Permaculture Ethics: Care for the Earth, Care for the People and careful consideration of the needs of others...
The 4 P's of Permaculture
Here's another layer of introduction, to help you wrap your mind around how permaculture can be understood through a four-part approach, and to explain how the GOBRADIME design process can connect to the core ideas behind the permaculture principles.
(note: I made this video for the public, so pardon the introduction, if we're already acquainted!)
Permaculture Principles and related lists for ecological designers and Earth activists: a literary chronology
Many of the principles you will read in the permaculture milieu will sound familiar. Some are proverbs that go back as far as anyone can remember--truths of life that indigenous people used and shared. Others are based on newer explorations of ecology, psychology, and regenerative agriculture, and are representations of a more millennial thought process; one that we will need to continue to cultivate if we are to survive as a species.
As you read, each principle, consider it not in terms of whether you agree with or approve of what it says, but more so: imagine how each principle might be used to improve the beauty, efficiency, and/or ecological integrity of your home, garden, or community. And while, yes, you are welcome and encouraged to think critically and present debates and opinions, try to remember that you don't know what you don't know, and that nature has more to teach us than we could ever learn in a lifetime.
Rachel Carson, Silent Spring (1962)
The Environmental Ethic:
Charles Birch and John Cobb, The Liberation of Life: From the Cell to the Community (1984)
Six Principles of Natural Systems
Bill Mollison, Permaculture: a Designer’s Manual (1985)
The Prime Directive of Permaculture: the only ethical decision is to take responsibility for our own existence and that of our children’s.
Principle of Cooperation:
cooperation, not competition, is the very basis of future survival and of existing life systems.
The Ethical Basis of Permaculture:
Rules of Use of Natural Resources:
Reduce waste, hence pollution;
Thoroughly replace lost minerals;
Do a careful energy accounting; and
Make a biosocial impact assessment for long term effects on society, and act to buffer or eliminate any negative impacts.
Life Intervention Principle:
In chaos lies unparalleled opportunity for imposing creative order.
Law of Return:
Whatever we take, we must return, or Nature demands a return for every gift received, or The user must pay.
Directive of Return:
Every object must responsibly provide for its replacement. Society must, as a conditions of use, replace an equal or greater resource than that used.
A Policy of Responsibility (to relinquish power):
The role of beneficial authority is to return function and responsibility to life and to people; if successful, no further authority is needed. The role of successful design is to create a self-managed system.
Categories of Resources:
Those which increase by modest use.Those unaffected by use.Those which disappear or degrade if not used.Those reduced by use.Those which pollute or destroy other resources if used.
Policy of Resource Management:
A responsible human society bans the use of resources which permanently reduce yields of sustainable resources, e.g. pollutants, persistent poisons, radioactives, large areas of concrete and highways, sewers from city to sea.
Principle of Disorder:
Order and harmony produce energy for other uses. Disorder consumes energy to no useful end. Neatness, tidiness, uniformity, and straightness signify an energy-maintained disorder in natural systems.
Law of Entropy (Asimov):
The total energy of the universe is constant and the total entropy is increasing.
The Basic Law of Thermodynamics (Watt):
Energy can be transferred from one form to another, but it cannot disappear, or be destroyed, or created. No energy conversion system is ever completely efficient.
Principle of Cyclic Opportunity:
Every cyclic event increases the opportunity for yield. To increase cycling is to increase yield. Cycles in nature are diversion routes away from entropic ends-life itself cycles nutrients-giving opportunities for yield, and thus opportunities for species to occupy time niches.
Types of Niches:
Principle of Stress and Harmony:
Stress may be defined as either prevention of natural function, or of forced function; and (conversely) harmony as the permission of chosen and natural functions and the supply of essential needs.
Principle of Stability:
It is not the number of diverse things in a design that leads to stability, it is the number of beneficial connections between these components.
Set of Ethics on Natural Systems:
Information as a Resource:
Information is the critical potential resource. It becomes a resource only when obtained and acted upon.
Practical Design Considerations:
The systems we construct should last as long as possible, and take least maintenance.These systems, fueled by the sun, should produce not only their own needs, but the needs of the people creating or controlling them. Thus, they are sustainable, as they sustain both themselves and those who construct them.
We can use energy to construct these systems, providing that in their lifetime, they store or conserve more energy than we use to construct them or to maintain them.
Definition of System Yield:
System yield is the sum total of surplus energy produced by, stored, conserved, reused, or converted by the design. Energy is in surplus once the system itself has available all its needs for growth, reproduction, and maintenance.
The Role of Life in Yield:
Living things, including people, are the only effective intervening systems to capture resources on this planet, and to produce a yield. Thus, it is the sum and capacity of life forms which decide total system yield and surplus.
Limits to Yield:
Yield is not a fixed sum in any design system. It is the measure of the comprehension, understanding, and ability of the designers and managers of that design.
Undistributed Surplus is Pollution:
Any system or organism can accept only that quantity of a resource which can be used productively. Any resource input beyond that point throws the system or organism into disorder; oversupply of a resource is a form of chronic pollution.
Bill Mollison and Remy Slay, Introduction to Permaculture (1991)
Principles of Permaculture
Robyn Francis, Permaculture Design Course Handbook (1991)
Rosemary Morrow, Earth User’s Guide to Permaculture (1993)
Sim Van Der Rym and Stuart Cowen, Ecological Design (1997)
Permaculture Principles flash cards by Rachel Lyn Rumson
Toby Hemenway, Gaia’s Garden, (2000)
Core Principles for Ecological Design
Principles Based on Attitudes
David Holmgren, Permaculture Principles and Pathways Beyond Sustainability (2002)
Heather Jo Flores, Food Not Lawns: How to Turn Your Yard into a Garden and Your Neighborhood into a Community (2006)
Principles Treasure Hunt
Relevant Links and Resources
Just a couple of things this week (we want you to be sure to absorb everything in the course thus far before continuing on.)
Looby Macnamara is one of our faculty members, and is the author of several excellent books, including People and Permaculture and 7 Ways of Thinking Differently. Her blog is full of practical and personal perspectives on a life lived fully immersed in the permaculture journey.
This short treatise on small and slow solutions is a great entry point to Looby's writing, and this little video is great too:
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