Permaculture of organisations, groups and communities
Sociocracy (also called dynamic/collaborative governance) hard-wires 'People Care' and 'Fair Share' into organisations by ensuring an equal voice in policy. Like living systems, sociocracy uses feedback loops to stay in tune with members and environment.
In March the first Welsh training in Sociocracy took place at Denmark Farm, near Lampeter. Organised by Linda Winn of Lampeter Permaculture Group, the event was facilitated by Nathanial Whitestone of DecisionLab, and 15 participants from Permaculture, Transition, intentional communities, and wellbeing centres took part. For those new to the term, Sociocracy employs structures that foster equal voices and maximise creativity. It uses facilitation techniques with groundrules like appreciative listening and creating a space for each person in a group to respond. It pays close attention at the start of meetings to how particpants are that day because this can affect people's responses and ability to contribute to their potential.
The association of metaphysics with Permaculture:
does it undermine credibility, or is it a return to a more authentic, integral view of the world?
Last year we ran an article on Integral Permaculture by Brad McManus which explored the thinking of Ken Wilbur in relation to Permaculture. Increasingly the work of Joanna Macy (known as Deep Ecology) is gaining momentum in the Transition movement. Whilst not promoting any individual path of spiritual thought and practice, these developments do suggest that man is often better enabled to make the changes needed in our time by taking account of his whole nature and honing his skills in nurturing that part of himself which cooperates better with others and builds inner resilience.
Hence the programme of Integral Studies being fostered by MWPN in collaboration with TT groups which is aimed primarily at PDC graduates, who having done the Science bit, see and experience the need to cultivate their inner gardens (Zone 00) in order to carry out the principles of Permaculture and Transition more effectively.
It was with some sadness then that I read what Craig Mackintosh of the Permaculture Research Institute, Australia, had to say on the subject of ‘mixing’ metaphysics with Permaculture. He has plenty to say about Permaculture losing credibility in the eyes of potential new recruits and the public at large if it is to be seen identifying itself with anyone who communes with trees, links hands in a circle or does anything which could be construed as New Age or spiritual in the same breath as discussing Permaculture.
Craig Mackintosh, Permaculture Research Institute, Australia, writes:
‘Man’s spirituality grants him the ability to think beyond necessity, beyond desire, so he can make decisions based on principle. Where I take issue is that people are taking their own subjective views on spirituality — including elements that are belief-based only, and therefore unprovable — and are blending it with the provable, observable science of permaculture. Teaching concepts that are not scientifically provable not only undermines that teacher’s own credibility, but, when presented in a course titled with the word ‘permaculture’, then also undermines the credibility of all permaculture teachers’.
Polyculture research and seedsaving
Editorial February 2012
It is the time of year when all the notices about seed swap events begin to trickle in. At home we pore over seed lists, decide on planting strategies, and plan our planting layouts for this year. On a table in the corner of a cool room, endless bags, cartons and old biscuit tins stand in a jumble, waiting for me to go through old leftover seed, collected seed from last season, and the new stuff that camei n the post at intervals during the winter. I need to get a grip on all this, write out a chart for my planting schedule, and sort out spare seed for the swap events I go to or organise. This is no small task. It takes time and patience and an orderly approach to sort out all this saved seed, package and label it, and have it ready on time. The first swap in my area is probably Machynlleth – always a treat, with lots of talks, stalls and entertainment as well as a mass of seed to take away This is in February. Lampeter usually follow in March. And this year I’m going to start very local indeed and invite my newly formed Very Local Network of a dozen or so households to tea and a seed swap early in March. Last year Cwm Harry comunity garden at Newtown held the last swap I went to, so they befitted from all the leftover seed accumulated from other events. What goes around comes around, as they say!
Permaculture of Cleaning (Domestic Transition)
Editorial, July 2011
In these straightened times, using environmentally-friendly cleaning products can be quite a drain on the budget. A certain manufacturer seems to have upgraded a popular eco product to ‘concentrated’ status recently. Like me, you may be noticing you’re using more now as it is hard to gauge the quantity because a measuring scoop is no longer provided. Do I detect a lack of altruism in this tactic?
Having trawled the net, I have come up with a selection of DIY recipes for laundry and domestic cleaning using common ingredients that won’t harm your septic tank, your family’s skin, your sense of smell or your budget. You could even have fun making them, give the kids a lesson in kitchen chemistry, get together with friends to make a big batch and share it out, and feel really good at how much money you’ve saved every time you have to wash the children’s PE kit or those muddy Permaculture gardening clothes.
What you find when you start looking for recipes is that they are often in US measures, and not only are you left wondering what a ‘cup’ really holds, but exactly what gallons we are talking about here (US gallons are smaller than the old UK Imperial gallons). And that’s without the added complication of converting everything to metric as well – if that is what you’re used to.
So I’ve done all the hard work for you with the aid of another load of web research and a currency converter to work out approximate costs.
A-gleying we will go!
Editorial: March 2010
Having just constructed a swale at the top of a swathe of vegetable terraces which are rather free draining, I was interested to come across this quote about the use of gley for natural waterproofing of porous surfaces.
What is gley?
Related to the word 'glaze', a gley is like a biological plastic membrane such as is found in bogs, which is formed by a bacterial process that requires anaerobic conditions.