisonhower beat Dewey, aint giving up that tractor and letting that field grow over with weeds after fighting all their lives to eradicate them. 

Corporate agriculture is the same.  The objective there is not so much to produce a nutritious food, but to maximize the bottom line in order to fulfill a fiduciary duty to the shareholders.  There is no triple bottom line to worry about.  What's more, these guys are battle hardened to protect their companies in court, in the laboratory, in the legislature, in the media, and in the global marketplace.  They will stomp on the competition, purchase government positions, gobble up the land, claim entire species as property, plaster the TV with propaganda aimed at brainwashing an ignorant public and keeping them ignorant, buy up water rights like the stuff is going out of style and do everything in their power to stop your message dead in its tracks.  If it's not good for the company, it is the Devil and must be destroyed at all costs.

Then there is the supply chain.  Reallocating ships, trucks, trains, distribution nodes, methods of purchase, processing centers, packaging materials, and god knows what else, in order to service local, seasonal food production is a logistical mistake.  You are talking about changing the way food is delivered from the field to the table.  While the 3000 mile Caesar Salad makes no sense, there are 6.9 billion people in the world who are dependent on mass produced, bulk processed, distantly shipped food.  Modern agriculture and food systems are behemoth operations.  How did we ever let this thing get so out of hand?  How did we get turned so far off course?  At what point did we lost touch with the land?
Ken Peavey
steward

Joined: Dec 21, 2009
Posts: 2092
Location: FL
    
  49
The start of it all was the steam engine, which kicked off industrialization.  Feed the machine, the machine does the work, the guy who owns the product coming out the back end makes the money, buys more machines, gains more control and power.  A feedback loop developed.  This was exacerbated with new technology and the concentrated energy in fossil fuels.  It made good sense at the time, and buy golly there was a pile of money to be made.

Next came the agricultural revolution, starting with the Haber-Bosch Process which enabled production of fertilizers.  Crop yields increased, the farmers fed more people, the people reproduced, the world needed more food.  Borrow from the bank, get a bigger tractor, buy more land, plant more crops, make more money.  Again, the whole thing snowballed, growing bigger and accelerating change.  The world was limitless. 
Or so it seemed.

Thats the condensed version story of how all this came to be.  The size of the problem offers some explanation of the reason why it will be so hard to turn it around.  There is no question that the way we feed and clothe ourselves, how we move around, and how we heat and cool our homes needs to change.  The damage we are bringing upon the world is headlines every day: climate change, the Pacific Gyre Garbage Patch, polluted air, polluted water, entire regions made uninhabitable by nuclear contamination.  Back in the 70s there was an anti pollution ad in which an American Indian would look over the land at the pollution with a tear in his eye.  Nobody is responsible for all this.  Everyone is responsible for all this.  It needs to stop, but a rapid change will be a shock that can cause the house of cards we call an economy to come tumbling down, leaving a great many people in a dire situation. 

The challenge is daunting.  The task before us is quite simply the largest undertaking ever to be considered by mankind.  And you want to do it overnight? While people are resistant to change, people are also highly adaptable.  There are 2 ways to do this: gradual change or tear off the band aid.  With gradual change, there is time for the environment to heal, time for industrial systems to adapt, time for farms to convert their machinery and structures, time to develop markets, time for people to learn the principles that will allow permaculture to flourish as it should.  The flaw here is that Business As Usual will continue to tear up the environment and compound the problems to the point that a poisoned planet can move us all into the fossil record.

Tearing off the Band Aid is painful.  While it would be better to have our ducks lined up, sometimes you have to work with what you have.  Hardship is nothing new to civilization.  Back in World War II, England was in trouble.  Being an island nation, imported goods meant ships, which were attacked and sunk to such an extent that feeding themselves became an issue.  Much of their grain came from North America.  Whats more, the resources needed for war was of high priority-those ships which remained had to be used for the war effort.  To offer relief to the food situation, the British government promoted vegetable gardening.  Within a very few seasons, these Victory Gardens were producing over 40% of the vegetables on the dinner table.  This freed up land to be used for grain production (and airfields), and that grain production made available space for ships to support the war effort.  Victory Gardens on a global scale might be possible, but its not going to happen without proper incentive.  Such incentive would need to effect everyone.  National borders, religious doctrine, economic disruptions are too limiting, affecting only select parts of the population.  The incentive would have to reach across the boundaries.  Climate Destabilization fits the bill, as does pollution. 

I think it will take a serious planet wide crisis to wake them up, and Business as Usual will create the conditions needed for that crisis.  Storms, drought, floods, pollution, groundwater depletion, temperature extremes-all of this and more will be what wakes people up.  It will cause suffering to be sure, and it is that suffering that will be the incentive to change.  Anything less and those stubborn humans will keep doing things the way they have been.

