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Doubts about Holzer?

 
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Then I suppose he should have better access than most to relevant court documentation so we can settle the matter once and for all.



Pete,

Since Immo is currently on the road and Immo saw it and, therefore, is fully satisfied, I suspect that he is not concerned about how others choose to be in the dark.

Since you seem to desire this information, perhaps you could do a bit of a search and find it and post it here?


 
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Ute Chook wrote:
I think that if very good professional PC designers drop the label "Permakultur" from their work because they don't want to be confused with Holzer that must tell you something.



Which permaculture designers have dropped the label "permaculture"?

 
Mother Tree
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Surely the best way of subjecting something to a 'critical review' is to try it out?

Paul has just gone to a good deal of trouble to make some of Sepp's bone sauce, and I dare say he'll subject that to a fair bit of testing. I'm gradually getting my act together to make some up of my own, then I can report on it, but it will take a couple of years so if anyone else can join in it will help.

I've just built my first hugel-bed, so in a few years I'll be able to offer a critical review of that. I have a friend who's just built one too, and another one busy planning some - they should be able to contribute their experiences, too, so we can get a better idea of how they work in our climate. But it all takes time.

I've been down to Tamera and seen the water retention landscape he designed for them - looks good to me!

There seems to be a tendency for people to sit and wait for other people to test stuff. I think that if something sounds interesting and seems to make good sense, just try it!

 
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Yes Burra, I am in the 'just try it' group.

The idea didn't make a lot of sense to me but I do waste a lot of time doing less productive things so - why not? I put in my first bed last year right before a drought. Harvested butternut squash and beans. No watering, no fertilizer. Today harvested potatoes. Just reburied the vines and will see what happens. The soil is already black (in my sandy area of the world) and full of earthworms.

I also put in a test bed last fall for my neighbor just to prove to her that it works. Over the winter she harvested several large turnips. Now growing are corn, sqaush and sage. No watering, no fertilizing.

Where is the science and data to support this? Don't know - I'm busy picking food and converting my old beds to hugelkulture.

So far everything that I have learned on permies goes against everything I knew about growing food - and so far I am growing more food with less work than I ever have in over 25 years.
 
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Burra Maluca wrote:Surely the best way of subjecting something to a 'critical review' is to try it out?

I've just built my first hugel-bed, so in a few years I'll be able to offer a critical review of that. I have a friend who's just built one too, and another one busy planning some - they should be able to contribute their experiences, too, so we can get a better idea of how they work in our climate. But it all takes time.



Dare I say, Sepp Holzer did not invent Huegelkultur. That idea has been around for at least 30-35 years. My dad had some in his little suburban garden in the late 70s. I remember articles about the idea in organic gardening magazines at the time. And the organic/biodynamic gardening book I was given by my boss when I did an apprencticeship on her farm also has a chapter on Huegelkultur in it. That was in 1983. The book was a 1980 edition.

Holzer just makes them bigger...
 
Burra Maluca
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He probably didn't invent dam-building, bone sauce, not bothering to prune trees and watching stuff to see how it works either.

So I'm getting a bit confused now as to what we're even trying to talk about.

 
Ute Chook
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Burra Maluca wrote:...

So I'm getting a bit confused now as to what we're even trying to talk about.



IMHO we are talking about not blindly following self-styled gurus.

Dave Holmgren summed it up very nicely in Joe Polaischer's obituary (http://permakultur.net/?mdoc_id=1000646)
"Perhaps a stronger example of Joe's ability to get on and learn from others, even the most abrasive, was his good, if argumentative working relationship with Sepp Holzer, a fellow Austrian and brilliant permaculture designer and practitioner, completely outside the lineage of permaculture teaching, who has clashed with almost everyone within the European permaculture community."

Personally, following the discussions on German Pc and other fora, I can't see fair share or earth care or people care in his work, three basic tenets of the permaculture movement. But that's just cantankerous me ...
 
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Personally based on direct experience I do have some doubts on Sepp, but not as a designer, I will get to that at the end.

On this lady she reminds me of my clients when I used to waste my time consulting with large companies about internet marketing. These guys would take your plan, do 40% of what you recommend and bitch about not getting 100% of the results you promised. My response was always if you only did 40% of what I recommended you are lucky to have gotten any positive results at all. Much like permaculture my marketing is holistic and based on each component supporting the others.

I was just in Dayton for the Holzer seminar and I watch Katerina fight a lot of what he wanted to do, call me a pesimist but I think this lady likely did as well. Those who fight seldom follow recommendations after the consultant leaves. Here are other things we don't know about this project....

Did the lady pay him to design it and go away or actually oversee the design end to end?

If she did pay him to manage the project, did she let him do it end to end his way?

Did she follow 100% of the maintenance and establishment instructions left with her?

My gut in answering the above is paid for design only not project management, NA and NO.

