Robyn Francis – Power of Community

Robyn Francis has been involved in many community permaculture projects and is a strong permaculture leader. She has witnessed the power of community and building trust.

In our recent interview, Robyn thinks it’s interesting that just so much of social permaculture is being driven by women. And it’s not just social permaculture. “When I look at a lot of social movements like those in my village here. The sustainability initiatives here women are the key drivers of almost everything. And building community is a really big part of it. That’s one of the areas of social permaculture that I’m most passionate about is community building and creating resilient communities. I was involved in the whole intentional community movement for a long time from 1979.

On the front foot

When Lismore council threatened to bulldoze all the illegal dwellings on the illegal multiple occupancies and communities that were setting up up and down the coast. We had a cluster of them around Wauchope. We set up multiple occupancy associations and looking at you know the social, economic and governance issues. Land management and design the human dynamics.

Gated Communities Are Shut In

It’s not just about intentional communities or gated communities. We need to work on that wider community level. Little enclaves of like-minded people need to embrace the wider community. And learn to communicate with people who are different to ourselves with different values.

Finding Common Ground in Our Community

We find common ground and and build on that. And so, I’ve been really fascinated with and involved in effective consultation processes. These bring people together and find common ground that we can build on. Then we start to envisage where we want to go to. And what are the baby steps of things that are highly attainable that we can actually act on now. Because I think so often with visioning the visions are so big that people then feel overwhelmed. and of how do we ever get there you know so breaking things down to actually you know bite size chunks and uh doable steps so what can we actually do now with with without you know big injections of money or resources you know what have we actually got the resources to do right here and now and start to make small improvements and then you know the momentum can build from there and and if we’ve got the big vision.

Keep the Big Vision

I’m not saying don’t have a big vision we need the big vision because then opportunities arise. And suddenly when a big opportunity comes up – hey we can harness that!

We can get a little bit off with the off with the fairies and it can get stuck in unrealistic optimism. Yes we’ve got to work on ourselves. But some of the ways that we can work on ourselves is also through working in the outside world.

Learn From Nature

We can learn so much from nature on a spiritual, intellectual and practical level. Nature is naturally generous. It’s not conditional. We’ve got a lot to learn from that. We’ve become a self-focused society and people are afraid to reach out. They are afraid of difference. And afraid of being generous.

Driven By Love, Not Fear

I’m fearful of climate change and what’s happening to our beautiful planet. But it’s not fear that motivates me. It’s the the love of life, it’s the love of the species. And trying to save what we can of planet earth. Also I have a love of humanity. What I am interested in is and how can we come together and express this in a meaningful, creative and convivial way.

Here in our community we’ve done a lot of work in terms of coming together and buying community assets. This is quite an unusual thing. Most communities, including ours in the early 90s, complain about lack of government funding.

Building Community Bridges and Networks.

When the new school was built the old school went on the market, the department of education if it goes to public ownership it’ll be half the price. So, we had a series of community meetings to buy the old school.  Because we desperately need housing for all our community organizations and initiatives. So, we approached council and they said if the community can raise half the money and develop a watertight business plan to pay off the rest we’ll look at a low to low interest loan. In 18 months the community raised 118 000 (And it’s not a community with much disposable income).  

This meant building a lot of bridges in a divided community. We had to come together to achieve this aim. It was so empowering. On the tale of achieving this, we had a visit from Robert Theobald a Canadian futurist. But it takes somebody from the outside, coming in, talking to a community. It was the right time and the right message. It resonated with everybody.

Community Forums

So, we set up a community forum that met once a month. No one organization controlled it. The wider community set the agenda. It focused on solutions. It wasn’t a soapbox for people to indulge in complaining. And we solved a lot of community and social issues.

Even local government councillors used to come and get input from these forums in terms of decisions that they were making that impacted on Nimbin and developing new development control plans for the village and things like that.

