Permaculture Social Systems Design



so we're gonna talk about social systems design right now and before we start I want to share this poem with you and you may have heard it before it's called message from Hopi elders I think when we talk about permaculture it stands for permanent agriculture and permanent culture right and how to create a new culture and how to look for our ok how to look for our how they look to our elders and so I thought this would be appropriate and appropriate for what we're we're talking about in what we're trying to create in this space and what we're trying to create as a community so again this is called message from Hopi elders you have been telling the people that this is the 11th hour now you must go back and tell the people that this is the hour and there are things to be considered where are you living what are you doing what are your relationships are you in right relation where is your water no your garden it is time to speak your truth create your community be good to each other and do not look outside yourself for the leader this could be a good time there is a river flowing now very fast it is so great and Swift that there are those who will be afraid they will try to hold on to the shore they will feel they are being torn apart and will suffer greatly no the river has its destination the elders say we must let go of the shower push off into the middle of the river keep our eyes open and our heads above the water see who is in there with you and celebrate at this time in history we are to take nothing personally least of all selves for the moment we do our spiritual growth and journey comes to a halt the time of the lone wolf is over gather yourselves banish the world struggle from your attitude and your vocabulary all that we do now must be done in a sacred manner and in celebration we are the ones we've been waiting for it doesn't say it's over I buy or I be Arizona Hopi nation so I thought I'd start with that because that is about you know we are creating here over the weekend a small community and a small container that who knows what this will all lead to and permaculture is not only about the plants in the landscape it's about the people it's about people care and taking care of people and community is a big and fundamental part of that because it's not only the permanent agriculture it's the permanent culture and Patrick Whitefield who wrote those two books a project will never fail because the land is poor and will fail because the people will fail to get along and that is definitely the case if the plants are fine you plant some stuff in the ground sure maybe the bowl to get them over every once in a while the Gophers or whatever right but the plants for the most part the landscape that you put in will be fine things want to grow things want to generate seeds want to sprout it's the social systems that fail and that makes the landscape that you design fail so it hasn't been so social systems design is the application of permaculture principles to human relationships communities social systems and networks right so we're going to take these principles and we're going to break them down on a social level and in the past bill Mollison and david holmgren started by saying this permanent permaculture stands for permanent agriculture but then they realized that the social systems are so much a part and inherent to the success of a landscape but that's when they put in permanent culture as well and I think we we've never put enough emphasis on the social systems and in the past permaculture design courses haven't put a lot of emphasis on it because it's so you know it's good like touchy-feely stuff in the community stuff and we don't want to go there we want to like take an excavator and move some earth around and plant some trees you know that's a lot more tangible than the hard work of what David Dave Jackie wrote edible forest Gardens calls the inner landscape work that's the hard work right that's the stuff that we have to do and if you've put in these systems if you've even put in a garden you run up against your own stuff right it's not perfect I failed I need to do that better why didn't that work right and so it's an opportunity to learn and it's an opportunity to grow you know as you're growing your garden so in permaculture you take that zone system that we just covered before dinner right and zone zero zero is actually the self so zone zero is the house but zone zero is this thing right here zone zero becomes your partner's your spouse is the people that you see on a daily basis I think you interact with on a daily basis those relationships that you have to maintain and care for on a daily basis zone one our friends and other family that you see probably on a weekly basis go to coffee with a friend or something like that so – or your neighbor is your work colleagues know clubs that you go to maybe on a monthly basis zone three are communities of interest friends of friends zone forest national and zone five is global so you can see how this can be applied at a social level so it's not only in the landscape where you know you want your kitchen garden and herbs really close in because that's what you deal with on a daily basis there's a social level to this and a care that you take and this is all broken down in that book people in permaculture which is right here Looby McNamara who's from the UK really broke down a lot of this in terms of taking the permaculture principles and applying them to creating community and to doing some of that inner work so what I thought we would do is on your we're gonna go inside and I if you didn't expect to be doing this well I'm sorry but so go so page seven yes yeah there I think right on the table there yeah sort of in honey and Steve do you want one too do you have so page seven I just want you to take a moment so on page seven you have say observe and interact what do I see or feel in myself what is