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Worldwide Permaculture Network Teaser

Heads up! In between everything else, I’ve been trying to squeeze in some time to work on a new database slash social networking site (I like to think of it as a ‘Facebook for Permaculture’). This is one of several reasons you haven’t been seeing a lot of full-sized articles from me of late….

It’s not launch date yet, but since all the folks at the Australasian Permaculture Conference (APC) in Queensland are getting a preview this weekend, I thought it unfair not to give you a peek by way of a few screen shots. (APC attendees will see more – they’ll be shown through the not-yet-finished system, but that’s their privilege for attending!)

Finally – a permaculture projects world map!
Click to see full page

I conjured the idea of this database as soon as I started working with Geoff, and we’ve been trying to squirrel away finances to build it ever since. Whilst saving our pennies, I’ve had a static HTML project listing (see tab at top) in the interim, but it was always a cumbersome way to display and promote projects of course and over the last several months as I’ve been working on this database, I’ve had to neglect that section entirely. With student attendance on the increase, and the success of the new internship program, we’ve been able to make a start on something much, much better…. (See, your course fees are doing good in more ways than one!)

With this new system you can create your own user profile, and, if applicable, advertise your status as a consultant and/or aid worker. You can add your project(s), of whatever type, be it an urban residential project, or an African or Californian aid project, a Sydney suburbs commercial project or something not even land based – like an economic project (LETS, or similar), or a political activist project, and more. Educational projects get to list their courses.

By adding a profile (People and Projects), you get added to an interactive world map! You can browse projects by their summary cards and filter by climate zone or project type – or just by clicking on the pins on the map. You can find ‘People’ by different criteria also – climate zone, consultants, aid workers, teachers, etc.

You’ll have your own blog with your profile, and if you’re an interesting chap/gal you’ll find other users clicking to ‘follow’ you so they can easily monitor your updates via their ‘dashboard’ – where you arrive after logging in. A flowing ‘Recent Project/People updates’ list will show on panels on our respective PRI websites, so you can monitor those that way also. There will be a blog update rating system, where users can save your update from falling off our main pages, by thumbing them up enough to get them onto a ‘Recommended Recent Updates’ panel above the aforementioned one. The best updates will get noticed by the site editor, and will appear on our main page blog, bringing your work to the attention of even more readers – generating extra interest and/or support.

Other screenshots to view (current state as of today – changes happening by the hour…):

We hope to have a live launch within several weeks. After that we will invite you to join, use, and give us feedback to help us tailor it to your needs and evolve this into some humanity-saving goodness!

Many thanks go out to Geoff and Nadia for their hard work and commitment to see this through, the students and donors who help make it possible, the developers (who have been doing this at a discounted rate and who will remain anonymous for the moment, as I need them to concentrate on this database for now and not take on more customers!), and of course you, the reader, for supporting us with your eyes and mouse clicks.

To those who are as excited about the potential of this as I am, I’d like to put out a solicitation for donations to help us fast-track this and make it the very best it can be. Donate via the ChipIn widget at right, or other payment options here. (If using the latter, please be sure to specify ‘For Database’ to ensure it’s correctly routed.)

[Note: Unless you’re in Australia, please note that Bank Checks are only a viable means of transferring funds if the amount is sizeable. The bank charges AU$25 for processing overseas checks. We’ve had a few people send checks of around $30, and as it’s unethical for most of this money to go to the bank instead of its intended purpose, we’ve returned these to donors.]

For good measure, the following video clip expounds on these thoughts nicely.

Subscribe to our RSS feed via the posts-to-Email option at top right of our site, and you’ll find out about the release as soon as it goes live!