What I saw in the pictures on her property looked nothing like what was done in MT by Sepp, not even a tiny bit. I would also say by her complaining of "no tours" she thought she was going to be the next Kramaderhoff and based on the limited design even if it went perfect it wasn't going to happen.

Now my doubts about Holzer are not about his methods, his design or his knowledge. Those are among the top ten in the world in my view. Where I doubt him is as a teacher. During the seminar I was there at no real cost in return for promoting the seminar to my audience. I was pretty disgusted by the entire thing, mostly that people spent money at my recommendation and didn't feel they got what they paid for. I am sure Katerina gets some of the blame but I watched Sepp over and over not give strait answers to people who paid a LOT of money to talk to him. He is in my view and amazing designer and a terrible teacher. Several people asked for and got refunds.

I was also kind of disgusted by Katerina as a whole. She never even really spoke to me or said thanks. I brought in about half of the Holzer seminar people, that was a lot of revenue. One of her son's said "oh thanks" when someone told him who I was but was more concerned with getting me to sign a waiver then to acknowledge the work I did putting my own name on the line to promote the event.

My overall experience was actually really good, in seeing the total design, the scale etc, my understanding has reached a new level. I have already picked up a consulting job to build a few full scale hugul beds (unsolicited I might add) that will pay 2500 dollars and give me an opportunity for some cool filming, interviews, etc. I can now confidently do a lot of things I had only read about before and fully understand the why and how behind them.

Thing is I got all of that on day one in about hour one, I got there two days in and lots of earth moving had occurred. I looked at it, went oh wow, how does that, oh I see, I get it, DONE!

The problem is for many others is I don't think they got that after 12 days and 2 grand. They felt used as day labor, ignored as to their personal concerns and worse. I think I "got it" due only to my fundamental understanding of earth works. I am not being arrogant when I say I feel I understand the subject better than most, I spent 15 minutes with a group of about 10 people the last moments before I left the seminar explaining the damns, the keyway and how swales could be integrated with them if the land owner wanted to and a few other things about earthworks. Several said they learned more in those 15 minutes then they did during the entire seminar.

So I think to really "get it" one had to almost get it already. Paul and I tried to chalk it up to "this is advanced training" but over the long haul I couldn't stick to that. There were very stupid questions asked true but a lot of very specific, very easy to answer and very good questions created a 20 minute Holzer rant that had no answers. Would I go to a Holzer event again? I don't know, it would depend on who was running it, how they structured it, etc. But I wouldn't pay 2K and travel 1800 miles for one again.

Now would I if I had the land and the money hire Holzer to come in, give him 40 acres, say here is the equipment, here is a planting budget, here is a crew of interns, go nuts, do it exactly the way you think it should be done, leave me a management plan when you are done? If I wanted a producing beyond organic farm, I would do so in a New York minute. I am totally sold on Holzer design after seeing it done.

Here is my entire AAR on the experience http://www.thesurvivalpodcast.com/episode-901-learning-from-the-holzer-the-good-and-the-bad

Note AAR is after action review for the non military types.
 
Burra Maluca
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Excellent podcast Jack!

I think maybe part of the problem with Sepp as a teacher is that as he learns differently to most people, he tries to teach the same way he learns, and I guess a lot of people don't get it. You mentioned in the podcast about the way people assume a pond is dug out, which is exactly the way I was before I went to Tamera and heard Sepp and saw the way he had done stuff there using a dam in exactly the right place and allowing the lake to build naturally behind it. He did seem to get his message across OK though. Or maybe I just tend to think in a similar way to Sepp so he doesn't need to use so many words.

Same with the seed mix he refused to answer questions on. To me that makes perfect sense - what he's doing is trying to get people to learn how to choose their own. It's the old 'give a man fish' thing. He's trying to persuade them to learn to fish read their landscape and climate and be able to create their own mixes. When I was homeschooling I found the real challenge wasn't teaching stuff, it was teaching the desire to learn and making sure that I'd provided all the background skills so that when I'd finally got the motivation level up all I had to do was stand back and let the show begin. I think what Sepp is hoping is that people will be so frustrated with his refusal to give them 'the answer' that they'll go home and not rest till they've found one, by whatever means necessary, even if that means having to experiment themselves!
 
jack spirko
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Burra Maluca wrote:Excellent podcast Jack!
Same with the seed mix he refused to answer questions on. To me that makes perfect sense - what he's doing is trying to get people to learn how to choose their own. It's the old 'give a man fish' thing.



No way I TOTALLY DISAGREE for a two reasons...

1. When someone pays 2 grand you answer their damn questions, you don't talk around them. I found Sepp to be basically a rude ass to the guy I mentioned.

