28 February, 2008

David Holmgren: "Beyond Sustainability"

I found a very interesting video interview with David Holmgren, who together with Bill Mollison developed the concept of Permaculture.

What I found so good about this is his description of energy use as part of the evolution of humans on the planet and his idea for the lower-energy (at least from non-renewable fuels) available future as an opportunity for a positive direction into more self-sufficiency, creativity, and even more importantly, a happier future for everyone. His is not a doom and gloom message. One of the basic ideas of Permaculture is to focus on "opportunities not obstacles". In other words, take the given parameters of anything and adapt to make them work. Humans have a long history of doing this already. Hopefully we will work toward a way of doing it in a gentler and kinder way to both ourselves and the planet.

The great thing about permaculture is that it is the basis for any positive adaptation and it has as many outcomes as there are ingenious users. It can take the form of anything from growing vegetables on your balcony in the city, to community gardens, agriculture cooperative farms, people supplying most or all of their food and energy needs on their own piece of land, even the re-greening of desert areas.

The beauty of it is that it can be implemented at any level, gradually and to any degree that people find workable. Greening the planet and producing some of your own food, locally, obviously saves a lot of energy. At the same time I think it can be the basis for a satisfying re-connection with nature that will awaken appreciation of ourselves as animals in our environment, a place that we depend on for our lives.

The disconnection between us and our natural home has allowed us to support the hungry technologial monster that the modern world has become. When will computers be fast enough? When will cars have a design that's cool enough? When will our cupboards be full of goods that are new and improved enough? And when will we have enough fashionable clothes so that we can appear beautiful to ourselves and others, and even more importantly when will we actually believe we are beautiful? I submit it won't be until we see ourselves as people who care for animals, ourselves, and the planet and act on that belief. Then, we should not even need mirrors to know our own beauty.

You can take a look at David Holmgren's work and there's even a short free book on the basic principles of permaculture to download on his website. In the writings section you can find a download for a report (in English) on permaculture as practiced in Japan.


Lucy said...

Oh, I hear ya!

VJ, this is a wonderful little video find - thank you - and your thoughts are echoed wholeheartedly by me.

Growing just a little something leads, invariably, to a deliberate slowing down. Noticing. Breathing.

Off to follow the link.

Ruahines said...

Kia ora e hoa VJ,
Interesting post and a timely one. This has been a year of simplicity for myself and family - starting with our eating and branching into other areas as well. In the morning my youngest son Charlie and I are going to get our own vegetable garden started, I think he is more excited than I am. Thanks for the inspiration.
Ka kite,

vegetablej said...

Thanks for the lovely words, lucy! I fully understand what you are saying about growing and slowing down, and I intend to have more time for both real soon. :)

vegetablej said...


Just the picture in my mind of you and your son making a garden together (maybe his first?) makes me feel really happy. I actually can't wait to get home to get one started.

Sure hope you won't forget to take some pictures of the big event, and as it progresses, and put them up on your site. I'm looking forward to seeing them. :)

Happy planting, to you and the littlest gardener.

Ruahines said...

Kia ora VJ,
Had a busy day with my little fellah doing prep work, glad that bit is done. And my wife then made for tea a lovely vegetable pasta dish with some of the tomato sauce thawed from the freezer. What a simple, but very fun and cool day!
Thanks for stopping in. I am leaving a message back there for you as well. Have a great day.
Ka kite e hoa,

vegetablej said...

Thanks for the continuing feedback on the recipes with the tomato sauce, Robb. Great to hear it froze okay and your wife is cooking with it too.

And how nice to have a day in the garden with your son. The great thing that we sometimes don't realize in the midst of hectic days of raising a family is that he will probably have memories of this garden, and your time together, his whole life. And what do you want to bet that someday he shows your grandchild how to make a garden?

:) YOU have a good day!