What would you think of as the absolutely most essential and important fact or aspect about permaculture to include in a brief intro talk? I'm looking for personal favorites, not no-brainers. What most important bit gets too often overlooked? What quote or fact, little story or other tid-bit encapsulates the spirit of a permaculture approach in a way a curious jogger might find interesting? I'm asking here because I seem on the way to giving short talks about permaculture and know that many here have experience and opinions on how such a thing could be done exceptionally.
For context, I'm a Southwest Washington State (Lewis County) Master Gardener about to start a demo garden space at Fort Borst Park in Centralia and have decided to start a Permaculture demonstration site. The site has four pear trees and neighbors the Native Plants demo space, which I'll also be taking on and expanding. In throwing around ideas with one of the demo garden leads, I agreed to teach a class "some day" that will be me standing in front of the site and talking for less than half and hour without much possibility for visual aid. One day, I'll have a class room space with Powerpoint and I certainly know of plenty of good resources, but to start I'll probaby hand out a little tri-fold and give a brief talk designed to introduce the word and concept to the kind of person who is interested in gardening but may never have heard of permaculture. I must include a good reading list, which I have found discussed on this forum, also a few good definitions of the term, which I have favorite candidates for but am open to suggestions on. I don't see how I can leave out the ubiquitous list of principles. I'll otherwise focus the talk on what I have done and why. I just saw the site this morning, so I have some research and brainstorming to do. But I thought it would be a good start to open my ears to the experts.
Location: Ava, Mo, USA, Earth
posted 8 years ago
How about starting with: "Everything you think you know about growing food is probably wrong." Once that gets their attention, move on to system design and how everything interacts and that these interactions are what makes a system stable.
Eeek, I have to disagree with the "you're wrong" opening. Because people don't like to be told they're wrong. They really, really don't. Granted yes it would get their attention, but, I think it might put them on the defensive. People are not open to new ideas when they feel defensive.
On the other hand, starting with "Everything I thought I knew about growing food was wrong!" might be a more helpful way of presenting the new ideas. Not "you're wrong!" but "I was wrong!" What a doofus I was, and here's why.
What I was doing was too hard, and too expensive, and here's how permaculture makes it easier, cheaper, and better....
Location: Foothills north of L.A., zone 9ish mediterranean
posted 8 years ago
30 minutes is not much time, hardly time for a profound lecture, but perfect for a permie infomercial. If it were me, I'd use a marketing approach. In 30 minutes I am not interested in teaching them all the permaculture principles, or how to make compost. Yes, I want to transmit a few brilliant gems of permaculture concepts, but more than anything I want to inspire them to take action. Too much info will actually overwhelm and demotivate.
1) Dig the Pit: Paint a picture of the problems with agriculture today, and make it painful. You can briefly touch on global issues like topsoil loss, climate change, peak oil - but quickly make it personal - why is this a problem for them? What are the problems people have with sourcing affordable, delicious, healthy, organic, non-GMO foods? Why does storebought produce taste like crap? Worried about inflation, financial security? Do you love gardening, but have difficulty finding time?
2) Present the Solution: Yes, we know permaculture will save the world, but how is it going to solve their problem. Backyard superfoods are the best nutrition on the planet. This apple tree has been a better profit in 3 years than investing in Apple...etc. For every problem, show a real solution in your garden. And as Geoff Lawton has said, all the world's problems can be solved there.
3) Address resistances, the biggest ones will be time, money, and I don't know where to start. You don't have to spend a huge amount of time on this, one sentence for each resistance. "Permaculture aims to create maintenance-free systems, so it doesn't have to be a lot of work... for example this nut tree requires a few hours of maintenance per year and will be yielding x pounds of nuts for the next 60 years! at $10 pound for raw organic nuts, that's $xx.xx a year" Another resistance will be aesthetics. Just point to your nice mulched beds with pretty bee & hummingbird forages. No land? Show them a container guild.
4) Finishing with a call to action. This is the most important part - for them to actually take the next step, could be volunteering in your garden, signing up for your newsletter, signing up for a weekend workshop... maybe even sign up for a PDC. Emphasize the point that the the problem won't get solved unless we each take action. Decide ahead what specific action you are going to direct them towards. Too many choices leads to paralysis by analysis.
And on another tangent, along with the book list, I would list internet resources, including websites, such as this ones, and youtube playlists - super-easy to set up a youtube account and put together playlists with a little Lawton, Mollison & Holmgren...