Review: Making the impossible possible with Permaculture for people
People and Permaculture' by Looby Macnamara
£19.95 pp 296
'Begin and the impossible becomes possible' is the quote from Thomas Carlyle which confronts me on the opening pages of People and Permaculture. I was reluctant to have to read it with an eye to reviewing. Read it, yes! But the thought of reviewing felt daunting. I had been warned when given the task, 'It is good to keep in mind that all sorts of famous people have already said the book is brilliant and innovatory. What matters now is if it makes sense and a difference to the rest of us (who are not famous and don't know much but would like to).
So I come to this as 'one of the rest of us': my mind already awash with Permaculture ideas, in my wild bit of Welsh hillside, struggling to interpret its 'zones', 'systems' and 'functions', and design its ethics and principles. Is this to be another overloading of knowledge weighing down my under-loaded experience? But the title begins with the word 'People'. Looby clearly had the 'rest of us' in her heart and mind. There are so many now who have been touched by the ancient and prescient wisdom of Permaculture, and struggle to interpret it into the clutter and concerns of our present lives. With her vast knowledge and her deep involvement in teaching and practice, Looby brings a personal compass to each of us. Where are we at? What edges have we touched? What issues have we wanted to fight for? Where has our personal wisdom, maturity and experience been stretched and found lacking?
For me, I had stumbled upon Permaculture when I got involved with our local Transition group. Permaculture Design and Transition training courses followed and I was aware that I now had a wealth of tools, yet still seemed to be at the beginning of that inner transition and the necessary steps to make the tools my own. It was at this low point that I got started on Looby's book and realised her intent to do just that. At every turn of the page the steps are being offered and the way made possible.
This is a book about growing – growing ourselves, our communities, and us all as part of a Great Turning. It is a bold vision where all have a stake in something epoch-making, yet each is gently led to a fuller sense of self and an inner empowerment. It is a working manual for us to reach for as we begin our own journeying through the impossible. Her belief in each of us, and the potential lying dormant within, invites us to start – wherever we are – and realise that all is possible.
For any of us needing an internal map to find our way, this beautifully crafted book will be a way-finder and a treasured traveling companion. Thank you Looby for finding us where we are and setting us on our way together!