This is week 38 of our yearlong #freepermaculture course
“Permaculture is the art of designing beneficial relationships.”
Those other two ethics…
Most of the text in this week’s class was written by Marit Parker.
Many people come to permaculture to learn more about growing food. The Earth Care ethic resonates easily with many of us, and applying a permaculture approach can be really helpful in the garden. In this course, however, you have already seen that permaculture means much more than that, and in fact, is applicable anywhere and everywhere.
All three of the permaculture ethics are equally important and inextricably interlinked. This means that if you want to address environmental issues, you need to look at the social issues involved, and you will need to understand the connections between them.
Some of you may be asking “Why?” Surely saving polar bears/stopping climate change/growing our own food is about saving the earth? Why do people matter when it’s people that have made a mess of the world? Well, that’s exactly why. We’re the ones causing the damage, and we need to get at why it’s so hard for us to change, even when we KNOW what we’re doing is unsustainable. And a good design makes changing so much easier.
Here’s Lucie Bardos explaining what Social Permaculture is:
This article by Lisa DePiano does a great job of diving a bit deeper into this topic and presenting some of the principles through a social lens, and also in the video below:
Climate change and Social Permaculture
At the Paris climate talks, a major part of the discussion was where to set the limit. Initially the plan was to limit the global rise in temperature to 2 degrees. This was eventually reduced to 1.5 degrees.
But even this leaves many people vulnerable. And the plan assumes that the wealthiest, most impactful people will make sacrifices to help the billions of poor people who suffer from those impacts. It’s a dubious plan, at best.
Indigenous campaigners and groups like the UK’s Wretched of the Earth point out that those most impacted by climate change are black and brown communities in the global South, with women often experiencing worse impacts than men.
Yet it is the industrialisation of the West that is largely responsible for altering and damaging the planet-wide systems.How does this affect how you think about climate change?How can a permaculture approach help?
And this article posits that, to solve the climate crisis, the only winning strategy will be love.
Social permaculture is all about seeing things from different perspectives. Challenge yourself to listen to and consider the experiences of different people. Here are some ideas:
- Ask a friend or neighbour with a disability if they would be willing to talk to you about accessibility and the barriers they face. Practice active listening, i.e. listen to them without saying anything yourself! If you have a disability yourself, talk to someone with a different disability from your own, e.g. if you have mobility difficulties, talk to someone with a sensory impairment or a learning disability.
- Go to a talk by a person from a group or about an issue you have not heard of or not heard their side of, e.g. a talk by a refugee, a war veterans meeting, or an event run by people with learning disabilities.
- Visit somewhere you have never been before: A mosque, an old people’s home, a homeless shelter, a community centre for people from a minority or indigenous culture. Listen to their stories.
- Join the Social Permaculture Think Tank and contribute your ideas and experiences.
Relevant Links and Resources
- Here’s an evolving collection of articles about decolonization, through a permaculture lens.
- Resources for Decolonizing Permaculture. The goals of this collection include normalizing social justice and dismantling oppression as intrinsic aspects of an authentic permaculture practice.
- AORTA: Anti-Oppression Resource and Training Alliance is a small, worker-owned co-op who, as well as organising training and workshops, have created a variety of toolkits, handouts, guides and other anti-oppression resources.
- The Access Chain: An Inclusive Design Tool by The Sensory Trust. A useful step-by-step way of assessing and improving accessibility for people with disabilities.
- Kimberle Crenshaw describes how she realised there was a problem which she named “intersectionality.”
- Here are Five Indigenous Youth Activists to start following.
- This cartoon shows a different perspective on disability .
The Black Permaculture Network is a network of Afro-indigenous people who have come together through the practices of permaculture, agroecology, natural living and care of the earth. Here is one of their founders, Pandora Thomas, discussing social permaculture.
How social permaculture helped a diverse community survive for 25+ years:
Inclusion, belonging, and integrating people with disabilities: