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This episode is an interview with Taj Scicluna, the Perma Pixie, about her development of a permaculture business, and the work required to be a small business owner. Along the way we also talk about education, and some of the differences between Australian and American training, including the work to formalize the permaculture design certificate. You can find out more about Taj and her work at ThePermaPixie.com, which includes her calendar, blog, videos, and lots of other information.
What I like about this conversation is hearing that there is a movement afoot in the world to take this work of permaculture and find ways to make it more available and accessible through existing systems. To professionalize our practices. To provide opportunities that help fund education and make permaculture more accessible through programs that already exist.
Another piece of this is Taj’s sharing of a potential 4th ethic, the ethic of transition. I like this idea, and am considering including it in my own practices, as it continues the thread discussing the space between personal responsibility and the systemic issues we face within the culture we come from that extends directly into the practice of permaculture. Though we might encapsulate this in the existing strategy of appropriate technology, I find that this stands stronger as an ethic, because it provides a place to work through the world we live in at the moment, so we can build the framework of the world we want to live in.
In that, each of us have choices to make. What will we use from the old system to build the new? For some that includes formal education in the university model as it stands. To others that means accepting an informal process that provides different opportunities. In permaculture, that could be embracing the Mollisonian approach to a Permaculture Design Course, underneath the umbrella of a group like PRI or PINA, while others are creating new programs that deliver the similar content in a different way that includes things like new Ethics or principles that build on the earlier material, or focused on a particular subset of the community such as activists or community organizers. Others still might live in the gift while others use capitalism. While one rejects flying another might use flight as a way to teach the world. Live without computers or electricity as a model for others, or embrace these technologies to share those ideas with the world.
In making these choices, deciding how to move forward as individuals, we need to start talking about what we are doing as a community, inside and outside of permaculture. What works? What doesn’t? Where do we feel included? Where do we feel excluded? How are we our own worst enemies? Is organizing formally drawing you in to do more? Or are you feeling rejected because of the emerging structures? Where do you see examples of racism? Sexism? Where can we be allies to one another and come together to make a real and lasting difference?
You are not alone. I am not alone. We’re all in this together. Let’s work on making the world a more bountiful place.
If there is anyway I can help, get in touch.
Or, if you want, send me a letter.
The Permaculture Podcast
P.O. Box 16
Dauphin, PA 17018
From here the next interview is with Rachel Kaplan of the 13 Moon Collaborative, and after that Jerome Osentowski from Central Rocky Mountain Permaculture joins me to talk about his book The Forest Garden Greenhouse.
Now a quick update behind the scenes of the show. I’m back from The Possibility Alliance and it was an incredible time. Ethan and I recorded over 14 hours of raw audio, 10 hours of video, and I took nearly 1,000 photographs, many of various documents detailing the various ideas at the PA, and dozens of pages of notes. The editing, sorting, and sifting have begun to bring the book into reality, and I’m leaving early access to the book and the ability for listeners to pledge to the project open. Find out more at:
I am also now setup and operating from Seppi’s place and am integrating into this space. Alongside Seppi, our collective four children, and our other housemate Eric, we are learning what it means to live in community, not just as roommates or people who share space. Already, in less than a week, rituals, roles, and schedules are emerging that mutually support one another. It’s interesting to live with, for, and alongside other people, as opposed to just sharing space. Like tonight, as this episode goes out, I’m making a pasta dinner for everyone in our community, along with my unwife joining us as well.
Moving forward with producing the podcast, working on the book, and living with Seppi and the other cast of characters, I’ll continue to add updates and experiences like this to the show. You can always find the latest and greatest in each new episode.
Which will finally bring this episode to a close. All my best to you. Until the next time, spend each day creating the world you want to live in by taking care of Earth, yourself, and each other.
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This episode sets out the plan for 2016. In the words that follow are my personal journey and how that impacts the podcast; what to expect from the show in the year to come; and some projects currently in the mix that I’d like you to join me on or events to come to.
As some of you know, but others may not, my wife and I have been working through a divorce, which recently ended our marriage. Though amicable this change sees me moving from our family home of nearly a decade into Seppi’s Place, a permaculture co-housing site and community center run by my friend Seppi Garrett. That move is set for January 30. With this move and the upcoming trip to The Possibility Alliance from January 15-25, the release schedule for the podcast is changing as I take the time for this travel and the move to rest and reset from many months of pushing forward through these personal changes, as well as family illness that saw me fall back into my role as primary caregiver. Things will get rolling again, including releasing some of the recordings with Ethan, in February.
