DesignGeneralWhy Permaculture?

Finding your Sustainability Niche


Within every system there is the normal way of doing things and then there is your way. Finding work, hobby, career or passion, it’s important to, yes, learn the system, but then express it in your own unique way, leveraging your unique gifts, talents, insights and experiences.

I found a great permaculture podcast site ( and listened to an Australian, Dan French, being interviewed by a guy from Pennsylvania about “Permaculture as a Career.” After describing some of the challenges of starting a permaculture design business, they eventually talked about the importance of finding one’s niche within a system as diverse as permaculture.

As a set of principles and ethics that are wildly open to each individual’s unique expression, permaculture does not subjugate or criticize people for not adhering to a dogma or “system,” but instead celebrates each person’s uniqueness, authenticity and originality. Some say the future survival of humankind depends on a way being cleared for this uniqueness of expression to be fostered.

What would happen if there was a world in which each bright and creative idea was not squashed by those who stand to lose by de-centralization of power and resource distribution?

What if there were so many bright ideas that they actually had to compete with each other to gain popular attention?

What if bright ideas and freedom of expression were labeled as a “good and vital thing” instead of an act of domestic terrorism? (Uh oh! Used the “T” word. Be prepared to have this post scrutinized).

So how can we take lofty ideals and philosophies and make them relevant and practical in our everyday lives? First one has to decide how wide one will allow one’s boundaries to stretch.

Are we concerned about next quarter’s profitability statement, or about “how our decisions affect seven generations from now?” It’s an “inside job.” The world needs your unique perspectives and imagination now more than ever, as the old systems become more dysfunctional and bloated.

Each person alive on this planet right now has to choose where they stand – in FEAR (False Evidence Appearing Real) or life.

Life is expressed most amazingly when we love. When we love, we “see through the fingers,” as my dear mother used to say. When we love, we see past the ordinariness of our beloved comrades and relatives into their divinity.

From this perspective we can develop discernment and the right and ability to bestow judgment on the world and its machinations – for this is a place of wisdom and wisdom is needed to inform the really big decisions this world is facing now.

So pick a system or modality and add your own twist and integrate your experiences, skills and passions. Who knows – it might even be rewarding and fun!

John-Erik is a Permaculture Advocate who helps people imagine what their land is asking for as well as what the “landowner” has in mind.

Of particular interest is having potential energy and water move through a landscape through the most circuitous path from low potential/high energy elevations to high potential/low energy bottom lands. This helps expand the “edge effect” – a place where subsystems mingle and create diversity and abundance.

John has shared this article with the permaculture community and also writes for


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