So you’ve heard of Permaculture, you understand the notion of sustainability, you recycle… mostly, you’re grappling with the concept of infinite growth on a finite planet, perhaps you have some friends or family who are beginning to behave a little strangely and keep talking about things like ‘biochar’, ‘cob’ or ‘compost tea’? In short, you’re interested, but you don’t know where to begin!
A book that has become a cornerstone of sorts for the sustainable movement, Masanobu Fukuoka’s, One Straw Revolution states “Changes, to be of any consequence, must come first at a basic philosophical level.” Many of us have made some deeper change and may have at some stage tried to discuss this change with others, with varying degrees of success. Within the context of permaculture, a response that surfaces from time to time, may be something like, “It’s too hard!”, or “That’s a nice utopian ideal, but that’s all it is.”
Even if these sentiments are not verbalised then it’s likely there’s an internal dialogue that sounds a little like, “If I accept the fact that the majority of us are currently living unsustainably, then that means I’ve got to change everything I now know!” This is daunting and has a disabling effect for most people. Therefore it’s easier to put it in the too hard basket and carry on as business as usual.
Yet we couldn’t be further from business as usual, there’s even one particular theorist that states “Business as usual is a bullet in the head”. That sentiment tends to not open doors, so how about embracing David Bowie? To even begin to make a basic change internally we must first, as David says “Turn and face the strange ch-ch-ch-changes”. Being brave enough to look at ourselves and acknowledge that something’s not quite right is one of the hardest things we may ever encounter. There’s also an innate need to look long and hard at where we currently are on our global trajectory, so we can better understand the very nature of the predicament. If we can do so we’ll certainly be better equipped and more willing to ‘turn’. Or if you’re no Bowie fan how about Michael Jackson and his tune Man in the Mirror?
So once you’ve been able to look yourself in the mirror and ‘make that change’, then you can jump into Gandhi’s sand laden slippers and begin to ‘be the change’. Act on it. Whatever it is, big or small. No one can ridicule you for having a go, and those who do are usually the ones not doing it themselves. So be gentle on them. But most importantly have fun, and start now!
Fionn and Laura Quinlan, along with their 2 year daughter Iyla, have recently moved to the sub-tropical, Northern NSW village of The Channon. Fionn and Laura are both permaculture designers in their own right and budding ecological educators. Their property Djaning Farm is a 21 acre emerging permaculture demonstration site. Their vision is to create an inclusive, edible and creative landscape for all to enjoy.
Their blog, https://djaningfarm.wordpress.com/ , documents their day to day ongoings of their new life, as well as provide a rough map of how and why it was they came to be ‘permaculturists’, or as some may say, realists.