Permaculture is a Design Tool
“The real systems that are beginning to fail are the soils, forests, the atmosphere, and nutrient cycles. It is we who are responsible for that. We haven’t evolved anywhere in the west (and I doubt very much elsewhere except in tribal areas) any sustainable systems in agriculture or forestry. We don’t have a system.“ [Mollison] Permaculture is about designing systems.
We can apply permaculture systems thinking to the design of a single tool as easily to the re-design of a farm or a huge corporation. The designs we create are not static, they move with time but working structure, goals and principles stay intact. Using a Permaculture system is like riding a bike, we can manouver around and over obstacles because we understand how it works, we can ride the system. Permaculture Designs are flexible and allow for evolution of ideas and adapt to the likely changes such as ageing. The system ages but it renews itself because it is modelled on natural systems such as forests.
“Initiatives that are taken tend to evolve from strategies that focus on efficiency (for example, more accurate and controlled uses of inputs and minimisation of waste) to substitution (for example, from more to less disruptive interventions, such as from biocides to more specific biological controls and other more benign alternatives) to redesign — fundamental changes in the design and management”. (Hill & MacRae 1995, Hill et al 1999)
Global search for sustainable solutions
Today a lot of people are searching for sustainable solutions. They realise that climate change will not have a gradual impact on some distant land, it will have some dramatic storms, serious losses and the effect will ripple around the globe. For some people it may only mean at first that bananas become very expensive, over time they will wonder why. Most people are aware of their impact and want to do something positive. Substituting a harmful product for a less harmful one is their first step. Another step is to focus on efficiency (value for their effort) their actions include choices to support public transport and libraries, hired equipment, and green government initiatives.
The most sustainable choice is for people to consider their ‘whole-of-life’ and see the value in redesign for their lifestyle.
Work Local Think Global
Permaculture is about helping people make redesign choices: set new goals and a shift in thinking that effects not only their home but their actions in the workplace, borrowings and investments.
“Examples include the design and employment of complex transport solutions, optimum use of natural resources such as sun light, radical design of information-rich, multi-storey polyculture systems.” (Mollison & Slay 1991)
Shift in the nature of one’s dependence
“This progression generally involves a shift in the nature of one’s dependence — from relying primarily on universal, purchased, imported, technology-based interventions to more specific locally available knowledge and skill-based ones. This usually eventually also involves fundamental shifts in world-views, senses of meaning, and associated lifestyles“.. “My experience is that although efficiency and substitution initiatives can make significant contributions to sustainability over the short term, much greater longer-term improvements can only be achieved by redesign strategies; and, furthermore, that Steps need to be taken at the outset to ensure that efficiency and substitution strategies can serve as stepping stones and not barriers to redesign.””
Professor Stuart B. Hill (.
Permaculture teaches some basic Principles based on nature.
We aim to observe nature and design human systems that utilise natural energies. The Bear hibernates in a naturally stable environment, a cave underground. We too can use a cave for food preservation. The termite creates a stable environment above ground by building insulated walls, we can too. The Sunflower’s head turns with the sun and bends in the wind. So does the simple but effective clothes hoist: wind and sun, spin. It is the ultimate model for efficient clothes drying equipment.
Learn more about Permaculture in a Permaculture Course