Permaculture & Playful Failure

Sometimes, it just doesn’t work.

Sometimes, no matter how deeply you’ve studied a site — spending a whole year mapping out seasonal changes, the path of the sun, rainfall and water flows, etc., etc. — and no matter how much you’ve studied soil conditions and plant possibilities in order to find the best possible solution, it just doesn’t work.

Sometimes, plants that, on paper, should thrive in precisely the conditions you’ve identified, die with (what seems like) no good reason.

This can be really disappointing and deflating — especially if you’ve spent quite a lot on a particular plant(!).

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Integrated Design & Human Communities

In a permaculture garden, a significant amount of thought is given to how the individual elements work together — all towards the goal of ‘closed loops’ (i.e. self-sustaining systems) and the best possible yields (a system where each element properly plays its part can be incredibly productive!).

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The Power of Observation

This is the second in a series of posts drawing out some of the applications and implications of permaculture principles for life, work, and mission (you can find the first post here: “Food Forests and Change Management”).

In this post, I want to look at the concept (and practice) of Observation — which happens to be the first principle of permaculture (as articulated by one of the ‘fathers’ of permaculture, David Holmgren).

It’s a simple but profound thought: you need to know the site before you start designing your garden/food forest/whatever. If you don’t adequately understand what you’re working with, you’ll no doubt run into trouble later on due to unsuitable plant selection, misplacement of structures, unhelpful drainage, and a whole host of other problems. You need to know the site before you do anything, and then start interacting with it slowly.

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Food Forests & Change Management

I’ve been thinking for a while about some of the natural applications/implications of permaculture thinking (a whole-of-system approach to sustainable living) to all areas of life, and thought I’d tease out some of those ideas here. Of course, thinking through such applications/implications is actually a core part of permaculture thinking — even though it’s most often applied to gardening — so none of this is new. I think, though, that there might be some left-of-field connections that might not often be seen.

The first one concerns ‘food forests’ and possible application to change management or the strategic implementation of a vision.

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