Letter to the permaculture community from Michael Pilarski
August 1, 2014
The NAPC is a historic moment. It marks the cusp of a new era, the turning of the wheel, the passing of the guard. Who knows when the next NAPC will happen but there will never be the chance to attend the 1st NAPC again. Be a part of this historic event.
David Holmgren to give a keynote talk to NAPC on Friday evening via Skype!
Permaculture elders council to happen at NAPC.
A session is on the schedule for Sunday morning. We will have our first meeting on Thursday evening or Friday morning to make a plan. We will be conducting video interviews with pc pioneers during the NAPC for the Permaculture History in North America Project.
International perspective: We will hear reports on the Cuba IPC and from the European Permaculture Convergence and other international news and initiatives. April Sampson-Kelly is coming from Australia, someone from Norway, Mexico and other countries. Check out how European permaculture teachers are cooperating:
HOW MANY BREAK-OUT SESSIONS DURING THE CONCURRENT PERIODS?
I was just noticing that the 2014 EPC had over 80 workshops and affinity groups scheduled. How many will we have at NAPC? We won’t know till the dust settles since a lot of the action is likely to be open space scheduling, round-tables, and working groups. Some people think that fewer things should be scheduled with larger numbers in each group. Some people think that more break-out groups are better with smaller numbers of people in each. Both of these tensions exist at NAPC. Let’s see what happens.
NAPC Presenters & Program
NAPC will be a gathering of permaculture professionals with most of them fully capable and qualified to give presentations. Here are some ways for people to participate in the NAPC program.
Currently about 50 people have offered to give presentations at NAPC. We are accepting a limited number of presentations. Some similar workshops are being combined. Some members of the core group are calling for a deadline of July 30 for workshop proposals, but if you have a proposal after that time, you should still contact Michael Pilarski as some late presentations may be accepted.
Discussion groups/round tables:
People sit in a circle and everyone can share their thoughts on the topic at hand. A round table enables information exchange between participants. We expect many round tables to be scheduled. Send your nominations for round tables to Michael Pilarski and/or fill out the program form on the NAPC website (in the Get Involved menu)
Working groups meet a number of times during the event and are task oriented. Each working group sets its own agenda, goals, facilitation and meeting schedule. Anyone can propose a working group. Working groups can be scheduled at concurrent times as well as during meal times, early mornings and evenings. Each working group is working for the movement as a whole. Their findings, directories, statements, proposals, etc can become part of the NAPC I proceedings. For a list of proposed working groups go to:
This can involve opening remarks and position statements by experts in a particular field followed by discussion and interaction by participants.
Hands-on means people are using their hands and being creative and learning a tactile skill. Some installations could be done during NAPC that would stay and benefit Harmony Park for years to come.
People get to see something come together or how it operates. The presenter does the hands-on component, perhaps with one or several volunteers.
David Holmgren has agreed to be a keynote speaker via skype. We will have the skype computer images on a big screen in the plenary hall with a sound system. We may or may not have additional keynote speakers.
It has been suggested that we have several keynote panels such as “Whither the pc movements in North America”. Short pithy statements, announcements, thoughts by leaders in the movement. Another keynote could be along the lines of “Reports from the Countries.” A report on the status of the permaculture movement in Canada, in Mexico, in the US and possibly South and Central America. There may be a report on the International Permaculture Convergence/Conference.
There will be a period for bioregional caucuses on Friday.
Open Space scheduling.
There will be space for ad hoc scheduling of workshops and round tables at the event. Whatever there is support for. Check out how the European PC Convergence handles open space scheduling;
At mealtimes, in the hallways and byways. Conversations are where a lot of the best action and exchanges take place.
Participants are encouraged to be part of the Exposition if you would like to showcase your services, vend or do outreach. There is an extra fee for this (comes with sponsorships). See the website for details and application form.
There will be a poster session during Saturday dinner period and early evening if you would like to display/explain a visual presentation or design.
I have faith in the permaculture community to have an incredibly productive and inspiring time together. The NAPC core group is laying the groundwork for this grand convocation to come together. Certainly there are bumps in the road and things left undone but NAPC is moving forward and the momentum is for a historic event. One way we are improving communications is the “Latest News & Update” section on the front page of the NAPC website.
My guess at this point is that at least 500 people will attend NAPC and they will be a very dedicated bunch of movers and shakers. Together we expect to make a big contribution to the development of permaculture in North America. To quote Liora Adler of Gaia University. “Really looking forward to working together to see how increased collaboration will lead to greater impact.”
NAPC as an egalitarian community.
We view the NAPC event as a gathering of the tribe. A meeting of a peer group. We’d like to see every permaculture pioneer and author attend. Can you imagine how much it would cost if we had to pay each one of them what they currently get paid for giving a workshop or keynote speech!? If half the people attending are already teaching or consulting how could we pick and choose which ones get paid and which ones get in free? NAPC cannot afford to do this. That is why we are asking everyone to pay their share of the expenses. We value everyone’s input and participation. We don’t want to set up a hierarchy. Come because you are excited about participating … not because you are getting paid.
We want to invite the permaculture pioneers and the famous permaculturists, This is not to say that older permaculturists are necessarily wiser or smarter than people new to the permaculture scene. Or that they are more well-known or respected in the movement. Some people haven’t been in the movement that many years but have already made a name for themselves. Most pdc graduates are doing good work but are not in the public limelight. Some people are new to permaculture. Everyone has something to share. We are all part of the permaculture community. Come on and let’s get together! You can be a part of the magic, spontaneity and creativeness that will happen when we come together!
