FW: my view of the conference
From: April Sampson-Kelly[SMTP:email@example.com]
Sent: Sunday, 20 October 1996 11:20
To: 'Sal Schettino'
Subject: my view of the conference
Hello so much to tell you
and yet again I am torn between teaching perma
on the computer (which is why I sign on in the
mornings supposedly) and actually
attending to jobs in the garden
and/or feeding workers, and then - my favorite escape
talking on the net.
So please exuse if I talk in instalments
I feel that the conference was a success for myself, for
others there and the movement in general. There were
people there of all ages and maturity in permaculture -
novices and those looking for new inspiration.
the conference was a dynamic mix of incredible
people - WOW
I don't think there was a boring person in the room - 500
in all, I managed to converse with about 250 I guess, I
am usually open and friendly but that doesn't always help with
other cultures -some like the opposite to my friendliness and
might think I am slow or subnormal like city people treat country
Also, some people don't favour eye-contact or chatting too
quickly - there has to be respect pauses between comments.
Being female turned out to be a challenge.
There we noticebly more men than women at the conference, well at
least with every topic I chose to attend - I realised that I am into
the manly stuff - soft technology, worms, composting toilets, solar power,
turbine engineering, internet etc, and that I can live with.
But to add to this I forgot that some cultures treat females
as possessing lower intellect and not to ask questions and
this came as a shock.
Anyway - I will get to the view of the conference, just giving you
I little background on my limited perception...
FIRST AND FOREMOST - we realised from the last day at the converegence
that we must ALL promote the permaculture internet news groups more.
In fact we should list them on our home page each one of us, I will ask the mailing
list for help on this.
Day one, Mollison spoke and it soon became apparent to me that
there are friends and foes of this guy and I must admit it, he likes to
shock people so that would be part of package.
He spoke on the last evening at the syposium - attended by graduates in
Permaculture only, about the struggle between GREEN FACISTS
and permaculturatlists. He openly admitted he didn't care about
being politically correct on recommending only certain species for this
area and that, he pointed out that purist greenies
were spending energy removing weeds while the rest of the world is losing
soil at an upstoppable speed.
I must say that although I came from the greening movement, I have come
to realise that he is making sense although I wouldn't call my people eco-facists.
I realise that I don't eat only endemic species and so I need to eat those
weeds called vegetables and fruit.
The highlight of the conference for me was hearing Robyn Tredwell speak.
She spoke of the her attempts to regenerate her station with
endemic species and how that just didn't survive because the land had
been changed over time, the land was no longer supporting native species
so she used the cattle as weeders to remove a native species Accacia tumoorata
(spelling most likely wrong) that dominated an area - my personal
definition of a weed is one that doesn't respect diversity. Then she
used the cattle as seeders, she would feed them on the seeding pastures
and move them on to poo on barren areas. She also gave them oil to speed
up the passage of seed to reduce its digestion in the four stomachs.
She also defended her use of cattle too - she must have had years of
fighting against greenies - she pointed out that the indigenous people of her area
love cattle and it is their way of life now.
She talked more about her success in growing pasture seed and this has become
an income for her in addition to cattle. She does a kind of Fukuoka thing and
harvest the various crops - mixed up on the pasture and used the
different heights so that the harvester only gets the
protruding tall head of seed and leaves the other
species closer to the ground to come up in turn.
she has 100% equity in her huge station/ranch and this has given her
the freedom to make decisions and make mistakes.
She was a wonderful example of observation and reading patterns.
for other people, the highlights of the conference seemed to be Alan
Savoury, but personally I found he has three aspects of his
presentation -which I later was told cost the conference a lot of money -
the three parts were HIM, His PRESENTATION, and HIS THEORY
He came across as very arrogant, talking down at us
(my sensitive Australian viewpoint of course) for instance
"Tell me, who amongst you works against goals??"
only a few of us put up a hand, he repeated the words exactly again and
again in disbelief, seeming to think that we were lying, so I came up
and suggested that we had an language problem so he rephrased the
question "..who works towards goals" and was rewarded by most people
show of hands. But then later he says to George Chan, whom he didn't
know as someone special, "well, e.t.c. is exetera and this means...."
At this point a lot of us were insulted and embarrassed. But Alan
Savoury didn't seem to notice.
He also used the very typical religious tool - of admitting he was
wrong - once and has now seen the light! I grew up Salvation Army
and - well he improve on that bit.!!!
About HIS presentation, it was slick, fancy and full of assertions and
leaps such as
1. all previous declines of civilisation are
directly related to loss of bio-diversity
2. He claimed to have analysed at least 7 other management
systems and found no wholistic thinking in them, he said he
spent " half a day" analysing all of these. And I know
that our family business in Total Quality Management has meant
years of study for the staff, and requires a holistic approach!!
about HIS THOERY
Well the basis of his THEORY, that you have to pay hundreds of
dollars a day to learn is the simple scientific method.
