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Re: Permaculture: old and new paradigms
Like Scott, I wince when I hear of old versus new paradigms (the introducer
of the word "paradigm," Thomas Kuhn, must be whirling in his grave). There
are many uses for both linear and non-linear thinking, for hierarchy and
"flat' organization, and so forth. We need both, applied at the appropriate
scale and time. So I'll try and add something helpful here. Permaculture
has its feet in both camps, straddling the edge (a good place to be)
between these two viewpoints.
The PDC mirrors this, because it has evolved far from Mollison's original
(linear?) "stand in front of a class and talk for 72 hours" format
(something that ony someone as charismatic as Bill can get away with). Many
PDCs now focus on learning as opposed to teaching. There's lots of data
showing that most people learn poorly by listening passively to an
instructor. Some PDC's now reflect this, with often less than 1/3 the time
as lectures, and the rest in cooperative learning games, hands-on work,
participant-led instruction, community-building exercises, kinesthetic
learning, and a host of other techniques. The whole point of the PDC,
mentioned in many, many posts so far, is to inspire by drawing the
participants into a new community and a more holistic, balanced way of
thinking. I think the PDC continues to evolve into a better and better
format for doing just that. It can't do everything, but it's supposed to be
just the beginning.
The point of this is that I don't think there's much to be gained in
complaining about or radically changing the PDC. It seems to be evolving
very well. I'd say the problems lie elsewhere. I'm frustrated here because
I feel like I'm not operating from the same set of experiences as those
advocating changes; my experiences with the PDC, transmission of knowledge
in Pc, teachers, and most course participants all indicate an extremely
healthy and responsive system. Many of the complaints seem to be describing
a world different from what I see ("are Pc teachers really living Pc
principles?" or "the PDC is old paradigm" etc.).
To me, Pc is not growing fast because in our enthusiasm to build a new
world we have ignored the old one, yet are asking it to change for us.
There's a parallel with the environmental movement: it was a fringe group
of scraggly hippies until it learned how to deal with the mainstream by
writing grants, publishing research, lobbying, etc. On one hand, it got
co-opted by "the system," and some will never forgive the Sierra Club or
NRDC for that. But on the other hand, environmental protection and
awareness are now part of daily life. We need more Pc projects in schools,
in public buildings and parks, at ag extension colleges, with foundations,
in government agencies and corporations. Who wants to take that on? Until
we accept the legitimacy of the non-sustainable 99%, and learn to work with
it (maybe even wear a suit!), even at the cost of the dilution of our
message, we will continue to be a marginal movement.
Hey Marsha: I really appreciate your provocative questions--thanks.
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