  1. Interesting idea Craig. I’ve always wondered about adding an option to donate to particular projects – to kickstart or to leverage them into something bigger. Perhaps something like – where donors can select the project they would like to support (by category, region etc). I sense a lot of people are really over the traditional charity idea (lack of accountability, high overheads, little on-ground (real) sustainability projects. Happy to discuss this with you at any time (I have worked in the fundraising areas of major global charities (and I need to atone for that!) Best wishes, Peter

  2. Thank you Craig! Hope the newly established Permaculture Action Asia in Cebu, Philippines, are to be found here soon. They are about to set up some really encouraging projects in one of the world’s biological hotspots, like Madagascar, now under grate pressure. And I feel like crying remembering all the plastic garbage floating in their rivers and streams. Surely they need a more sustainable life style:

    And Peter Brandis, your blog is full of amazing small little articles. Why not scale some of them up a little and put them here at PRIs blog?

  3. Thanks all

    Peter – the ‘support project’ and ‘sponsor aid worker’ idea was one of the main reasons I wanted to build this. For now I’m working on a base platform. After public release we want to evolve with user input. The sponsoring/donate thing will be something to add in the future once we’ve determined the best approach. Having that work well will be dependent on having a good ‘recommendation’ system in place, which will be a major implementation. A good, functional, transparent recommendation system is essential, so donors can get a feel for the authenticity of what they’re donating to.

    Oyvind – yes, such projects will easily be able to add themselves to the database, so other users can follow their updates, etc.

  4. Hi Craig, this looks really exciting. I felt a bit deflated when I saw this is for PDC graduates only. How do you see people who don’t hold a PDC certificate taking part? Can they use the network at all? Will they for instance be able to comment on people’s blogs? Or what?

    I’m supportive of the PDC as a standard btw, and don’t particularly want to get into the hoary old PDC vs non PDC debate, but if the network is for PDC grads only then I think this needs to be made explicit up front as soon as a new user reaches the site.

    I’m also wondering now if I’ve misunderstood the point of the network, and maybe it’s intended more as network for Pc businesses and formal projects (in which case the comparison with FB is a bit unaccurate). How do you see the general public fitting into this? Or people who practice PC without a PDC?


  5. Great stuff Craig, this will be brilliant, I am really looking forward to seeing this in action, hopefully it will open up another dimension for us all to spread more of the “solution” around.

  6. Thanks for thoughts Pebble. Public will be able to see profiles (to find consultants) and projects (an important reason for the system – so public can see the breadth of work going on, and realise they’re getting left behind if they don’t get involved), and updates, comments. Public cannot create their own profiles. We need the system to be full of individuals who understand what permaculture is all about – otherwise it descends into just a social club. This system is intended primarily to help fast-track permaculture takeup. Public also won’t be able to ‘recommend’, as if they don’t really understand permaculture, they will recommend the wrong thing. Permaculture is a paradigm shift in thinking, and without such a shift, it, again, just deteriorates into a social club heading in a million directions.

    We are still, however, determining what people can do if they’re not registered users. This is something we’ll take feedback on (you’ll note a ‘feedback’ tab on screenshots), as we will with other aspects of the system.

    P.S. Pebble – forgot to mention, yes, it will be made explicit up front that only PDC grads can register.

  7. Top job Craig. I sat down with Geoff and Patrick at lunch today
    for a review before the presentation. If this can do half the things
    They say it will, it’s going to give me access to other consultants in areas that I’m working in to be climate specific. Look forward to the role out. Pat and I were wondering, when do you sleep? Keep up the outstanding work mate.

  8. Hi Craig,
    I think this is a wonderful idea, and i have the feeling it wil be more successful than the permaculture book..
    Anyway, i take this occasion to ask you this trivial and maybe futile question: I am a graduate from a PDC in Italy with Saviana Parodi, will this PDC be recognized? I am hearing that it’s not for sure. I am able to take another PDC, i can afford it, but here in my country the information about an internatonally recognized PDC is sometimes difficult to obtain. Do you know if attending to a course by John Barrie Button, graduated from a PDC with Bill Mollison in the seventies, is somewhat ok?
    I really want to take my pc knowledge to the next level, I am already working on my projects but I want to be able to participate in the future in an internship program in other countries.
    Thank you in advance!