Food Security, Renewable Energy and Transport

After seven or eight years we started to run out of issues. This was really good. Then in 2008 I facilitated a transition town processes. We created a number of working groups. The three big priorities were food security, renewable energy and transport (which is still an issue).

Farmers Markets

On the food security front, we got two local farmers markets going. We had Robina McCurdy. She was in Australia from New Zealand. So we invited her to conduct a series of workshops. One was with land holders, farmers and producers. It was seeing who was producing what, who had the potential to produce and what were the impediments to producing more of our food needs locally. And then we had one with  the retail sector: shops, cafes and so forth. Then one workshop with the two groups together so we could start to build links.

Wow! ‘What’s come out of that?’ Prior to the food security group  we probably  I know  I might have managed if  I was lucky to see like maybe 40 to 50 percent of my diet would come from the garden. and the local area now it’s sort of around 80 to 90 percent within a 30 kilometre radius of Nimbin and that feels so good and it’s been  I mean these seem like so like practical outside things but they also have a direct impact on people they’re also social systems they’re not just food systems they are social systems and they’re ones that are meeting real human needs  I mean we need farmers we need food three times a day at least and  there’s nothing more personal than what we put in our mouth to become us we are what we eat.

Cooperatives

Over the years, doing these projects together as a community starts to build up a degree of community trust. We had a devastating event happen around 2011. The rainbow cafe and the Nimbin museum and a couple of shops burnt down. They were in the heart of the village. Those buildings had a rich history. Those businesses did too, They were a big part of the community and our sense of place and identity. It was pretty devastating.

Then hot on the heels of that, our local organic shop of nearly 20 years, said that they were closing their doors at the end of the week. So we organized a meeting in the hall within 24 hours. 80 people turned up. Including the owners of the of the shop. And we decided unanimously to take over the organic shop as a food co-op. The owners said they would support that community process.

Governance Bodies

We had a legal entity in place for managing the community for the farmers markets. So, that became the umbrella organization to take on the leasing accounts until we could actually incorporate our cooperative.

So, we had a meeting on Monday night. The shop closed down on Friday night. And on the following Monday morning it opened up as community food co-op. Everybody was buzzing. But you see, 10 years earlier it wouldn’t have happened like that. People working together, and making things happen as a community, builds a degree of trust.

Building Trust

To me, being able to just say ‘yes’, we’re going to form a food co-op was the mark of  a maturity in terms of community trust and functionality.

We’ve seen how the community responds to disasters when we had the fires here. Then when we got cut off by the floods. And even with the lockdown with the pandemic last year. People really look after each other. There’s all these different community groups that just automatically assume different roles. Each is complementary. They’re not treading on each other’s toes. So, all bases are covered.

This is a community that looks after it’s vulnerable. ‘It’s really easy for highly educated, middle class people to create their own little scene’. But, what about the vulnerable in our society? What about the disenfranchised? The unemployed? Problems of addiction stem from unresolved social and economic issues.

Community is Gold

A community that has compassion is gold. I love to share the story of what we’re doing here because people find it really empowering. As communities we can start to do a lot more than as individuals. But we need to be able to facilitate. We need good methods of governance and we need to build trust structures. We do through meeting needs and showing compassion. And being empathetic. But also being real.

Join us online to learn more about Permaculture.

We research, share, and teach permaculture online. Thanks for supporting us.
At PermacultureVisions.com we research and develop Permaculture Ideas

Permaqueer – Isn’t They Lovely

Guy Ritani knows permaculture design is limited only by the imagination of the designer and our society. That’s how Permaqueer enriches us. Guy runs Permaqueer with their partner to facilitate access for lesbian, gay bisexual transsexual, asexual LGBTQIA plus and bipod communities.

Our interview with Guy Ritani of Permaqueer

‘The Edge Is Where It’s At’

Guy has discovered that the queer community “sits on the fringe, on the edge of society” with unique perspectives. “And a lot of the systems don’t necessarily cater to our ways of being.. our ways of knowing… our ways of relating. The spaces that our community sits in is typically in the cracks and the edges of the system. What we’ve realized is that getting feedback and designing from the cracks manages to close those cracks”. Inclusivity makes that system more resilient and makes the society more resilient.

