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What is PEP and PEX?

 
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PEX:  Permaculture Experience "X" - the idea is to replace the "X" with a philosophy set that you like.

PEP:  Permaculture Experience according to Paul (me!).  

So the idea is that I am going to make a structure of verifiable experiences that would fit for my philosophies on my property.  Although it is possible that somebody can do the same experiences on some other property and get PEP certified.  



In the past I have been asked "I wanna do permaculture, should I go to college?" And with that the whole thing about how college now costs about ten times more than it did just a few years ago - and it seems like the quality of college has dropped by a factor of five.

From another angle, there are people that are old and looking for somebody to will their land to.   There appears to be thousands of people that are looking for somebody to will their land to.  They are looking for somebody that has some actual experience - not somebody that simply says they have experience.

Then people say something about how they want to come here, or go wwoofing, or intern with Joel Salatin, or .... something.  They wish to build experience.  

Further, I get people wanting me to come speak, or come to consult and the demands on my time are just too massive.

And then people ask me how they are going to make a living while "living the dream". It seems so clear to me, but I feel like my words don't make sense to them .... yet.

We need a system where we can verify an exact experience set.   Either in person, or remotely.  And some people will have just a little experience and others will have a lot of experience.  This way, people can measure how they have been building experience.   And then people that are looking for a speaker, a consultant or somebody to will their land to, can KNOW the measure of a person in this skill space.  



PEP1 is a set of experiences that can probably be accomplished in 2 to 4 weeks.

PEP2 might take a full summer.  Maybe a bit more.

PEP3 would add on to PEP2 to become a full year.

PEP4 would add two years more, making the whole thing about three years.  Maybe four years.  



More on PEP1, 2, 3 and 4 here:  https://permies.com/t/84112/PEP-weeks-PEP-months-PEP


Staff note (Nicole Alderman):

For reference, here Paul described about how long each badge should take:

paul wheaton wrote:
In general, I think the approximate time to complete a badge would be about:



sand badge: ~5 hours

straw badge: ~40 hours (+35 hours over sand, about 4 or 5 days)

wood badge: ~220 hours (+180 hours over straw, about 4 to 5 weeks)

iron badge: 1250 hours (+1030 hours over wood, about six months)

 
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Oh!! Neat!! That would be valuable and I think is the true purpose of upper level education.

When I first wrote this response, I had not read any of the rest of the PEX PEP thread, so I didn't understand the system. Seeing the list of subjects plus the straw-iron requirements from different categories cleared it up for me.

So what would be PEP 20 look like? 40?

I'm completionist so I like lists. And I want to do aaaallll the things..! Thank you!

What are you thinking of doing/have done about climate specific instructions? I imagine some plants or methods would be substituted- so perhaps there would be a variety of modification subsets based on climate? (Or is PEP Montana specific?)
 
paul wheaton
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I could use some feedback on the gardening badges:

https://permies.com/t/96686/PEP-Badge-Gardening

 
paul wheaton
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Kay Gelfling wrote:So what would be PEP 20 look like? 40?



At the moment, I am putting a strong focus on the few badges that might need iron level in the next year or two.  And then making sure there are sand and straw badges defined for all of them.


What are you thinking of doing/have done about climate specific instructions? I imagine some plants or methods would be substituted- so perhaps there would be a variety of modification subsets based on climate? (Or is PEP Montana specific?)



I am just working on something for this property.  Which could work for a large part of the world.  And then somebody in a tropical climate might make something that works better for there.
 
paul wheaton
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I could now use some feedback on "woodland care": https://permies.com/t/96947/PEP-Badge-Woodland-Care

 
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Very cool!   I hope someone developing a PEX will consider including baby badges for those who are very, very new to permaculture.
 
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“And then somebody in a tropical climate”

I’d be happy to offer myself and mysite in Koh Chang Thailand as a sister site. As it’s just beginning it’s good timing.
 
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I've seen mention of "BB"s in conjunction with PEP/PEX.  What does that stand for?  Is it the bullet points under a particular badge?
 
paul wheaton
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A sand badge might be made of 6 BBs (Badge Bits).  