  9. Hi Elena – your PDC will be recognised, so you can join the network. We’re not intending to be pedantic about this aspect. People who have graduated from a PRI PDC (PRI recognised teachers who commit to teaching the full 72 hour PDC, covering all the chapters of the Designers’ Manual – not just cherry-picking the aspects they’re comfortable with – and who also commit to leaving out all aspects of spirituality/metaphysics) will get another badge, indicating this, but people from other ‘PDCs’ will get a badge in their profile as well.

    The main thing with this system is we only want people joining who have some understanding and appreciation of what permaculture is about. People who think everything in the world is just peachy, and that what we need are large scale, chemical- and fossil-fuel-based agriculture and ‘more economic growth’, are not welcome. We want a ‘team’ (of thousands of people), all trying to see permaculture uptake increase, in their own back yards, and all around them in their communities. Only in this way do we have any hope of addressing the issues we face.

  10. “Looking for love in all the wrong places”
    In the driver demonstration at APC10 its was said that this network site has room to evolve in the areas we thought useful.
    I’m a single bloke that uses internet dating sites, the thought of a composting toilet or making a rabbit skin coat dosn’t appeal to everyone, yet…
    In the search criteria could we have a box to select for relationships/dating.
    Two minds are better than one. thanks for this power tool

  11. VERY cool idea. Great to hook people together but also a great tool to expand the paradigm shift by letting the general public know the extent of the movement and how they might hook in!

    Jim O’Donnell
    Arroyo Hondo, New Mexico USA

  12. Good one Jeremy, I would like to see that idea squeezed subtly into a niche somewhere too, I would love to have a permy partner, they seem to be a bit tricky to find. Hopefully this database will help with a myriad of permaculture/people interactions.

  13. This will be the tool to expand permaculture into the next generation. Well done and I look forward to linking the imminent Gippsland Sustainable E-Community of Practice in to this network.
    It was so inspiring to meet a collection of individuals and organisations at the APC10, so keep in touch Pat so I can do what I can to help you keep the positive permaculture energy moving around the country and world!!

  14. Look forward to being apart of this network and being involved has a very similiar overlay as the mapping on WISERearth, so I bet we could transfer alot of the Permaculture Projects that are already entered in WE to this one. Let me know when to submit projects and how to contribute.
    Benjamin Fahrer
    Permaculture Alliance of California

  15. :) Jeremy, can I introduce you to Carolyn. Carolyn, meet Jeremy.

    But seriously, yes, good idea Jeremy. It’s something we can look at implementing. It is true that personal permaculture efforts can be made much easier and more fun, or harder, or even impossible, depending on the outlook of your partner!

  16. I made some notes while I was listening to Geoff at APC10 showcasing this brilliant online resource. Directed here to send suggestions, here they are:
    From discussions in the room, it seemed apparent that careful sculpting of the two main areas of the site were necessary for a fully operation all-encompassing site. The two areas are: (1) ‘Outside’ where non-Pc-ists are viewing the site. (2) ‘Inside’ where Pc-ists have logged in and have a veritable feast of tools at their disposal. There’s not much to be said about (2), in that it already looks great and set to evolve over time – tagging people in posts and photos and videos, etc, evolving to a Facebook/Twitter style site.
    (1) seems to need a lot more attention. We need to give non Pc-ists a simple guide through to places they need to go. A few places they need will be: “How to contact a designer” / “What is Pc?” / “How to enrol on a course to be able to log in” / “links to organisations around the world”. I think with a strong interface for both sides, the website will be a one-stop-shop for all people to benefit from!

  17. Awesome! cant wait to see what badge central Victorian Permaculture gets.
    And i agree with Nick, will open up bioregional access.
    Love your work guys. Big hoops.

