These are scary times we live in. I take consolation in my permaculture learning, and I hope you also find hope and encouragement in its teachings.
I’ve received messages from CEOs and leaders of all types of organizations from the local gym to the Ritz Carlton advising on how they are responding to the corona virus emergency by disinfecting their facilities, shutting down group events, and encouraging sick employees and customers to stay home.
Here at Denver Permaculture Guild, we don’t have facilities, but we stand ready to help any of our members, friends, students, or affiliate partners who need aid. We are not going to shut down teaching and spreading the word about permaculture. On the contrary, we are stepping up plans and open to suggestions about how we can use permaculture to address emerging needs.
Why? Because we believe that permaculture is now more relevant than ever. The current crisis is revealing the growing cracks and fissures in our health care, food, social, infrastructure, and financial systems. Many of these systems have remained relatively unchanged for decades while the population has built up a lifestyle of consumption on the cushion of prosperity and resource extraction.
When Bill Mollison and David Holmgren started formulating the 12 principles of permaculture in the 1970s, climate change was called global warming and it was barely known. Scientists like James Hansen who warned about human-caused environmental change were voices crying out in the wilderness. Forty years later, we still have no comprehensive systemic responses to climate change and there are still very vocal pockets of doubt and denial. (See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_climate_change_science and https://www.snopes.com/news/2020/02/12/the-five-pillars-of-climate-change-denial/)
Climate change science and permaculture have evolved in parallel since then and, at times, their stories have interwoven. The permaculture approach has proven to be useful for understanding and responding to growing not just plants but also new ways of fulfilling our needs as societies. Thus, we have developed a Social Permaculture path, with a book by Adam Brock, Change Here Now, and a class that we offer yearly.
Our newest class, Financial Permaculture, will look at economic systems through the permaculture lens. In preparing for the class along with lead instructor Michael Alcazar, I’m amazed at how well the principles apply to these systems that are so in need of a fresh perspective. The three-day class will begin in late April and you can find out more about it on the Events tab of our web site.
Adam Brock is also debuting a new podcast, Beyond Denver, (https://soundcloud.com/user-865181877-892314870) that brings societal change to the local level. You don’t even have to leave your home to participate! The last episode, “Beyond Gentrification” is scheduled to be taped on March 27 at Gypsy House Café on S. Broadway.
Can you believe that our flagship, the Denver Permaculture Design Course, is now in its tenth year? It is so rewarding to see the PDC fill to capacity with students year after year with hardly any promotion at all. Word of mouth referrals by graduates are working to spread the news of this intensive course that is transforming the lives of its students and radiating out to effect regenerative change in our communities and all over our Earth. We hope the course will be able to go ahead on its scheduled start April 4-5 and will inform everyone if the start has to be delayed. We are also extending our refund deadline to April 3 to make sure that students who are feeling under the weather can defer or cancel their enrollment.
A silver lining to this corona virus scare is the opportunity to think about other ways permaculture can contribute solutions. Regenerative fiber growing for toilet paper, perhaps? Better food delivery systems? Online access to health care in real time? Neighborhood-based emergency shelters and resource centers? There are no limits. Be well, and take care of your neighbors. Stay in touch (virtually, for now).