Part one of a two-part podcast with Maddy Harland. Paul sits down with her to discuss issue 86 of Permaculture magazine. Right away, they discuss how it should be fresh on the shelves in the US at the time this podcast is released.
Paul considers this issue one of his favorites. Three things make him feel this way. First was an advertisement that caught his eye. It was for a permaculture venue that had a number of things he thought every such venue should have. It turned out to be Maddy’s property, The Sustainability Centre. They talk briefly about the fact that some have been born there and that there is a natural burial area on the property. A previous podcast is referenced regarding the burial area.
Paul likes that the location can facilitate people in multiple ways. He wishes he had the cafe option himself. Maddy talks briefly about the cafe and how it works. The nature of how its cycles are formed is discussed.
Maddy talks about the history of the property and the amount of effort that went into improving the site and bringing it to a point of usability. Much of what was done on the site has been done without the aid of outside entities. Mention is made that it includes residential sites and is charge-free to come to the site. Much of what is wanted with the site is to inspire understanding through direct interaction with the aspects rather than lectures and chalkboards.
Paul would love to have a situation where multiple properties of this sort were within close proximity. He is pleased with the number of people who are able to come to Maddy’s property. More discussion of the history of the property is briefly mentioned. She mentions how she would like to come to a point similar to the Occidental Arts and Ecology Center. Mention is made of a number of the aspects she found most impressive. Paul mentions some of the difficulties he has found in his own property. One, in particular, is the cost of cleaning up after people. He admits that those who come are in all sorts of different places in their permaculture walk.
The two discuss some of the things that Maddy has done in relation to multiple conferences. She corrects that she was not technically behind the Convergence. Paul asks about the number of people there and she talks briefly about the event. She references her editorial and how there were people from 70 countries. Paul believes that 980 people may be the largest permaculture gathering to date, but Maddy can’t say for certain. She does know that they weren’t all there at the same time though the numbers were always over 500 at any given moment.
Maddy notes that if you put in IPC 2015 in YouTube, it will pull up some of the videos from the event. Paul notes how much effort goes into making and releasing the videos from events. Maddy talks about some of the future projects she is working on with others, including a peer review journal. Paul notes there are schools of thought that try to shoot others down with ‘that’s impossible’ statements. He is pleased with the idea of a branch of science that focus’s on solutions instead of claiming impossibilities. Maddy notes that science isn’t subjective but is instead a set of shared values that has a level of subjectivity. If it was entirely subjective, it wouldn’t change.
The third thing that caught Paul’s attention was a new book by Ben Law. Maddy talks about the book and some of its design. She was involved in the production of the book. Paul feels that Ben Law has influenced some of his vocabulary. He brings up the difference between ‘forest’ and ‘woodland’. Maddy notes that the word forest comes from an old English word meaning the king’s enclosure. She love’s Ben Law’s innovation. His step by step instruction makes it very easy to follow and do the same thing yourself.
Both talk about how there is a symbiotic relationship expressed through Ben Law’s books and the way you interact with the woodland settings. Maddy notes that this is why having permaculture perspective is so important. Value added production is mentioned repeatedly.
Paul brings up that a lot of people feel that they can obtain a large chunk of land and believe they can use the traditional ag mentality that you can just put things in quickly with expectations of it all just working. They aren’t accounting for complexity or the nature of the inputs. They fail to recognize the slow start nature of permaculture that leads to the long-term gains. Maddy notes that permaculture has to be thinking generations ahead rather than instant gains at the expense of the future. They discuss her property and how it has changed from when it was first obtained.
Paul talks about how explaining these things leads some people to believe you are insane. In the start, permaculture people can see your vision to some degree early, but hesitate. It isn’t until 10-15 years down the road when the permaculture people see your work as amazing and the regular people take real notice of what you are doing. They talk a little more, then Maddy notes that we need to persuade policy makers to start changing systems on a whole. This is what she feels the global permaculture movement is all about. Both discuss how there is movement in the right direction with universities and other institutions.
Paul notes that there are so many lessons you learn from even a single year of living permaculture, that after 20 years you’ll be so far beyond anything or anyone around you that it is transformative. Paul believes that to get permaculture to become viral/universal, you have to make it clear that adding permaculture to your life can be a way to double the quality of your life and double your money. Convincing others that they can save a lot of money or make a lot of money can be a huge motivator. Maddy affirms this, noting that you aren’t dependent on others when you are producing things for yourself. She thinks of her food forest as her pension fund. Paul feels that if he keeps pushing the fact that there is so much money that can be gained through permaculture, eventually it is going to get more traction. Maddy mentions surplus that comes from the system, including monetary surplus.
The podcast finishes on a note of the benefits to your quality of life and lessening of your overall need to do work while increasing your returns each year. The conversation will conclude in part two.
Credit: D. Logan