Permaculture Vs. Rewilding

*this is an out-dated version of this concept. I’ve revised it off the web and will repost it later.*

In the same vain as Primitive Skills Vs. Rewilding, permaculture does not encompass a world view change away from civilization. In fact, I see permaculture more often than not used as an example of how to save civilization from collapse. As much as it may seem like this essay means to attack permaculture, I actually think permaculture works great as a starting point for learning indigenous horticultural practices and preparing yourself for the collapse of civilization by disconnecting yourself from the industrial food economy. I read and practice permacultural principles and base my garden plans from them! I have a copy of Toby Hemenway’s Gaia’s Garden on my shelf. [/disclaimer]

In the 70’s a bunch of hippies started discovering horticultural techniques and came up with the word permaculture. It originally stood for “Permanent Agriculture” (excuse me while I vomit). Permaculture most often refers to a civilized farmers attempt at returning to a more horticultural life. I generally refer to it as a bastard child of civilizations agriculture, mainly because most people who learn permaculture I see planting gardens and making cob saunas, not restoring and/or planting forest habitats. “Permies” (as they call themselves) also seem to emphasize the idea of the “food forest” which seems to me all-to-utilitarian in perception. Horticultural peoples did not think of themselves as “managing” “food forests,” but rather relating to and interacting with other-than-humans. Permies won’t receive my award for “Best Modern Human Subsistence Strategy,” but they do win “Honorable Mention” in my book.

Though the essence of permaculture came from indigenous hunter-gatherer-horticulturalists, the people of civilization only see “sustainable agriculture.” Most obviously the root of the word itself; Permanent agriculture. To words that send a shiver up my spine. Put them together and you’ve got permaculture. This looks like a early 70’s, civilized hippies grasp for a word or term like “sustainable.” This obviously ignores the defining characteristics of agriculture (tilling & mono-cropping), and only further muddles an understanding of our collapsing culture. Chalk it up to denial or cultural blinders, it doesn’t change that this way of seeing permaculture has permeated every inch of the permaculture culture.

It doesn’t make much sense to “talk shit” on permaculture any more than something like organic agriculture. I think it works great as a means of self-sufficiency and a nice first step. I also think that it needs mentioning that these methods still lack an all encompassing cultural/environmental economic system of sustainable management. In fact I believe any form of living that has sustainability does not think in terms of ‘management’ but in relationships.

The principle of Zone 5: The “Wilderness,” forms another element of permaculture that reflects civilized thinking. This assumption of “wilderness” shows that the foundations of permaculture still lack the understanding of how indigenous peoples interacted with the land, and the romantic European notion of untouched nature. Wilderness did not exist in hunter-gatherer-horticultural societies. Humans related to every piece of land, managing it on a large scale. Permaculture lacks an understanding of larger scale management most likely because it came about in the self-sufficiency on a homestead craze; its scope of land management appears rather small when compared to the large territories of horticultural/hunter/gatherers.

Aside from having an arbitrary wilderness zone, it creates the mono-cultured garden. For example, say 10 different people all buy their own piece of land and permaculture it. That means that each one of those people has their own pear tree, and apple tree a such-and-such in their permaculture garden. Basically, agriculturalists traded in mono-cropping farmland for mono-horticulture homesteads where everyone has the same horticultural plants rather than creating a mixed forest or oak savanna and trading with your neighbors who live in an old apple orchard or some such. Most permaculturalists lack enthusiasm for restoring native plants populations and practices. A permaculture garden looks exactly the same whether you make one in Finland, Ecuador or Uganda. I have seen little to no emphasis on native plants, which means no emphasis on a particular landbase. Permaculture lacks sense of place and lacks a larger sense of bioregional subsistence.

Permaculture does not fundamentally help to dismantle civilization, it simply means a garden or farm that civilizations military owns and can kick you out of when all the other farms soil has eroded. I hope you stock your permacultured land with guns. Having a truly sustainable permaculture farm involves dismantling civilization by no longer allowing those in power to take what they want, when they want without concern for the environment or your permaculture farm.

Show your support and appreciation for Urban Scout

87 Comments on “Permaculture Vs. Rewilding”

  1. Oh yeah, and I forgot to write a paragraph about animals and how permaculture is plants focused, aside from chickens and goats. I’ll do that later. Remind me sometime.

  2. Hey ! Co-Dismantler !!
    Just a reminder…to write something about animals and how…he he!

    BTW, well said, and I agree.

    Later !