‘We know in permaculture that we need a vast diversity of organisms interacting in a rich ecosystem. And that’s the same in social spheres’ says Guy. Yet, we are conditioned in our society to have certain beliefs and understandings about how society should work.

Pink, Blue or Rainbow?

Permaqueer call these sets of expectation Binaries. “so it’s one or the other – it’s hot or cold… it’s rich or poor, when in reality there’s a whole spectrum of how things exist, as you know. It’s not just a top canopy and ground cover. But we see many things in between and all the insects and animals that interact within the forest.

A lot of assumptions exist in our society predicated from these binaries. They are as restrictive as monocultures in agriculture. There is cross-pollination, growth, diversity and resilience. To gain abundance we need complexity. If we stay rigid in social ‘monocultures of thought’ we miss opportunities for growth.

Beyond Our Binaries

Permaqueer explores the binaries. Firstly, and most obvious is the binary of gender. This about the individual unit that’s about our personal zone. That’s about how we relate to ourselves and it’s about how we relate to others. We know this horrific history of gendered roles and rights to women and there’s also horrific implications of toxic patriarchy. Above all, we see this binary in horrible roles and ideals of how women and men should be. Yet, in reality, we’re all just people with inherent qualities.

We need to shed a lot more light on this gender issue because it drives our culture of destruction and extraction. At the core of this we need to start inspecting our culture on a systemic level.

It takes education initially to understand you know what are these queers talking about. They’re wearing makeup and earrings and women’s dresses and maybe that appears a bit ridiculous. But, we see a lot of the systems aren’t working. We know how damaging they are.

lloyd-and-J

Making of A Non-Violent Culture

We’re seeing a younger generation not wanting to identify with any of that. And actually, they’re discovering an exciting, beautiful and amazing space of love and expression. They feel accepted by others in a space that doesn’t align to toxic behaviors and simplified ‘monocultures of thought’.

On one hand, it’s about personal identity. But it’s also about disassociating with damaging behaviours that are causing climate change and violence against women and children.

Dragon of climate change

Honesty and Integrity

After is the issue of personal identification comes the concept of sex and gender. This is something widely misunderstood. Gender and sex are different you know how we choose to identify and express ourselves. Guy is gender-fluid. at one stage Guy was Sarah with supportive parents saying “you do you sarah”. Throughout Guy’s life gender never really mattered. “I’ve never run into issues until I come across people that are very set in this binary. And they think ‘hey! you’re not doing the things that you’re meant to do’. They go “I need to bully you. I need you to change.” To Guy, they are being the weird ones. Because there’s no reason to be nasty or horrible to people.

Gender appears in whichever way people want it to. But a lot of people are uncomfortable with that. Also, if people choose to identify differently this doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with them. However, it is when we start policing how other people choose to be that we start running into problems.

Biological not always logical

Then we have the other side of that – sex. That’s the binary of ‘man and woman’ but we’ve understood for ages that’s not biologically correct, says Guy. There are many different expressions of sex: chromosomal, hormonal and chemical. We even see unwanted changes brought about by toxic chemicals.

Guy Ritani & Toad Dell presenting at recent Australasian Permaculture Convergence

There’s actually a gigantic spectrum of sexual diversity from a biological perspective. So, the social norm of what is a man and what is a woman is scientifically inaccurate. “What are we actually dealing with here?” asks Guy. If we’ve got this whole spectrum of of what sex is – why do we have such a problem with it? why is it so difficult?

This binary is behind a lot of really damaging behaviour. It’s behind a lot of trauma. There’s a weird conditioning that creates a gendered attitude towards nature.

Ethics in Practice

Social permaculture is about culture. It’s about how we relate to each other. And, it’s about how our behaviors and actions are manifest in the world. We can create practical and ethical structures of social relating.