I see living at Seppi’s Place as an opportunity to learn what it means to inhabit housing in a radically different way. Additionally Seppi and many others, myself included as I am able, are working together to provide a community space where people can come together to work and collaborate in a way that mixes the gift and capital economies during this period of larger transition. A lot of valuable experiences, and podcast material, are ripe from that environment.
For the podcast this shift will see the main releases continue to be the long-format interviews that have been the mainstay for the last two plus years, but as you may have noticed my personal trajectory moves ever further away from the landscape to the social and economic structures of permaculture. I’m reading more books like The Permaculture City by Toby Hemenway, or Systems Thinking for Social Change by David Peter Stroh, or The Art of Leading Collectively by Petra Kuenkel, than I am other great books that are more focusing on the ground, like Farming the Woods or Edible Forest Gardens Vol. 1 & 2. As someone once said to me, this show is becoming even more of a permaculture practitioners podcast. Though there is plenty of material on starting out in the archives, based on the emails, phone calls, and survey responses you’ve sent me, the show is focused on people who are familiar with the basic concepts of permaculture and are looking to take their practices further.
Along with that, many of you have asked for me to directly address a variety of questions in permabyte episodes, including revisiting and completing the series on David Holmgren’s Principles of Permaculture, as well as on more practical advice for navigating the world of permaculture and the interface with our larger society. I’d like to honor that, as well as to dig in and examine some hard questions that are coming to the forefront, like:
How can we – the permaculture community – stop being our own worst enemies?
Is the Pemaculture Design Certificate enough?
Should someone take an advanced permaculture certificate, such as a teacher training?
Is there a point to getting a Permaculture Diploma?
In order to do that, to make these explorations, however, requires more time and space to read, research, and write, as answering those questions and others requires more than just spouting an opinion. I want to include evidence so you understand how I arrived at a conclusion so that a dialog can arise and each of us can step up and do this work to a higher standard than is currently occurring as permaculture gets more popular. Along the way, if you think I’m wrong, I want you to show me why you see something differently.
Along with doing that, there’s still my personal need to keep the show at a high standard for the content and production quality. If anything, making it better includes having the opening and closing remarks and the show notes be more comprehensive, as opposed to the short episode-in-review that became the current standard. If you check the release schedule at http://thepermaculturepodcast.com you’ll now see what epsiodes are currently in the production queue, without an affixed date.
This shift comes from following one of my favorite podcasters Dan Carlin, the host of Common Sense and Hardcore History. He releases on his own schedule, as things get done, which means that in 2015 he only released 16 episodes across both shows. Though I wouldn’t want to move to that low level of frequency, to push these boundaries and continue to grow the show quality could require a schedule that doesn’t fit the regular weekly one I’ve more or less followed over the past two years, but rather to work on something until it is complete and then send it out into the world.
With that change in the regular show schedule, what might seem paradoxically, comes more video content. Photographer John is scheduling to accompany me to more events, some of which I’ll talk about in a few minutes, with his focus of being there for video. If you haven’t been to the YouTube site for the show, you’ll find a link in the resource section of this episode so you can see some of our earlier work, and subscribe to get notifications as new material is posted.
Projects and Events
From there, here are several large projects, and small ones, that I’m currently a part of in various ways.
The two major projects are The Possibility Handbook and Seppi’s Seed Paper.
You’ve probably heard me talk about The Possibility Handbook already, but if you haven’t this is a book Ethan Hughes and I are writing together that explores how to bring about transformative change based on Ethan’s work over the past several decades through The Possibility Alliance, The Peace and Permaculture Center and Stillwater Sanctuary, and The Superheroes Alliance. Thanks to those who pledged to this project already, and several people sending me audio and visual equipment for this trip, I head out to see Ethan and visit the Possibility Alliance on January 15, and return on the 25. While there I’m interviewing Ethan, which forms the basis for the book, as well as documenting all of the many diagrams and pictures created over the years, and performing additional video interviews with Ethan within and beyond the scope of the book.
You can find out more by going to The Possibility Handbook page and find out more. If you’d like to hear all of the audio, see all of the videos, and all of the pictures that result from this visit and tour, the only way to do so is to pledge now to the listener exclusive campaign.
The next project is one being spearheaded by Seppi Garrett and Kendra Hoffman through Seppi’s Place, that I’m also helping to document, called Seppi’s Seedpaper. If you’ve ever received a business card or postcard with embedded seeds that can be planted, then you have the idea that started this project. However, as a permaculture practitioner, Seppi wants to take this a step further and include the ethics of permaculture in this practice by removing materials from the waste stream to create the paper, using local and native seeds to support earth and the biosphere, and also helping to generate a surplus by making this a replicable microbusiness, using your on the ground resources, and with the tools and information needed to support you and your business. As Seppi is trained in squarefoot gardening, an idea developed by Mel Bartholemew, the paper, frames and seed layout are all designed so that you can create pre-seeded square-foot garden squares and then deal your garden into a squarefoot frame come Spring.
