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Green Lifestyle interview (and Award reflections)

Back in October David Holmgren was inducted into the Green Lifestyle Hall of Fame.

A follow-up an interview with Katrina Lezaic published in Green Lifestyle Magazine focused on the links between the origins of permaculture and the energy crises of the 1970s.

“The origin point for the first big wave of environmentalism was really the limits to growth report from the Club of Rome in 1972, which is the beginnings of the modern concept of sustainability’, even though that term didn’t appear until much later,” Mr Holmgren told Green Lifestyle. “And of course a year after that report came out there was the first oil shock, followed by another in ’79 to bracket that initial wave.”

The publishing of Permaculture One catapulted the practice into popular culture, resulting in a series of design courses facilitated by Bill Mollison in the early ’80s.

Throughout that time there was huge growth in all aspects of environmentalism, including an increase in owner/builders, intentional communities, and organic agriculture.

“Permaculture was a bringing together of all these different aspects and integrating them,” Mr Holmgren says. “It also introduced a few new or novel aspects, by highlighting design as the most important practice and ecological models for redesigning agriculture and society.”

The article conclude with the following.

David Holmgren was initiated into the Green Lifestyle Hall of Fame. As a key figure in the environmental movement, he is inspirational in providing ways to restructure our thinking so we are no longer depending on dwindling resources but instead create resilience and political strength in our own lives.

We have just found David’s own reflections on the award that never made it onto the website. The series of articles by an Australian environmental activist Kari McGregor he had just read helped him contextualise his own reactions to the award. Ironically Kari’s blog is called the Overthinker!

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Shades of Green(Lifestyle) Awards Reflection

logo-bigWhile gardening alone in the Spring busy period without the need to plan and direct volunteers, I have had more time for reflection. One of the subjects for reflection was my elevation to the Green Lifestyle Hall of Fame.

By chance I had just read a series of articles by Kari McGregor (part 1, part 2 and part 3) using a framework for thinking about green activism that seemed relevant to this award.

Kari McGregor’s categories of environmentalism Light Green, Bright Green, Deep Green and Dark Green made sense of my musings.

Light Green, is about relatively modest changes in our personal lifestyles that will collectively lead to a more environmentally sane and sustainable society.

Bright Green, is based on a belief that renewable and smart technology will create the next industrial revolution that will allow society to continue the path of progress that is so fundamental to our collective culture. Both these strains of environmentalism remain anthropocentric while Deep and Dark Green environmentalism assert humanity must develop an eco-centric culture to survive.

Deep Green environmentalists focus on protecting nature by direct action and radical political activism while Dark Greens focus on building the ecological successor culture now in the belief that industrial civilization is doomed to run its course and collapse either dramatically or slowly.

In this framework Green Lifestyle Magazine is primarily Light Green with a fair dose of Bright Green. I wondered where to position the previous recipients of the Hall of Fame award. Bob Brown might be more Deep Green while Olivia Newton John’s stellar celebrity and financial success might suggest a blend of Light and Bright Green (even though I know very little of her environmental activism). I fit more squarely in with the Dark Greens. While my Dark Green perspective may seem most removed from Green Lifestyle’s Light Green environmentalism, we share the focus on change the world by changing ourselves while the Bright Green renewable energy and climate policy activists such as Mark Descendorf, and Philip Sutton share the belief in changing the nature of the system with the more radical direct action activists such as Paul Watson (founder of Sea Shepherd) even if the methods used to bring about structural change are very different and that these activists can be placed on either side of the anthropocentric and eco-centric divide.

pip3The point of Kari’s essay was that all four perspectives have their strengths and weaknesses and that we should all do more to acknowledge the value of the perspectives. She suggests that commitment to social justice is a shared if not strongly articulated value behind all four shades of green that could be more strongly recognized and articulated. In this context I thought about how new PIP magazine which I have strongly supported is just a slightly more radical version of the Light Green environmentalism on show in Green Lifestyle mag.

 

Permaculture as a brand of Australian environmentalism does focus on what we can do to look after the environment and future generations as we become more self reliant, productive and resilient individually, in our households and communities. Maybe permaculture can be viewed as a low eco-tech version of Bright Green that will allow us to live fulfilled lives without today’s systems or consumption of resources. But my Future Scenarios work let alone my more recent controversial essay Crash on Demand; Welcome to the Brown Tech World have suggested to some that I have shifted from optimist to pessimist about the future of humanity. I don’t think my perspective has shifted that much other than a response to what I see as the declining options available to future generations as industrial civilization accelerates toward a collision with nature and its internal contradictions. In many ways Crash on Demand is a strong Dark Green critique of the Bright Green and Deep Green perspectives while I largely ignore the Light Green perspective as being far to weak a response to the ecological crisis.

