Saturday, October 04, 2014

Permaculture: The Dynamic Clock

So, I’ve taken on helping to plan next winter’s Permaculture Design Course, which has made me so busy that I haven’t had much time for blogging. But, here I am, hoping that a new post will kick my rear into gear so I can share some of my summer accomplishments with you.

I feel like I talk about permaculture a lot on the blog. The course has kind of taken over my life, which I have mixed feelings about. Frankly, I didn’t anticipate having to do so much advertising, which I hate. But I loved the course last year and I’d really like to see another one happen this year, so you do what you have to.

Over the past year, I kind of realized why I like permaculture so much: it really teaches you to look at your world as a whole, not just individual parts. Our environment is basically a constant feedback loop, and each piece interacts with others in ways we don’t necessarily see. It’s like the workings of a clock, only more dynamic, because the way an element interacts with others may actually change the way it behaves.

From the standpoint of a meteorologist, it’s microclimatology at its best. Each leaf of a tree reflects some light, absorbs some light, absorbs some gases and emits others. Standing under a tree is a cooler, more humid environment than in a sunny spot, and a forest will be cooler than a field. And then there’s the biological aspect – the shady cool forest attracts other plants and animals than you would see in the meadow.

From the standpoint of a project manager, permaculture embodies the idea of the perfect system. All waste is used, output is maximized, and effort is minimized. And we can actually design the system to work that way. It’s not just luck, it’s planning, observation, and thought, with creative design thrown in.

Finally, from the standpoint of a human being, permaculture integrates human interaction into the environment in a positive way. It shows us how to pull the pieces together so that we’re working within the system, not just acting like we’re running a simulation or viewing from a remote planet.  

I’ve read the books and the websites, but last year I felt like I was missing the pieces to put it all together. And that’s what the design certificate provided. I was so proud of the final project my group pulled together. Even more importantly, I’ve met some great friends who I can rely on for advice and support as I try new things. Permaculture is like a well of knowledge that I’ve just taken a sip from, and I can see the rest of the water still shimmering down below. But at least now I have a bucket to go back for more.

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