A frequent response that I get when I tell people about ISTSDay is, what is the alternative? Oil is such a big part of our society, how do we stop the addiction?
Permaculture was developed in response to peak oil and the need to prepare for a future of ‘energy descent’. It was actually developed right here in Tasmania where I am currently WWOOFing, and it is slowly taking over the world as a real solution for lifestyle change. For this year’s ISTSDay I wanted to give people something positive that they can build on, after the event. So I have decided to hold a workshop teaching the principles of permaculture as a way of shifting perspective.
The great experiment in using the permaculture principles to plan an action began for me last year at a workshop called Think like a forest – linking permaculture with art and activism. We went through the basic principles of all three and then came up with an action in response to a local issue. It was the first time I’d heard of permaculture but it really got to me as a solution to the climate crisis. I think the most appealing thing is that it is not just an idea. It is a practice.
A lot of people don’t really know what permaculture is, and most people that do, generally think it is about gardening. For the most part they are right, but there is a growing movement to take the techniques and principles outside of the garden and into everyday life. 13 Attitudes is a beautiful and inspiring little pdf that explains permaculture and its founding ethics and principles (they call them ‘attitudes’ and I like that!) My favourite quote from it is ‘permaculture is revolution disguised as gardening’.Permaculture doesn’t just offer us a different way of thinking it is quite relevant to the tar sands issue because it is a direct response to peak oil/oil addiction and climate change. In this light, I tend to think of it as a ‘better story’ that we can promote, as an answer to the tar sands problem. Not to say that permaculture will fix everything, it just offers people a means to start living differently!
The idea is to hold a weekly workshop in the month leading up to May 5. I am starting by inviting friends to get an idea of what the interest is, then I will put an open invite on mailing-lists, at uni’s etc. We will go through the permaculture design principles/attitudes and work through different permaculture techniques for creating an event.
It will definately be a case of the journey being just as important as the destination. I’m currently trying to translate the relevant gardening techniques into more flexible language for more abstract projects like ‘raising awareness’. You can follow the experiment here and I am more than open to comments on how you think we can improve it!