The task moves from inspiring change to preparing for permaculture on a much larger scale as a result of necessity rather than as a utopian ideal.  To best enable the change, the most important aspect is knowledge.  Tools will be needed, but these can be fashioned with available resources.  Suitable land will be needed, but permaculture principles can turn even marginal land into a fertile, productive ecosystem, given some help.  But if the knowledge is not available, those folks are buggered. 

Gather information about permaculture, organic gardening, alternative energy, natural building materials, and any other aspect that draws your attention.  Learn it, live it, let it become the fiber of your existence.  Talk about it, spread the word.  Build those relationships with others who have an interest.  Study, do your homework, start experimenting, grow stuff, put as much experience as you can into yourself.  There is a steep learning curve, and can be akin to drinking from a firehose at times, but when it all comes together, a deep understanding develops.  At that point, teaching others becomes the ability to develop.  If you give a man a fish, he'll eat for a day.  If you can teach a man to fish, he'll never go hungry.
Susanna de Villareal-Quintela


Joined: May 01, 2010
Posts: 143
    
    1
Good response, Ken.  Sometimes, our good intentions and excitement fail to see the our food/farm system from a macro perspective.  I live in big farm country and my husband works in warehousing, so I see it every day.  My daily experiences are a firm reminder of how much distance we have to travel in educating others about the successes of our perspective and why we make "slow" choices.   

Fortunately, my small farm is full of life with healthy soil (something that could not be said 7 years ago) and my generational farming neighbors have noticed.  They ask questions and scoff at the answers, at times, but they can not deny the results.     Every curious glance from this growd is a win and every question is a chance at giving a nugget of gold to future generations.  If we are fortunate it will take generations to change.  If it changes quickly history indicates it will be borne from tragedy.  I don't want that for anyone.   

Joy!
Tyler Ludens
pollinator

Joined: Jun 25, 2010
Posts: 5326
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
    
  20
My big idea is all of us permies here reading this create beautiful permaculture homes and yards using our own homes and yards or the yard of a friend, and then give tours to anyone who is interested in seeing them.  I think it would be especially important to make a beautiful front-yard permaculture, so anyone can see it who drives by.  We can put up cute signs describing what's growing and why.  This is actually something we CAN do. 


Idle dreamer

                                  


Joined: Nov 01, 2009
Posts: 18
I think H Ludi Tyler is exactly right.  The way to get 'city' folks interested in to do it well yourself so they can see it as something they may want to try.  I know a couple who do 'permaculture' and 'green building' tours on their place.  They built a strawbale house, and they have what I would call a weed patch.  Mostly well-off college aged people come and oh and ah and think it is wonderful.  The place is a dump.  Most people would never want their places to look like that.  Most people would call somebody if their neighbors place looked like that.  I think we need to face the fact that the majority of the population is used to neatly manicured lawns, and anything that doesn't at least look tidy is going to be a shock to their system that they just aren't ready for.  If you want to give tours, get your place ready for it before you invite anyone.  Inspire others to want to do what you have done, not be glad that they don't have to live in such an awful place with weeds everywhere.  To really make any kind of difference at all, a huge amount of people are going to need to want to do it.  So you really do need to appeal to the majority, and see it from the perspective of city people, who have probably never even had dirty hands before.  Truly a daunting task...
Jeff Millar


Joined: Jun 24, 2011
Posts: 24
Ken Peavey wrote:

They won't soon be changing their ways, even if its a good idea, because they've been doing it since Eisonhower beat Dewey, aint giving up that tractor and letting that field grow over with weeds after fighting all their lives to eradicate them. 





Huh. I guess I got the wrong paper that day.

People don't change very easily, and for the most part folks worldwide do not want to produce anything for themselves anymore. I really don't think anything will change wholesale until something terrible occurs on a large scale, and even then the majority will continue to insist that the government take care of them. Read "ies the Fire" by S.M. Stirling to get a glimpse.

My goals have more to do with taking care of my family than trying to change the world, but if it inspires even one other person, then that is an added benefit. I think that in contemporary America, the chance of permaculture catching on in a popular way is about as good as a Libertarian ending up in the White House. But that's just me, I'm kind of a pessimist.


A well defined problem is already half solved.
Ken Peavey
steward

Joined: Dec 21, 2009
Posts: 2092
Location: FL
    
  49
I must admit that I don't know who ran against Eisonhower.  I shall change that line to
-since Moses came over on the Mayflower.
-since the invention of food.
-since Edison came up with the steam engine.
                      


Joined: Oct 25, 2010
Posts: 76
Location: Austin,TX
Like the idea of taking over city land...so much so I got lucky and bought a property (.8 acre) in town that butts up to a city park on the 'bad' side of town a few years back. The park (my side...divided by drainage ditch...future water supply!) is undeveloped and trashed...perfect for what I have planned. 'Ambushed' the cities parks director, told her who I am and what I'm planning (massive food forest) and asked who I should liaison with in her department. So working in that direction with the parks department. It's been slow progress as I've been (solo) working on my FF/site for the past three years...most of that in drought conditions. Also have been cleaning up the neighborhood of trash, drug dealers, prostitutes and other assorted knuckle heads while helping out the good people.
Hard work is starting to pay off, many new people starting to gravitate in due to the pull of permaculture. New group moved in across the street that are perming up their place (up until Jan was a trashed out rental) and we're starting to push into the park proper.  

