Dear old Bill would ferociously chew my ear about Spirituality and Permaculture, if he didn’t simply hang me by the balls and be done with me. Silly old sausage. He alluded to it often enough in the Manual, about the integration between all elements and the role people have and potentially could have, in nurturing nature while nurturing themselves. As if Nature and People are somehow disconnected. I believe this is the fundamental problem; the separation that exists between ‘Us’ and ‘It’, implicit even in declarations such as “I love Nature”.
One evening I was relaxing on my verandah in the sub-tropical rainforest of northern New South Wales , Australia. The night was peerless: balmy mild temperature; no wind; the soft sounds of the birds and animals going about their nocturnal rituals; not a cloud in a moonlit starry sky. Perfect. I was overwhelmed by it, thoughtlessly swept up in the moment. I recognized I was a part of that moment, that perfection, but with a very particular role or function, as with every individual part of Nature. One of my specific characteristics was the power to nurture, or destroy. What an awesome choice, a huge responsibility. My relationship with the natural world of which I am a part, had changed forever.
So I think that ‘spirituality’ and Permaculture are one and the same thing, if Permaculture is truly understood and applied. We live in very changing times of course, and must move with those changes. What was considered hippie dreamtime stuff when we first dived into living with the land and Permaculture, has now mercifully become almost mainstream. There are courses and workshops offering all sorts of wonderful potentials for doing-it-yourself, taking control of our lives by increments, spreading the good words in a world of negativity.
One aspect that concerns me in the teaching of Permaculture in some places, has been the glossing superficially over the very fundamental basics so that maximum time can be reserved for ‘doing practical things’. Adapting to demand is very important, and no less so with Permaculture, but I strongly believe that giving time to a very deep understanding of its foundations are essential.
To call a course having done 30 hours or so of theoretical with another 40 or 50 hours of practical themes, for me simply does not adequately fulfil the criteria for a Permaculture Design Course certificate, which should cover at least comprehensibly a huge range of themes which amount to total design. In this way a certificate holder should be able to clearly observe a diversity of specific situations and apply the understanding to each unique situation.
Permaculture is a design framework, not a junket of great things to do, even when they are good