Applying the principles of permaculture of social communities

Yesterday I read an interesting article by the Open Permaculture School on how the principles of permaculture can be applied to other areas of our lives, such as in human communities and social groups. The basis of permaculture design is that action within or upon a system should benefit the system as a whole. If we look at social communities as a system, it’s easy to see how the same principles applied to permaculture can be applied to different areas of our society as well. Wouldn’t it be good if we shape our communities, economics and political systems such that everyone is part of the system and every action upon said system should benefit everyone?

The article (link at the bottom of this post) listed seven principles that we can learn from:

Embrace diversity
A diversity of crops, microclimates, animals, etc. is encouraged on any permaculture plot. This is because they all bring different things to the table, or soil so to speak. This reminds me of the following image:


Respond creatively to change
Do not resist change. Instead, see it as a possibility for improvement.

Devolve control
Create a self-managed system by getting every member involved and fostering a sense of belonging with the power to influence.

With diversity in a system, it is only natural that different members have different skills and strengths. The idea is to harness these different strengths to benefit the community as a whole. It’s like the Three Sisters concept of planting three crops together (e.g. beans, corn and pumpkin). Corn provides a structure for the beans to climb, the beans fix nitrogen into the soil and the pumpkin is a cover crop that protects the soil from the sun, retains moisture in the soil and prevents weeds from growing.

Take it slow
Baby steps. Don’t expect drastic changes instantly.

Uses edges (?)
Stop compartmentalising! Encourage interaction so that ideas can flow and blend.

Self regulate
Constant observation is important, because there are many external factors that may affect the system. Keep our eyes and ears open to feedback and be ready to act upon them.

You can read the full article here.

Food garden

I have been volunteering with a local urban farming group and I’ve worked on two rooftop gardens so far. It’s a steep learning curve, but I’m having a fantastic time. It’s great to be working with people who also dream of having their own farms and don’t need any explanations when it comes to words like WWOOFing, permaculture, compost and mulch. They’re a lovely bunch of people to work with and it’s so fulfilling to see our final products. I’ve gained a new tan (again) and hopefully a bit more muscles.

Green Up Film Festival (live now!)

I blogged about the Green Up Film Festival last month. Just so you know, the 10 films have been chosen and you can stream them online for free now. The 10 films are:

  • New York, the Green Revolution
  • Secret of the Fields
  • LoveMEATender
  • Global Waste
  • E-wasteland
  • Chemerica!
  • The Well
  • Nôgô, insalubrity
  • Together
  • Climatic Chaos in the South


‘The ocean is broken’

“They were good, big fish, of all kinds. Some were fresh, but others had obviously been in the sun for a while.

“We told them there was no way we could possibly use all those fish. There were just two of us, with no real place to store or keep them. They just shrugged and told us to tip them overboard. That’s what they would have done with them anyway, they said.

“They told us that his was just a small fraction of one day’s by-catch. That they were only interested in tuna and to them, everything else was rubbish. It was all killed, all dumped. They just trawled that reef day and night and stripped it of every living thing.”

Macfadyen felt sick to his heart. That was one fishing boat among countless more working unseen beyond the horizon, many of them doing exactly the same thing.

No wonder the sea was dead. No wonder his baited lines caught nothing. There was nothing to catch.


😦 Make a stand against discards.

Say no to GM crops

Corporations are still trying to convince the public that genetically modified crops are good for us and for the farmers growing them. It’s even sadder when a certain environment secretary is as ill-informed.

As Zac Goldsmith says, “GM has never been about feeding the world, or tackling environmental problems. It is and has always been about control of the global food economy by a tiny handful of giant corporations.”

This article on mega corporations has been going around on Facebook recently, and I’m surprised that this is still news to so many people. I am all for small-scale businesses and try to avoid buying from global corporations as much as I can, even though it’s virtually impossible in certain aspects of our lives. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try. The Low Impact Living Initiative website gives many suggestions on how we can give less of our money to these corporations, such as buying from independent shops and supporting local. I personally find the experience of shopping in the local markets much more enjoyable than buying cling-wrapped groceries from the supermarket!