  18. Taking Jim O’Donnell’s observation a step further – there is a web site called CouchSurfing ( where people who are willing to host fellow travelers put up a profile describing themselves and their accommodation. Everyone gets rated and reviewed so bad hosts and visitors are soon obvious.

    Such a feature integrated into this system would allow permies to travel at low cost while expanding their exposure to permaculture projects, share knowledge, get design or labour assistance (something like WWOOFing), creating new connections and getting a personalised guide to the host’s region.

    An application of the principals observe & interact, integrate rather than segregate, and use & value diversity?

  19. Hi Tim – yes, another nice idea. We’ll work in an order of priorities – most important features first – and implement as we can afford. If we get sufficient donations we can do virtually anything people want. :)

  20. “The two areas are: (1) ‘Outside’ where non-Pc-ists are viewing the site. (2) ‘Inside’ where Pc-ists have logged in and have a veritable feast of tools at their disposal.”

    Problem is, you actually have (at least) three groups of people: PDC grads, people who practice Pc without a PDC, and those named non-Pc-ists, although maybe a better term is pre-Pc-ist ;-). The site as planned works for the first and last groups but not the middle one. There’s a conversation about this happening over on the forum :-)

    I love the idea of a permie woofing style network.

  21. WOOWIIEEEE!!!! That is fantastic! Can’t wait to see it !!! What an amazing idea. Thank you so much Craig and the rest who is working on it! Since I had my pdc on Mallorca, I want to learn more and more and more… This is it for me… when this is launched I think permaculture will get even more progress!!
    Big hugs from the caribbean.

  22. Craig, I just viewed the video chock full of glitzy animations, and it seems to play into my sense of where the human tribe, for the first time in history, seems to be going:


    You/The video call the tribe a swarm, but for all intents and purposes it’s the same thing.

    Collective consciousness.

    If there was a loosely-connected formative tribe (“swarm”) in the 60’s, it seemed to lose, or to be unable to maintain, something of its “critical-mass cohesiveness” that the internet, by way of its “industrial-strength-mining-equipment-level-of-communication” may offer, crunching people together to a kind of communicational level along the lines of, say, a tribal village meeting house.

    We may have come full circle.

    And has it been said that the tribe was/is one of the most successful concepts for the human species (and earth) ever?

    So, PRI/Craig/Bill/Geoff/distinguished members/et al; I ask; what exactly is a government after all, but the (facilitation of) people ‘getting together to get things done’?

  23. Hi Craig,
    I’ve done a PDC in the past and work as a web developer and have a lot of experience here. Let me know if you might need someone else during development as I might be able to help. We can talk further if you’re interested …


  24. Comment by Craig Mackintosh — September 27

    “People who have graduated from a PRI PDC (PRI recognised teachers who commit to lleaving out all aspects of spirituality/metaphysics) will get another badge.”

    A good point Craig, but to be fair to everyones beliefs, shouldn’t we also include religion with sprituality and metaphysics? Afterall if there is no room for immaterial reality in a PDC, surely there’s no space for invisible men in the sky and narcissistic messiah/prophets?

  25. Hi Martin. I agree fully. When I say metaphysics and spirituality, I’m lumping religion in there. I wasn’t making a distinction.

  26. Thanks for clarifying Craig, however I think that it’s actually important to make a distinction, in order that people with non-conventional beliefs don’t feel singled out. If we’re going to be so bold as to say no, to spirituality and metaphysics in the permaculture classroom, we should be clear that’s also inclusive of mainstream religion.

  27. Anything that can make it easy to connect people with projects sounds wonderful. I wish I had an easier way to find out what projects and organizations were located in various parts of the world.

  28. Is PayPal a viable option? Electronic funds transfer… Ebay uses it extensively, around the world.

    Just found the sight, after seeing a video on the 300 yo food forest. I’ve believed in Permaculture, since first reading about it, many years ago. As I am in Texas, how would I go about picking applicable native plants to start even a small project?

    Jeff F.
    Cedar Creek, Texas

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