Bob Ewing – Permaculture is a nature-inspired, holistic design methodology that can be used to grow food, create communities and build businesses.
My personal experience has encompassed all three with creating communities and building businesses being combined and leading the work, both paid and volunteer, I do.
We live in false and troubled time, this reality has been brought into the light by the Occupy Movement and we must keep that light shining as it can guide our way. One of the results of Occupying was the awakening of hope.
Hope, not the buying of a lottery ticket with the goal of increasing your income type of false hope, but real hope that is rooted inaction, is what we need to encourage today.
I like the definition of hope put forward by Rebecca Solinit:”Hope just means that another world might be possible, not promised, not guaranted. Hope calls for action: action is impossible without hope.”
Permaculture design is action, considered action that can change how we see the world around us and how we related to all the elements that bring that world into being.
My study and work using permaculture ethics and principals shows that if we want economic regeneration, and we do want and indeed, need this, then the place to begin is with environmental regeneration.
Urban agriculture, for example, could create enterprises that would revitalize low-income communities. Brownfields and other vacant lands that are suitable for urban agriculture are often located in low income areas. These sites can be reclaimed by the community businesses and become attractive, productive enterprises rather than empty eyesores.
Brownfields are properties, often, industrial or commercial areas that have been abandoned because of perceived environmental contamination. Some examples include abandoned factories or manufacturing plants. Gas stations that are no longer in business are one example.
On-the-job-training, such as adult literacy projects, could be incorporated an urban agriculture enterprise which is located in a low-income community. This provides fresh food, education and work for the community members.
If the urban agricultural project is designed using permaculture techniques in will help reduce the stresses because they can contribute to the strengthening of a community’s resilience.
Resilience is the ability of an ecosystem, in this case, urban environments, to withstand extreme stress and to survive periods of catastrophic occurrences.
Resilience is often used to refer to the ability to survive natural disaster such as floods and hurricanes and permaculture design can create systems that will do this.
However, resilience is also vital when it comes to getting through the human made disaster of a false or lop-sided economy. For example, credit unions, cooperatively owned and operated are a viable alternative to banks. Workers cooperatives are a democratic business structure that empowers the worker-owners.
Permaculture design is praxis or theory in action and as such it grows and nurtures hope, hope that will generate action, action that will bring about, a just and sustainable society where no one will live in fear.