by Naomi van der Velden
The evolution is upon us! The world around us has changed a lot in the last forty years, since Bill Mollinson and David Holmgren first described their permaculture principles. From those early beginnings our pioneers set out to show the world that change was possible; to demonstrate that we could create permanent agricultural systems that were both productive and sustainable.
It quickly came to encompass the societies that form around food production, and drew on ideas and demonstrations from other observers of the natural world such as Sepp Holzer and Masanobu Fukuoka. Now, it provides inspiration for all aspects of living from renewable energy and efficient resource use to nurturing societies and guiding self-development.
As an ecological design system for sustainable living that helps its practitioners to become more self-reliant, permaculture is being used to aid us in exploring new directions and stepping up to new challenges.
Our Permaculture Ecosystem has a new challenge – to better understand itself as a whole system and to explore its potential. Each of us is a part of that ecosystem and it seems that our sum can be greater even than our (pretty amazing!) parts. After many years of discussions, an agreement was reached at the International Permaculture Convergence (IPC) in Cuba in 2013 – to actively observe, understand, and (if needed) design for a greater level of global organisation in permaculture. Uniquely, this is a permaculture design to be done by everyone, quite a challenge!
Will our wild and passionate growth continue unabated; spreading roots into new territory, planting new seeds in fertile ground and fertile minds? Will we consolidate and grow upwards towards a shared purpose – like a mighty tree - that cannot go unheeded on the world stage? Become something that is clearly defined in itself yet hosts and nurtures many other aspects; one being that supports great diversity? Will we become something else; a new system; a new society? Together we will determine what happens next.
A global consultation is underway. This seeks first to understand the needs and capacity of permaculture organisations around the world – where are our strengths? What are the obstacles to overcome? Where is the permaculture ecosystem heading? Next, the needs and desires of everyone in permaculture will be considered – we want views from as many people as we possibly can; from all the countries and regions that permaculture has reached. Your answers will determine our future – to understand where we share views and can work together, and where there are regional or individual differences that need more local consideration. Proposals developed from these consultations will be showcased at the next IPC in the UK in September 2015. From there, we hope, any momentum to change will develop into actions to make both our ecosystem and the world it exists within better places for all to share.