Why to start a Permaculture study/working group?

As many of VS (Village Surrey) and some Surrey/White Rock Food Action Coalition members know, the Transition towns (or villages) idea was born from a Permaculture Design course cohort facilitated by Rob Hopkins back in 2004.

When we are talking about “transition”, we talk about the need to develop a community-oriented/community-led action plan to become more resilient and less dependent on fossil fuels and external inputs as both of these things are not sustainable.

In practical terms, this means:

1)     Growing more of the food we consumed…and learn to consume both less food and more locally-produced food that is also healthier and more nutritious. (bananas, mangoes and all those wonderful fruits and many other foods we have become used to, cannot be locally produced and they shouldn’t, we have wonderful substitutes such as kiwis, berries, apples, etc.)

2)     Producing the energy our households and businesses need as locally as possible…and learn to use less energy and from different sources (sun, wind, etc.)

3)     Conserving the water we have in the region (clean and safe for us and the ecosystems that depend on it) …and learn to reduce our water consumption!

4)     Managing our waste products (all of them) in ways that allow “waste” to return to the system in form of energy, useful items or food (for us or for other organisms in the ecosystem)…and learn how to reduce or eliminate our waste!

5)     Creating a safe and respectful place for wilderness and domesticated species to live in their intended ecosystems…and learn how to integrate them in our own living designs

6)     Managing our finances and connected choices (mortgages, where to live, etc.) so we are prepared and resilient when facing the upcoming crises…and learning how to live with much less, barter and provide for most, if not all, our needs.

7)     Creating community libraries or co-ops for resources and tools everybody needs but not all the time, such as books, garden and farming tools, toys, seeds, etc….and learning to share and exchange these things with others.

8)     Working on people’s awareness and supporting their efforts while meeting them at the place they currently are…and learning not to judge, force or expect people will change overnight or to what we would like to, but to what they may need to due to each person/family’s circumstances.

9)     Engaging in supportive community building through building trust and deep-level/compassionate communication…and re-learning how to live in honest and committed communities, while supportively and compassionately un-learning all the selfishness and individualistic/superficial baggage we carry from today’s society.

One thing Permaculture teaches us is how to do all the above without falling on the same mistakes that put us where we are now in the first place.

This means that jumping to projects and playing without considering the long-term repercussions of our current actions are not good approaches. Permaculture teaches us to pause and observe all around us, staring from our own bodies, our spiritual life, our career choices and family lives.

Another thing Permaculture teaches us is to be responsible: we are all responsible for ourselves and our families, as well as our and their impact in the world.

For these and many other reasons, I invite all VS members and people from the Surrey/White Rock/Delta/Langley communities to contact us if you want to become part of a “Permaculture” study and action group.

When I first started exploring Transition Towns and the whole transition movement, I didn’t understand very well how this was different from other social justice, environmental or similar groups.

After graduating from my PDC (Permaculture Design Certificate), I can say that what is different about Transition/Permaculture is that this is an umbrella that encompasses all the ideas expressed above and many more. It draws on diverse sciences and approaches, from Systems Theory and Ecosystems to Constructivism, using Botany, Applied Biology, Geography, Urban Planning, etc. and incorporates the common sense and ancient wisdom from aboriginal communities from all over the world. Permaculture is also deeply spiritual, while based in scientifically researched and proved methods and knowledge.

What makes Permaculture different is not only this (being a system-theory based umbrella for many disciplines), but the fact that is completely supported over three basic ethical principles: Earth-care, People-care and sharing the surplus. Something most disciplines (even some that try to pass for “sustainability” or “green”) have never considered in their decision making process.

Our next Newsletter will explore this idea (starting a Surrey-area Permaculture study and action group) in more detail.

Permaculture principles: http://permacultureprinciples.com/principles/

Permaculture Institute: http://www.permaculture.org/nm/index.php

Permaculture BC: http://www.permaculturebc.com/

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