2. The question was VERY specific, Sepp stated when he built hugul beds in a climate with hot dry summers he would not build in late spring or summer but wait till fall to do so. The guy was working in that same climate type. He simply asked for some advice on some species to plant in such a climate. Sepp had gone on and on about doing these beds in Spain, how great they worked, etc. All he had to do was say, okay, here are some of the things I planted that worked, _________ , but don't limit yourself to them, experiment with other things and see what works. Instead he goes off about how it doesn't matter what type of soil you have doesn't matter, etc.

It was a complete and total disservice to the gentleman that asked a specific, reasonable, fair and honest question. This isn't about teaching a man to fish, I got the feel that Sepp simply wants to always be the best fisherman and feel as though that is the case. Contrasting this with Lawton who says, "I would love it if 200 of my students got way better at this then I am, so I could just go back home to my garden and enjoy taking care of it."
 
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The problem with communism and socialism is that before it was ever experimented with it was presented as an ideal system - a religion - that proved a fallacy.
Mollison , Holzer , Fukuoka , Salatin are all the shining beacons of this system . If anyone sees them as anything but pioneers , anyone looking for a guru - You will be dissapointed. I have enough life experience to see that many of these characters are curmudgeons and possibly outright assholes. I stopped looking for gurus over 25 years ago after a few years seeking after Eastern Mystical Nirvana. Acid was quicker and then I moved on. I have only been at this permaculture approach a few years , although I have gardened , hunted and wildcrafted most of my teen to adult life. But I know that it is based on Natures laws and that is who we are modeling. If someone discovers and uncovers and then shares it , I don't care who they are. It goes into the mix. We are the only creature that has to learn how to live in nature. Take it all in and try it out , if it does not work , compost and move on. I myself respect a curmudgeon. My beautiful wife would be described as a sincere seeker of the truth. I prefer to think of myself as a cynical asshole. We get things done though.I say stop looking for a guru and learn how to recognise expertise.
 
jack spirko
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wayne stephen,

I agree with the spirit of your post completely, however, if it is in response to my post, I ain't looking for a guru. I see these guys simply as people who know what they are doing, when they sell themselves as teachers I simply expect that they respect their paying students and answer reasonable questions with reasonable answers. I have to say Mollison does this, now he is starting to "go off mentally" a bit but I say that is age, not being an outright asshole. Salatin is actually a really nice guy, he has no desire to be anyone's guru. I had him on my show, met him in New Hampshire, etc He was just a nice guy all around. He didn't hang out with people the way some other speakers did but he did take an hour to sign books, answer questions (with actual answers) etc. When he was on my show he answered every question I had and dozens in a rapid fire session from the audience via facebook and twitter.

I only know of Fukuoka via reading so can't speak to that. Honestly of all the "big names" I have talked to (including Geoff Lawton) only Holzer has come off like, well, a jerk. Now in the spirit of your post that doesn't mean you are wrong when you state that "If anyone sees them as anything but pioneers , anyone looking for a guru - You will be dissapointed."

You are 100% correct about that, I just don't want anyone taking your comments in a way that says that similar results would come from attending a workshop or seminar with Salatin, Mollison or Lawton, etc. My experience is it won't be anything like what I experienced with Sepp.
 
wayne stephen
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No - I only mean it a general way in response to the entirety of this thread and others. I see your point about paying for a lecture or class and recieving the short end. Much like when I paid good money in 1977 to see Jerry Jeff Walker and he walked out , sat down , pulled one string on his guitar and passed out cold. No refund. Buyer Beware. Maybe Holzer has an amazing farm but is a poor communicator , which is what people are paying him to do. And he will probably keep lecturing for that amount of money. I continued to buy JJ Walkers albums but never paid to see him in concert again.
 
jack spirko
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wayne I think we are on the same page, when Sepp's next book gets translated to English I will buy it, learn from it, etc but won't travel to see him again, nor would I run an event with him as a speaker or teacher as part of it.
 
paul wheaton
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Ute Chook wrote:Dare I say, Sepp Holzer did not invent Huegelkultur.



Did Holzer ever say that he invented hugelkultur? Did anybody say that holzer invented hugelkultur?

 
jack spirko
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paul wheaton wrote:

Ute Chook wrote:Dare I say, Sepp Holzer did not invent Huegelkultur.



Did Holzer ever say that he invented hugelkultur? Did anybody say that holzer invented hugelkultur?



Nope certainly not I, ;>)! I do think he should get a ton of credit for

1. Bringing it to the forefront of modern knowledge, I know I only heard of it via you Paul and I know you learned about it via Sepp

2. Proving the concept on a scale I haven't seen anyone else ever do

Just because I am turned off by him as a teacher doesn't mean I don't still stand in complete awe of his talent as a farmer and designer.
 
paul wheaton
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Ute Chook wrote:IMHO we are talking about not blindly following self-styled gurus.



