What role, if any, might permaculture play in designing nature’s futures?
I’d like to write about the concepts behind permaculture that I believe are relevant for embracing the challenges of designing nature’s futures.
When we watched Inhabit in class, one of the strongest questions that emerged from the narrative was: “How does permaculture approach turning problems into solutions?”
This, in itself, takes a mental shift, as confronting challenges sometimes leaves people feeling powerless or hopeless. I think seeing it as an opportunity to innovate is going to be essential when the real difficult work of the future is right in front of us, begging us to act.
These solutions will have to utilize “permacultural thinking” and approaches, but also come from an understanding that biology backs up technology, and not the other way around. We cannot force nature, we cannot bend it to our will – at least not indefinitely. Thinking that we should do this and that we’re currently doing it successfully is foolish thinking because it necessitates an approach to nature where it is all used up, or where it has been translated into waste, something unusable. This is not a good destination for anything natural to end up. This can also be explained in permacultural language as a “holistic” approach (integrating all parts, healing, circular) versus “allopathic” (treats only symptoms, not the root causes).
Lastly, I believe nature’s future will have to be embedded in social justice movements. Permaculture design – for example, as taught at the Occidental Arts and Ecology Center – reflects a social justice outlook because it supports an integrative outlook versus an extractive one.