Alternatives to Political Systems, Economics, Ethical Investment, People Systems, Society — by Donnie Maclurcan June 3, 2013
by Donnie Maclurcan and Jen Hinton
Imagine waking up in a world where you feel good about going to work, no matter the nature of your job. You feel positive and motivated, knowing that your work provides you with a livelihood that also contributes to the wellbeing of others in a way that respects the ecological limits of the planet.
Welcome to a not-for-profit world, where businesses can still make profits, but any profits are always reinvested for social or organizational benefit, rather than being accumulated privately by individuals. This world emerged because, around 2013, a large number of people came to the realization that any economic system that centralizes wealth and power is, ultimately, socially and ecologically unsustainable. People were fed up with excessive executive salaries, a financial sector divorced from the real world, corporations with more say than people, endless spin from politicians and entrepreneurs about the latest technological ‘solution’, and the trappings of mindless consumption.
As the mainstream attention on the Occupy movement faded, protesters even started to question whether being fed up was worthwhile.Comments (4)
People Systems, Society — by Alice Gray May 24, 2013
State tractors ploughing in the barley crops of the Al Hawashleh tribe (our
hosts) outside Qasr A Sir in March of this year
Having recently finished teaching my third PDC course in the Bedouin village of Qasr A Sir in the Negev desert of Israel, I feel inspired to raise this controversial issue with the permaculture community. I would like to state from the outset that I do not have any clear answers, and intend this article as a discursive piece to inspire debate and reflection rather than a conclusive set of arguments.
The question is as old as ‘civilization’ itself, dating back to the dawn of agriculture in the Middle East around 10 000 years ago, and the great cultural transition that began then. It is the same question that permaculture seeks to answer, perhaps the single most important question facing humanity: how should we use the land? In short it is a question of culture and the clash of cultures, of narratives, possession, dispossession and dominance, of resource rights, of nomadic culture vs. sedentary culture; of hunter-gatherer lifestyles vs. pastoralist lifestyles vs. agrarian lifestyles. Perhaps the question is a little bit more complex than that in fact, and could be better framed as: how should we relate to cultures that have a different concept of land ownership and resource usage from our own? Living and working in the midst of a Bedouin village that is undergoing a forced transition from pastoralism to settled living within a modern industrialized state, this question cannot help but crop up.Comments (11)
People Systems, Society, Village Development — by Stefan Boone May 7, 2013
The miracle of your mind isn’t that you can see the world as it is. It’s that you can see the world as it isn’t. — Kathryn Schulz
Consumerism, Economics, Ethical Investment, People Systems, Society, Village Development — by Kenton Zerbin April 29, 2013
Maximum security, maximum return. Who doesn’t want that? In a world of uncertainty and change, more than a few people are reconsidering where it is they want their money.
I grew up being encouraged to save and invest in savings. The two are not the same thing. To invest in savings is to invest in money itself. To put your money into money… such a strange idea. But in a civilization bent on growth, how can your money not grow as well? It really isn’t a bad idea if you have faith that growth never ends….Comments (4)
Alternatives to Political Systems, Biodiversity, Deforestation, Economics, Global Warming/Climate Change, People Systems, Society, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Water Contaminaton & Loss — by Marcin Gerwin April 18, 2013
The disappearing Amazon rainforest
Marcin Gerwin: You propose introducing a new international law of ecocide as an amendment to the Rome Statute. Ecocide is defined as “an extensive damage to, destruction of or loss of ecosystem(s) of a given territory, whether by human agency or by other causes, to such an extent that peaceful enjoyment by the inhabitants of that territory has been or will be severely diminished.” Why do we need the new law to protect the planet? Aren’t current regulations enough?Comments (2)
Economics, People Systems, Society — by Rhamis Kent March 11, 2013
Something interesting happens to you once given an opportunity to take a well-taught, well-presented, and properly contextualized Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) course. You are provided with new tools with which to view virtually every conceivable topic through very different eyes – in this instance, economics & history.