I thought we were talking about accusations against Holzer. I think if folks wanna talk about blindness and gurus, a new thread should be started.

I think a proper question for this thread might be: is holzer a self styled guru? I would say "no" - holzer is holzer. And he is trying to convey what he has learned. It is worth conveying because it is contrary to conventional ag.

Another valid question for this thread is the idea of people blinding following holzer. I know that I have several things where I think differently from holzer and in my podcasts I point these out. A good example is with the use of cardboard. He uses it and I don't. And I tell people that it is possible that I am wrong and holzer is right because he is holzer. This could be seen as "blindly following", but I also make it clear that I still do not use cardboard. So I am not blindly following. There are many things that holzer brings up that are new things to me. By default, I accept them as fact until I develop my own opinion - mostly because holzer has a rich history of being right in my very skeptical opinion. Is this blindly following? Maybe. I choose to trust the word of sepp over the word of the government, and over the word of nearly all other people. I value his position so highly, that I will even doubt my own position on things when there is conflict between my position and his.
 
paul wheaton
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In regard to the stuff about how Sepp is pissing off big portions of the german permaculture community: well, I piss off big portions of the global permaculture community, so my thoughts are "go Sepp go!" At the event, Sepp explained how he ended up calling his stuff permaculture because mollison and holmgren asked him to - and when he saw other permaculture stuff he thought it was pretty lame - so he wanted to ditch the word, but had already used the word in a lot of his stuff, so he decided to go ahead and keep using it.

Jack,

I listened to the podcast.

My primary gripe with Sepp on this visit is that I had heard 95% of it before. But that's my own thing, and not anything against Sepp.

I tried to set the event up to be seven days and each day would have a topic. So there would be one day on pond building and another day on aquaculture and another day on food preservation. Then, people that only want to hear about food preservation could show up just for that day. But all that got dumped a few months later. I know that sepp doesn't like to be pinned down.

I can see why most people don't care for sepp's style - they need to better understand sepp first. Frankly, I think that somebody that has been through such a gauntlet will be this way. Which was the core of my podcast 111. I suspect that 40 years ago Sepp was a lovely man with infinite patience and huge knowledge. And then after being called insane, crazy, stupid, foolish, etc. day after day by a parade of dozens of different people year after year after year, then he has hardened. So when people complain that Sepp is not a trained monkey jumping through hoops the way they want, I just kinda think: what do we expect after society has beat him up so much for 40 years? Maybe if we want our geniuses/innovators to be charming, lovely and patient we should treat them with respect from the very beginning. Look at this very thread: I see a lot of sentiment that he is guilty until he can be proven innocent. My position is that he is awesome until somebody can prove he isn't. And the information submitted so far is far, far, far from proof. It barely even qualifies as ridiculous rant.

I expect him to be cranky, impatient and genius. What I saw was exactly what I expected.

I know that Katharina wanted a pond and wanted to mitigate the expense of building the pond. I know that people wanted to see Sepp and hear Sepp. I came up with the idea of the PDC and "Sepp week". When I heard what Katharina wanted, I was a little surprised that she was insisting on Sepp - but then, she wanted something spiritual, and Sepp does seem to create something that I think is powerfully magical/spritual. But he is a tempermental artist in seed and soil. You cannot put a canvas in front of him and tell him what to paint. If you put a canvas in front of him and tell him what you love, you have a chance that his painting might end up with tones of what you love.

The thing where people ended up planting potatoes seemed weird to me. But I think that was a result of people demanding hand on experience combined with:

1) Sepp didn't know what piece of art he wanted to create until he arrived.

2) Katharina didn't know what work was going to be done until Sepp arrived.

3) Suddenly there is a big project and not enough people to do the work.

It just seemed like a stacked function solution.

Frankly, considering all of the wacky bits and bobs, the event turned out pretty damn good.

As for Sepp giving a vague answer: I think this is a very common thing in permaculture. Something I've mentioned several times in podcasts. Compounded by the fact that when Sepp is attempting to answer the question there are a half dozen video cameras recording. I know that people ask me this question all the time and then I first ask them "how cold does it get there? will there be animals?" and their response is almost always "can't you just answer the fucking question?" So how does Sepp answer such a question for 65 people from 65 places plus the thousands more on the other side of those video cameras? I expect that he, like I, have attempted to answer the question and found that 95% of the human population is just too fucking nuts to be able to be specific. So after a while you are trained to be vague just so you don't get a bucket full of crazy thrown your way ("why would you suggest daikon raddish? I hate raddishes! Everybody hates raddishes! You're a moron! This stuff you talk about is stupid. You should be shot.").

 
jack spirko
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paul wheaton wrote:

As for Sepp giving a vague answer: I think this is a very common thing in permaculture. Something I've mentioned several times in podcasts. Compounded by the fact that when Sepp is attempting to answer the question there are a half dozen video cameras recording. I know that people ask me this question all the time and then I first ask them "how cold does it get there? will there be animals?" and their response is almost always "can't you just answer the fucking question?" So how does Sepp answer such a question for 65 people from 65 places plus the thousands more on the other side of those video cameras? I expect that he, like I, have attempted to answer the question and found that 95% of the human population is just too fucking nuts to be able to be specific. So after a while you are trained to be vague just so you don't get a bucket full of crazy thrown your way ("why would you suggest daikon raddish? I hate raddishes! Everybody hates raddishes! You're a moron! This stuff you talk about is stupid. You should be shot.").