Guy supports permaculture’s aim to combine ethics and practical solutions. We need this to address the compounding cascades of catastrophe and crisis.

Why I value the queer community is because there’s there’s no linear genealogy of queer people. They just appear randomly. And there’s no specific culture of queer people. There’s no specific race of queer people. Queer people have to relate to each other. You just have to have this predisposed sense of sort of love and communication. And safety. Because you don’t know what’s coming. You don’t know which random queer magical being is going to appear in your space. And, you have to know how to respect that and deal with that. Being able to observe and interact with queer people’s ways of being with models of justice is revolutionary.

Queer Issues

One of the biggest issues in the queer community, is access to good quality food. We all need nutrient dense food. But also access to housing. Permaculture co-housing models shown in David Holmgren’s Retrosuburbia are a great pragmatic solution. “I do really value the trade-off between these two spaces. Initially I believe there will be a weird sort of cultural ‘side-eye’. We’ll be asking “ah, how do we both feel comfortable in this space?”. And being able to have that perspective is is a way that you can get further feedback from a system. That’s why I’m really wanting to have queers come into permaculture. To be like “oh okay, how are the different ways that we can do this?” smiles Guy.

The Queer Perspective

The perspectives of queer people erupting into viable solutions, not only benefit Queer people. It benefits society as a whole. Because there are different, maybe better ways to do things. Historically, queer people had to challenge systems. They’ve learnt to become creative yet still true to themselves. They have maintained their gender integrity. A queer person is regularly challenged. As a result, their bravery and honesty makes them stronger. Strength, creativity and adaption are powerful assets to every community.

Better For All

Through understanding our biases we get better social relating and will design better systems. The benefits include getting more people to work with you. Because we desperately need to work together to solve the big issues of climate abuse.

“From permaculture and grassroots movement we know the change has grown from the bottom up. We need to be the change that we want to see in the world. And I’ve I haven’t seen that done any better than in permaculture spaces.

Learn more about Permaculture with us to build a more peaceful and nourishing future.

Giving the Gift

Chicka Donna and Angels pleased grateful for the egg

Treasuring People and Planet

One gift flows from many intentions. After all, a gift acknowledges the other and acts as a physical reminder of the social connection. But your gift doesn’t have to cost the earth. Even better, give something joyous both for the receiver and their environment.

“When we experience ourselves as givers,
we receive a deep and enduring affirmation of our value to others.”

Brett Steenbarger FORBES
Instrument craftsman in Peru playing wooden flute
Locally handcrafted gifts give three-ways
They give joy to 1. your loved one 2. to your Environment and 3. to the artist and their economy.

Make It Personal

Giving a gift has the power to tell someone “I value you and I know what you like”. The purpose of giving is to enrich the bond. In truth, giving is not so much about the value of the gift. It is more likely that the gift expresses how much you value the relationship. How can we give a gift that reflects what we know they like and not put demands on the planet? One of the safest bets is a paper book about their favourite topic. Ultimately, presents such as books are often reused and in their final stage, they will decompose.

Sustainable Gifts

Recycled Birdcage with a wicking garden
Our Recycled Birdcage with Garden
  • Valuable antiques preserve and honour of the craftmanship. These items will be loved again and again. Antiques are both valuable and durable. They have character and are rare. Even more so, they can an intriguing life-story and the recipient becomes part of the next chapter of the story. There are many amazing pieces of history that need a good home, to be dusted, polished, and treasured again. We don’t need to buy anything new when there is so much stuff from the past crying for understanding and care.
  • Fossils and other historic items need care, you can give these to a friend who will exhibit and value them or you could give a gift of membership to your local museum.
Fossils are treasures
  • Handmade jewellery. For example, Columbia girl makes jewellery is from dried fruits and fruit peel.
  • Handbag or shoe decorations or tags made from nature
  • Bookmarks or spectacle holders made from a recycled necklace

