Saturday, November 22, 2008


I have been putting off starting this blog for about a year now. Coming from an academic background, where anything you write may be picked apart by your peers, there is an element of fear regarding writing what I believe, know, or am learning, about permaculture. Today I've decided to ignore that fear and just write. If it isn't perfect, who cares? It's better just to get it out there.

What is permaculture you ask? Permaculture, a contraction of permanent agriculture or culture, is basically a design system that integrates the landscape, plants, animals, and people to create sustainable human environments and futures. It deals with connecting the various elements of a system in such a matter that energy flows are maximized and recycled with the goal of creating a high output, low input, self-sustaining whole.

Why do I believe this is important? Well, I don’t think the system that we have now is working or sustainable, meaning that it will not last. Take a look at the news or read a paper: global warming, ozone depletion, poor air quality, pollution, threatened species, extinct species, collapsed fisheries, timber resources depleted, antidepressant use on the rise, increased risks for cancer, genetically modified crops, oil reserves running out, wars over oil and people still driving SUVs, multinationals who don't give a damn about us when times are good but want to be bailed out when things go sour, lower sperm counts, earlier female puberty, water shortages, contaminated waters, mad cow disease and the list goes on and on. Something just doesn't seem right here. In fact, that is not a correct statement. Something is definitely wrong. Furthermore, it doesn't appear like it is getting better. What can be done about it? Can we rely on governments to solve these problems? Sure we can. When (and if) the majority of the general public decide that these issues are important, than politicians will take up these causes and act on them. Until that time arrives, they won't. I think that politicians are largely a construct of the society that they live in. Change society and the politicians will change.

With that it in mind I think of Henry Rollin’s saying, “All it takes is for one person to stand up and say screw this”, (or something like that). Permaculture is a vehicle that allows me to do this, to say this isn't working so I’m going to try to design and do something that does. Things WILL change for the better if enough people start taking steps in the right direction. If not, well at least I tried...

The PRIME DIRECTIVE of permaculture: the only ethical decision is to take responsibility for your own existence and that of our children.

NOTE: The picture is of the garden that I started this summer at our new house. The drawers were rescued from the garbage and made into miniature raised beds in which the kids grew beans and lettuce.