Best to not look at already established public land but go to the poor side (funny, all cities have at least one) and get to work. It's also the side of town that most needs repair and with the least access to real food. Plus the change will be that more impressive...from garbage to garden.

Anyone in the Austin area that has what it takes to be a great ape come on out. We have every other Sunday (7-10-11) work days followed with a potluck after...PM me.

The 100th Monkey Theory

What's that? lol...

ape99
Haru Yasumi


Joined: Apr 29, 2010
Posts: 102
I agree with H Ludi Tyler on this one - good examples of functioning permaculture plots whether small or big are a great way to show people that it's realistic and a good way to disseminate/make concrete and legitimate the information about permaculture to at least the people around you.

While I think the Amedean has a valid point about how people have been trying to push permaculture, I don't completely agree with this idea: "Plainly, it is due to the lack of interest.  Here on this site I believe most of us have a consensus of this harsh reality and most of us work on our own "practice" while sharing our knowledge and hard researched approaches."  It may be completely true that there's some consensus on this site about others being generally apathetic towards permaculture but I don't believe this is the only thing to consider.  For me personally I grew up with a questioning attitude and love for nature that came into conflict many times with the way my parents and culture raised me.  I think a lot of people experience similar conflicts but if not confronted with any realistic solutions can fall into despair, just go with the flow, and so on.  The more innovative solutions permaculture comes up with, the more connections people see between nature and humans, and the more people who incorporate permaculture thinking into their daily lives I think it has a decent chance of spreading much wider than before.

I guess what I'm trying to say is regardless of what you or I expect for the future of permaculture it's still worth sharing/spreading and keeping at least some shred of optimism about.  I didn't even know about permaculture until a few years ago and it's been around longer than I've been alive.  It felt to me like I had to go far out of my way just to discover its existence, and sites like this, and if it were just a tad bit more accessible it could reach that many more people.  I could see how if I were any amounts of decades older and had been practicing permaculture I might fit in with that rather discouraged-sounding "consensus" but I assure you there is still a new wave of young permies around and the idea is still spreading.


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Jeff Millar


Joined: Jun 24, 2011
Posts: 24
Ken Peavey wrote:
I must admit that I don't know who ran against Eisonhower.  I shall change that line to
-since Moses came over on the Mayflower.
-since the invention of food.
-since Edison came up with the steam engine.


No, don't do that. I was making a joke, Eisenhower did beat Dewey. The Chicago Tribune incorrectly predicted the winner and put out that headline. It's a pretty famous photo, especially around here because Dewey was from Owosso, Mi which is two towns over from me. If you changed it, you should change it back.
Susanna de Villareal-Quintela


Joined: May 01, 2010
Posts: 143
    
    1
Jeff Millar wrote:
No, don't do that. I was making a joke, Eisenhower did beat Dewey. The Chicago Tribune incorrectly predicted the winner and put out that headline. It's a pretty famous photo, especially around here because Dewey was from Owosso, Mi which is two towns over from me. If you changed it, you should change it back.


Owosso is one town over from me.   Two of us within a 30 mile radius!  That's how popular the movement has become in Michigan!
Jeff Millar


Joined: Jun 24, 2011
Posts: 24
I live near Shiatown near Vernon, where you at?
Jeff Millar


Joined: Jun 24, 2011
Posts: 24
Jeff Millar wrote:
No, don't do that. I was making a joke, Eisenhower did beat Dewey. The Chicago Tribune incorrectly predicted the winner and put out that headline. It's a pretty famous photo, especially around here because Dewey was from Owosso, Mi which is two towns over from me. If you changed it, you should change it back.


I meant Truman. They are all dead, though, so they wont be kicking up a fuss.
John Polk
steward

Joined: Feb 20, 2011
Posts: 6456
Location: Moving to: NE Washington USDA zone 5 Western steppes to the Rockies
    
133
Correct.  Truman beat Dewey, Eisenhower beat Stevenson (twice).  The transformation in US farming actually began in WWII.  The farmer's sons, and other farm labor were off in Europe or the South Pacific fighting a war.  Even the smaller farms needed to mechanize in order to get the crops planted & harvested.

Eisenhower obviously saw what was happening to American agriculture.  He stated:
"Farming is easy when a pencil is your plow, and your desk is a thousand miles from the cornfield."
Susanna de Villareal-Quintela


Joined: May 01, 2010
Posts: 143
    
    1
Jeff Millar wrote:
I live near Shiatown near Vernon, where you at?


Ovid. We love it out here, too!
 
 
subject: A Permablitz to change the world
 
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