Collaboratively Realising Permaculture’s Potential
Michael Wardle: Professional Permaculture Designer and Educator (E57)
Greetings all. In this episode I get to ask my friend and colleague Michael Wardle from Savour Soil Permaculture all kinds of questions about the history and current state of his work as a professional permaculture designer and educator. Lots of great perspectives and hard-earned learnings in this one - I look forward to seeing what you make of it in the comments!
Michael with one of his teachers :-).
You can check out Michael's facebook page here and his website here, including his design consultancy offerings and a section with a bunch of edible gardening tips here. Michael also has a youtube channel with videos such as this one dropping thick and fast:
Carol Sanford’s Seven First Principles of Regeneration – Further Reflections
Hey all. So I had the urge to surf along a little in the wake of the last episode, and reflect further on Carol Sanford's Seven First Principles of Regeneration. Thus, in this episode I reflect on, unpack and further explore what Carol shared about the seven first principles and how they are enriching my own development.
My intention for the episode was:
I am continuing to explore Carol Sanford's Seven First Principles of Regeneration...in a way that supports listeners (and myself!) to better grasp and go experiment with them...so that we realising together, any value they can bring to our lives, projects and the Making Permaculture Stronger journey.
Hope you enjoy and I look forward to hearing what you make of all this in the comments :-).
Further Reading, Watching, and Listening on Carol Sanford's Seven First Principles of Regeneration
If, like me, you're itching to dive deeper, I found this most helpful series of blog posts (and a separate series of short videos) where Carol clarifies:
The history and practice of regeneration (or see this video introducing first principles)Identifying and working with wholes not parts (or see video here)Essence (or singularity) (or see video here)Potential (not problems) (or see video here)Development (video only)Nestedness (or see video here)Nodal intervention (or see video here)Fields (video only)
Here's a quote I really liked from the essence post:
Looking to existence, writing down our observations or collecting facts, will not reveal singularity. In order to sniff out essence, we must become trackers and look for it in the same way that native peoples follow the traces of animals who have passed by. Essence becomes apparent in the patterns that are specific to a person, those that reveal how they engage with the world, their purpose in life, the unique value they create as the result of their endeavors. The same is true for the essence of any natural system, community, or organization.Carol Sanford
Finally, Here's a 20m video (with poor quality audio but worth it) of Carol talking about what regeneration is. She gets into the Seven First Principles about 10 minutes in.
The Seven First Principles of Regeneration with Carol Sanford (E55)
In this episode pioneering regenerative thinker Carol Sanford rejoins me to share a living systems framework she calls The Seven First Principles of Regeneration.
Sketch by Dan based on Carol's description
Resources to Deepen Learning
My first chat with Carol (also see these follow up words from Carol)My second chat with Carol where she shares her four levels of paradigmCarol's websiteThe Deep Pacific Change Agent Community (That Dan is part of)A series of articles in which Carol applies the Seven First Principles to educationCarol going through the principles in a different way on her Business Second Opinion PodcastCarol's book The Regenerative Life in which she goes through the seven first principlesWholeness and the Implicate Order by David Bohm
A few transcribed lines from the episode
Thanks to MPS patron Jon Buttery for pulling some comments that stood out for him from the chat (with approx times):
13:36 – "I don’t want you to be disappointed that after a year you haven’t got them [the seven first principles], that’s a good sign"
18:57 - "You can’t go do – in the sense that you’ll change something – you have to go think a different way and you have to start in a different place"
22:43 - "The word ‘systems thinking’ is thrown around for a lot of things that are machine based"
23:23 – "There are no feedback loops …. we impose those kinds of ideas"
24:05 – "A fragmented view … we assume … if we get good enough … somehow we’ll see how they all relate"
26:53 – "What is the work this place does in this planet? … what is its story?"
30:23 – "Watch yourself making lists"
32:26 – "Fragmentation is the basis of every problem on the earth"
38:40 – "It took me literally a couple of decades to learn to see essence. … it’s a different way of seeing the world"
David Holmgren’s Journey with Permaculture Design Process – Part Two (e54)
Welcome back to Part Two of a conversation with permaculture co-originator David Holmgren. In which David continues sharing significant milestones from his many decades as a practicing permaculture designer.
Thanks to this project's wonderful patrons, I was once again able to have the audio professionally transcribed. The text below then received significant edits for clarity from patron Jon Buttery (thanks Jon!), myself, and most importantly David. Thanks also to David for kindly sharing relevant photos that help bring the text to life.
Don't miss Part One if you haven't yet heard/read it, and given the quality of thinking David shares in this continuation, I hope you'll leave a comment. I anticipate a follow up conversation with David exploring questions and reflections from your comments, so please make the most of the opportunity.
Finally, given this conversation again touches on the core skill of reading landscape, please check out and consider supporting the documentary film David, myself, and videographer Dave Meagher are currently endeavouring to bring into the world.
Starting Holmgren Design Services
Dan Palmer: All right. Well, here I am for the continuation of the discussion we started earlier. After a bit of a break, must have been, I don’t know, six weeks or something.
David Holmgren: Yeah. It’s been a busy time.
