“Information needs relationships to make change.”
I have a confession to make. I have yet to receive my Permaculture Design Certificate. So you can imagine my apprehension of going to the 2012 Northern California Permaculture Convergence this year. Still, it was amazing to be a part of.
Permaculture is a tradition, one that subverts the dominant paradigm perhaps, but only as an aside. Moving from exploitation to conservation, to revolt and release and ultimately renewal—such microcycles take place everyday in each of our lives. This “resilience thinking” is not just social and not just ecological, for any separation between the two is mere illusion. It is simply resilience-based stewardship, dependent upon both cultural sensitivity and synergetic design.
One thing we can take solace in is the fact that the problem we see before us is more difficult to understand that the solution is to enact. If we can learn, frame, recalibrate and find the rhythm we’ve lost, we can remember ourselves into the harmony of the biosphere. This is both a process and celebration of the generational tending of life.
The world is our home. The science it takes to sustain populations is real and available. We can recreate value to fill a need, enhancing the performance of degraded natural systems. This is both a moral issue as well as one of efficiency. There is no need for to ask for permission: transgressing boundaries on behalf of living creatures has always been a human right. The streets are for people, not cars.
Sometimes magic goes to sleep. We can see that today as those closest to the land struggle to heal their traumas. The earth community has been beaten, murdered, kidnapped, and tortured. The health of the watershed is the basis of our relations, so if we continue to turn our home—the eco—into superfund sites, destroying our communities through uranium mining, wetland loss, self-inflicted disease…it is inconceivable that we will survive for much longer.
I could talk about the reskilling village, the magic of making fire through friction. But such programs are not yet seen as culturally relevant. Are we still able to remember our roots, locally sourcing and sharing meals and stories through generational praxis and ancestral technologies, and work together to cultivate leadership and expand our vision? Until then these crucial activities will only remain trivial(ized). Do you yet know how to fashion a lighter out of that which the forest has lent you?
Today, most city-dwellers have no idea how to grow what they eat. There are hardly any places left to assemble, to participate and repair our communities. The visionary design we need must create permanent culture through geomorphic patterns that decolonize and reclaim space. If we can repurpose public space for festive celebrations, such designs will reflect a healing process for those species counting on us to find ourselves. Here, in these places, such trauma is a condition needing to be healed. If we win in the cities, we win.
Its time to dream again. Its time to connect to our self, and tend the wild in our own psyche. Listen to the world. To the wild. To the wind and the trees and the earth beneath your toes and the dirt under your nails. Seek that unmediated experience to heal our past traumas by connecting to nature—a bioremediation that starts in the human heart.
At the fire pit during the last night I learned two things. The first lesson came in a memory, passing through a town that had nothing but houses and roads: when fuel stops flowing these towns will starve to death, due in full to a self-imposed siege of sorts, or perhaps only a lack of foresight. The second was the revelation of new friends singing, dancing, telling stories, laughing, crying, and learning to love: we are the only ones who can get us through what is surely a trial-by-fire. Yet in this initiation, those of us who make it through will be that much stronger.
I’ll leave you with one more thought. When we finished up the weekend, we came together in our local bioregional circles to share and learn from one another. We realized we didn’t just need a community-connecting place, a public meeting area for community connecting permaculture projects, though of course, this is the ground from which we grow. What we need are connecting events that bring us into direct relation with one another, and the land around us. Until we have these, we will shrivel up in our isolated bubbles, condemning the very people we long to share our selves with.
May we paint over this nightmare with new dreams of a living future, born out of the fertile path so many have since forgotten. May we scale up our projects until wisdom flows infiltrate impervious mindscapes and the empire is overgrown. Life is our event. Let our hearts now sow the permanence it will take to see it through.