Soon, I hope to start creating all the BB threads - one for each BB.  And I hope to do all the BBs myself (or maybe somebody will beat me to it) to start filling all of this out.  

 
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Hi. Will there be badges for textile crafting skills? Like spinning, weaving, knitting, etc.? (including repairing clothes and household textiles)
 
Mike Haasl
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Gotcha.  So the main badge wiki post lists all the badges (like the sand/wood/iron ones in Woodland Care).  And the bullet points under each badge would be the BBs (If I understood correctly).  And each of those listed BBs will become hyperlinks to their own BB thread.  The BB threads could have more info (if needed) but mainly be a place for folks to post photos/videos as their proof of completion.

That seems awesome!

Plus as other people around the world create their PEX badges (say...  Permaculture Experience according to Joseph - PEJ), they can create their own badge wikis or adopt yours.  Whenever their BBs align with yours (likely quite often), they can link to the same BB thread you have.

Please straighten me out of I'm imagining this in the wrong direction
 
paul wheaton
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Inge Leonora-den Ouden wrote:Hi. Will there be badges for textile crafting skills? Like spinning, weaving, knitting, etc.? (including repairing clothes and household textiles)




Textiles is on the list:  https://permies.com/t/96022/aspects-PEP
 
paul wheaton
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I think you have it Mike!
 
Kay Gelfling
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I'm feeling a little dense, but I've read around the PEX forum for more than 30 minutes now to attempt to confirm:

To get one PEP Badge in a category, the idea is to get all of the BBs in that list, (not skipping any, but not needing to be in order).
You can have a PEP Badge at lower (Sand) or higher (Wood) levels depending on how far along the list you have accomplished.

Then, for a PEP1, a person might need {X} sand badges- but they could be from any PEP Badge category.
(And for higher # of PEP#: {X} from sand, {Y} from straw, {Z} from wood etc)

Is that mostly accurate?

If so, while unable to complete every badge, there might be enough badges i can do from my region that i could still end up with PEP# scores! Yay!
Even if i personally cannot end up going through the system, i still think it's a great and useful idea.


I think my initial misunderstanding about the PEP being region-free was that i was thinking "Permaculture Experience according to Paul" as more of a Paul-philosophy-description using the vocabulary of specific tasks. Sort of a "This is what Paul would do." It just didn't occur to me to attach a location. (ie This is what Paul would do in Hawaii, this is what he would do in Vegas, etc seemed consistent at first) Once explained, of course, that cleared it up. Thanks!
 
paul wheaton
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Kay Gelfling wrote:To get one PEP Badge in a category, the idea is to get all of the BBs in that list, (not skipping any, but not needing to be in order).



Yes.  


You can have a PEP Badge at lower (Sand) or higher (Wood) levels depending on how far along the list you have accomplished.



Yes.


Then, for a PEP1, a person might need {X} sand badges- but they could be from any PEP Badge category.



Yes.   To get PEP1, you need 16 sand badges.  Any 16.


(And for higher # of PEP#: {X} from sand, {Y} from straw, {Z} from wood etc)



Pretty much.   But for PEP4, you will need two specific iron badges, and you will be able to select your own third iron badge.  Plus, I am thinking that there will be some badges where we don't define the iron badge.  At least not yet.  

And we might define some specific badges for PEP2 and PEP3 at a later point.  


while unable to complete every badge, there might be enough badges i can do from my region that i could still end up with PEP# scores! Yay!



Yup!  At least for PEP1.



I think my initial misunderstanding about the PEP being region-free was that i was thinking "Permaculture Experience according to Paul" as more of a Paul-philosophy-description using the vocabulary of specific tasks. Sort of a "This is what Paul would do." It just didn't occur to me to attach a location. (ie This is what Paul would do in Hawaii, this is what he would do in Vegas, etc seemed consistent at first) Once explained, of course, that cleared it up. Thanks!



I think part of it is that if I try to create PEX so it will work on any property for any set of values, it will require more time to write than I have time left to live.  

On the other hand if I limit it to just my values and on my property, I can probably crank this out in a few months.   And it will just so happen to turn out to be something that a few million people can do on other properties too.  

