rePromise for a Permaculture Guild. Vision by Willi Paul, sponsored by permaculturexchange.com


 

rePromise for a Permaculture Guild. Vision by Willi Paul, sponsored by permaculturexchange.com

Tear down the wire, tear down the rope
The voice inside you is asking why
All you can do is start to cry
Tear down the wire
Everywhere it’s all the same
People run around nothin’ seems to change
I get so tired
Still I can’t let go
You stand all alone
You say goodnight and head for home
Tear down the wire, Tear down the wire
Tear down the rope

Song: “Wire”, from For the Country – by Dumptruck

* * ** * * * *

Ironically, the US permaculture guild system as I know it is one of the most underdeveloped and apolitical systems in the Occupy Age. Guilds are collections of teachers, students and sister organization representatives often run thru listservs. While this electronic version of discussion and marketing seems traditional for some, others are looking to their Guild for more integrated leadership, more on the ground instruction and on a spiritual pulse. Consider the following three examples:

“Our vision for Permaculturehub is to see all of us connect in new and energizing ways across the diversity of our whole permaculture community – to facilitate our growth as individuals and as a tribe, to improve our resilience as a national and global community, to increase our effectiveness via more intentional cooperation, to encourage one another as stories are shared.” permaculturehub.com

While not a Guild, The Worldwide Permaculture Network, offers “A shiny new and rapidly growing interactive database that’s showcasing the exciting, solutions-based work being implemented by permaculture projects and practitioners worldwide. If you’re getting depressed watching current events, this is the site to reinvigorate the mind with real, lasting, holistic solutions for all the problems humanity currently faces. Have a look around, be inspired, and if you’re a permaculture practitioner, be sure to register and upload your profile, add your project(s), and network with others to share inspiration, resources and support, and to advertise your services for a brave new economy.” permacultureglobal.com

Finally, this vision statement from the 2011 North West Permaculture Convergence, a kind of annual weekend “Super Guild”: “Permaculture is a breath of fresh air. This holistic approach to system design is creative, dynamic and inherently friendly to people and the planet. Permaculture offers itself as a powerful tool and asset for helping us make the deep changes today’s trends call for. This year’s Permaculture Convergence conference theme (was) “Finding Common Cause, ” (incorporating) interests ranging from urban to rural, hands on, from education to timely social, spiritual and economic innovations – local to bio regional.” nwpermaculture.com

* * * * * * *

A mash-up of ideas from my recent interviews with leaders in my permaculture web follow. Interview Sources (citations) are available at the end of this article. I asked each for a critique and reconstruction of their history with permaculture Guilds in their area: Are Guilds leading the way? How could we improve them?

We can create a referral network and collaborate on projects. [1]

We could also offer post-PDC (Permaculture Design Certificates) support for grads, offering them opportunities to get their feet wet under the guidance of more experienced practitioners. [1]

There is potential to generate collaborative project ventures among the Permaculture community. [2]

People Guilds can be looked upon as an association, society, union, league, organization, company, cooperative, fellowship, club, order, lodge, brotherhood, fraternity, sisterhood, sorority. [3]

Networking hubs, places to learn from each other and be inspired. [4]

The problems we personally have faced with that model has been the out-casting of members who just want the networking function and the result of what becomes just a few inspired folks keeping the “guild” going with projects while others fall away. [4]

In Sonoma County, we at one point had over 150 members to our guild and often 40 or so people showing up every month to our potlucks and meetings. Our demise happened when we tried to create a set of working groups that would actualize work in the community. Inevitably, the membership shrank and the active members got together and created organizations that were inspired by the guild but not representative of the guild itself. Once the core organizers stop planning the meetings the guild collapsed. [4]

I love the specific focus that a Permaculture guild can bring but the Transition movement is a vital evolution that brings the relevant urgency of now to the table. It also seems to be more inclusive then a guild ever was because one doesn’t have to be a member of the “Perma-Cult”, as it were (people familiar with Permaculture) and is therefore more accessible to average citizens interested in building community for the post carbon age. [5]

I would say that the Guild system in the US is not strong advocate for permaculture. But it is growing. I would hope that the guild begins to meld more with other groups and efforts (like Transition Towns, an obvious kindred group, or US UNCUT, a not-so-obvious one). I don’t believe PC (Permaculture) Guilds have any more mandate than community groups, PTAs, or underground affinity groups formed for illicit political actions: these are all more or less autonomous efforts to catalyze bottom-up cohesion and action. And they all are great. [6]