The American Civil War, for example, could easily be understood as America’s first energy war. It was also explicitly a war over capital – the most important capital the United States held at the time, enabling it to become the world’s greatest, most influential economic power with the eventual emergence of mass industrialization & financialization globally.Comments (14)
Community Projects, People Systems, Urban Projects, Village Development — by Elspeth Brock March 5, 2013
I attended the Community Gardens Conference in Canberra in 2010. Myles Bremner, CEO of Garden Organic, Europe’s main organic gardening organization, was speaking about how surprised he was that in Australia there was no unified network of Community Gardens. In fact in Australia no one even knows exactly how many there are. This highlighted for me the importance of building local networks to improve the credibility of local food growing and share experiences and resources.
I wanted to share my experience of The Moreland Food Gardens Network (MFGN) in Melbourne, Australia, to show how a local network can work. It began with a group of people all somehow involved in community gardens and there are now a wide range of organisations and individuals involved, such as horticulturalists, community members, local schools, community health organisations, local council and academics.Comments (0)
Alternatives to Political Systems, People Systems, Society, Village Development — by Lisa DePiano February 8, 2013
Photo by Lisa DePiano
Permaculture as a movement has most of the knowledge, tools and resources that we need to create a regenerative society in the physical sense. Just Google ‘passive solar design’ or ‘aquaculture’ and you will find hundreds of books, articles and how-tos. Certainly we can fine tune and experiment but the harder task lies in transforming our social and invisible systems. This becomes even more crucial when we are taking permaculture out of the private realm (backyards, homes) and into the public (community gardens, business and governance).
How do you practice ‘fair share’ living in an economic system that is based on accumulation and inequality? How do you change laws to make permaculture systems legal? How do you learn to collaborate?Comments (5)
Alternatives to Political Systems, Commercial Farm Projects, Community Projects, Demonstration Sites, Development & Property Trusts, Eco-Villages, Economics, Education Centres, People Systems, Society, Village Development — by Craig Mackintosh PRI Editor January 9, 2013
You’ll enjoy this little video, a nice collage of thoughts and scenery and developing community integration. This is Kotare Village in the North Island of New Zealand, where PRI New Zealand (Koanga Institute) is making excellent headway into creating a model community where freedom of individual expression is combined with cohesion of collective purpose.
And, to help put Kotare village into some kind of historical context, I thought I’d juxtapose it against the video below — where you see the kind of life ‘the system’ gives us instead…. The reality of the constant struggle in the ‘daily grind’, with little to no feeling of personal satisfaction, and little hope, should make one appreciate the fantasic opportunity places like Kotare Village offer — a life with meaning, developing resilience and security, and health of body and mind. Places like Kotare Village can serve as templates to emulate as we make the long-overdue shift towards relocalising our supply lines and putting life back into our lives.Comments (2)
Animal Forage, Commercial Farm Projects, Demonstration Sites, Land, Livestock, People Systems, Plant Systems, Rehabilitation, Trees — by Steve Hanson December 24, 2012
by Steve Hanson
2012 is our eighth year of small scale farming in France and has seen us move from income dependence to financial security and independence. Looking back over the last eight years at our mistakes and our successes in getting to this point demonstrates the value of an integrated approach.
When we arrived in France we had a single idea to provide us with income; that of breeding pigs and selling high quality organic free range pork and pork products. This worked well for three years but in our fourth year, 2008, a poor global grain harvest sent the price of grain skyward almost doubling the price from our local farmer. This gave us cause to rethink our future dependency on outside sources for anything which the global market could affect — this is of course everything!
So how do we remove ourselves as far from external influences and gain self-reliance at the same time?Comments (14)
Community Projects, Conservation, Consumerism, Development & Property Trusts, Economics, Ethical Investment, People Systems, Rehabilitation, Society, Village Development — by John D. Liu December 20, 2012
John D. Liu
I’m often asked “What can I do to help?” to restore the Earth. Over the years I’ve struggled with the answer.
Sometimes I feel like it is unfair to ask me what someone else should do because even if I told them what I thought they probably wouldn’t do it. I think that each person should look inside their heart and decide what they will do.