my body feeling what's my intuition saying so again we and I can speak from personal experience I'm okay with wandering around the property and observing what's going on on the property right I don't take very much time to actually you know we won't always be productive and especially where when we're in these spaces where we're actually producing or we're growing we get pulled into always being productive so the observant interact and actually looking inside to be like how am I feeling what's going on you know that is important I remember a friend of mine saying she's like I was telling her oh you know I haven't done this with my business and this I wanted to do this and I didn't get it done it it uh she's like I wanted you to sheet of paper and I want you to write down all the successes that you've had in your business this year and I was like I don't know I want to do that she's like let me explain it to you in ecological terms so that you will understand she's like you say this all the time you know you you're not gonna produce tomatoes from a garden and take and take and take from that soil and not replenish that soil and expect those tomatoes to produce just as well the next year same thing if you're celebrating your successes if you're celebrating your community you are fertilizing your soul and yourself in terms of these are the successes that I had this year rather than everything went wrong and I didn't do this and I didn't do that it's the same kind of term and when she when she described it in that way I was like oh yeah that makes so much sense of course I would feed more compost to the soil next year you know that makes a lot of sense but we don't oftentimes connect that to how we are we are nature working right we are a natural system and so we need to do more bla so and so I'd like you to take just five minutes Wow let's give you seven and go through these questions I produce no waste where is my time being wasted you know what our areas my life would benefit from more diversity just take a little bit of time to fill this out and then I'm gonna have you get into groups and just share a couple of your thoughts or what came out of it so how how was that anybody want to share anything that struck you Steve know that I understand that I love that's why I'm the one up here no as an introvert right that can be an issue for sure in terms of community building and social systems design you know and I think that's one thing to keep in mind having a business I used to be super shy as a kid like I didn't talk to anybody my parents took me to a therapist and they the therapist said that I was slow because I didn't talk I didn't talk to my kindergarten teacher didn't talk to it I had some my fifth grade teacher called me Karen for the first like three months before Parent Teacher interviews because I was too afraid to tell her that my name is Corrine so I get it you know in those types of situations so I think being aware of different people that there are introverts there are extroverts there are people that kind of get filled up by a community and this type of situation but then sometimes it drains people's energy so knowing that too is important so when we talk about okay what kind of social systems design are we gonna have for this space right is it going to be a retreat center is it gonna be something where people come here on a regular basis because if they come here on a regular basis do you actually want to deal with people all the time you know so right so there are two introverts living on this land but they want to kind of build community but kind of don't want to always be there like you have to be realistic or is that well can i interface with somebody else over here who's the manager who does bring in the community and they do most of that work right well me and Steve are over here just chilling out you know well not chilling out you're doing a bunch of other things but so those are things that people need to think through way more than they do because one of the biggest things that I see go wrong is it's just way too much work all right so for example on our property when it was me my stepson and my partner that works fine you know Taylor helped out my partner were too helped out I worked out but Taylor has now gone off to university and he lives away from home so a lot of the work that he used to do I need to fill in that gap like I can't do it all so is it me having through my business volunteers that come on a weekly basis that learn from me or that they intern with me those are things that I am starting to think through because Taylor just moved out this fall so that's a real important part and don't discount that because what happens is if you do discount that then you just get burned out from maintaining that system and it's a lot of work and it's agriculture was inherently a community process and now we've kind of taken that away I have the same issues with getting work done on our place to have interns but now we don't attract people who will stay longer then but we actually get a lot of volunteers from the community so we actually rely on getting our work done with volunteers people come from France for three weeks yeah to figure out the building of greenhouse filter editors and engineers spend three weeks for me from France yeah and you've got all the trellises online on the forest garden great and here's the best most best work ethics I've ever seen you know nice you know sometimes you systems just fade in and out yes interns just don't work because you know usually young kids now they just don't have any we're talking about that at dinner mostly males that don't have work ethics or they think they can get you up somewhere else so that yeah it's not a value to them to volunteer there and these these things needs a lot of tender care of it these systems you know they really need a lot of work attention their detail we used to teach people and all your gonna put