To help others in the creation of their own local micro-business, Seppi, Kendra, myself and others are creating a DVD showing how to make the seedpaper, and an ebook and worksheets detailing the process of starting and running a seed paper business.
If you’re a listener to the show, you can pre-order a copy of the DVD, or pledge to the campaign, at a 10% discount between now and Monday, February 15.
Find out more about Seppi’s Seedpaper on the Projects Page.
Some smaller events and classes currently on the schedule.
Sunday, January 31st, 2016, I’m recording a round table in Philadelphia at Repair the World. Panel guests include:
Robyn Mello, from the Philadelphia Orchard Project
Kirtrina Baxter, from the Garden Justice Legal Initiative at the Public Interest Law Center
Paul Glover, local activist and founder of the Philadelphia Orchard Project
Nate Kleinman, from the Experimental Farm Network
Melissa Miles, local permaculture instructor / practitioner
Sunday, February 21st, 2016, I’m recording a live discussion in Baltimore, Maryland, in cooperation with Charm City Farms as part of their celebration of the Johnston Square site, the location for the next urban Permaculture space in Baltimore.
The itinerary for the day includes:
11am- 12pm: Come check out the space. Eric will give a brief tour of the lot, including Spring plans for both the growing space as well as the Brick Barn.
12pm- 1pm: Potluck Social in the barn, followed by a short presentation by Eric about some of the deeper plans and ideas for the indoor and outdoor space.
1pm- 3pm: Public interview by Scott Mann of the Permaculture Podcast with Victoria about The Forager’s Apprentice Course, including audience participation and Q & A.
4pm- 6pm: Movie night showing of the 2015 film INHABIT (if you are able, please bring an extra chair, as we are only set up to seat 20 people)
Saturday, June 18, 2016, is the Mid-Atlantic Permaculture Convergence which is being organized with Emma Huvos of The Riverside Project. Michael Judd is the Keynote Speaker, talking about his journey as a professional permaculture practitioner from his early days with Project Bonefide through until today where he’s an author and designer.
Starting on Thursday, February 25th, 2016, from 7-9pm at Seppi’s place, and continuing on the fourth Thursday of each month through May, I am teaching an in-person class on podcasting, covering topics like:
How do I choose a topic to podcast about?
What software is available to record and edit?
What equipment to buy?
How do I make it sound good?
Should my podcast be audio or video?
What about paying to advertise my podcast?
If time allows and based on participant interest we can discuss other topics like how to develop an interview style or the creation of an on-air persona.
This class is limited to not more than 15 participants, and is offered for $100 per person for the entire five-month program.
You can find out more about each of these programs and the topics covered, as you might expect, by visiting the Classes & Events page, which includes a complete calendar and links to register.
Finally, regarding education if you are interested in learning permaculture through a mentored experience, or are looking for a mentor now that you’ve completed a PDC, but need more direction and experience, get in touch with me and we can talk about these possibilities. As I mentioned earlier in the bigger questions I want to cover, is about whether or not the PDC is enough. Here I answer part of that by saying that from my own experience and that of others, I don’t feel that the core permaculture design course prepares students for more than getting ready to practice, and that students need long term support based on their own individual needs to meet their long-term goals. With all the other work of putting myself out there, this is one of those places where I personally feel comfortable helping others in the community, so get in touch in the usual wayss.
Or send me a letter:
The Permaculture Podcast
P.O. Box 16
Dauphin, PA 17018
If you’re interested in having a round table recording in your area, or if I can assist your program, project, or event, you can reach out to me by those means as well.
That covers my path, the plan, and upcoming projects, as they are known so far for 2016. Thank you for listening and making this show a part of your life.
Until the next time, take care of Earth, yourself, and each other.
The Art of Leading Collectively
Mid-Atlantic Permaculture Convergence (Facebook Event)
The Permaculture City
The Possibility Handbook
The Permaculture Podcast Classes & Events
The Permaculture Podcast Projects
Systems Thinking for Social Change
Blake Kirby is a permaculturist and small scale farmer from Marion, Texas, who I’ve gotten to know through his blog, YouTube Channel, and an ongoing personal correspondence. While the podcast continues to focus on social and economic systems, the issues we face as individual practitioners and as as a community, throughout 2016 I’ll be sharing information from other folks doing good work around on the ground topics such as farming, gardening, or earthworks.