Sorry Paul I can't give Sepp that out on this. The question which I THINK you were there to hear was damn specific and just one example. It was basically hey you planted xyz here, you said not to do hugul in the spring in a hot climate, you said you did it in a hot climate, when you did it there what did you plant? His answer was, twenty minute that basically came down to, "hugul works in silt, clay, sand, anything". I am sorry but if that guy was me and I had paid a large sum of money to be there I would have demanded a fing refund at that split second. It was a non answer and an arrogant bs response to a fair person.

My gut Paul is you feel partially responsible for things here and the fact that many people who have now met Sepp think he is an asshole. I personally think he is an asshole and I still love you like a long lost brother so let go of that stuff.

The event in my view was a complete disaster and that has NOTHING to do with you, not a thing. It mostly has to do with Katerina and secondarily Sepp.

You will have to admit that not one thing in my podcast was inaccurate right?

Personally I also realized that I am in some ways completely fing stupid! Do you know how close I came to offering to help Katerina? I was going to offer to teach an event, publicize it, etc. Using her facility to simply explain via a tour of things once mature, to make sure she made a good profit on it and simply gain use to her land. Then I said to myself, Jack you are a complete stupid idiot. That woman didn't even say thank you to me, you and I both know I drove a good 50% of the attendance to the Sepp event, you drove 95% to the PDC and likely the other 50% of the Sepp event. I doubt you got much of a thank you either. Like you said in one podcast if we charged a fee for each referral I guess we would have been better appreciated.

My view on Sepp as that is this threads core is simple, wonderful farmer, brilliant designer TERRIBLE AWFUL ARROGANT teacher.

My view on you, wonderful man doing much for Permaculture that tries to damn hard at times to help jerks that don't deserve it and often tolerates nonsense you should not.

My view on Katerina is simple, she is a user, she touts all this spiritual crap but she used people, plain and simple. I know you delete crap that says anything bad about any forum member but as I don't see her here and as I think I have earned a bit of leeway I hope you leave that stand. She kept saying crap like, "I am not using you as cheap labor", indeed, cheap labor is paid, slaves work for free, the people there paid to be there.
 
Tyler Ludens
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paul wheaton wrote:
As for Sepp giving a vague answer: I think this is a very common thing in permaculture.



Yes, it is, and it is incredibly frustrating for some of us!
 
paul wheaton
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Everything in your podcast strikes me as 100% accurate because you nearly always "speak the language of the engineers.": You qualify your statements.

As I listened to the podcast, I got a clear idea on where you were coming from. And I agreed with about 84% of it. The remaining 16% is something where I have a difference of opinion.

In your podcast you mentioned something about translation stuff. From what little I know about translation, it seems that about 30% is lost in each translation blurb because of how the two langauges just work so differently, and make assumptions on common knowledge.

As for the question about the seeds being planted at a time where there is a lack of water or a lack of warm or something is a bit off: I just think that some seeds are more patient than others. If you put just one seed in the ground, you might want to be careful about timing to improve your odds. But if you put ten million seeds in the ground, then it will probably all work out fine.

As for the huge amount of money: some people put down $800 (super early bird) and got 11 days of Sepp. Some people arranged some sort of work trade. And, yes, some people paid the full price of $1700 for the full 11 days. About $150 per day. Which seems crazy cheap to me. So, on a day, a person has paid about $150 and they ask a question via a translator and .... I would have given a different answer, but the person did not ask me. I thought the answer was a typical sepp answer with sepp thinking.

Wax on. Wax off. Seems like a lame thing until Miogi explains why. If you watch the karate kid a second time, you know why he says wax on wax off. I already knew the answer, so Sepps answer made sense to me.

I do feel partially responsible. Without any pay, I gave advice. They followed most of my advice and I think things worked out really well. I like it when people follow my advice and things go well. I confess that I am surprised by what Sepp "painted" and by the whole "plant potatoes thing" .... I also confess that, in hindsight, I would like to see something far more professional done for a far higher price. But, I feel partially responsible for something that I think was a good event. I would like to see a $2500 event that covers five days and there is professional, intensive instruction by english speaking instructors for six hours followed by two hours of Q&A with sepp.