One of NAPC’s raison d’etres is for the permaculture community to get its house in order. The NAPC is offering an opportunity for a lot of the most dedicated permaculturists to get together and discuss how to build more symbiotic relationships and improve the movement. NAPC is not seeking standardization and hierarchy. Together we can do more good than we can as isolated individuals and regional organizations. The national movement is suffering from a lack of dialogue. The NAPC crew will do what we can to organize things into tracks and schedules that make sense from people’s feedback ahead of time. The outcome is up to the participants. We will make history together. It is not pre-destined or pre-arranged. NAPC’s goal is meaningful content and outcomes.
Permaculture Elders, Pioneers & Cohorts
WHAT IS A PERMACULTURE ELDER?
WHO ARE OUR PERMACULTURE PIONEERS?
What is a COHORT?
A cohort is used in forestry to mean a group of trees in a forest who started their growth in the same time period. Applying this term to the permaculture movement we could say that there is 1980’s cohort of permaculturists, a 1990’s cohort, a 2000’s cohort and, in progress, the 2010’s cohort.
I am nominating the 1980s North American permies cohort as the permaculture pioneers for North America. I think that pioneers is a better term than elders. I am hopeful that quite a few of the 1980s pioneers cohort will attend this NAPC, as well as large samplings of all the other cohorts.
Some people have been throwing around the term ‘permaculture elder’. What does that mean? I imagine that some people might not like the term. Certainly we know that just because someone is old that they are necessarily wise and we know that just because someone is young that they are unwise. There are unwise older people and wise young people.
I think we are using the term “elder” to mean someone who has been serving the permaculture movement in a noteworthy way for many years. In today’s youth culture, age may be considered a liability rather than something that deserves respect. Since traditional and indigenous cultures always valued elders, I would propose that the pc community also value its elders, in recognition of pc’s predilection for learning from traditional cultures. This is not to discount that some people in the movement might have already done very noteworthy work within a few short years, perhaps even more than some of the permaculture elders using the definition above.
Using a 25-year cutoff for a permaculture elder, a person would have had to begun their pc career before 1988. It would be possible to draw up a list of pc people who have been continuously active in the pc since the 1980s. Here is a starting attempt as part of the Permaculture History of North America project. Of course there are many people who took their pdcs in the early years but did not remain active in the movement. Here I am referring to people who have been continuously active in the movement. David Boehnlein once referred to us as “permaculture old-growth”.
A pioneer is a forerunner, one of the first on a scene. There will continue to be a new string of permaculture elders as time moves on. But there won’t be any more permaculture pioneers, ie. the people who started the movement.
These lists were compiled by Michael Pilarski who is most familiar with the Northwest part of the Continent and less so with other parts of the continent. This is just a beginning and in some cases I am just guessing the year of people’s first pdc.
Permaculture Pioneers: (Version #1, April 1, 2014)
Graduated from their first permaculture design course in the 1980s.
* Indicated they are attending NAPC.Guy Baldwin
Marco Chung-shu Lam
Jean Eisenhower (mntd by Peter Bane)
Darrell Frey *
Jude Hobbs *
Dick Hogan (mntd by Peter Bane)
Susan Lein (mntd by Peter Bane)
Chuck Marsh, *
Jerome Osentowski, *
Michael Pilarski, *
Scott Pittman *
Barbara Rose (mntd by Peter Bane)
Ali Sharif, Latin America
Richard Wade (mntd by Peter Bane)
In Hawai’i. Marianne Scott, Bruce Bebe, Michael Howden, Bruce Hill, Bill Howe,
In Canada: Richard Griffith *, Stuart Hill, Oliver Kellhammer, Monica Kuhn, Liz Richardson, Who else?
In Mexico. I know little of the pc scene there. I do know that Alejandra Caballero and Jose Caballero (sister and brother) were two of the earliest Mexican permaculture teachers. Would someone familiar with the scene down there put together a list along these lines?
Of course, the list of pdc grads in the 1980s is much longer than this list above. I made up this list using my memory and incomplete knowledge. Anyone who feels they (or someone else) belongs on this list, please let me know. We will update this list at the NAPC.
Some permaculture pioneers have gone on to become well-known and influential in their work, but have not been flying under the banner of permaculture. Some examples are Craig Elevitch, and Kim Wilkinson of Agroforestry Associates in Hawai`i, John Quinney of New Alchemy Institute, Sego Jackson of Snohomish County Recycling, and Carl Woestwin of Seattle’s waste reduction program. I imagine there are dozens and hundreds of other examples.
Some well-known permaculturists who are part of the 1990s cohort:
A partial list off the top of my head.
* Indicated they are attending NAPC.Peter Bane, *
Albert Bates, *
Margie Bushman *
Dan Halsey *
Marsha Hanzi (now working in Brazil)
Toby Hemenway, *
Keith Johnson, *
Penny Livingston, *
Loren Luyendyk *
Wesley Roe *
Michael G. Smith,
Bob Waldrop, *
Wayne Weiseman, *
Lots more to add to this list at NAPC.
In the long run, it would be good to have the date of their first pdc after each of their names.
Who knows how many permaculture course graduates there are in North America? I’d guess over 50,000 at this point and going up rapidly. How many people have taught, or are still teaching pc design courses? 500 perhaps? I have started a project of listing all the PDC teachers in North America and the years they have taught pdcs. It has over 350 people in it currently. We will be updating it at NAPC.
Contact Michael Pilarski if you are interested in presenting a workshop, or proposing a round table or working group.
Questions, comments on any of the above?