Dan Palmer: I’ll say! - a busy and very interesting time. It turned out the first recording was about an hour, and we got to the point where you'd started Holmgren Design Services, so that seems like a great place to start. You’d told us a lot about the project at your mother’s place in New South Wales and the learning you’d been doing from Hakai Tane about strategic planning, and then shrinking that down to apply to a site level. It’d be awesome to hear about the experience of moving into the space of permaculture design consultancy.
David Holmgren: In 1983 I started a business and registered a business name. There were lot of things that were going on in my life, which I can also correlate with things that were happening in the wider world: that led me to getting serious earning a living, personal relationships, and also living in the city. The consultancy work I did, was primarily advising and designing for people who were moving onto rural properties; what these days people call a ‘tree-change’.
Consulting on a Central Victorian property in 2020 (as part of the Reading Landscape film project)
That work fell into sort of two broad types. One-day verbal onsite advisory, walking around the property and suggesting things with clients. Then there was a more limited number of clients where I was providing reports and plans that gave me the opportunity to reflect. There were a lot of constraints on how to make a viable business in that, especially if your work wasn’t focused on affluent people, but instead empowering people who were going to get out and do these things themselves, often starting from scratch, and often making big mistakes. My advice and design drew on a combination of my own experience as well as observing how others had tackled the back to land process over the previous decade. By then I also had a very strong commitment to Victoria and South Eastern Australia of landscapes and ecologies and design issues that I was familiar with in that territory.
Dan Palmer: Was that where all or the majority of your professional work happened?
David Holmgren: Yeah, it was. There was occasional work further-afield - certainly into the dry Mediterranean country in South Australia and into New South Wales, Sydney region,
David Holmgren’s Journey with Permaculture Design Process – Part One (e53)
I'm thrilled in this episode to share the first part of a two-part interview in which David Holmgren shares his journey with permaculture design process over the decades.
Scroll down to access the full transcript of this conversation, with huge thanks to David for sharing the historical photographs which really bring the story to life.
Note that in collaboration with David I had also previously created a downloadable PDF showing the timeline of David's design process journey that might provide a helpful supporting reference.
Finally, be sure to check out the brand new Reading Landscape with David Holmgren documentary project website which is so closely related to this episode.
The Full Interview Transcript (Edited for flow and readability)
Dan Palmer (DP):Welcome to the next episode of the Making Permaculture Stronger podcast. I'm super excited today. I've travelled about half an hour up the road and I'm sitting at a permaculture demonstration property and home called Melliodora. Sitting next to me is David Holmgren.
David Holmgren (DH): Good to welcome you here.
DP: I'm very excited to be here with this microphone between us and to have this opportunity to have you share the story of your journey with permaculture design process over the decades.
David and Dan co-teaching in 2018
DH: Yeah, and that's something we've worked on together in courses: our personal journeys with that. Certainly through those courses, working together has elicited and uncovered different aspects of me understanding my own journey.
DH: Thinking about design process through the lens of childhood experiences, I was always a constructor/builder, making cubbies, constructing things and yet never had any family role models for that. My father wasn't particularly practical with tools, and yet I was always in whatever workshop there was in our suburban home as a young child. So making things, imagining things which don't exist, and then bringing them to life was definitely part of my childhood experience.
I don't know, particularly, why in my last years of high school I had some vague notion that I might enrol in West Australian University in architecture. But I left to travel around Australia instead because I was hitchhiking mad in 1973. And in that process, I came across a lot of different ideas to do with the counter culture and alternative ways of living.
Studying Environmental Design in Tasmania
Most significantly, I came across a course in Tasmania in Hobart called Environmental Design and I met some of the enrolled students. I'd realised by that stage that I was not cut out to do any sort of conventional university course. I was too radical and free in my thinking and wasn't wanting to be constrained within any discipline or accounting for things through exam processes.
DP: What age were you?
DH: I was 18 at that time, and this course in Environmental Design really attracted me. Undergraduate students, who were doing the generalist degree in environmental design, were sometimes working on projects with postgraduate students who were specialising in architecture, landscape architecture or urban planning at the post graduate level.
Mt Nelson campus where Environmental Design School was part of the Tas College of Advanced Education 1970-80
There was no fixed curriculum. There was no fixed timetable. Half the staff budget was for visiting lecturers and outside professionals. There was a self assessment process at the end of each seme...
Rosemary Morrow Reflecting on Four Decades of International Permaculture Work (e52)
Such a deep honour to have my dear friend and very first ever podcast guest Rosemary ('Rowe') Morrow from the Blue Mountains Permaculture Institute back on the show (after being my very first ever guest!) sharing her permaculture journey over four decades this week.
Some of the topics you'll hear in this truly wonderful chat are Rowe's:
new in-progress bookthoughts on the adequacies and inadequacies of permaculture issue with most permaculture being taught to middle class westernerswork in refugee camps and other largely invisible margins which are rapidly growingthoughts on designing yourself into your place vs designing yourself out of overseas places you workchapter on a permaculture approach to the oceansthoughts on decolonisation and re-indigenisingthoughts on the essence of permaculture
Please note after our chat Rowe asked if I would please share this link about supporting a permaculture project addressing the Humanitarian Crisis after the burning of the Moria Camp on the island of Lesbos.
Rowe also mentioned Milkwood's Permaculture Living Skills course which you can check out here.
Photo from a project in Lesvos Rowe was part of