There are many definitions of permaculture. We will be using “permanent + culture.”
One of the reasons for the multiple understandings of permaculture is the divergent attitudes of the two founding members, Bill Mollison and David Holmgren. In recent years David Holmgren’s more inclusive and holistic definition is taking root as our local and global awareness has expanded.
In permaculture we use whole systems thinking and universal ethical and design principles as our framework for creatively re-designing our environment and lifestyle. Sustainable living integrates everything – plants, animals, building, people, communities, so on.
What is whole systems thinking?
Everything is connected to everything else, like a web, not a line. Whole systems thinking studies the connections and interrelationships between entities not the entities in isolation or in a linear relationship.
What are the three universal ethics of permaculture?
The three ethics are at the foundation of permaculture and are used to balance and weigh all permaculture decisions:
Care of the Earth
Care of the People
Care of the Future
What are the permaculture design principles?
There are many permaculture principles and every permaculture instructor seems to have their own twist. Bill Mollison has his twelve and so does David Holmgren. Both are similar and either one or both would be fine to work with.
Here are local permaculture teacher and RSPG co-founder, Don Titmus’s eight basic principles:
1) Observation. Notice the patterns, the interaction with natural systems.
2) Every element must have many functions for it to be sustainable (vice-versa).
3) Work with nature rather than against it. Build natural succession, microclimates, balance.
4) The problem is the solution. Think outside the box. When you get lemons make lemonade.
5) Make the least change for the greatest possible effect. Build energy efficient, time saving design.
6) The yield of a system is unlimited. Multi-functional, multi-layered.
7) Everything gardens. The interactivity of all things together creates a designed permaculture system.
8) Every system is information and imagination intensive. Many disciplines are adopted to solve any challenge. Low tech and high tech works together for the good of all.
What is the Transition Movement?
The Transition Movement was organized in the UK by Rob Hopkins a permaculture graduate and teacher. It is a grassroots (permaculture-in-action!) movement helping local communities to organize within themselves. The shift from oil dependency to local resilience begins in our homes, neighborhoods, and towns/cities. Transition helps us answer the question, “How can our community respond to the challenges and opportunities of peak oil, climate change, and global economic turmoil?”
What is a guild?
A guild is a permaculture term used to describe a group of living organisms clustered around a central element that support and mutually benefit each other’s existence. Here in Southern Arizona the Three Sisters Guild – corn, beans, and squash is a local example. First the corn is planted followed by the beans and squash. The beans use the corn as a trellis. The squash provide groundcover for the beans and corn. A fourth sister – bee balm – is also sometimes recognized. The alluring scent of the bee balm attracting more pollinators for the beans and squash.
A permaculture guild is a local group of permaculture-minded people forming together for their community’s benefit.