Memorable Experiences

  • Tickets to a museum or for a show (there’s little wrapping or waste, simply pop it in a hand-made card). Incidentally, this is a great last-minute gift.
  • Hire a ride in a vintage car, this is especially good for people who need a special outing but can’t go out for a long period.
  • Photos from their childhood, family members, and travels look great when presented as a small non-plastic poster or collage.
Handmade bespoke earrings at the MONA
  • Hand-made photo frames
  • A real razor blade, not a disposable one.
  • A hamper of luxurious essentials such as under-arm de-odorizing rock salt crystal or natural perfume oils
  • Hiking socks and hikers wool are great for preventing blisters
  • Handkerchiefs or cloth serviettes instead of paper tissues. These are amazingly good finds in the op-shops and markets – You can find some still in their packaging and of very fine quality linen.
  • A silk pillowcase to prevent hair from getting knotty in bed
  • A silk eye pillow with dried herbs and calming oils
  • A basket of homemade ecologically sound cleansers.
  • Cosmetics and toiletries made from natural ingredients and not tested on animals.
  • Their favourite home-cooked meal frozen in a glass resealable serving dish, ready for a weary day. Include the recipe in a card.
  • Food says I love you especially when it is their favourite food
  • A hand made scarf/bow/tie or cloth jewelry bag.
  • A hand-made musical instrument or clothing
Jabuticaba - a decorative shrub with yummy fruits for a gift
Jabuticaba – a decorative shrub with yummy fruits

Homely Gifts

  • A live potted Christmas tree, that can be planted out after Christmas. This could be a native pine. Alternatively you could pot up a large chilli plant full of chillis (for a Summer Christmas – southern hemisphere). Why not dress up a shrub that is full of flowers such as a rose (to make rose syrup and other delicacies)?
  • Homemade preserves and chilli sauces
  • A Packet/s of seeds. OR make a surprise packet out of mixed seeds (check they are all edible in case they are mistaken)
  • Subscription to a seed saving group, soft technology magazines, organic gardening magazines, rare fruits association etc.
  • A donation to a charity such as Tear or other like the organisation on the recipient’s behalf.
  • Hand-made compost bay.
  • Worm farm made from found materials. The Potted worm farm looks great with a plant on top and you can water it whenever you pop over.
  • A non-disposable lunch kit with a thermos or drink bottle, lunch box with separate compartments so no wrap is required, cloth serviettes. You can add a few fasteners to make a cloth serviette into a durable, washable wrap
  • A fountain pen and coloured inks
  • A cup to carry everywhere
handmade gift - tree decoration
Handmade Christmas Decoration
  • Cloth nappies and a pledge to help hang them out.
  • Energy-saving equipment
  • An eco-tour or eco-holiday voucher (you can offer to take them on a bush-walk or holiday or their choice)
  • A voucher to an eco-hair salon
  • Durable garden tools
  • Books on organic gardening, composting, herbs and flowers, native species
  • Field guides on birds and local reptiles
  • Solar charger for phone – this is great to take on a hike, in case you get lost!
    Also, include a flint or even a little survival kit
  • A garden pond with optional solar powered fountain
  • A fruit dryer
  • A yoghurt maker
  • Rechargeable batteries with re-charger.
  • A tent and small, efficient camping equipment. To encourage clean bushwalking and adventure.
  • Dried herbs and flowers from your garden and instructions on their use as a tea.
painting of woman with a potted plant gift
Plants are pretty gifts