the sports garden in and don't worry about it why Bill Mollison once was like and then the designer becomes the recliner and that is a line isn't big boy maybe in 10 years but initially you know for the installation and for the maintenance you need to put in an initial amount of time but that's great that's that whole self-regulate and accept feedback it could be that interns worked at one point but they don't anymore and now you do work big work parties and volunteer parties to get your work done you know those that's an evolving thing as well and I think so what I wanted to do next was talk about so on the inner landscape level we can look at these questions and kind of ponder those ourselves right but then we can also bring those principles to community level right so this whole idea of the problem is the solution well there's a ton of growth and development in Bozeman which it sounds like there's stuff going on here in Kalispell too and it's on some of the best agricultural land in the valley right so is this an opportunity to create Agri hoods on that I have a cultural land right is that a social system that we can can we convince the developer that it is economically viable or he's gonna make a bunch of money or she's gonna make a bunch of money if you actually put in a system where there's a neighborhood that's designed around a community garden area know if you can get something like that fly and it's economically viable is that an option so Davis what is it called village homes in Davis California is a perfect example of that it's an architect who 35 years ago had this idea where he created this neighborhood where there are fruit trees growing everywhere and it's more of a bikable air so kids have their you know their kids can go run around and not worry about traffic it's a neighborhood feel to it and then there are ladders and random locations that you can take and go up and harvest apples are well they're in California they're who knows some delicious something else so so that whole model and all that whole system now that is an area that people want to move to and granted that's more for an affluent people so you know we have to think through those social systems as well or each element performs multiple functions sorry Joe you have a block party that's not only a garage sale maybe you're painting a mural you're having conversations and connecting with your neighbors and talking about how to make the neighborhood better so again it's a community building event but it has multiple yields from it so I threw my business I hold potlucks during the growing season so once a month during the growing season we get together I send it out to my newsletter list anybody who wants to come can come we usually go to somebody's property so they get to see some other way that people are designing or growing we come together I have everybody introduce themselves and share and offer in and ask if they have it you know if they have anything to offer the group or if they need anything to need anything from the group I need manure I need some straw I need some plants I have some plants and so again it's not about it's not only about the beneficial relationships that are created between the plants right where we have the nitrogen fixers and the nutrient accumulators it's the beneficial relationships that are created between people it's the networks that's what creates these resilient community right it's creating more networks of people that are connected to one another if you know your neighbors and you talk to your neighbors you can ask for forgiveness instead of permission yeah but right that that whole idea of pre community is what you want to want to do because he can't be mad at people that you know or you gonna have conversations with people you know you can really create easily create the other if you never know them or take the opportunity to know them so produce no way so in Bozeman we do have this company called happy trashcan and there's another company that's also doing this a curbside composting service the picks up residential and restaurant food waste and then it turns it into compost and they the members themselves get some compost back to go into their garden so again that's a social systems design a permaculture design that's that's an economically viable as well and I'd love it mark right if you share just your little thing where the farmer comes and grazes so plus 300 bucks is exactly what it cost us to grow our forty five acre crop so we've got a yeah brilliant yeah so those are the types of systems like that by making connections with local organizations companies individuals that you want to start to make I mean this whole workshop is an intention to network as well you know to see how many connections we can make with the community here that can be connected to Steve and Cindy that can be connected to one another and to bring together all of those ideas so what I thought we would do is in your say it to make it simple in those same groups if you can take your I'd love to see I'd love to mine you all for information see what but in a really good way in a really good way so so go back to the principles look at those principles and think about the social systems like the Center for sustainability is a social system design right what works what doesn't you know think of the social systems on page two and three those are the the permaculture principles look at those principles and think of social systems in your life that you might be connected to that you might be a part of that might use that might fill fulfill these principles like I've done here or just share a couple examples and that I'd love for us to share some really good social systems examples with the group does that make sense no okay not applicable bleep what do you mean by that yeah so so maybe in your life so for example a great a great social system design that we have in Bozeman is that there is the Spring Creek