However, gradually I’ve come to see ecological restoration as the “great work” of our time — the one most important thing that all the people who are alive today need to understand and do together. I’ve come to realize that to do restoration at scale requires some very specific skills and also requires a type of lifestyle change. It also requires a change in the way we perceive work and the economy.Comments (26)
Alternatives to Political Systems, Consumerism, Economics, Food Shortages, People Systems, Society, Village Development, peak oil — by Samuel Alexander November 24, 2012
Editor’s Preamble: I would exhort readers to ignore the potentially off-putting length of this piece, to instead step into, and allow yourself to be absorbed by, this important and worthy attempt at future-visualising. Readers who have been following my own work over the last several years will recognise and appreciate the themes covered. From my own perspective, what follows is a highly pragmatic view on the potential near-future of civilisation, and I truly feel that the speed and shape of progression (i.e. objectively and cooperatively planned and peacefully implemented), or, regression (i.e. unplanned, reactive, desperate, monopolistic and individualistic), and ultimate form of that future will largely depend on how many people are objectively considering these themes and adjusting their lives, and their influence, accordingly.
Photo © Craig Mackintosh
by Dr Samuel Alexander, co-director of the Simplicity Institute and a lecturer with the Office for Environmental Programs, University of Melbourne.
When [we have] obtained those things necessary to life, there is another alternative than to obtain superfluities; and that is, to adventure on life now, [our] vacation from humbler toil having commenced. – Henry David Thoreau
If a society does not have some vision of where it wants to be or what it wants to become, it cannot know whether it is heading in the right direction – it cannot even know whether it is lost. This is the confused position of consumer capitalism today, which has a fetish for economic growth but no answer to the question of what that growth is supposed to be for. It is simply assumed that growth is good for its own sake, but of course economic activity is merely a means, not an end. It can only ever be justified by some goal beyond itself, but that is precisely what consumer capitalism lacks – a purpose, a reason for existence. It is a means without an end, like a tool without a task. What makes this state of affairs all the more challenging is that the era of growth economics appears to be coming to a close, due to various financial, ecological, and energy constraints, and this is leaving growth-based economies without the very capacity for growth which defined them historically. Before long this will render consumer capitalism an obsolete system with neither a means nor an end, a situation that is in fact materialising before our very eyes. It seems that today we are living in the twilight of growth globally, which implies that the dawn of a new age is almost upon us – is perhaps already upon us. But as we turn this momentous page in history we find that humanity is without a narrative in which to lay down new roots. We are the generation in between stories, desperately clinging to yesterday’s story but uncertain of tomorrow’s. Then again, perhaps the new words we need are already with us; perhaps we just need to live them into existence.Comments (7)
People Systems, Society, Village Development — by Paul Chefurka November 23, 2012
A lot of people look to Barack Obama as the enlightened leader, the psychopomp who will lead the world away from the brink of catastrophe and into a new era. I see him in a somewhat different light. I see his election as the American expression of a global shift in consciousness that is already well underway. He may or may not be able to fulfill his promise of hope in any specific policy area, but the fact of his election speaks to a dramatic sea-change in the global Zeitgeist.
An individual in crisis may experience a sudden transformation or awakening as a response to an intolerable situation. The current crisis of civilization is starting to impact hundreds of millions of individuals around the globe, especially since the world was plunged into the economic crisis that is further compounding our accelerating ecological, environmental, energy and social crises. The sense of imminence created by this convergence is causing enormous numbers of people to wake up and wonder WTF has been going on while we dutifully lived out the consumerist dream. While we were sleeping that dream seems to have become a nightmare as the materialist utopia we were promised morphed into a cruel, life-destroying hoax .Comments (6)
Following on from the last one, this John D. Liu video from the Environmental Education Media Project takes us to the steppes of the Gobi Desert in Mongolia. If you love learning from different cultures that find ways to survive and flourish in circumstances and climates very different from your own, as I do, then you’ll find this an interesting piece.Comments (0)
Alternatives to Political Systems, Economics, People Systems, Society — by Paul Chefurka November 16, 2012
One aspect of human culture that seems irresistible to the ancient status-seeking part of our brain is the development of hierarchies. The encoding of personal status and power into social structures is evident in the tribes and troops of all the great apes, but human beings have gone much further. We built an entire globe-spanning civilization on the foundation of hierarchy.
One inevitable effect of social hierarchies (in fact the effect that made our global civilization possible) is the consolidation of power. As new power comes into a hierarchic social system it flows preferentially to the top. As the system develops, even the small amount of power available to those at the bottom of the social pyramid is removed and ends up concentrated at the top in a power elite. This becomes a positive feedback loop: the more power is consolidated at the top, the easier the consolidation becomes.Comments (8)