Natural Gifts

  • Natural wool or angora sweaters, scarves, hats, gloves, socks.
  • Hand-made baskets, natural fibre washing baskets, paper waste containers, pot plant containers, picnic baskets.
  • Canvas, string or cane shopping bags, ham bag.  Retrofit a supermarket cloth bag with a favourite fabric pocket sewn over the logo as well as a bit of elastic inside. These bags are often too wide and floppy.
  • Potted kitchen herbs in organic potting mix (you could make this yourself).
  • Edible house plants such as sugar cane for hot spots, mint, shallots, monstera vine.
sprouting jar and seeds - a homely gift
Sprouting Jar
  • Gift voucher for nursery plants or environmental products and courses
  • Beeswax or remade candles.
  • Homemade preserves.
  • Hand-painted recycled glassware.
  • Organic Christmas Cake or other special treat.
  • A homemade Christmas wreath of grapevine and other home grown materials.
  • Blankets (cotton or wool) suitable for the lounge and living areas.
  • recycled material turned into Cloth kitchen washers/cloths/ car washers etc. You can simply cut and hem the edges.
https://images.app.goo.gl/CqdZ9T4qWft6revW7 Young Dark Emu - great gift
Young Dark Emu – Great gift for children, science and history

TOYS

Children today are wanting action. Not only do they like action toys, but they also want climate action. Give them less plastic and a cleaner world.

  • Redeemed toys (repainted bicycle, trike, scooter, rocking horse). Use safe paints, preferably organic paint products. These items could be antiques but beware of the toxicity of old paints and any loose parts.
  • Homemade cushions and bean bags with environmentally friendly safe stuffing.
  • A wooden loom and natural fabrics for weaving.
  • A dolls or action figures tent made of recycled fabrics and stakes.
  • Science and Environmental History books such as Young Dark Emu
  • A homemade backyard swing or tree house, a rope climbing apparatus
  • A small gardening kit, tools, and seeds
  • Wooden or cane furniture.
  • seeds for novelty plants such as giant pumpkins.
  • Roller skates or bicycles to encourage energy efficient travel.
  • Recycled or re-used paper fastened as a book.
  • Craft books
  • Weather-proof boots
  • Be wary of giving Pets. Check that the parents want one. Hens, Guinea pigs or Rabbit in hutch will help to mow the lawn
Antique music machine

Re-useable Wraps

Have you noticed how much the packaging is enticing? Some children would rather play with the cardboard box rather than the toy inside. Wrapping doesn’t have to be ripped apart and strewn all over the floor. Start a new tradition of beautiful wrapping that is also part of the gift. Here are some beautiful wrapping ideas:

A Sari is a great wrap for large presents. It can be worn as a dress (it doesn't need sizing) and can be used as a curtain, a tablecloth and much more
Multipurpose Saris and scarves make wonderful gift wraps

Wrap gifts in Re-useable materials

  • Children’s Artworks
  • unused photocopied music scores
  • Material Shopping bags
  • Beach towel
  • Tea towels
  • Hand towel or handkerchief
  • Biodegradable (linen or cotton) tablecloths
  • Sari
  • Beach wrap
  • Scarf
  • Beach towel
  • Picnic rug
  • Natural Fibre placemats ie. Bamboo
A famous antique pearl earring - great gift

When the Festivity has Passed

Feasting Without Waste

Eventually, the time comes to start clearing up and the environment is often burdened. On an average day, in the western world, one-third of all the food grown is simply thrown out. Additionally, the wastage compounds at times of feasting and merriness. At these times, the food wastage dramatically increases. There are, however, simple ways to reduce waste and provide plenty of healthy and delicious meals.

  • Plan your menu
  • Write a Shopping list
  • Measure your serving sizes or let people serve themselves
  • Store Food Correctly
  • Upstyle the leftovers turning them into curries, pies, lasagne, and sauces.
  • Feed old leftovers to your chickens, the worm farm or soldier-fly farm.
Giant pumpkins – a popular novel hobby.

Permaculture Your Inner Landscape

Spontaneity Nurtures Inner Worlds

Professor Stuart Hill, agricultural and soil ecologist, and social-ecologist challenges us all to restore our inner landscape. Stuart reminds us of our formative years. At first, we live with open eyes and a passion to live from the ‘inside-out’. But with conditioning, we learn to live from the ‘outside-in’. He challenges us to regain our spontaneity, curiosity, and honesty. Then we become ourselves and get comfortable with being different. Peaceful diversity enriches us, our relationships, and the world.

