I recently discovered a new publication called Permaculture North America, which I have been very much enjoying. The opening story in the edition I came across is about Bill Mollison, the co-founder of permaculture. Mollison died in September of 2016, and the article was a tribute to his life and work. Mollison has made quite an impact on the world, and this tribute reminded me why I like the man so much. What a revolutionary! Boy, he really rocked the boat. I admittedly don’t know as much about David Holmgren, the other founder of permaculture, but I wonder if the reason that Mollison became so much more well known is because he is such a rabble-rouser.
“[H]e was committed to disrupting the status quo in its misguided and unfeeling management,” the article states. “He was eloquent about the need for peaceful warriors, as he called them, to challenge the stupidity of ill-governance on a global scale,” the article continues.
Permaculture was only invented because of the stupidity of human systems. Industrial scale exploitation of global resources is incredibly irresponsible, and permaculture is an attempt to provide alternative ways of doing things so that such stupidity won’t be necessary for us to all live decent lives.
Permaculture was the system Mollison and Holmgren created as an alternative to the standard system of conquering and extorting nature for wealth and power. Using a diverse amalgamation of tools and methods from different fields of science, indigenous practices, folk wisdom, and intuition, permaculture helps us to produce what we need to live without destroying the ecosystems from which our sustenance is derived.
“Bill’s brilliance was in gathering together the ecological insights, principles, strategies, and techniques that could be applied to create the world we do want rather than fighting against the world we reject.” David Holmgren
This article in Permaculture North America is really worth a read. The whole issue is good reading, actually. The tribute to Mollison is a great reminder of how far permaculture has come. It concludes with numerous quotations from Mollison, a few of which I’ll share:
“The greatest change we can make is from consumption to production, even if only on a small scale, in our own gardens. If only 10% of us do this, there is enough for everyone. Hence the futility of revolutionaries who have no gardens, who depend on the very system they attack, who produce words and bullets, not food and shelter.”
“I teach self-reliance, the world’s most subversive practice. I teach people how to grow their own food, which is shockingly subversive.”
“The tragic reality is that very few sustainable systems are designed or applied by those who hold power, and the reason for this is obvious and simple: to let people arrange their own food, energy and shelter is to lose economic and political control over them. We should cease to look to power structures, hierarchical systems, or governments to help us, and devise ways to help ourselves.”
Mollison also provides a continued explanation of permaculture, a word that seems to have no single, set definition.
“Permaculture is the conscious design and maintenance of agriculturally productive ecosystems which have diversity, stability, and resilience of natural ecosystems. It is the harmonious integration of landscape and people providing their food, energy, shelter, and other material and non-material needs in a sustainable way. Without permanent agriculture there is no possibility of a stable social order.”
“Permaculture is a philosophy of working with, rather than against nature; of protracted and thoughtful observationrather protracted and thoughtless labor; and of looking at plants and in animals in all their functions, rather than treating any area as a single product system.”
Mollison has left this world, but the legacy he leaves behind continues to cover the earth with greenery, fruits, and flowers. A worldwide movement towards more responsible agriculture and more localized, self-reliant communities is well underway, thanks in large part to the tireless effortsBill Mollison, who taught hundreds of thousands of students over the course of four decades. The result has been the emergence of thousands of permaculture projects in over 120 countries and a major shift in the awareness of the general population. We still have a long way to go, but momentum has been building, and the world has never been as ready for a message of hope and restoration as it is now.
So let the revolution continue! Don't be an armchair peace warrior; get out into your garden, and get active in your communities! Let's clean this place up and create enough abundance so that we don't have to work so dang hard all the time, what say?