What is permaculture?

The term was coined in 1978 by Australians Bill Mollison and David Holmgren. The word permaculture was originally a portmanteau for “permanent agriculture”, but was later expanded to also refer to “permanent culture,” as observers noted a broader context that can be applied to social systems overall.

“Permaculture is a philosophy of working with, rather than against nature; of protracted and thoughtful observation rather than protracted and thoughtless labor; and of looking at plants and animals in all their functions, rather than treating any area as a single product system.” – Bill Mollison 

What does this possibly have to do with social media?

Too often I see clients jumping on — and sometimes off — the online marketing wagon without considering a longer term strategy or how a particular solution fits with their own natural inclinations, how to produce content that will feed their social network streams, or even whether or not their target audience spends time engaging on their chosen platform(s).

In this series I will look at twelve permaculture design principles and how I believe they apply to social media. These items come from David Holmgren in his book, Permaculture: Principles and Pathways Beyond Sustainability:

  1. Observe and interact: By taking time to engage with nature we can design solutions that suit our particular situation.
  2. Catch and store energy: By developing systems that collect resources at peak abundance, we can use them in times of need.
  3. Obtain a yield: Ensure that you are getting truly useful rewards as part of the work that you are doing.
  4. Apply self-regulation and accept feedback: We need to discourage inappropriate activity to ensure that systems can continue to function well.
  5. Use and value renewable resources and services: Make the best use of nature’s abundance to reduce our consumptive behavior and dependence on non-renewable resources.
  6. Produce no waste: By valuing and making use of all the resources that are available to us, nothing goes to waste.
  7. Design from patterns to details: By stepping back, we can observe patterns in nature and society. These can form the backbone of our designs, with the details filled in as we go.
  8. Integrate rather than segregate: By putting the right things in the right place, relationships develop between those things and they work together to support each other.
  9. Use small and slow solutions: Small and slow systems are easier to maintain than big ones, making better use of local resources and producing more sustainable outcomes.
  10. Use and value diversity: Diversity reduces vulnerability to a variety of threats and takes advantage of the unique nature of the environment in which it resides.
  11. Use edges and value the marginal: The interface between things is where the most interesting events take place. These are often the most valuable, diverse and productive elements in the system.
  12. Creatively use and respond to change: We can have a positive impact on inevitable change by carefully observing, and then intervening at the right time.

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Down the Rabbit HoleRabbit hole

If you found this interesting, you may also enjoy these other articles I have written, podcast interviews or projects I have been involved with:

Farther Down the Rabbit Hole…

I don’t know Colleen Stevens, but I became an instant fan when I did an online image search for permaculture graphics and came upon her website. I love her concept — graphic facilitation, recording and custom chart work — for group events. I think she did a great job with this image in particular that are her own take of permaculture principles: