Recently, we went to IPCUK – International Permaculture Conference and Convergence in London. Permaculture Conferences are a great chance to exchange ideas and get a sense of where the movement is headed. This conference had a bright confident atmosphere and there was a deep sense of maturity and belonging at the convergence. Congratulations to Permaculture UK. The hosting association was strong, purposeful, empowered and well-organised with great teams and buckets of enthusiasm.
Great Cultural Icons
What I loved most about this conference was the was bright and tangible cultural flavour. Of course, the meetings were openly welcome for all the international delegates, but always there was a lovely English cultural flavour.
There was a touching sense of pride and value in:
- Native foods (such as apples, berries, cider, beer, sandwiches, cheeses)
- Traditional folklore such as wreaths for crowning the hard-working-well-deserving volunteers, and traditions such as natural plant dyes. We enjoyed reading the landscape, learning about ancient forest animals, the shaping of the forest by horse riding, hunting and tree management.
- The Arts – Theatre, poerty and song. Three Acres and a Cow did a fantastic play that sang about the clearances and the value of ‘a people versus the land.’ This made me surprisingly sad because I am descended from people those very same people who were undervalued and shipped off. Later, as I left the English Autumn, I realised how blessed I am that my people landed in a rich and creative culture. A behind-the-scenes session by Charlie MacGee was magical, personal and fun. I was so proud of you and pleased our little crowdfunding donation was very well spent in your early years!!
- Tributes to the local history: even the venues were of cultural significance. The Conference venue [The Quakers Friends house] is an old English Society that has changed the notion of peace around the world. The Convergence venue [The World Scout Headquarters] is also an English international movement and has taught many young people world-wide life skills. (including myself). We enjoyed a guided talk through Epping forest by permaculture teacher, Richard Webb. It was great to see these cultural icons. (people, traditions and places)
A Clear Future for the Permaculture Movement
Since the last Permaculture International Conference and Convergence (IPCUK ) a lot of social aspects of the movement have been developed. The movement is getting more skilled at finding the balance between people care and earth care.
- On the grass-roots level we are seeing a lot of strategies that were once touted as alternative-living or hippy practices (composting, solar power, growing your own food, supporting local markets, fixing things and having a go at doing-it-yourself) now recognised as common-sense and even good business strategies.
- There is strong direction in building the evidence-based research and a world-wide research community to investigate, document and publish findings. There is also incredible growth in permaculture education at university level (The new Permaculture Design and Sustainability Program at CQUniversity looks very exciting).
- The education and training for people of all walks of life and backgrounds is also expanding and a clearer map is forming of global best-practices which include mature and bountiful demonstration sites and communities.
- Finally, the most promising development for me was the emergence of co-operation, overcoming the competitive corporate thinking that rules most of the western world and building a new community of resilient, intellectual harmony.
Co-operation on The World-Wide Permaculture Stage
The Next-Big-Step project got hundreds delegates together listening to one another and
talking about their passion and challenges and we saw the beginning of a plan to bring permaculture together as a truly cohesive, aware (documenting one another’s projects: successes, failures and goals) and well-researched movement. Here is a link to their working papers if you want to be involved.
This Convergence demonstrated the incredible potential of co-operative projects rather than competitive permaculture. Competitive behaviour will sometimes rears it’s ugly head in permaculture This is all part of a democratic, empowered society. It was a joy to see the maturity of a movement that can sit together and learn from one another regardless of how famous or successful each individual has become.