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Re: Privacy, Peace and Permaculture Promotion
April Sampson-Kelly wrote:
> Is there anyone else who suffers from our dilema?
> We have a demonstration site that we are developing and
> share many of the ups and downs with our students - Most
> live far away and unfortunately for them haven't seen the site
> - it is not complete and most will be for ever evolving
> The dilema is that people are so enthused by our work
> they visit us regularly - I feel compelled to give them a tour and
> chat and I just can't get anything done.
> I'm getting to the point where I am afraid to go into the garden
> in case some one sees me, and wants to talk permaculture!!
> I like to be generous - that's why I like permaculture
> I like the sharing side of this way of life.
> I thought of running an open day but I don't feel ready - and anyway
> that might just attract MORE sightseers on the off days.
> I realise there is a shortage of permaculture sites - but permaculture
> isn't a collective business - or some kind of religion - for me
> it is about modifying our behaviour until is seems a normal way of life.
> And being a spectacle isn't part of normal for me.
> Any suggestions - any one else in the same boat?
This is a dilemma faced by other people who operate their residences
as demonstration sites.
It arises because people are curious to see something new - like
permaculture in action - because they want to implement things they
might see and simply to check it out in case it may prove useful in
There are many reasons why people visit, including simple curiousity
and, significantly, the seeking of inspiration in uninspiring times.
People, I believe, want to see signs of hope and that, at basics, is
what April is offering (whether she knows it or not).
There are solutions - April can apply some forms of control. The
problem is that the controls which have been applied elsewhere are
those April finds distasteful - that is, establishing open days when
people know they can visit the site.
Here's a couple examples of where it is being done.
In northern NSW, Robyn Francis operates Djanbung Gardens, a
permaculture education and demonsration centre.
Her solution to April's problem has been to open her site one
afternoon on a weekend day and one other day to casual visitors. Other
times by prior arrangement.
It seems to work. Robyn retains her sanity, some degree of privacy and
is only a spectacle at times of her own choosing. On open days, Robyn
assumes her role as teacher, promoting what she loves and what is her
livelihood - permaculture.
In Sydney, Dr Ted Trainer, the noted limits-to-growth educator and
author, opens his home site at Pigface Point to groups by way of prior
Individuals who wish to visit are tagged onto a visiting group on
This ensures some measure of privacy for a public person while giving
access to a valuable demonatration resource.
There is no opportunity for casual visitation at Pigface Point.
When we were compiling the Australian City Farms, Community Gardens
and Enterprise Centres Network inventory, we faced the issue of access
to sites versus privacy rights of demonstration site residents.
Put to the residents, a few opted for only their telephone numbers
being listed. This ensured that visitors had to arrange visits and
could not call in casually.
Of course, there will always be a small number of curious casual
visitors no matter what is done to contain the situation. Then it's up
to you what you do.
May I suggest a sign - courteously written - on the front fence
advising that visits are welcome on open days and by appointment or
whatever arrangements are decided upon. Maybe a descriptive leaflet in
a box to maintain the curiousity of casual visitors.
It's an irony that people who get off their backsides and actually do
something such as establish a demonstration site become, often
inadvertently, the focus of attention. Attention is part of the
territory of leadership in whatever field.
The other suggestion is that April could offer learning opportunities
for people who want to come along and actually get their hands dirty
learning permaculture the practical way.
These could be of a workshop structure with the fee paid in work or,
perhaps, a small charge could be made. There has to be value for
money, which I'm sure April could provide.
Maybe there could be an 'apprentice' scheme where people who wished to
learn and to support the site could agree to volunteer a certain
amount of work for learning - maybethey could receive a cheap or free
permaculture course after a certain period of voluntary work and
Perhaps Local Exchange and Trading Systems would be the appropriate
vehicle for this type of transaction.
Then there's WWOOFING - Willing Workers On Organic Farms - which
provides experiential opportunities which facilitate learning and
assistance for farm owners.
It would be interesting is people wrote about their experiences of
this situation. Then we can all learn from then.
PERMACULTURE EXTENSION SERVICES
Russ Grayson and Fiona Campbell
PO Box 446, Kogarah NSW 2217 AUSTRALIA
Phone 02-9588 6931 (IDD-61+2+9588 6931)
Fax 02 330 2611 (Mark fax: ATTN: RUSS GRAYSON - APACE)
Permaculture education, publishing, design.
NSW co-ordinator, Australian City Farms and Gardens Network.