Permaculture Around Latin America: Permaculture Punks of Mexico City

In this edition of Permaculture Around Latin America, we move north once more to learn about the strange but wonderful intersection between punk and permaculture. Take a look at this video titled ‘Permaculture Punks of Mexico City.’

I did some research and it looks like the Tierra Viva Collective is currently no longer active. This blog was the only thing I could find that linked to them, and they appear to have been active in the early 90s.

Regardless of this, there’s a lot to learn from these eco-punks. As a Latin American, I have seen trash and pollution comparable to what you see in the video. I sometimes get angry that so many people associate the ‘green’ movement with an elitist version that includes costly super foods grown in the third world, expensive practices and aesthetics, brands and luxuries. It’s very important to always be mindful that permaculture needs to take place in environments like what you see in the video. In places and setups like those, the results can be explosively positive. This video might be from the 90s, but the issues presented continue to be a real problem in most of Latin America. I believe that the intersections between permaculture and social work, anti-establishment, and anti-imperialism have a lot of un-explored potential.

As a young person of an eco-anarchist persuasion, it also makes me really happy and excited to see angry young people using their disquiet and questioning for such positive work. On top of that, punks and anarchists, “angry young people”, often fall into the category of ‘people who look, smell, and act strange’ and thus become marginalized. They are Latin@s. They are socially vulnerable.

Every day, I try to remind myself that the only kind of permaculture I can truly subscribe to is that which is for, by, and with marginalized people. Permaculture without social justice just doesn’t seem to make sense. Permaculture has helped, and continues to help and facilitate young people in “putting their anger towards something positive.” I long to see more ‘permacultured’ dismantling of toxic invisible structures and stereotypes.

Long live permapunk!


  1. Beautiful. I think this brings up a real and pressing need – the need for people who have been marginalized in some way to feel that they can effect positive change. Wish these guys were still around. I would love to know what became of them.

  2. seriously. what does it say when someone self describes themselves as an eco-anarchist? this is new trend of the overly self aware that can’t just do something constructive but need labels and meta-tags to clue the rest of us in. Additionally i would point out that these “punks” are just people, and as such should be left un-lumped-together. just saying is all.

    1. Don, I think I get your point. Thanks for contributing to the discussion, as I enjoy thinking about identity and how we, and others, perceive ourselves. As I work on this series showcasing permaculture initiatives around Latin America, I think this is a topic that will continue to come up, so discussing it is exciting.

      I disagree with some of the points you made. I think what you call ‘labels’ are, to me, and many other young people and activists, powerful tools for creating community. Defining myself as an eco-anarchist, personally, has very little to do with too much self awareness and very much to do with the political and social climate I find myself living in. I live, as does most of Latin America, in a precarious situation where most of our natural resources are siphoned out of our lands. Where inequality rises every year, where we are under the constant, overwhelming force of globalization and western supremacy. Our culture, lives and health are at stake, and tied, intrinsically, with the state of the environment.

      It is even necessary for me to define myself as an eco anarchist. It helps me and others understand that we are not alone, and that real change CAN indeed happen. We are just people, but we can change things. Labels are a way of recognizing each other, of understanding, verbalizing, what approach you are taking in fighting against the status-quo. They are a way of unity when you are faced with oppression, hatred, mockery and erasure. Labels can help you build safe spaces, can help you organize with your community, help each other, protest. For me, eco-anarchism and my neverending journey within revolution has been, much like permaculture, a way to more holistically look at life.

      I don’t believe the act of ‘labeling’ yourself is, first an foremost, really up for questioning: we need to understand the labels in their context as integral parts of a person’s self-identity and self. Secondly, yes, these punks are people. Everybody is people. But this argument takes away vital context. The punks of Mexico City are not ‘just people’. The facets of their life, such as drug addiction, the discrimination they face on a daily basis, the influences of globalization on self governance, poverty, ecological degradation etc, cannot be erased by saying ‘they are just people’. That argument would work if we had a level playing field, but we do not. These punks have ‘lumped themselves together’ out of a real necessity. Undoing that erases their reality.

      Additionally, I have to point out that this: “the overly self aware that can’t do something constructive” is plainly untrue, and I think the video does a great job at providing a strong counterargument to your claim. These punks are indeed doing something constructive. I myself have engaged in activities I would definitely qualify as “something constructive,” and I have engaged in them in eco-anarchist ways, often utilizing eco-anarchist resources and networks, solving problems creatively based on anarchist frameworks, and continue to try to lead a life that way, because that is who I am. I don’t see myself better, more complex, or more or less self aware than anybody else.

      A lot of the permaculture work I look up to, such as Vandana Shiva’s, is, at least to my eyes, of an undeniably anarchist nature. She has fought against the state, against multinational corporations. I see anarchy as a powerful tool that, while of course not without its problems (as there are many kinds of permacultures, there are many kinds of anarchisms), helps me work towards a more loving and compassionate unity with the people and world around me.

  3. When they go in and do a project such as this wall, do they finish it completely or do they educate the residents to finish the work for themselves? I hate to think that they just did the one section of wall and then walked away. I’d really like to see more of what they are doing. Are they still working? Is the movement growing? Are they being resisted by any government agencies? I hope and pray their work continues.

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