Permaculture, mythogenesis & the forces of fear as motivation for the revolution. Interview with Bay Area Designer / Instructor Kevin Bayuk by Willi Paul. Co-Sponsored by CommunityAlchemy.com & openmythsource.com
What are your key principles in your coaching work? Who are you clients and what are they searching for?
My coaching is about bringing an “end to business.” The ethics of permaculture are the ground for all my activities – taking care of people, while enhancing the earth and re-investing any surplus into creating conditions conducive to more life. My clients are local businesses developing life-serving goods, services and solutions that meet the needs of people while enhancing the land and living systems which surround them and from which they arise. They are typically small businesses seeking to increase their capacity to create more vocational opportunities and become more effective in delivering their services while aligning their business activities with the vision they hold for their life. Sometimes they need a systematic approach or process to designing or operating their business and sometimes they express a need for a relationship or some specific understanding. They are often searching to move from a life of work to a life of play, ease and joy – while performing service to life. Many permaculture principles guide my coaching. We look for enhancing relationships through integration, we develop designs and strategies from patterns, then design in feedback loops and strive to eliminate waste amongst other principles.
In my work, permaculture is primarily spiritual. Is this true for you?
I don’t tend to draw that much of a distinction between the spiritual and material. I feel called to practice permaculture design and to share it through demonstrations and teaching – an almost spontaneous call. It fills me with delight and joy and fulfills my desire to enhance the life of others and be of service to all life – a stacked function if you will. In that sense, I suppose you could say it is spiritual. You could also say I find it fun.
Are you a “green alchemist?”
I am not certain what constitutes a green alchemist, but I do love composting. Taking my shallow understanding of alchemy – that the intent of transmuting lead into gold is a metaphor for the transmutation of the individual from the base to the refined or divine, I suppose I could claim association or at least appreciation with alchemists. In practice, I see the transmutation of the base – dead, decaying organic matter into the refined – diverse vegetation through the process of composting as a form of alchemy. And the metaphor seems to hold. As I mix my carbon rich and nitrogen rich biomass and turn it I mentally project into my compost piles my base “materials,” feelings like fear or attachment and reverently “turn” them when I turn the pile to preferred states, refined understanding, edges for learning rather than shortcomings – perfect in their appearance.
Is there a global permaculture revolution rising now? What are the positive and negative forces herein?
Maybe. I am not certain I have the perspective to know what is going on around the globe. I can say that from my limited and highly biased vantage, I see plenty of evidence to suggest that culture is shifting. I trust that the ethical grounding of permaculture seems necessary for any further long-term human settlement on earth, so it may be that the revolution or evolution or shift is inevitable and has been arising for quite some time. As for forces of revolution, I am not sure about which forces are positive and which ones negative. I know I am drawn to the forces of aspiration and dreaming of what is possible – a life that works for everyone with no one left out, rich in life and ever increasing in abundance. I am wary of the forces of fear and aversion which seems to rise where prognostications of scarcity and drive a desire to just “do something.” I do not want to decry a sense of urgency, but I have been witness to the phenomenon of “burn out” that comes from the forces of fear as a motivation for revolution.
Do yo know about the Worldwide Permaculture Network (WPN)?
Yep, signed in and hopeful for on life connection resulting from online awareness. Also, grateful to see all the projects scattered across the globe and to know that there are so many more uncounted.
What is sacred about the practice of permaculture?
As the permaculture designer might say, “it depends.” It seems to me that what makes any aspect of permaculture design practice sacred as opposed to profane would be the attitude or regard of the practitioner. For me, I am drawn to the mystery inherent in partnering with biologic systems. A designers places elements in space and time and trusts nature to perform function. Observing the patterns of interaction and relationship, to me, is humbling, mysterious and sacred. The wonder and awe of nature inspires reverence and gratitude in me. This includes the connections with nature through the people I connect with….
Are there new myths rising from the practice of permaculture?
That is a great question. I have often wondered about how conscious we can be of mythogenesis. Certainly there are anecdotes that have metaphorical qualities – the oft told story of the oak beams of the College Hall at Oxford comes to mind. I am sure that if one were to survey the permaculture trainings offered around the globe a pattern of certain embellished narratives would be discovered. I share a story of a Maori tribe and their relationship and land use practices that I am not certain whether i first heard from Geoff Lawton or David Holmgren, but the story conveys everything that I would intend to share that I have downplayed authorship and historicity (not to the extent that I could not source the reference if asked). I am sure there are similar stories being spun that orient permaculture designers to the cosmos and connect them to life and the ethics of permaculture. In terms of more complete stories, encapsulating a mythos, I believe David Holmgren has outlined an excellent narrative seedling in his “Do We Need Nature.” I would be happy to elaborate sometime, but he has got a story there that could perform the functions that I associate with myths.
Who can teach for Earth Activist?
I was invited to teach by Starhawk, one of the founders of Earth Activist Training. I would suppose that anyone invited could teach for Earth Activist training.
What does the USA look like in 2051 to you?
I am cautiously optimistic that there will not be a USA in 2051. I am hopeful that we will recognize the dysfunctional nature of the current, often arbitrary, geopolitical boundaries and move towards more bioregional governance systems. I’d like to imagine that the land that used to be called the USA is flourishing with diverse vegetation as appropriate to place with passionate joyful people still exploring the edges of a world that works for all life and their enthusiasm (and strategies, solutions, etc.) trickling into the mainstream more and more every day.
What is the alternative to a permaculture society, Kevin?
Not sure there is one. If a perma-culture is a “permanent culture” or a society designing “permanent agricultures” as the basis for long term human settlement, I suppose the alternative would be a short term human settlement. There may be a diverse set of alternatives. I like the work David Holmgren has done in imagining “Future Scenarios.”
What real impact does the San Francisco Permaculture Guild have on the public at large?
We are still observing what impact we are having in our place while we implement designs, strategies and techniques across the city. I can confidently suggest that the San Francisco Permaculture Guild has had a beneficial impact on those who choose to participate in our gatherings and activities. I hope we can offer nourishment – food for the hungry, water for the thirsty, connection for the lonely and inspiration for the dispirited.
Kevin Bayuk Bio –
Kevin combines his background as a technology entrepreneur and permaculture teacher to offer uncommon guidance, strategy and support for businesses and projects that regenerate healthy ecosystems and socially joyful environments. He is passionate about creating livelihoods for people that feel right while benefiting themselves and all life. In addition to coaching, Kevin still serves on the Board of Directors for the San Francisco Permaculture Guild and teaches permaculture design with the Urban Permaculture Institute, UC Berkeley Extension and Earth Activist Training.
Kevinbayuk at yahoo.com
We welcome all soul alchemists to join us in the openmythsource – reservoir