So, not perfect, and possibly useless for most of the planet, but good enough for millions of people in areas similar to mine.
 
Mike Haasl
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paul wheaton wrote:So, not perfect, and possibly useless for most of the planet, but good enough for millions of people in areas similar to mine.

 Plus if someone wants to do PEM (Permaculture Experience according to Maggie) in Arizona, they can probably copy 95% of the PEX structure and 75% of the BBs.  
 
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paul wheaton wrote:

I think my initial misunderstanding about the PEP being region-free was that i was thinking "Permaculture Experience according to Paul" as more of a Paul-philosophy-description using the vocabulary of specific tasks. Sort of a "This is what Paul would do." It just didn't occur to me to attach a location. (ie This is what Paul would do in Hawaii, this is what he would do in Vegas, etc seemed consistent at first) Once explained, of course, that cleared it up. Thanks!



I think part of it is that if I try to create PEX so it will work on any property for any set of values, it will require more time to write than I have time left to live.  

On the other hand if I limit it to just my values and on my property, I can probably crank this out in a few months.   And it will just so happen to turn out to be something that a few million people can do on other properties too.  

So, not perfect, and possibly useless for most of the planet, but good enough for millions of people in areas similar to mine.



Thanks Paul for this clarification!

I think this is a key point and I would like to see it mentioned somewhere where it's impossible to miss.

My fear is that people who are just quickly browsing the forums get the idea that you think permaculture is about planting certain trees or doing certain very specific other stuff everywhere around the globe, regardless of climate etc. This kind of understanding of permaculture is amazingly common... it's mentioned in eg. in popular youtube videos by gardening gurus who think "permaculture doesn't work". They have gone to a site where someone has eg. dug a swale into a field that doesn't need one and it's causing problems and then they decide permaculture doesn't work. When I see this I try to explain that permaculture isn't about digging swales everywhere, it's about observe & interact, working with nature etc., it's a way of thinking more than a specific technique that "should" be applied everywhere from desert to bog.
 
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Nina Jay wrote:
My fear is that people who are just quickly browsing the forums get the idea that you think permaculture is about planting certain trees or doing certain very specific other stuff everywhere around the globe, regardless of climate etc.



You know, I think this will be okay, and resolve itself in time. People who are browsing quickly, if they like the forums, they will keep reading and deepen their understanding. Everybody has to start somewhere, and statements like that might be part of their learning process. It's upsetting to me when I see people saying untrue and negative things about permaculture, but I don't think it's productive to cater ourselves too much to them- some of them have ulterior motives, or are just enjoying being a troll. If they are genuine, and they are worth our time and concern, my feeling is that they will learn more in time and retract previous negative statements.

What's that saying about increasing power, where at first they ignore you, then they mock you, then they fight you with all they've got, and then they pretend they were always on your side? If folks really rise up against permaculture, though it might be uncomfortable to watch, it may mean increased progress
towards permaculture power.
 
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paul Wheaton wrote:
I think part of it is that if I try to create PEX so it will work on any property for any set of values, it will require more time to write than I have time left to live.



Paul! When you say stuff like this I worry about you.

I would like to place an obligation upon you, despite the fact that you know me not at all, have given us all so much, and that I have personally given you so little in comparison; that you are to live and continue your empire until at least the age of 120. Okay thanks!

Also thank you for the clarification :)
 
Nina Jay
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Kay Gelfling wrote:

Nina Jay wrote:
My fear is that people who are just quickly browsing the forums get the idea that you think permaculture is about planting certain trees or doing certain very specific other stuff everywhere around the globe, regardless of climate etc.



You know, I think this will be okay, and resolve itself in time. People who are browsing quickly, if they like the forums, they will keep reading and deepen their understanding. Everybody has to start somewhere, and statements like that might be part of their learning process. It's upsetting to me when I see people saying untrue and negative things about permaculture, but I don't think it's productive to cater ourselves too much to them- some of them have ulterior motives, or are just enjoying being a troll. If they are genuine, and they are worth our time and concern, my feeling is that they will learn more in time and retract previous negative statements.



Yes, that is a very good point Kay, I hope the same.

