The whole "sustainable" blur is an oxymoron for what, in minute
possibilities, may otherwise be named as regenerative within a small corner
of actuality. In other words, "sustainable" is about as viable as that
sentence was clear.
In terms of human life cycles, bamboo regenerates faster than trees (and then
there is always pawlonia to mess up that assertion). William Irwin Thompson
did a piece years ago about living within the timespace of fruitflies. A
fruitfly has no concept of winter, for example. We have no concept of rock
Culturally, white bread is better than whole wheat (ask Holsom and
Wonderbread if you are momentarily confused on the issue); trees are better
than bamboo, etc.
Ya gotta be taught to hate. Ya gotta be taught to prefer the transported, the
manufactured, the frivolous. So maybe, just maybe, we can teach permaculture
values to a few and then a few more. But, then again, who sees a tree
anymore? Who sees a chicken other than in package of seven legs or seven
In Seven Generations, that few may manage to be more than a minute minority.
Who can imagine seven generations from now?
Harvard Business School did a whole issue of their slickpaper, definitely
unrecycled anything, sustained by money only, alumni magazine about
"sustainable" this and that. I read that corporations and governments and
educational institutions and ngo's are all interested is sustaining
themselves without gadflies nipping impotently at their flanks. Must have
something to do with survival instincts a la Maslow.
Wandering around recently among the "green revolutionized" rice fields of the
island of Panay, the uniform sickly bright green shouting "Petrochemicals
Used Here!!" is coupled with two or more signs per field advertising the
hybrid seed used, the fertilizers and pesticides sprayed thereon.
If permaculture is anything, and I believe fervently that it is, monocropping
is as lethal as monoculture. Hail to diversity, guilds, companions! Jai
circles and hexagons! Up with chaos!
One point which may be elusive in the fertile permaculture debating sessions
is recognition that almost every inch of earth's surface has been worked over
to some degree by humankind. Permaculture involves interference with what was
there before and what may come afterward. There is no surviving wilderness,
if by wilderness is meant untouched or unaffected by humankind. There are
only degrees to which humankind has touched someplace. There are only
management alternatives. One of which is to do nothing. There is no time to
rush as someone says by way of signature.
Permaculture, for me, has a lot to do with active, yet benign management, but
still management, of our plots as though they may be some aspect of the whole
which we, acting in our god roles, may reconstruct fruitfully. Naturally, we
are defining "fruitfully". Recognizing, of course, that if we were all to
disappear instantly, left alone the earth would adopt a wholly different plan
than any we could devise. In a few millions years, earth might again define
And I like Steve's efforts to codify permaculture whether or not I agree with
everything. His effort serves the positive effect of getting ever more ideas
One aspect of Mollison I imagine beneficial is his relative openness to
cross-fertilization of ideas and expansions of methodology.
I have learned, however, that it is usually healthier to stay as far as
possible from the center of any "movement" least my speculations confront