communal garden and it is a community garden but not everybody has their separate plot it's farmed as a communal space and so there's one individual one man who has this three acres who wanted a garden but understood very quickly that it was too much work just to garden alone so he started to gather people around him and so it's a great design because he has the land he's also retired but he has about 30 people that pay a nominal fee 25 bucks for the growing season that helps with the seeds and so people come together and there's a whole schedule of what needs to be done when they communicate with one another through a listserv through an email listserv so they know what needs to be done when and that way you can take off for two weeks in the and as somebody else is taking care and they participate in the harvest and they participate in the preservation and they have potlucks once a week so that's an example of a social system where and it's not like that's that's perfect there are definitely issues with it but it's been going on now for over a decade and you know part of it the success of it is because this retired man has some capital and some time but part of the success is that people love it because it's community and they don't have to worry about oh my gosh my individual garden who am I gonna get to water this you know I'm gonna grow all this food and it's gonna go to waste that kind of thing so I am certain that somewhere and it doesn't have to do necessarily with Gardens you know any kind of social system that you've seen work really well together whether it's a nonprofit that works well or maybe it's simply that you have you know as an example in permaculture of you know each function being supported by multiple elements if you have children maybe you have three babysitter's that you can call on because if one can't make it then you have two more that you can call on right so it's that whole resilience in the system and looking at those principles and then applying them kind of to the social realm so what I want to come out of this is just a few more examples because there are things like well mark shared with me at dinner that's brilliant you know that other people here who have land might be able to benefit from that kind of system it might not look exactly that way but it but there that's the seed of an idea you know a lot of people getting together but why isn't there another village homes have you ever seen another village home right okay we were hired by a developer in the Roaring Fork Valley to do it home mhm so it's Brittany up top that was more of a top down what what was the magic village homes have made that thing work yeah so we were hired by a developer we were we built a greenhouse I said my focus in their gardens and they developed a sustainable village on it on a 200 acre ranch and we spent six months developing we built a greenhouse and enter a community garden that was the perk rank stead of a tennis court or and they never sold a lot and this is in the world pork belly right on ready to oh and they just wound up selling property to a polo field Wow now they're bulldozing the entire thing they've got the greenhouse there it's still there it was like a module mm-hmm what do you what do you think went wrong there well we really are only involved in building the greenhouse and some of the preliminary design I just don't think I think they were just being honest and they really didn't have they were bean counters they really didn't have in their hearts to really do something it seemed like it was good on paper but they never sold I mean they lost so the whole thing about three or four years later it just was abandoned Bank and the same thing happened to another project I get involved in it with and I'll show you tomorrow it was community garden it was community forest garden and a high-end development near Salida the Maytag ranch mm-hmm Russ Maytag was an Arab Maytag he hired me to after he read guys gardening hard meat development a one acre forest garden as a centerpiece for a big ranch development and I'll show slice tomorrow if it ran for 20 years mm-hmm property got sold and they bulldozed it right so these are the kinds of things that you know like that happened to those garden in LA yeah yeah so it just it happens to all the community alone but if you try to do it on a corporate level you know there's always this bottom-line stuff and priorities change so two projects that I've worked on and then the Golf Course project the same thing he I got booted out of that golf course yeah I agree I think that a lot of the the successes that you see are from the grass roots you know from this one individual who wants to do good work and it's like hey come join me you know for no other reason that he wants to you know eat some good food and make some friends you know so I think that that that's part of it for sure that you have to look at what the value system is on which it's based and I think that gets back to kind of the inner landscape work of why you're doing what you're doing because I've definitely run into individuals who are like I'm gonna sell these earthships in the Yellowstone Club because there's so much money there and I can sell these 6,000 square-foot earthships which is completely counter to everything that you're wanting the value system that you're trying to promote in permaculture but it does yeah it's the bottom line so that's about shifting culture you know and that's I think you know that's that is the long game you know that we have to kind of and don't get me wrong I'm a cynic and jaded on on the one end but I think I'm also kind of keep on reminding myself it's the long game you know that we do this work and we keep on doing this and we keep on teaching this and we grow gardens and they might get bulldoze and we grow some more and we plant some more and we keep on doing this because it is we don't know what the long-term impact is going to be I