Still, but perhaps this is the overly-cautious side of me talking again, I think it wouldn't hurt to try to resolve this sooner, if possible, by communicating as clearly as possible what you mean, even at the risk of maybe boring someone. Like in the article about Diatomaceous Earth, Paul emphasizes it is "Food Grade" because many people have apparently tried the stuff for swimming pools that contains some harmful stuff. This to me is an analogous situation, but I could be wrong and if I am, just ignore me :-)
 
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Kay Gelfling wrote:

paul Wheaton wrote:
I think part of it is that if I try to create PEX so it will work on any property for any set of values, it will require more time to write than I have time left to live.



Paul! When you say stuff like this I worry about you.

I would like to place an obligation upon you, despite the fact that you know me not at all, have given us all so much, and that I have personally given you so little in comparison; that you are to live and continue your empire until at least the age of 120. Okay thanks!



I've been helping Paul put the PEP stuff together. It takes a lot more time than it seems. And that's for one rather specific situation. I think that even if Paul did live to the age of 120 he still wouldn't be able to create PEX so it will work on any property for any set of values. I don't think anyone can. That's the beauty of PEX. Paul creates PEP which is appropriate for Paul's situation and anyone with a similar situation to Paul. And maybe Kay creates PEK which is appropriate for Kay's situation and anyone with a similar situation to Kay. Eventually, maybe all of the situations can be covered by the community as a whole... not just exclusively by Paul.
 
Kay Gelfling
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Shawn Klassen-Koop wrote: I think that even if Paul did live to the age of 120 he still wouldn't be able to create PEX so it will work on any property for any set of values. I don't think anyone can.



Oh! I wasn't asking him to live to 120 so that he could do PEX for all regions. Paul said 'no', so the best answer is 'no' and i am happy with that. I meant in general, to continue his empire in whatever way the Great Duke sees fit. =)
 
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Ah-ha! I finally foundthe thread where Paul said how long each Badge should take:

paul wheaton wrote:The "sand" level would require 4 to 12 hours to complete for a badge.  

The straw level might take 3 to 10 days.  

The wood level could take a month or two.

The iron level could take 6 to 18 months.

 
Nicole Alderman
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Here's another list of time estimates, from this other thread

paul wheaton wrote:In general, I think the approximate time to complete a badge would be about:

  sand badge: ~5 hours
  straw badge: ~40 hours (+35 hours over sand, about 4 or 5 days)
  wood badge: ~220 hours (+180 hours over straw, about 4 to 5 weeks)
  iron badge: 1250 hours (+1030 hours over wood, about six months)

 
paul wheaton
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Nicole Alderman wrote:Here's another list of time estimates, from this other thread

paul wheaton wrote:In general, I think the approximate time to complete a badge would be about:

  sand badge: ~5 hours
  straw badge: ~40 hours (+35 hours over sand, about 4 or 5 days)
  wood badge: ~220 hours (+180 hours over straw, about 4 to 5 weeks)
  iron badge: 1250 hours (+1030 hours over wood, about six months)



This is the most accurate.   This is probably version 4 or so, and it has been pretty locked in for the last month.

When filling out badges, my brain says:

sand badge:  about five hours

straw badge:  an additional four or five days

wood badge: an additional four or five weeks

iron badge: an additional six months

So when I list the stuff for a badge, I go through the list to see if it fits about right.   It doens't have to be exact - as long as everybody is held to the same standard.

 
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An idea I just had regarding certifying remotely and/or getting the idea to spread to other areas: have you looked at the model that Certified Naturally Grown uses? It's grassroots, so folks who are certified have a volunteer requirement per year to go out and perform the review for certifying others. Perhaps this PEX system could include some sort of system like that where folks who are certified in things make themselves available for others to ask questions, come visit to learn in person, and/or have them review their efforts? Bonus- you've now also created a mentor ship program within this whole thing!

PS: I ADORE this whole idea. My husband and I are both born and raised city people, so we are really starting at square one when it comes to homesteading. I've spent YEARS reading a ton and around a year and a half doing the kind of learning that I would describe as almost thesis-level.... but entirely theoretical. My practical experiences are pretty restricted to growing lots of weeds and dead plants in containers on my townhouse porch. The idea that something like PEX could exist to mentor me into practical experiences is an absolute godsend.

