What is permaculture?
Permanent culture. Sustainable culture. Culture without an end date. In these times, it makes good business sense to identify consumer demand in a market without any recognized, reliable supply. Through strategic marketing we present ourselves as a reliable supplier of permaculture education, anticipating huge demand while ushering in a return to a very ancient way of living.
Educating the general public regarding permaculture requires applying permaculture principles to the technique of teaching, creating a new pedagogy that applies market principles to the demand for people's attention. In a world with many demands for people's attention, why learn about permaculture? What is the attraction; where is the incentive to learn? In order to teach permaculture we must reach out to people, sharing with them not merely what they need to know but what they truly want to know, and sharing it with them in a manner they truly enjoy.
A real permaculture education needs to be entertaining if it is to be sustainable.
Identify the attractiveness of it and market its attraction in an attractive way - teaching must be fun in order for learning to take place. Education needs to be entertaining to keep people's attention and stay relevant. A real permaculture education is required to answer the fundamental questions of both what we want to learn and how we want to learn it.
What do we want to learn? There's an old maxim:
give a man a fish, feed him for a day. teach a man to fish, feed him for a lifetime.
teach a man to get a job and buy fish, you've made a slave out of him, and his children, and his children's children.
What we want to learn is how to fish. How to provide food, shelter, safety, a sense of community, a sense of sacred purpose, and a sense of belonging. We can no longer pretend that 'fixing' the economy and creating more 'jobs' is any solution. A society in which a man is compelled to have a job if he wants to survive is a society which fails not only to teach men how to fish but also deprives man of his freedom to learn how to fish on his own. A world in which man cannot afford to learn to fish because he must spend his days working for ecologically destructive purposes in order to buy fish is a world with a termination date. Ecologically destructive jobs - and the very nature of our resource-consuming economy means that jobs perpetuate gratuitous resource consumption - serve an unsustainable paradigm inexorably destroying our planet's life support systems. The great task which lies before us is to put down our jobs and pick up our work.
Our work is ecological work. Learning and teaching how to grow food in all conditions and environments, whether they be urban, suburban, or rural. Learning and teaching how to build shelter out of local materials, whatever these materials may be. Learning and teaching how to collect rainwater, how to compost and fertilize, how to live together and pray together and share with one another. It is a great irony that our jobs and our economy is the single greatest inhibitor of our work. And while no one expects people to leave their jobs in order to pursue their work, the sad fact is that our overconsumption of natural resources has left our economy with nowhere to go but down, taking jobs with it. Raw materials are the fuel that runs the nation's economy, and we have used them up to such a degree, converting them to landfill matter, that our economic engine has nothing left to burn. Investing in ecological health is the only way to reinvigorate our natural resources. We will continue to run out of jobs. The only way to heal the economy is to heal the ecology.
What is ecotourism? Ecological tourism. Visit ecologies; invest your attention in the source of your own survival and the survival of your species and your world. Of course, virtual ecotourism may play a vital role in the propagation of a permaculture worldview. Virtual ecotourism is nothing more than a website that documents ecological tourism for the armchair ecotourist. Virtual ecotourism may actually begin to play a larger and larger role in the greater economy, as it were.
The first step of the ecological tourist - or the virtual ecotourist - is to look around at one's environment, and appreciate it. Look at the self appreciating the environment, and appreciate the self who appreciates. As we learn to appreciate our circumstances and our circumstantial selves, our evolving gratitude towards undifferentiated experience gives us the confidence to believe in a future which holds further circumstances for which to be grateful. We become confident of where we are going, even though we do not know where we are going. We become confident of where we are going because we don't care where we are going; we are simply grateful to be going.
This confidence, this gratefulness, keeps us healthy and humorous and thick skinned. Which is what its going to take to get through the next decade... and that's permaculture.