I certainly feel (the SF Guild) has more potential to be of greater service. It can only be said to be “under-performing” in relationship to its goals and mission – the current mission of the guild: “The specific purpose for which this corporation is organized is to support a local community of designers and those interested in permaculture by producing educational and social events, enabling permaculture projects and providing opportunities to exchange information related to permaculture design.” [7]

* * * * * * *

My visions for the Guilds to come:

  • Guild as a new school – Non-profit educational system
  • Community service
  • Laboratory for all types of projects – soil-to-state house
  • Global unification and outreach – Connect guilds to guilds for courses and projects
  • Creating new rituals and many, many more stories
  • Build a collective – what about governance?
  • Extend on-site training & outreach – ambassador for permaculture to the wider community
  • Innovate the values into new actions and activities
  • Completely free-of-charge
  • Free from individual consultant ambitions and profit motives
  • Political representation – permaculture as a voice in local/regional government
  • A space for children, and seniors and minorities

In addition to the ideas presented above, is it not wise to build our next generation permaculture Guild network with our own principles, including these:

  • Integrate rather than Segregate
  • Use Small and Slow Solutions
  • Use and Value Diversity
  • Creatively Use and Respond to Change

* * * * * * *

In conclusion, my instructors supported the idea to create a new Guild for San Mateo County several weeks out of my PDC experience this year. We utilize both Meet-up and Yahoo Groups to advertise and communicate with members. Rather than meet and promote each other’s projects as commonly practiced in PermacultureSF and other Guilds, we opted to seek a partnership with a Hillsborough home-owner and SkyFarm Permaculture Project was born to offer leadership and technical training to our burgeoning group. We couple a bi-monthly “in the soil” experience by teaching with an emphasis on documenting our Guild’s progress at each event, as each small workshop adds up to a future onsite permaculture system for owner friends.

meetup.com/Permaculture-Guild-San-Mateo-County

SMCPG Videos

* * * * * * *

Interview Sources from Planetshifter.com Magazine

[1] Big Ag vs the Wildland Re-Skillers: Interview with William Mutch, Transition Palo Alto.

Are Guilds doing anything important in your view? If so, can you offer examples?

Currently, I have not done enough research on this, but I think the potential is huge. In the South Bay, I have a feeling of permaculturists being pretty spread out, and working in isolation from each other. Having guilds would allow us to learn each other’s strengths and specialties, so we can create a referral network and collaborate on projects. We could also offer post-PDC support for grads, offering them opportunities to get their feet wet under the guidance of more experienced practitioners.

[2] Viewshed Sanctuaries. Interview with Permaculture Designer & Permaculturexchange.com Member Jadene Mayla, ecologiclandscape.com, Portland, OR.

Do you see conviction and vision at the Portland Permaculture Guild?

I love the sharing that I see. I’m excited about Permaculture Exchange for its potential to generate collaborative project ventures among the Permaculture community. There is a group in Northeast Portland working to reduce its high asthma rates through environmental advocacy. I’d like to do a collaborative project to help that group plant trees and shrubs along MLK and other thoroughfares in that neighborhood to catch pollutants from traffic.

[3] “I am Turtle Woman.” Interview with Permaculturist Jeanette Acosta

Please critique the Permaculture Guilds in general.
People Guilds can be looked upon as an association, society, union, league, organization, company, cooperative, fellowship, club, order, lodge, brotherhood, fraternity, sisterhood, sorority.

[4] Watershed Songs. Interview with Erik Ohlsen, Owner, Permaculture Artisans.

Please critique the permaculture Guilds in general. Are they leading the way? How could they improve?

I’m a co-founder of the first Sonoma County Permaculture Guild about 9 years ago. It was a great experience and we learned much about what we could accomplish through the structure of a Permaculture Guild. The first thing to know is that every guild is going to be different based on the geographical and demographical characteristics of the guild community. Some guilds function like organizations, some just networking hubs, but all are a representation of the community and ecology the guild is based in. For a time I felt that Permaculture guilds had the potential to be a leading organizing tool for Permaculture.

