Permaculture Pocket Knives

Back in February 2012, at the Sustainable Living Festival in Melbourne, I was challenged by a colleague about wearing a pocket knife, which he pointed out was illegal (without a genuine reason). This was news to me and intensified my feelings of alienation as a country person visiting the centre of a large city. What was the world coming to? But it also stimulated thought about what my genuine reasons for carrying a pocket knife in public might be and how that question was intimately connected to permaculture.  In April 2012 I penned an essay, Permaculture Pocket Knives, to explore the issue but it sat unpublished until now.  I offer it here  as providing an insight into permaculture as a social sub-culture that stands in contrast to many of the dysfunctional normalities that characterise modern living in an affluent society. (Permaculture pocketknives)


Weapons manufacture at Melliodora???
Oliver Holmgren testing a knife blade for straightness he had forged from an antique truck spring. Photo 2005, Oliver aged 19



6 Responses to Permaculture Pocket Knives

  1. ian October 2, 2013 at 6:03 pm #

    I think it was Ian MacFarlane, or similar Nationals MP who had the same issue taking his knife into parliament in Canberra a few years ago. Even tho’ he said he’d cleaned it up well after castrating some lambs.

  2. tamara Griffiths October 3, 2013 at 1:17 pm #

    Hi David,

    I was warned by Police at the Tecoma picket line for having a knife I was using for basket weaving, as a weapon!!!

    Slightly different circumstances but I’m with you on the “alien”-ation of us practical folk!

    Great to see you at the doco opening last week – my PDC students loved meeting you.

    Tamara and Ducky

  3. David F Collins October 5, 2013 at 12:58 am #

    Back in the 1990’s (i.e. pre 9-11), while my wife & I were living/working in Mexico, we flew to Connecticut for the graduation of our daughter-in-law. Security people would not let me board with my Swiss Army Knife. They put it into a taped-shut box, which they kindly returned to me at the Hartford airport. Amusingly, I could not open the box without my knife, but that evening our always-prepared daughter-in-law pulled hers from her purse and opened that box.

    That knife was essential in Mexico, where people are always having folks over for dinner. On the rare occasions when we had Sunday dinner at home, we were hosting a dozen or two people. When we went, my wife always insisted on taking a couple of bottles of wine. Wine is not a part of Mexican culture, so nobody had a corkscrew. At first I would open the bottle with a screw, screwdriver and vice-grip pliers (everybody had those), a hassle. But eventually I took to always having my modest Swiss Army Knife with me. It did emergency repairs on Carousel and Overhead projectors, helped assemble furniture, helped serve “road food” etc. Like you mentioned.

    Never once used it to decapitate drug thugs, Vietcong, etc.

    Back in the 1960’s, Uncle Sam taught some of us how to kill folks with certain handholds. (I never got to put it into practice, which was fine with me.) It takes a moment longer than with a knife or firearm, but it works. A pocketknife? Too time consuming to get out, open a blade, etc. and I’d need both hands.

    Separately, when the Gestapo “investigated” Einstein’s Sommerhaus in Caputh, they reported finding numerous weapons. Kitchen knives.

  4. David Holmgren October 6, 2013 at 6:41 pm #

    Thank Ian, Tamara and David for the comments. The more these stories are part of the public discourse, the great the chance of diffusing the culture of disability and fear that we find so absurd.

  5. Carolyn Payne-Gemmell October 8, 2013 at 7:59 am #

    Hi David, Would you be interested in putting this up over on the Permaculture Research Institute website ?
    Yours Abundantly
    Carolyn Payne-Gemmell

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