Kari’s framework certainly helped me make sense of Green Lifestyle magazine’s award to me. As co-originator of the permaculture concept I was partly responsible for the positive can-do attitude to improving the environment, that is permaculture. My lifestyle of radical simplicity combined with household and communitarian sufficiency, is an uncomfortable one for most trying to do their bit to live a greener lifestyle. Compared to the two previous recipients of this award, Bob Brown and Olivia Newton John, I am definitely more of an extremist.   Still, I thought, it is normal in any network or subculture to look to radicals rather than moderates for inspiration. We acknowledge and respect those who go the extra mile to “walk the talk” even if that means a stronger ideological commitment or pig headed personality than most in the same subculture would believe reasonable.

Beyond this recognition of pioneering radicals, I thought my permaculture lifestyle of radical simplicity and sufficiency is more in line with mainstream consumer environmentalism than it is with mainstream political environmentalism. In the debate about the personal being political vs structural change to the “system” I obviously more associate with the first view while Bob Brown has devoted his life more to the second perspective which is characteristic of Kari’s Bright and Deep Green environmentalisms. Viewed through this lens my Crash On Demand essay is actually an appeal to all environmentalists to take seriously the idea that what we do in our own lives is potent but only if what we do is radical in its simplicity and abundant in its real biological and communitarian productivity. Thus there is a direct line of evolution of action from Light Green to Dark Green. I doubt whether Kari’s framework let alone my musings reflect the decisions of the judges at Green Lifestyle Mag but this award and Kari’s framework has certainly reminded me that all responses to the ecological crisis have value in ways that are not necessarily obvious.

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Holmgren in the Green Lifestyle Hall of Fame

logoWhat do you think Bob Brown, Olivia Newton-John and David Holmgren have in common? All have beautiful singing voice? Maybe. Written some very important books? Possible.

David Holmgren was awarded the 2014 Green Lifestyle Award for his pioneering and ongoing work with Permaculture since he co-founded the concept more than three decades ago. David is now the third person to be inducted to the Green Lifestyle Awards Hall of Fame thus putting him in the good company of Bob Brown, the inaugural inductee in 2012 and Olivia Newton-John last year. Congratulations David, and what a trio of great Australians!

David was one of more than sixty people and organisations recognised in this year’s annual award on Thursday 16th October in Sydney. The award was hosted by Green Lifestyle magazine. Each year the panel of six eminent judges chooses people, companies and communities, and give recognition for their efforts in creating a more sustainable lifestyle. The categories range from food, fashion, beauty, garden, home, kids, wellbeing, travel, transport, and people, to online and business. Holmgren was awarded in the Hall of Fame section of the people category. There are some familiar faces among those honoured including the Diggers Club and Rhonda Hetzel.
David was not there to accept the honour and join the fellow award winners for the reasons based on Permaculture principles. This is explained in his essay on the subject, Why I have not been flying (much). Instead he sent a video message of acceptance in which he stressed the need to recognise the importance of individual  behavioural change.

I think this is something which is still slow to be recognised by the politicos, by the big people, that the way we change ourselves from being irresponsible consumers to responsible producers is an important shift that’s very necessary.

In his preface to the French edition of Holmgren’s Permaculture principles and pathways beyond sustainability, former national Minister of the Environment of France, Green Member of the European Parliament since December 2011 (and mathematician), Yves Cochet says

In a world of exuberant use of energy, Permaculture looks like a marginal movement. But in a world of energy descent, the Permaculture approach becomes central, because it offers a way of decolonising our imagination and a new way of organising our frameworks of thought and creative strategies, even a new paradigm which resets our cultural references (English translation by Eugene Moreau).

If he is right, the fact that Permaculture has started to be recognised in the wider society may mean that the energy descent is really kicking in, and in response, a new paradigm may be emerging.
Last year David was also awarded the prestigeous Il Monito del Giardino (The Warning from the Garden) by the Fondazione Parchi Monumentali Bardini e Peyron (Bardini and Peyron Monumental Parks Foundation) of Florence.

Here’s David’s few words of acceptance (thanks Mia Dyson).

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Su Dennett inducted to the Honour Roll

Su receiving her award

Su Dennett, David Holmgren’s partner in permaculture development and the backbone of the HD, was inducted to the Hepburn Shire’s Women’s Honour Roll.

Su was recognised as a role model for women choosing a home and community based lifestyle as an empowering and effective way to contribute to a better world.

You can read her induction speech written and delivered by Dr Anne Gleeson on this year’s International Women’s Day ceremony.

Su Dennett and friends

Onya Su, we are so privilaged to be sharing life with you.

Two women inducted to Hepburn Shire honour roll (the local Advocate newspaper article).

Continue Reading →

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The Power of Trees

David Holmgren has been awarded Il Monito del Giardino (The Warning from the Garden) by the Fondazione Parchi Monumentali Bardini e Peyron (Bardini and Peyron Monumental Parks Foundation) of Florence, Italy.

This honour is bestowed upon those who have distinguished themselves at an international level in the safeguard of the earth’s environmental balance and the creation of a culture of ecological consciousness.

The theme of the presentations this year was The Power of Trees and David’s can be seen below. Our congratulations are extended to the other recipients, especially Jane Goodall, whose presentations can be seen on here.

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