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Disturbance in the Force

Great conversation with the lovely Tomas Remiarz yesterday. Wide ranging and stimulating. We got on to how there are always some people around who want to ‘have a go’ about permaculture or ‘the community’. I really appreciated Tomas’ insight and asked him to write it down for me. Which he did.

Thanks for the conversation – good and thought provoking as ever. Here is my take on our movement as you requested, expanded from my prior thinking as a result of our chat. Tomas

Image result for tomas remiarz

Permaculture is not a community, it is an ecology, made up of many different communities and individuals. As in every ecology, there are different types of relationship.

There is a lot of mutualism. There is also a lot of competition. We may not like it, but this is how ecology works – many contributors working often at cross purposes, but altogether contributing to the existence and persistence of the whole.

Trying to create or act like one unified community is futile in my view. The challenge is not to eradicate conflict, but to conduct it constructively. A good question to ask is: what is the bigger whole that I/we want to contribute to? If we keep an eye on high level goals it may become easier to accept that others with the same goals have different views on how to get there.

There is probably some parasitism and predation going on at the same time.

These are loaded words in the world of humans, and it would take some careful thoought to consider in what instances they are tolerable or even beneficial (thinking of analogues to say pest control functions performed by gall wasps or nematodes), and in what cases we need to protect ourselves or our ecology from them. The concept of allies or guilds may be useful in this context.

Another consideration is that no ecology is a closed system. Permaculture is at the moment a marginal one, trying to expand while maintaining its identity. Now there’s a process full of creative tension!

3 thoughts on “Disturbance in the Force”

  1. Community may not always have the same meaning to each of us, very often people who want to set up a community do not feel part of one, and out of feeling isolated work toward creating opportunity to find people and connection. Which in a way, could describe members of the PA as a load of outsiders.
    Permaculture can feel like community of sorts, and in any intentional group mutualism and competition exist, but we are free to call it what we want, network, movement, party, society or association.
    Competitiveness can be fun, spur people on, and be healthy, to me it feels is negative when it all gets a bit serious, especially when being physically elbowed out of a conversation, which was extremely unpleasant. I have found it challenging when there has been a pretence that competition does not exist it the permaculture network, and has been demonstrated to me by some one telling me “competition doesn’t exist because there is only collaboration!, that’s the rules!”, so it is nice to hear Tomas’s views.

    After working with many different people, in teaching and gardening I think that conflict can arise when we are not aware of assumptions, our own or others and if take on a controlling sense of ownership of ethics and principles, but within a network of this size it would be weird if conflict didn’t happen.
    I do not think your words are that “loaded”, I do think “trying to expand while maintaining its identity” sounds like a description of a teenager, and some of the best music ever made has come out of that creative place.
    I do think this Association will blossom and mature away from its steady roots when is it is decentralised, then a stronger flowing regional network will develop, growing into its self.
    Thank you for sharing!

    1. Claire don’t know how I missed this (always too busy) published on my website. Let me know if that’s OK or you want to change or add anything… Happy new year. And god blss all who sail with you.

  2. In our ecology (networks and systems) in and around the PA or NFGS we do find allies and clarify our aims/goals and explore our practice, principles, policy, roles and remits. Sometimes with the help of a great review or piece of research like Tomas’s book. We do this in small groups, projects and in varied communities, initiatives and spaces. We find allies and form allegiances/guilds and external partnerships. Perhaps most importantly, we demonstrate (and evidence) progress where possible, eg in place-making, sharing ways of doing things and promoting further action, eg via your Forest Gardens [PACKS] or Hulme Community Garden Centre’s [BOXES]. We try to promote Forest Gardening, strengthen our communities’ resilience, expand our networks and strive to build our networks and/or movement(s). It seems we have to relate to stronger movements such as Climate Emergency and Extinction Rebellion – Yes, it’d be strange if conflict didn’t happen and it does engender creativity. Our networks do blossom and fruit away from their steady roots. Ideas and cuttings/scion/seed get scattered into communities, enterprise, and civic/(bio)regional infrastructure in our local, town/metropolitan and county-regional networks. Some seed will fall on the proverbial stony ground but much will grow into sustainable ecosystems. Thank you all for sharing!

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