In David Holmgren’s latest essay, he highlights the importance of the Brown Tech world as a logical unfolding of energy descent systemic forces breaking down the techno-industrial world, rather than a great battle of benign wisdom over recalcitrant and subversive resistors, or alternatively, an evil plan for world domination that must be resisted at every turn. For an increasingly alienated, perhaps minority of permies, the emergent Brown Tech world is experienced as a mad undemocratic process taking away our rights and freedoms and imposing controls over previously private lives, possibly driven by shadowy elites striving for world domination or worse. This of course leads to association with people of very different values and backgrounds.
Permaculture in Japan: Foreign import or indigenous design?
Historians charting the trajectory of industrial civilisation will note the remarkable disconnect between the status accorded to “evidence based decision making” in our culture and the relentless pursuit of perpetual growth on a finite planet. While the contradiction has always been clear to the simplest of folks, the publication of the Limits to Growth report nearly half a century ago gave us the means to better understand the complex system dynamics that would characterise humanity’s overshoot of global limits.
Because these understandings coincided with the oil crises and resultant recessions, in affluent western countries there was some public discourse, and even early action, to consider the possibility of futures other than ones of continuous growth. On the fringes of society a flourishing counterculture gave birth to lifestyles and concepts (including permaculture) that have been the source of a continuous lineage of creative change. Some of these fringe ideas – such as the internet – have contributed to powerful creative action that has transformed society, whilst others – such as renewable energy and regenerative agriculture – provide pathways promising to manifest transformation now.
In the early years of promoting permaculture to food gardeners, Bill Mollison used to quip, “you don’t have a snail problem, you have a duck deficiency”. Mollison’s penchant for changing the perspective on a known problem, and identifying how it might represent an unacknowledged resource, reflects ecological thinking: identifying empty niches that can be filled to make gardens or any other (eco)system more resilient and productive. Often the perceived problem can be interpreted as a message from nature – nature’s first step in correcting imbalances.