I'm on board. How can a book smart homesteader help out? I've looked over the badge pages and I'm hesitant to add much since everything I know is from books and not experience.
 
Shawn Klassen-Koop
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Chelsea Hartweg wrote:An idea I just had regarding certifying remotely and/or getting the idea to spread to other areas: have you looked at the model that Certified Naturally Grown uses? It's grassroots, so folks who are certified have a volunteer requirement per year to go out and perform the review for certifying others. Perhaps this PEX system could include some sort of system like that where folks who are certified in things make themselves available for others to ask questions, come visit to learn in person, and/or have them review their efforts? Bonus- you've now also created a mentor ship program within this whole thing!



Each wood badge will require certifying six people for their sand badge. That's a big part of how this can be kept free.

Chelsea Hartweg wrote:I'm on board. How can a book smart homesteader help out? I've looked over the badge pages and I'm hesitant to add much since everything I know is from books and not experience.



I guess the other option is to start building experience and posting pictures to start getting certified. That helps build forward velocity!
 
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Shawn Klassen-Koop wrote: I guess the other option is to start building experience and posting pictures to start getting certified. That helps build forward velocity!



Ok I will start there! So follow up newbie question. I'm reading through the forums regarding this stuff, and I'm starting to feel like I'm running in circles.... stupid question: do I just do the project listed and post photos? What if it's not possible for me to do a certain one because I live in a townhouse? Would a modified version count?
 
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Another question: what would setting up our own PEX look like? Not nearly ready now, obviously, but just trying to wrap my head around it. Would it be the same kind of idea as the PEP, but we decide what goes in it?

Backstory: I live in a townhouse in a very different climate than Paul (Raleigh, NC), so as I perfect my gardening skills and what I call "townhomesteading" skills, I would love to be able to pass that on to others who are struggling in this same place. I actually have a whole lot of thoughts about how to be a homesteader in this context (I just started a youtube channel talking about just that- Renaissance Earth if anyone wants to follow along), and I want to be an advocate for homesteading in a context where you can grow very little of your own food. And honestly, my experience has been slow and small thus far, but I still think I have a good idea of what should be done. So I'm glad to help make that happen for others if that's something the community could use.
 
Mike Haasl
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Hi Chelsea, welcome to PEP/PEX!  Setting up your own PEX would be awesome and contribute greatly to permaculture taking over the world.

Since PEP is Permaculture Experience according to Paul, you could just call yours PEC if you want.

I believe it could be where you copy as much of PEP as you want, and maybe some of my PEM (if I ever build my own version), and build sections that are unavoidably different for your location that you can't copy.  Then as people want to dig into permaculture they have a few choices of permaculture experiences that they can subscribe to.  

Regarding your earlier question.  Yes, you just start completing the BBs (badge bits) and post photos as evidence.  Paul or someone will bless your completion and then you are done.  If your situation doesn't allow you to do one, I'm guessing you may not be able to complete it.  Since it is aimed at Paul's site where they have different conditions.  Maybe you could do something equally as good and get approval but I'd probably check before investing too much in something.  That is, if the main reason you're doing it is for the badge.
 
Inge Leonora-den Ouden
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Chelsea Hartweg wrote:... I live in a townhouse in a very different climate than Paul (Raleigh, NC), ...


Chelsea, I feel about the same. I live in a town in a totally different country (the Netherlands). So there's much in Paul's PEP that isn't possible for me here.
I follow Paul's ideas because they are 'inspiring'. I think the only badge I could possibly get is the one for textiles ...
 
Nicole Alderman
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I doubt I'll be able to complete more than textiles and roundwood woodworking and maybe food prep. BUT, even if I can't complete the whole Badge, I find the badge bits that I can do, really informative and helpful. I've made a mallet and a spoon and another mallet and now a bench! I never thought I'd be able to make those things, and here they are, made! And, I've learned a lot in the processes. For me, it's really good motivation to learn a new skill. And, a lot of them are just great motivation to do something I know I should do, but never get around to doing, like cleaning the garages (thats a Tool Care badge bit) or sharpening my shovels or learning to use an ax.
 
pollinator
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Location: Eastern Great Lakes lowlands, zone 4/5
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Super cool idea - thanks to all enabling it & working on it! Sort of "gamifying" permaculture learning and offering incremental, accessible certification.