As for Katharina thanking you and me: she did thank me. In words. And, at the same time, I think her own overwhelmedness prior to the event made it so she didn't say "no" when she went over capacity, which lead to even more overwhelm, which led to .... too much too fast. So, things were wonky. For such a low cost event, and attempting to simultaneously deal with a lot of stuff that you aren't aware of, I think things turned out okay (I agree that there is room for optimization). I think that her overwhelm cannot be used to excuse any poor management, but I can tell you this: Katharina is a hundred times better than the woman that hosted Sepp three years ago.

Arrogance: I expect it due to the podcast 111 stuff.

So, in summary: Jack, I can see your position. And I think your position is valid. My position is different. Sepp behaved exactly as I expected and Katharina was a hundred times better than the previous host. Therefore I am happy. I do see room for a superior event. And I would charge a lot more for a professional event. Some people will think that is awful and I should be strung up for suggesting it. Other people will wave their money to buy a ticket for an event that currently does not exist.

Sepp is a genius. I hope that some day I will create something, sepp will see it and say there are attributes that he likes better than his own stuff.


 
jack spirko
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paul wheaton wrote:

I do see room for a superior event. And I would charge a lot more for a professional event. Some people will think that is awful and I should be strung up for suggesting it. Other people will wave their money to buy a ticket for an event that currently does not exist.

Sepp is a genius. I hope that some day I will create something, sepp will see it and say there are attributes that he likes better than his own stuff.




On the price I have no objections but after my experience I wouldn't drive across the county let alone pay to see Sepp again, if I want to learn from him I will read his books. And that wasn't a typo I did say county not country. You honestly could not pay me enough to be associated with a Holzer event after this. I would NEVER again put my name next to such a thing. When I recommend my people go to an event I expect them to be taken care of. As for those who got comped for work or got special pricing I doubt many of my people were such, my audience generally is happy to pay full price for good service and I know for a fact most of my referrals were on the hook for the full cost. Again at my recommendation and I apologized for my recommendation to them as I spoke to them because I felt they were abused, unappreciated and not given what they paid for.

I did discuss bringing Lawton to Texas with you and I am now in discussions with him on doing it. I gave him my view on how to run an event and he was actually blown away and totally in agreement. He told me "that is what everyone should do and no one does".

On cost this is how I work out costs, it is a one word answer, Excel as in MS Excel.

I put in my costs, what I want to deliver and that cost, the cost to bring in supporting materials, the cost of supporting talent, the cost of all things I need to support the event, I then add 10% which covers unseen events and what I don't use goes to a "give back" fund for extra unpromised things. To that I add the profit I feel I am entitled to for doing the whole thing (evil capitalist that I am) and then I know my budget. From there I take a seat count, I divide the budget by the seat count and I get a price.

That price is the price and I don't care who likes it or doesn't, nothing matters, the facts are MATH DOESN'T LIE. Getting Lawton will cost me about 1250 a day plus airfare for him and whoever he brings from Australia. I will have to pay for his travel time back and forth at the same day rate. I'll bring in food, sanitation, excavators, plants, a support team, etc. All of that costs money, it ain't coming directly from my pocket. The number is the number.

If it is 1500 it is 1500 if it is 2500 it is 2500, anyone that doesn't like it doesn't have to come. I would never comp anyone to do chores or some such crap. I would PAY that person and would prefer a person that doesn't give two shits about the event other than it is a job that pays that they take pride in.

This is the same thing I told you when you asked about how much I used to charge for speaking at major events in the marketing world. Excel never lies, you work up the cost and that is the cost. Then you better damn well deliver!
 
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jack spirko wrote:
I did discuss bringing Lawton to Texas with you and I am now in discussions with him on doing it.



When would this happen and how do I get tickets???!!!???
 
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Tyler Ludens wrote:

jack spirko wrote:
I did discuss bringing Lawton to Texas with you and I am now in discussions with him on doing it.



When would this happen and how do I get tickets???!!!???



Either Spring or Fall of 2013 and I am sure Paul will let you guys know. I do want him to come but he seems to have an aversion to the south and our

snakes
heat
animals
bugs
etc

So we shall see if Geoff is enough to bring our beloved Paul south out of the great North West.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Thanks.

 
Ute Chook
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paul wheaton wrote:[...] But he is a tempermental artist in seed and soil. You cannot put a canvas in front of him and tell him what to paint. If you put a canvas in front of him and tell him what you love, you have a chance that his painting might end up with tones of what you love.

The thing where people ended up planting potatoes seemed weird to me. But I think that was a result of people demanding hand on experience combined with:

1) Sepp didn't know what piece of art he wanted to create until he arrived.

2) Katharina didn't know what work was going to be done until Sepp arrived.

3) Suddenly there is a big project and not enough people to do the work.

It just seemed like a stacked function solution.

[...]