You presume you are wrong before you start acting on a theory.
About my experience with writings and examples of
his ideas up to the conference.
He does have some incredibily refreshing ideas, such as cell
grazing, but I don't believe that it is the answer to all
fragile soils and I don't believe that deserts are degrading
all of the world, in fact many of the Australian deserts are
more diverse in species that rainforests, and this I have seen
on my journey with my own eyes. There were more bugs, more
colours on my windscreen through the desert than through pasture
and grazing lands!!!
I also look at recent history of Australian soils and don't agree
with Alan's assertion that we once had hard-hooved animals
unless you want to go back to the dinosaur period. I do
see that the soil has a beneficial realationship
to its soft footed animals like
Kangaroos and emus and I know that the soil and micro-oraganisms
are seeded and fertilised by small mammals and birds.
OK some major problems have occured by other soft footed critters
- the rabbit.
Basically I am pleased we don't have the water to support
Alans ventures Australia wide ON A MASSIVE SCALE immediately-
cattle need a lot more water than our native species.
we also can't afford cell grazing as this means a lot of
fencing but I wish pasturalists would try it if they intend to graze
hard hooved animals.
I think Australians have had enough experiences of decision
making on a large scale, our country thrives with quiet,
observant and patient people.
I always judge a decision partly on the basis of - how is easy is
it to reverse - this is probably part of our Australian heritage.
Alan had a lot of people wanting to know more and lot of other
people fired up which made some of the next sessions a real
Another memorable session, was one poorly titled Walking the
permculture Talk, which turned out to be a living example, supposedly
of Student centered learning.
the room degenerated into a bun-fight and pacifists like myself were a
I then saw there were a lot of isolated people working in
permaculture, quite formidable and strengthened by their individuals
On the second day, Frank Moran, a lovely white guy
from Zimbabwee, told me of John in Uganda's friend
was killed by police the previous night and
he feared for his wife's safety.
John decided that he had a job to do, talking about Rwanda
and his work with orphanages and so, he stayed to give his
presentation which has so confronting for most people that
Only a small group came to the talk, I had even drummed supporters and still
there were 30 people in the room but Bill Mollison was there and I
truly grateful, Mollison sat and listened quietly, giving support and
offering help. The story from Rwanda was horrific and I had to fight
hard not to loose it and start bulbbering as I knew this would
upset John as he was trying to present.
John needs seed and opens the Orphanage and project to
backpackers to generate extra income. There was an article
about him and his project in PIJ this year.
My presentation on Money and People
went better than I had hoped, I will include the
notes on the web page.
The conference proceedings will be available on the
web I hope, Peter Austin is doing this.
George Chans presentation was great, although a lot of statistics,
he showed that his group were growing fish and using the
excess nitrogen to grow vegetables and cut flowers, he
mentioned his concern that sending stuff off to market
means that you are losing minerals from the system.
And this is a real problem for farmers in permaculture it seems
to me -
that is why villages are better than farms, the system is closed
and no input are required to meet deficiencies due to export.
I really liked his presentation because it supported my
thoughts that we should avoid debt and build by small
successes - thus only allowing small debts at any one
time to fund projects and ideas.
Ecovillages had a long hard session, they started as we were
trying to eat our dinner and keep on til late. On one
hand they were showing how great life is in a so called
(this I find perplexing - i mean who lives unintentionally?)
but I do understand their meaning.
and on the other hand they started asking us for money!!!
and yet they had shown that one village - city farms USA
was incrediblly rich.
I'd like some of their money to stay in my village - do you
think that will qualify??
don't think I'm all that rude, its just that I love my village
and encourage village living in all my work but never ask
for money after seeing how much other nations really
need it. We don't need money for more internet play or more
publications when others need it for simple
harvesting tools, medicines and basic education!
Well that a bit from me
From: Sal Schettino[SMTP:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Wednesday, 16 October 1996 1:16
To: April Sampson-Kelly
April so good to hear from you and of your travels. Tell me all about
it.Tell me allllll about it. April are you going to write up that
conference on your homepage. I wish we could get some of the speakers to
publisher on the web. People (me included )are so hungry! not for bread
but for understanding. I read the .Sixth International Permaculture
Conference & Convergence in Perth, program and have been watching what I
can of the conference on the web with my mouth watering for more
information. If I can do anything to help let me know. What else did you
learn at the conference while it is fresh in your mind eye. Wish I could
see your notes. What conferences did you attend . What were the workshops
like. TELL ME MORE. MORE
PS No I have no old apples but would sure like to find a good tasting old
low chill apple myself. I have one called Anna that is low chill but I
think it is new out of Israel.