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This site has not been updated since 2014 and is being maintained as an archive for now. As time allows we'll be weeding out the dated material and presenting the many useful articles in a new format. We'd appreciate any feedback on what you find most useful on this site via our contact page.

Guest Writers

An Integral Framework for Permaculture


By Brad McManus

of The Sustainability Centre, Thailand

This paper presents Permaculture as a systems design approach to working with nature. An Integral framework is applied to identify the current focus of Permaculture and ways for it to become more holistic. In doing so, holons are discussed in the context of the inter-connected nature of our existence. The spiral of development including levels or ‘waves’ is presented, along with the prime directive of attending to the health of the spiral at all levels or ‘waves’ and in all lines or ‘streams’ of development. Without this focus, attempts to see the whole picture may be incomplete and fragmented. An Integral framework for Permaculture is presented. The benefits of adopting such an approach are discussed, along with the role that personal choice and personal responsibility play in pursuit of greater awareness and a more sustainable way of living.

Keywords: Integral, Permaculture, Holon, Levels, Lines, Self-awareness, Sustainability

Wisdom demands a new orientation of science and technology towards the organic, the gentle, the non violent, the elegant and beautiful. (Schumacher, 1975)

1. The Current Context and the Integral Permaculture Opportunity

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Financing Change for a One Planet Wales

Financing Change for a One Planet Wales

Utilising the income generating potential of community energy schemes to kick-start the transition to a low carbon economy

By Ken Moon

C3 Programme Coordinator

Wales Sustainability Reinvestment Trust

Like many of you we feel quite strongly that using resources in a linear way is never going to help us move closer to a sustainable future. And we think that the same applies to funding. So it’s something of a contradiction that so many of us have become dependent on linear funding for sustainability projects at a time when we have the opportunity to generate incomes for our communities through cyclical funding models.

As someone who has worked in both environmental and community sector grant funded projects over the last decade I know how important grant funding can be to help get projects off the ground and to deliver much need local services. And I also know that a lack of grant funding can seem like the thing that’s holding us back. If only we could get a grant, we could do all this great stuff!

But is grant funding always the most appropriate source of finance? Funding regimes can be incredibly restrictive and many projects and organisations which start with a truly transformational agenda often find themselves compromised by the need to secure additional funding in ‘new and innovative’ ways. Or they simply come to and end and all that energy and enthusiasm dissipates, potentially remerging somewhere else, and often leaving communities and ‘beneficiaries’ wondering where all the money disappeared to.

Add to this the recent, and ongoing, crises in the banking sector coupled with the cutting back of spending in the public sector, and many of us are finding that things are getting a little tight, whilst others are genuinely concerned for the future.

So has the relative abundance of grant funding in Wales over the last decade completely dulled our senses and closed our eyes to other sources of funding for our ideas and creativity?

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Designing the Landscape

The  Dyffi Biospehere - how schools will investigate it

We ask a lot of the land around us. We need it to provide food, construction materials, water, fuel, and space for roads, houses, golf courses and shops. In addition we need it for less tangible ecosystem services like oxygen, carbon storage, biodiversity and the absorption of water to prevent flooding. We also want it to look nice and cheer us up when we go for a walk in it. And all this has to be organized and paid for somehow, which means that political and economic decisions have to be made.

This is something that concerns all of us, as voters and consumers and maybe as farmers and growers. So how do we look at the big picture and make sure that we get the best outcome? It’s a huge topic, requiring as it does a vast amount of information and local knowledge about what can be done with our countryside. It also needs discussions about what future different people want to see, reconciling conflicting points of view and developing some sort of consensus about values and procedures.

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Reflections on Art and Permaculture

by Adam Wolpert

I'm painting in the garden, under golden leaves. The familiar process unfolds again as it has before countless times, always new, exciting and unexpected. I put down a brushstroke, stand back and observe. How does the mark change the whole? How do the new relationships that emerge give me a sign of where to go next?

I often paint directly from nature, guided by observation and a sense of connection to a place that I have grown to love. For the past 12 years, I have practiced art and Permaculture at the Occidental Arts and Ecology Center (OAEC) in Sonoma County, California (www.oaec.org). I have painted there, in the forests and gardens, ever since a group of friends and I founded the project. We have endeavored to create a model of integrated living, bringing together life and work and honouring our relationship with the land. In addition to working on many levels simultaneously ­ preparing the soil, planting and harvesting, teaching and engaging in activism, toward influencing practice and policy, locally and nationally ­ we try to weave a thread of artistic awareness and concern for aesthetics through all of our activities.

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Permaculture & Foraging

Foraging, both for edible food supplements and medicinal herbs, is becoming a familiar part of many Permaculture Design Courses these days.  At the 2010 Permaculture Uk Convergence, Pat Bowcock, leading West Country Permaculturist and forager, who leads dedicated courses on the subject, demonstrated the bounty of a neglected patch of ground to a rapt audience.  The nutritional value of nettles is, for example, about 50 times greater than any domestic crop of ‘greens’. Nature, it seems, packs a powerful punch in small parcels.

Concurrent with this growing interest in the wilderness larder is the establishment of ‘bushcraft’ course providers. One such Welsh expert in this field is Pete Williams from Llanidloes, who makes the point that learning ancient craft and foraging skills is exciting and brings people close to nature  - developing an understanding of ecosystems.  It also teaches the student how to recognise potential resources of all kinds, and ‘obtain a yield’.

So we asked Pete to write a very personal perspective for us on how, for him, foraging, like Permaculture, is really a mindset, based on 3 compatible principles, which he defines as Efficiency, Effectiveness and Opportunity.

Foraging – a sustainable lifestyle choice

by Pete Williams of Red Dragon Bushcraft

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