I listened to Jack's podcast and read Paul's description of the event and I must say I'm puzzled by the above description.
So Katharina wanted a pond and she wanted Sepp to build it. Sepp built a pond and a huge area of Huegelkultur beds. Did Katharina want those? Is she going to look after them all by herself? If the beds work what will she do with all the produce? When August comes will she go in and harvest, glean, bag and market, say, 10 tons of potatoes? Is that her plan? What about all the other produce? Is she set up to deal with it?
There are indications on other threads on Huegelkultur that some folks had to water/irrigate their beds. Who is going to water a couple of acres of those beds if it turns out that it may become necessary to get a decent harvest?

Somehow the whole process seems backwards to me. Where is the site analysis, and the analysis of the needs, wants, and capabilities of the client? Is this a self-sufficiency project or a market enterprise? If it's the latter, are there any yield projections, assessments of economic viability etc. pp.?

I understand that Skeeter ran a PDC ahead of the Sepp-week. Did the ideas and designs developed during the course somehow filter into what Sepp did on the site?
Was Skeeter involved in the design?

 
paul wheaton
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paul wheaton wrote:

Ute Chook wrote:Dare I say, Sepp Holzer did not invent Huegelkultur.



Did Holzer ever say that he invented hugelkultur? Did anybody say that holzer invented hugelkultur?



Ute, could you please answer my questions?





 
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I'm essentially an observer here, but Jack Spiro's excellent 'cast and Paul's comments brought to mind some points on "events" in general which perhaps it might help to remember.

I think most people would agree that running an event, even one as small as the (in this case) Holzer event, requires a LOT of work and it benefits from serious production skills and experience and, yes, tradition. Skills maybe in short supply in a relatively new field as permaculture. Now this shouldn't stop people from stepping up when they think they can make things happen since a raw and awkward event is often way better than no event. But I think it does mean you have to respect the effort for what it is and take the real value that is there and step over the rough edges with a note to do better next time. This is not the yearly Chicago Auto Show backed by many millions of $$ and tens of thousands of man hours of promotional production expertise over 50 years; this is a small, essentially self-run DIY, gathering of committed enthusiasts who recognize the need to gather and cross pollinate but whose real jobs and skills don't translate automatically into event production.

It's probably not productive, accurate or fair to assign specific badness/blame when something doesn't work the way you'd think best. Especially as noted above when the venue is young and put on by "new" people. We're talking 10's of years here at most (for Paul and Jack and a few others), not 30-50 years of full time event production which is the norm for big industry shows, teaching seminars and events. Jack Spiro outlines a more organized approach that certainly makes sense; it's not the only way, as Paul Wheaton also listed slightly a different framework that could work well. But much of any event depends on the situation, personalities and the skill (and luck) of the managers - best laid plans are good, but there's lots of other impacts even for the pros. Event management is tough - it helps to understand that and respect it, not take it for granted or get bummed to death if something isn't smooth like silk. "Buzz" can be a very self fulfilling energy, so for people trying to move a new philosophy forward it's important to focus on positives and use alleged and (honestly) perceived negatives not to describe the experience, but as input on the table with the money for people planning the next event. Paul's "nice" policy for his forum here exemplifies that approach.

Jack Spiro's marathon 'cast about the event was great reporting. It's a huge help for noobs and casuals like myself to possibly learn and understand the basics of the permaculture methods and movement. Jack I hope you won't find my next comments too out of place. It appears to me that Jack feels he took a hit to his reputation because he recommended the event and was directly responsible for a large number of attendees - where it looks to him like it went poorly and maybe even offensively for "his people". That is serious stuff when people trust you and rely on your recommendations and Jack essentially MUST make it clear that he "hears" their pain and understands it, and is taking significant measures to ensure such like doesn't happen again. His response is very straight forward, emphatic and above board and he takes pains to stress his respect for Holzer as much as he can. But if he feels "his people" came away hurting he really has no choice but to come back strongly and it wouldn't really be surprising if he were pretty annoyed himself. I believe Jack greatly simplifies the situation but many times that's what gets the point across. And he's stepped up and committed to do better. A tough player, our Jack. <tip hat> <g> And maybe a really good thing for permaculture if he can establish a good promotional machine which allows "ordinary" people to get involved in a way that works for them. "Early adopters" can cut through many hurdles (like German speaking geniuses) but for a movement to go mainstream it needs to deal with the detail concerns of existing owners, talk their language, put forth methods they can get going on now. Maybe Jack has a way move that direction.

IOW. Events are great. Just more hard work and sleight of hand that you could believe. So Things Will Happen. But look upon it like weeds in the garden: The crop still comes up and it's there for you if you're ready to harvest it! <g>

Cheers,

Rufus
 
Ute Chook
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paul wheaton wrote:

paul wheaton wrote:

Ute Chook wrote:Dare I say, Sepp Holzer did not invent Huegelkultur.



