2. The Basics

direct mini-link to this page: http://bit.ly/PermaBasics


Full recording available to

students of the Academy

What are the Basis of Permaculture Design?

Here we explore the Design Ethics, Directives & Principles  & we place them in the wider context of Permaculture. 

Permaculture Ethics, Directives & Principles

Permaculture does not follow recipes, but is based on principles or guidelines that we take into account when designing.

These principles seek to guide, inspire and help us create sustainable systems both physically and socially.

It is clear that every place, every situation, culture, context, climate, etc. ..  is different and therefore the applications of these principles will depend heavily on local resources and human resources we have.

Principles can be classified into three types: attitude, ecological  and design
Principles tree we create during the Integral Permaculture courses

See Principles page

The Ethics

We take quite seriously the internationally accepted Permaculture Certificate guideline to base the course on The Designer's Manual, and the Ethics are clearly stated there as:



& Future-Care*

*(originally "Setting Limits to Population & Consumption", which some have abbreviated to "Fair Shares" but we think Starhawk's "FutureCare" keeps to the original meaning more accurately - without the long-windedness of the original - by focusing us in the right direction) 

These ethics were not invented, but summarized from a study (by Bill Mollison) of the stated values & ethics of sustainable populations.

However, the third ethic was later changed to "Fair Shares" by many permaculture teachers as Setting Limits is clearly a much more uncomfortable concept to accept, & very especially for westerners.   Of course we also should share resources fairly, but it seems obvious that greed comes precisely from a distorted view of 'fair', and we tend (as humans) to forget other species.  Reducing consumption is a very clear direction for humans to take, however (many native cultures have some equivalent like "think of the next 7 generations, in everything we do" but westerners tend to think in much reduced time-horizons) and ethics exist to help us keep our direction & focus on directions we don't tend to follow.

We value integrity & consider it very important for designers especially to face squarely that reducing our consumption (& human population generally) is a key change we need to make in caring for the future generations of all species.

This video explains why.

Ethics are required when there is something we find DIFFICULT to do or remember, and we decide to uphold them when we want to be better people, to hold in check some destructive learned patterns.    & possibly THE most destructive learned pattern for people in the Destructo-Culture is that we have the right to consume anything & everything we want, that think will make us happy.

It is important that we have ethics that challenge us, and that they don't become just platitudes.

The Directives

The directives of self-responsibility and cooperation are linked by a rainbow of Covey's 7 Habits  (of "Highly Effective People"  a very permacultural work) > see Class 7.

Everything starts but by the seed (circled below-center) that represents the Ethics of permaculture: Earthcare, People care and Place Limits on Population and Consumption. 
From this seed comes the main root, which is OBSERVE, perhaps the most basic of all, also a principle of design.

The Roots represent the Attitude Principles: Work with nature, the harvest is limited only by Imagination, everything affects everything, observe, observe, observe, Minimum Effort x Maximum effect (MiniMax), Start very small, go only where you are invited, The Problem is the Solution and ... leave room for the Gap (harvest unpredictable, do not try to cover everything, be amazed, space x all that we do not know ... etc.)

Then there Observing Techniques and Strategies, Design and Evaluation we use, together with more tools to help us out of the linear form of thinking that we currently use (which has caused many of the problems) and learning in a more holistic and systemic way  to create truly sustainable systems.

Holmgren's Principles

David Holmgren's site PermaCulturePrinciples.com goes into
some depth about one version of the principles - and this video below 

An introduction to permaculture design principles featuring a stunning, abundant food forest designed by Erik Ohlsen of Permaculture Artisans permacultureartisans.com. Erik teaches with Earth Activist Training earthactivisttraining.org. Video by Starhawk