Permaculture

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Last time, I introduced you to Permaculture. I wrote about its three ethics:

• Care of the earth, which means actively nurturing the natural systems that support life on earth.

• Care of people, which means actively meeting the needs of all people in a socially just way, so that we can all have a good quality of life without damaging the earth.

• Fair share or return the surplus, which means accepting limits to growth and to our personal consumption, taking only what we need, and accepting equality for everyone so that all get a fair share.

This week I would like to continue this topic. Here are some examples of the principles applied to a community.

• Use small and slow solutions.

Start with small and slow changes, and observe the results. Small changes can have great impact, and it is better to learn from small mistakes. Small and slow systems in a community are also easier to maintain, use local resources, and produce more sustainable outcomes.

• Every vital function is taken care of by multiple elements.

For every vital function in a community, find multiple sources to satisfy the needs. This builds in resilience. Food, for example, should come from many producers so that if one source fails for whatever reason, other sources can still provide for the needs of the community.

• Produce no waste.

Nothing is considered waste. In nature, nothing is "pollution" or "garbage." All waste from one system becomes an input for another system. In a permaculture community, everything would be reused or recycled. Waste is considered a resource to be used, not refuse to be buried. For example, municipal compost can return fertility to backyard gardens.

• Integrate rather than segregate.

Many beneficial relationships between the various parts ensure the stability and resilience of the community. Place stores, schools, jobs and health clinics near to where people live. Social connections create networks of support.

• Use and value renewable resources and connections.

Make use of biological services offered by nature (worms to amend soil, bacteria and fungi to clean up toxic spills) and use resources that are renewable and abundant. This will ensure that the ecosystems within which a community lives will remain healthy.

• Evolution and succession.

Systems evolve with time, and one thing will be succeeded by another. Decisions made by a community that has the future in mind, and that understands how it will change, will be much more likely to build resilience.

• Creatively use and respond to change.

Change is inevitable. We can see solutions in the problems, and outputs are only limited by the creativity and imagination of the designer. A community can come together to solve its problems in a way that creates a better future.

These principles have been adapted from Permaculture: A Designer's Manual and Introduction to Permaculture by Bill Mollison; and Permaculture: Principles and Pathways Beyond Sustainability by David Holmgren.

I hope this article gives you an interest in checking out more information about Permaculture.

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