Peter Ellyard Talks to Geoff Lawton

Peter Ellyard, author of the book Designing 2050 – Pathways to Sustainable Prosperity on Spaceship Earth, recently spoke to Geoff Lawton as he seeks solutions to help put our ‘spaceship’ back on a sustainable track. Peter, obviously new to Permaculture concepts, tries to get a grip on the current spread of implementation worldwide and it’s planet-saving potential.

Geoff makes some ‘radical’, but fully appropriate statements, like the need to make current agricultural practices illegal, amongst others.

Click play below to listen. If you’re pressed for time and want to skip the intro, jump to 4:30 to go straight to the interview.

Interview with Geoff Lawton by Peter Ellyard


  1. The word “permaculture” is copyrighted?! W.T.F. If I offered a “permaculture” course without being certified, who comes after me? This is the most, maybe the only, ridiculous thing I’ve heard come from the permaculture movement. Oh wait, are we supposed to capitalize that now?

  2. The copyright of the permaculture word is not capitalism. The intention is attempt to retain integrity through a standard. Bill Mollison set the standard and delineated the 72hr. design course. What happened for a while there was people were teaching “permaculture” courses and leaving gaping holes in the curriculum, like not mentioning earthworks. The movement is still decentralized by nature, and always will be. Not every copyright is power-mongering.

  3. Hi JBob
    there is no need to capitalize permaculture. It has always had a small p.

    If you teach a “permaculture” course without having attended a “permaculture design certificate course” yourself and you teach within the ethics of permaculture and just call it a course on permaculture, then nobody cares. To issue a “Permaculture Design Course” certificate you would have to print it yourself and your students would have to verify that you covered the 14 chapters of “The Permaculture Designers Manual” before they would be eligible for a “Permaculture Diploma” see http://www.tagari.com for details.

    If you are teaching or operating a business under the name of permaculture but outside the ethics then you will be challenged by the movement and our supporters and even the British government has been challenge and made to change the definition of permaculture within the court of law. There is every skill set and profession amongst the graduates of the PDC globally who support the movement and are prepared to protect its integrity. This was a very clever strategy created by Bill Mollison to protect the movement as it grew into its present form with 1000’s of PDC’s being taught every day.

  4. Thanks for the replies. (Lawton himself?? How cool.)

    After making my comment I read some more about this issue and Mollison’s reasoning. My objection is only that by using copyright protection the courts and government are introduced into our lives where otherwise peaceful voluntary interaction would reign.

    If the main intention was to preserve the original content of the course, then why wouldn’t simply printing a book with those contents (as was done, to my understanding) suffice? If someone teaches a course that doesn’t follow the book, anyone can easily figure that out.

    And if the other intention was to ensure quality of the teachers, then I think a system similar to that used by Brazilian Jiu Jitsu teachers would be far more effective. BJJ practitioners say e.g., “I’m a black belt under Renzo Gracie.” And then you can look up the giant “family tree” on certain BJJ websites and see who he got his belt from, and so on. The lineage is available for all to see and the reputation of each instructor is taken very seriously. In this way, a PDC from Geoff Lawton would mean a hell of a lot more than a PDC from Timmy Turdburglar.

    One of my favorite Mollison quotes is “So it’s a revolution. But permaculture is anti-political. There is no room for politicians or administrators or priests. And there are no laws either. The only ethics we obey are: care of the earth, care of people, and reinvestment in those ends.”

    So, why invite politicians into the mix over this issue?

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