I hear lots of innovators talk about the importance of "gamifying" education. On that note I often think of how the daunting work of 'living the good life' is like a hands-on, high-stakes MMORPG (massive multiplayer online role playing game) with no respawns: develop skills; gather and trade and work with resources that best suit you along the way; pursue interesting quests and team up with uplifting guilds. It's not a perfect analogy but a lot of the addictive parts of video games could be sublimated into useful self development and life skills/pursuits.

To confirm if I understand correctly: even without coming to Montana I could go questing for PEP badges by focusing in on each task for the badge, learning from others about accomplishing it, then posting whatever required photos or bringing whatever (broccoli?-)scalps back to show I did it, sharing them on this pex/pep forum? Then someone comes along and verifies my photos, granting me a badge? And if I had some PGP key (cryptographic way to authenticate identity) on my profile, I could verify that I am indeed this forum-goer who has completed epic quests, and that could potentially serve as a door-opening qualification for some things (participating in projects, consulting, lecturing, teaching, becoming part of a succession plan that requires certain skills and dedication, etc.)?
 
Mike Haasl
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Hi R, you got it!  Although I don't know what a MMORPG or PGP is.  But the gist of your summary is correct.  As you'll see in some of the PEP BB (Badge Bit) posts (like this one for Make a Sign) have already had someone post pictures and get their confirmation.  

There's an organizational structure to the PEP posts.  Each badge is laid out in a post with all the levels (sand, straw, wood, iron) and the BBs to complete each level.  Then each BB has its own post describing the requirements and some ideas how to complete it.  That's the place where the photos are posted and completions awarded.
 
pollinator
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I respect the effort going in to all of this, and I like the idea that I regularly complete BBs going through my daily life.

I have to ask, though, what the envisioned purpose of all this is. Is it just the gamification of permaculture and homesteading, because if so, that's cool. I mean, I don't see it helping me getting my permaculture done, but I might collect some BBs to create content on Permies.

Are we talking about a points system for permacultural experience, so as to ensure that people we're paying to do work or working with have their "permie cred?"

This is definitely not intended as criticism. I have just perused the relevant threads again, and was wondering if the endgame strategy is spelled out anywhere, or if I am just overthinking it.

I mean, you guys are all going to so much effort just to set up this metric. What will it all do, practically speaking?

-CK
 
Mike Haasl
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Chris Kott wrote:Are we talking about a points system for permacultural experience, so as to ensure that people we're paying to do work or working with have their "permie cred?"


I think this is pretty close to the answer.  As I understand it, PEP/PEX is an alternative to going to school for a botany degree and then trying to find work in the permaculture arena.  By spending time instead gaining practical experience, you'd be more set to be a consultant, land manager or take over or manage Otis's property.  Getting a PDC completed gives you the design credibility while PEP/PEX would give you the implementation credibility.

Or at least that's what I'm thinking.
 
Chris Kott
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Oh, okay. So it's like the practicum to the PDCs theory.

I hope it does some good for people. I won't be able to do much more than random badge bits while I'm in the city, but I haven't seen anything that I wouldn't want to or be able to do, for the most part.

I just found myself geeking out about the whole PEP thing as though it were a video game without thinking about the end use, and I can only imagine how many person-hours this whole exercise is taking to set up.

-CK
 
Mike Haasl
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And keep in mind that some day, you could create PEC.  Which could copy from other PEX's but specialize in things that you feel are important.  Perhaps for an urban site.

Once PEP is built, other PEXs should be much easier to make.  Copy/Paste/Modify with lesser needs for original content.
 
Shawn Klassen-Koop
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Chris Kott wrote:I can only imagine how many person-hours this whole exercise is taking to set up.  



This project is taking a huge amount of person-hours from a whole bunch of people. I think that, in the end, every person-hour will be repaid many times over with positive benefits for the permaculture movement.
 
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