Academy of Permaculture
24th October 2020

PDC Dragons Pt2

Part two of the PDC looks at design. We have spent the first week considering natural principles and developing an empathy for natural processes and now we consider how we might use this insight in designed systems. It might be good to note that nature builds systems, and ecology is a product of relationships between elements, so permaculture design is about the conscious development of symptoms.

Day 5 - Patterns and design; making sense of chaos

Patterns and numbers, which do you see? not everyone speaks numbers like these guys, but it is only a different language to describe and help understand the processes we can observe around us. You can really enjoy these videos without any pressure to feel like you have to understand, it is simply like hearing permaculture explained in a different language.

An exploration of nature’s pattern language and how we might incorporate that into design

  1. Branching pattern explores an area
  2. A lobed pattern is a repeating form which can offer structure and surface area
  3. The spiral is a model for incremental growth
  4. The web uses minimal materials to cover a space
  5. The wave is the transmission of energy
  6. The scatter pattern is a template for how nature approaches design
permaculture design model SADIMET
SADIMET is a permaculture design model which encourages to conciously build systems

Chaos Theory (60 mins)

I am very happy to see this up on YouTube, it has been taken down previously. Prof. Jim Al Kalili is a great science communicator and this is the area of science that is of great interest to permaculture, how nature designs.

Exploring the intimate relationship between simplicity and complexity, nature’s hard wired pattern languages whilst considering computer programs which write themselves; exactly what is evolution, and what can it teach us about design?

Permaculture Zones (6 mins)

Well crafted permaculture lecture exploring the concepts of zones and sectors.

I have always found the idea of zones in permaculture both empowering and insightful. A very useful way to make sense of complex and unfamiliar things. The ever-variable ever-changing landscapes around us and our own complex relationships and interactions with them can suddenly begin to make sense whilst revealing a sense of priority and strategy.

Cae Bodfach Mayday celebrations

Design to create connections. The Cae Bodfach orchard is in a public space, one which is popular with dog walkers. Over the years the garden team have worked with both the local primary and secondary schools, volunteers from the public, the town council, the local river protection group among others. All of these activities – planting different sections and components of the orchard have helped to make strong connections with the surrounding community.

Last May, pre-covid, we were able to hold a celebratory story telling, face-painting, creative play event within the space  which also served to reinforce and extend the connections into the community.

Good designs can evolve and be adapted to fit different circumstances
For a 7-month period a team of permaculture trainers from Sector39 worked with South Sudanese refugees in the refugee settlement areas in Northern Uganda. We trialled many ideas and the most effective were the ones which people could adapt and make their own. People were skeptical that our energy efficient stove would take off, it did take a little while, but by our final evaluation visit they were popping up everywhere. Mainly pictures of versions of the stove with other scene settings pictures as well to give context..

Mandala garden at Bidibidi refugee settlement

Weekend visits to Dragons, Cae Bodfach, Llanymynech rocks and the Hoffman Kiln, Cultivate while staying at Treflach farm Treflach farm.

Evening lecture, patterns to details; thinking about design in permaculture.

Day 6 - integration, people, co-operatives, teams and guilds

Chickenshack, the early years in 10 minutes. Photos from the set up phase with a narration recorded for the 25th anniversary.

Two leading academic voices on co-ops and economic pandemic. Richard Wolff is US’ leading Marxist economist and has a lot to say that makes sense in these times. Hedges, ever the journalist, is reporting on the collapse of the US empire and holds an overview of the times.

Evening lecture, integrated systems.

Day 7 Small and Slow Solutions

The good news needs to spread. We know we are in an urgent situation but only action on a huge scale can change it.

What can we do to accelerate this process?

I showed 6 minutes or so only of this in class. Chris Hedges summarising his book, Empire of Illusion, the age of spectacle. A brilliant and incisive take down of the horrors of our economic system, one that is not vested in reality at all. Shortly after the banks collapsed and were bailed out, this talk from 2009 resonates very strongly with where we are now. Prescience.

Small and Slow Solutions

Morning lecture PDC day 7/8

Evening lecture – permaculture design task challenge.

Day 8 - tying it all together

This online permaculture teaching transformation has already been quite a journey. From the early days of sitting in a yurt, packed into a tight circle drawing out the main concepts and ideas on a flip chart. 

Even the thought of the these amazing a/v resources was far away. There was ‘In Grave Danger of Falling Food’ and later ‘Global gardener’ but even the books were few and far between. Precious information was photocopied and copied again until the words became faint. Now in the internet age we have so much information, an avalanche of it, this in some ways can have the exact opposite effect – burying the nuggets of truth and the wisdom simplicity.

Working in this fashion has forced me to re-evaluate my teaching resources, styles and techniques. With this PDC, I followed on directly from 6 days of online teaching in Uganda and concurrent to the site visits and individual support sessions going on there.