I still think they have that potential but I feel it is more realistic to see them as networking hubs, places to learn from each other and be inspired. In my experience more organized work gets done when a few guild members have an idea and then create a business or organization to fulfill this idea. The guild members can then support a member’s project if they have affinity with it, but usually these endeavors do not represent the guild as a whole. The reason I have come to this conclusion is because guilds are usually and appropriately set up as open groups for anyone inspired about Permaculture to participate, which results in a lack of focus in any one area. The true focus of a guild is to connect, network and inspire, and to have a sounding board for new ideas.

From my point of view improvement would be to embrace the idea of a network and create guilds to highlight and support the work their members are doing, whether they are new businesses, school gardens, non-profits or other projects. I feel they will flow into the natural function for which they are inherently patterned for by becoming regional hubs to support and network all the going ons in a community related to Permaculture. This is not to say that creating educational and business or project based enterprises that are solely representative of the efforts of the guild are not possible nor desired. When and if a guild can organize in this way it has an amazing potential for creating positive change in the community and becoming a sound voice for what is possible with Permaculture. The problems we personally have faced with that model has been the out casting of members who just want the networking function and the result of what becomes just a few inspired folks keeping the “guild” going with projects while others fall away.

In Sonoma County, we at one point had over 150 members to our guild and often 40 or so people showing up every month to our potlucks and meetings. Our demise happened when we tried to create a set of working groups that would actualize work in the community. Inevitably, the membership shrank and the active members got together and created organizations that were inspired by the guild but not representative of the guild itself. Once the core organizers stop planning the meetings the guild collapsed.

[5] Slow, Steady, Beautiful: Interview with Ken Foster, Terra Nova Ecological Landscaping, Santa Cruz

Please critique the permaculture Guilds in general. Are they leading the way? How could they improve?

Permaculture guilds? In the past Santa Cruz had a Permaculture guild become very active, then fade away and then come back again. An ebb and flo.

Currently there is no active Permaculture guild in the area however I am pleased to serve on the Steering Committee of Transition Santa Cruz. The Transition movement (born out of a Permaculture Design Course) has legs that are getting stronger day by day. I love the specific focus that a Permaculture guild can bring but the Transition movement is a vital evolution that brings the relevant urgency of now to the table. It also seems to be more inclusive then a guild ever was because one doesn’t have to be a member of the Perma-Cult, as it were (people familiar with Permaculture) and is therefore more accessible to average citizens interested in building community for the post carbon age.

[6] soil food web song: Interview with Antonio Roman-Alcala, sf urban ag alliance.

Is the Guild system in the US a strong advocate for permaculture? What is the Guild mandate?

I would say it is not. But it is growing. I would hope that the guild begins to meld more with other groups and efforts (like Transition Towns, an obvious kindred group, or US UNCUT, a not-so-obvious one). I don’t believe PC Guilds have any more mandate than community groups, PTAs, or underground affinity groups formed for illicit political actions: these are all more or less autonomous efforts to catalyze bottom-up cohesion and action. And they all are great.

[7] Nectar: Interview #2 with Permaculturist Kevin Bayuk.

I would love to see the Guild as more idea laboratory or live charrette than the current “listserve and announcements” format. Is the Permaculture-SF Guild under-performing?

I love that idea and want to support you in making the guild into what serves your vision for it. Like any collective emergent organization the San Francisco Permaculture Guild and its “performance” seem to be product of the intent of the individual participants and the structure that allows for the expression of that intent. My emphasis in my role as a participant in the guild is to help facilitate a structure that allows for the guild to be what individuals want it to be.

I know I have my own visions and aspirations for the guild – (I wrote them out a while ago) and I see it slowly evolving in that direction. I certainly feel it has more potential to be of greater service. It can only be said to be “under-performing” in relationship to its goals and mission – the current mission of the guild: “The specific purpose for which this corporation is organized is to support a local community of designers and those interested in permaculture by producing educational and social events, enabling permaculture projects and providing opportunities to exchange information related to permaculture design.”

* * * * * * *

Image Credit

Advertisements

About [ open myth source ]

The [open myth source] project gathers conversations, symbols, songs, visual art and stories. Building a house for Myth in the Sustainability Age.
This entry was posted in Essays, Stories, Tools, vision and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s