Did Holzer ever say that he invented hugelkultur? Did anybody say that holzer invented hugelkultur?



Ute, could you please answer my questions?



No, but some people seem to be under the impression judging from the long thread https://permies.com/t/17/permaculture/hugelkultur
"some real big Sepp Holzer huglekulture beds"
"Sepp HolzerĀ“s hugelculture seem really promising, he is so inspiring in so many ways..."
"as prescribed by Holzer"

He has put his own slant (literally) on an old concept and popularized it. Well and good.
 
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paul wheaton wrote:

Ute Chook wrote:Dare I say, Sepp Holzer did not invent Huegelkultur.



Did Holzer ever say that he invented hugelkultur? Did anybody say that holzer invented hugelkultur?



I don't think so. I red his book (rebel) and watch some documentaries, but as I can remember, he only says that he was practicing hugelkultur, so one day he did not have time to chop logs so he droped whole logs, big branches etc. in the ground. And it worked fine. So I understand he actually "discovered" that you don't have to be an artist when you are making hugelkultur, they will work even if you change some things in original prescription.

What is the original idea about hugelkultur? Well, when I first red it in one quite old book, I was totaly confused, would never think about trying to do something like that. It included bunch of layers, like branches, leaves, compost, grass clippings, earth, again leaves, earth... Endless list of layers that you have to build. Holzer (if I understand correctly) found out that you only need to dig a hole, put in some wood and cover it with earth.
 
paul wheaton
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Ute: Sepp Holzer did not invent Huegelkultur.

me: Did Holzer ever say that he invented hugelkultur? Did anybody say that holzer invented hugelkultur?

Ute: No


So, please help me to understand why it was important to bring this up. It seems we are talking about a really difficult and sensitive topic. Difficult enough without complicating the issue with this.

I wish to address many of the other points you have brought up, but my knee jerk reaction is quite similar to my reaction to this point. It could take years to unravel all of this stuff - but it seems like I must be missing the point as to why they are brought up for consideration at all.

At the moment it feels like (and I could be wrong) negativity toward holzer, and a lack of supporting stuff - so there is a bit of scraping the bottom of the barrel and the dressing up tiny things to make them appear bigger than they really are. If that is the case, it seems like a personal issue - not something worthy of a public forum; not something I wish to publish.

The root of this thread is that somebody suggested that holzer was a lessor person. It sounds like that woman had her day in court with holzer and holzer was found to be reasonable and the woman was put in jail for making up such nasty stuff. I find myself in the awkward position of some comments here appearing to slander holzer and then I need to figure out if I am okay with publishing those words.

On evaluation, like the judge, I am leaning toward favoring holzer. And by "leaning" I mean I have ropes attached to the ceiling keeping me from laying on the ground.


 
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I'm pretty sure that beavers invented hugelkultur. Might have been muskrats. Here's an idea for those who prefer practical experience over hair splitting. Create a thread with photos of your own hugelkultur beds and ask all contributors to show their photos. This will help to make it less of a rebuttal fest and more of a sharing experience thread.

In the photo, My daughter Melissa, does her best Vanna White by this natural hugel bed at the Morel bird sanctuary on Nanaimo B.C.



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Tyler Ludens
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If a tree falls in the forest, has it invented hugelkultur?
 
Dale Hodgins
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I'm calling this a hugel bed. Many others would call it a muddy slash pile. Some day I may write a 200 page book about the 2 hours that it took to create this 500 sq. ft. bed. Not everyone would be interested in such a book.

But the world contains more suckers than a poorly pruned plum tree.

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paul wheaton
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Another line of thought:

Let us suppose that that are 100 geniuses that pursue something like permaculture. And they all attempt to share what they have learned. And each one is subjected to fines and abuse for attempting to share what they have learned. 99 of them go silent. What is the personality of the one that is left standing?

Should we be shocked/surprised/offended at this personality?

For every person that accomplishes something great, there are 20 detractors that have accomplished nothing that will point at the one person and complain long and loud.

I think Sepp has accomplished a couple hundred great things. So I am not surprised to find that he has detractors. And I fully expect that one detractor will gladly support another detractor.

People that accomplish nothing at all tend to have zero detractors.

Therefore when I see the argument that says "he has dozens of detractors, therefore he must be wrong" - I am not convinced.

Building a better world is hard enough. Adding a few hundred detractors makes it far harder. I applaud those that move forward with good things despite so many challenges.



 
Dale Hodgins
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Ghandi had millions of detractors. ----------- I like that last man standing idea. He is likely to be a thick skinned, unpolished individual who couldn't give a flying f--- about his detractors.
 
What I don't understand is how they changed the earth's orbit to fit the metric calendar. Tiny ad:
Our perennial nursery has sprouted!
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