Drawing of a young bearded Banana gazing at his own navel, wondering "who am I".

We start life with spontaneity, and our curiosity enables us to appreciate context and environment. And so, we begin to conform. Bit by bit, we learn to live from the outside-in. Over time, our inner child learns to please other people and conform to society.

Tom, a wide-eyed boy, paints his face with mulberry juice

Cultural conditioning, however, prevents awareness. And it blocks our ability to be ‘present in the moment’, and gives away our power. Ultimately, we risk accepting compromises to our ethics and values. ‘Most people will be in denial of this’. states Stuart.

When we recover our spontaneity and curiousity, we are freed.

Prof Stuart B. Hill
Painting of big moon floating over clouds and rolling hills with a curly ladder and spiral slide. Two ladies floating in front of the moon with a teapot, tea cups, a bouquet of flowers, wisps of scented clouds of tea, blue birds and falling petals

Becoming Different Enriches the World

Children around the world are conditioned. They learn to conform. In earnest, the adults aim to keep them safe and well, and help them develop skills. But, it is damaging to their inner landscape. Slowly, the child’s inner landscape becomes patterned. Their responses become habitual. The child begins to seek to please the teacher rather than seek the truth. However, by restoring curiousity, we rediscover our passions.

Openness allows us to be different. And these differences create a robust tapestry of cultures, expertise, history, and knowledge.

Mabel, shares cultural knowledge and scientific studies about uses of anitcancer properties in Jackfruit
Mabel shares her medical training about Jackfruit in cancer treatments.

Understanding and incorporating differences in people helps us to form better teams. Better still, this diversity of approaches and ideas enriches Permaculture design, teaching, and practice.

Weavers at the EcoArts Conference Australis http://www.ecoartsaustralis.org.au/
Weavers at Ecoarts Australis 2019

Power of Collaboration

Stuart urges the Permaculture designers to collaborate more. Designers, clients, and members of the community working together are more effective and their legacy endures. He encourages us to find out what is close to the client’s heart. By kindling the client’s passion, the permaculture design is nurtured and evolves. With joy, the users engage and build competence.

April having fun learning to milk a cow

Focus On Your ‘Exceptional’

Stuart also explores the idea of systems thinking. He argues that anything that is happening in one place in the world is also happening all over. “You will find 20% nasty, evil stuff, 10% really good stuff and the rest is compensatory”. He challenges Permaculture to focus on the 10% really good stuff in order to keep thriving. “All of us have to be awake, attentive, thinking, reflective, and avoid being judgemental”. In fact, we need to forgive the errors of others and not let these turn you away from their gems of insights.

photo of a spiders web in delicate, pink Davidson plum flowers. These fowers, unusually, form on the trunk of the tree.  accompanying quote: "It is the range of biodiversity that we must care for - the whole thing - rather than just one or two stars" David Attenborough

Why Not Worship Gurus

Furthermore, when we search for the top 10% of leaders, we may inadvertently elevate them to guru status. But the problem, according to Stuart, with worshiping ‘gurus’ is that people try to imitate the high level of competence of the guru. Instead, what we really need to uncover is the learning journey taken by the guru. Then, we might discover how they focused on their own 10%. And best of all, how they resisted compromising their values.

Learning about the stages of development of great thinkers, through listening to their background stories, leads us to develop our own story. Nurturing our curiosity, we discover what is interesting to us. We find our own ‘exceptional’.

Work to your own agenda, not someone else’s”

About Stuart B. Hill

Professor Stuart B. Hill is Foundation Chair of Social Ecology at Western Sydney University. At WSU he taught units on Qualitative Research Methodology, Social Ecology Research, Transformative Learning, Leadership and Change, and Sustainability, Leadership and Change (he retired in 2009 and is now an Emeritus Professor in their School of Education). http://stuartbhill.com/

Learn More With Us About Permaculture Design