mean obviously you have more experience than I do with these types of things and I think the bottom line it's like how do we change that conversation that the bottom line isn't just economics thus that observe and interact peace right like at a social level it's like you're new to the community you spend like a year or two figuring out the dynamics of what's working and if you have an idea you might spend some time researching whether that idea is already floating out there or somebody's already doing it or you know giving the opportunity for other people to come into it and I think in this culture especially we are an individualistic culture and we are constantly with this kind of communal nature of how we're trying to recreate our world in a sense we're battling against that because the individual is like well I have this idea and I'm gonna go it alone and this is what I'm gonna do and everybody get out of my way you know rather than back to the kind of like well I have you know I have some ideas maybe I'll talk to this guy over here and this woman over here and let's see if we can collaborate in a way like this competitor battling the individual we're battling the competition to be the bigger the better the one of the one that you know voila rather than back to how can we collaborate you know this was Cindy said this is perfect this is the collaboration you know that she realized that she couldn't do this alone they had this idea but they needed to bring more people into it and I think that that's what we forget I mean though there's the the expressions softly-softly catch a monkey right the you know you're not gonna you're not gonna beat people into submission around these things and I think that that's one of the things that I think about or why I started my business too it's like just show them that it's a good time yeah yeah well and I think part of what we struggle with you know just as a society right is this sense of belonging and one thing that I think especially our youth in with social media who under though how is your time being wasted said social media Facebook things like that right you know that is becoming a real issue around like you you don't really one one time I saw this interview with Wendell Berry who I love for those of you who don't know he's a farmer and activist a poet and everything and he somebody asked him like Barry what do you think about these online communities that are being created you know you know what's your take on that because when Oh Barry Oh is always about you know the the loss of the rural community because of the consolidation of farms and he was like let's let's be clear a community is a group of people that is connected geographically to a place that yes that is a sort of community but that is very very different than the people in this area that understand the water issues that you're dealing with that understand you know how this whole valley was created that understand the you know politics of this area that is the community and I think it is this slow game of you know Wendell Berry always says he's like I'm always on the losing side he's always on the losing side but he's like what what else would I do yeah right and I think the issue too is that there are so many good examples out there but we are not hearing about them the media is getting is giving us all of the bad news because that's what sells and that's what the rate whatever that whole thing but there are so many good things that are going on in the permaculture realm you know the lady you just think of all the little people everywhere on their farms and Gardens doing you know the meeting like this like we are you know there those are if you woke up to that every morning it would be a completely different world but that's this happening but that's that whole thing of tools in the toolbox right in permaculture that it is like if it's used in the right context it can become a force for organizing for connecting with people and for having an impact you know there are real advantages to what the Internet has done in terms of global organizing what have you but we'll talk about the Facebook crowd but I think that whole idea of that is ultimately what this is about what permaculture broad it's like it's that sense of belonging right we create a sense of belonging through experience and that's what we need to look to do more of I think when you have when people have a sense of belonging then they don't get isolated then they don't you know then depression rates are not as much you know then they're connected to people so thinking about how and agriculture is a really easy and great way to do that you know to bring people together it's from growing food and through getting food and we have I have these bollocks every month and it's like this amazing meal that everyone contributed to that would have taken you hours to make yourself but people come together through that and I think we discount the little the little things you know and we have to keep our eye on that I mean it used to be that if you liked your neighbor you went and talked to them now if you like your neighbor you leave them alone you know exactly exactly I mean that that's we have definitely lost that yeah so I just wanted to end by permaculture systems you know in the social on all levels mean abundance and food in relationships and resources and an experience and just says we move into tomorrow understand we are all designers you know that we think you know you don't need to have some degree or I've taken this long permaculture design course you you designed you know how you set up if you have a house your living room area or you put on you picked out where you were what you wore today you know we are inherent in us our designs you may not have the experience of a permaculture design but you're designing your life every day you know in the choices that you make you




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