  3. wow. there is so much absolutism in this posting that i don’t even know where to begin. so i’ll just dive in – do you have a copy of the permaculture design manual by mollison? there are over 129 photographs along w/ text of examples of varying polycrop permaculture principles and designs at work all over the world from hawaaii, to new zealand, to england, to australia, to botswana, to germany and so on. and loads of mention of native species and polycropping, etc. every permaculturist i know tackles the native species problem just after handling soil problems, and from there begins integrating animals including goats, chickens, rabbits, insects, horses, pigs, cows, and all sorts of rodentia, etc. for sure it’s not only about plants. i agree that a truly sustainable permaculture farm involves dismantling civilization by no longer allowing those in power to take what they want, when they want without concern for the environment, etc. but i’d say the definition of permaculture, and the implementation of this definition is very on-point when it is not taken out of context. and furthermore i think that your rant about permaculture should be way more thought out, researched and articulated as to not be counter-productive. people who are truly engaged in permaculture principles, give their lives, their resources, their time, their land, their families to building communities, to returning to agrarian cultures that include everything from fruit trading to water sharing, these people i speak of, are on your side. they too, are re-wilders. do you not see that? if you don’t, you’re really missing something. this “vs.” shit is starting to bug me. it’s so combative and alienates people who are on the same page as you. well, no, it doesn’t bug me generally. but attacking permaculture just feels sooooo off to me.

    and one more thing, gaias garden was made for the northwest. if you want to talk about using farming practices that include all biospheres, you might want to get a different book on your shelf. i’m happy to recommend a few. or better yet, you and penny could write one. my dad is collaborating w/ several people in the southeast US to compile a book like gaias garden that includes all the native edible species, etc., including animal integration, etc., as there is nothing like it available now. they are re-wilders and they are also permaculturists.

    Permaculture as defined by the man who invented it:

    Permaculture (permanent agriculture) (which by the way, i agree is a horrible way to define sustainable farming, etc) is the conscious design and maintenance of agriculturally productive systems which have diversity, stability, and resilience of natural ecosystems. It is the harmonious integration of landscape and people providing their food, energy, shelter, and other material and non-material needs in a sustainable way. Without permanent agriculture there is no possibility of a stable social order. Permaculture design is a system of assembling conceptual, material, and strategic components in a pattern which functions to benefit life in all its forms (you can insert animals there if u like, which by the way are mentioned EXTENSIVELY in the manual and are integrated by more “permies” than you can shake a chicken tractor at). The philosophy behind permaculture is one of working with, rather than against, nature; of protracted and thoughtful observation rather than protracted and thoughtless action; of looking at systems in all their functions, rather than asking only one yield of them; and of allowing systems to demonstrate their own evolutions.

    over and out.

  4. and how is the definition above not an example of how to “encompass a world view change away from civilization.”? i mean, that definition above is a fucking paradigm shift in comparison to the dominant culture and civilization.

  5. and another thing: “I also think that it needs mentioning that these methods still lack an all encompassing cultural/environmental economic system of sustainable management.”

    see chapter 14, Strategies for an Alternative Nation, section 14:11 Money and Finance

    this is a huge leap, and keep in mind this manual is 30 years old. many advances have been made in this area and are being used in permaculuture communities everywhere.

  6. Dude..

    Civilization is more fragile than Nature is; I don’t know why you constantly harp against any form of it whatsoever. Remove thine blinders!

    In fact, Civ is Nature’s child.

    The planet will long outlast its “destroyers.” We will be shaken off like a bad case of fleas, to quote the great Carlin.

  7. “n the 70’s a bunch of hippies started discovering horticultural techniques and came up with the word permaculture. ”

    are you sure about that? again, do your research. this is so insulting and totally incorrect. i’ll wait and see if you come up with the actual history of where and how the genesis of the word “permaculture” came to be.

  8. hmmm.. so far i have had something of the same feeling reading this as jenna has indicated in her comments.
    the idea of presenting rewilding and permaculture as somehow in opposition to one another seems …manufactured.
    even if i tease out some of the more nuanced points in this essay.. they seem to beg a better understanding of permaculture…and it seems these minute distinctions could surely wait for a few hundred years after civilization has been this essay seems to indicate that we will not have defeated civ so long as permaculture endures. i cannot concur.
    (love your stuff usually though!)

  9. Thanks for the feedback. Keep it coming, it’s helping me a lot. While I may not have made a great argument, the fundamental aspect stands that Permaculture to most serves as a way of “saving civilization.”

  10. well, to most permaculturists i’m familiar with, it isn’t about saving civilization, rather as mollison says, permaculture “first seeks to stabilise and care for land, and only thereafter to produce a surplus for exchange, if needed”. far from “saving” the current “civilization”, rather a completely different approach to survival and caring for the earth, is how i interpret it. if taking down civilization is about taking down hierarchy, and i believe it is, then permaculture is a tool to help bring that about. As mollison says when talking about self-reliance, “It doesn’t matter if the work we do carries the “permaculture” label, just that we do it. honestly, i think you should read his design manual cover to cover. a new edition was published in 2002. once you’ve done that, then you can begin to form a solid argument against permaculture. the posting as it stands, reads like an entity “re-wilding” is competing against. who gives a fuck what we call it, reality is, permaculture gives WAY more back to the land than it takes.

  11. I’ve skimmed that book, read Toby Hemenways and tried to get into the Edible Forest Garden Vol. I and II. They all keep using terms like “sustainable agriculture” [sic]. I have a hard time reading into anything when it starts out conceding to civilization. I agree with you though, that I need to read it more. I doubt I will find that I am wrong, but rather find a way to articulate better what I have said here already.

  12. btw – my dad (a permaculturer, lecturer, teacher, activist, farmer, earth-kind steward, and regular bad ass) has been reading this blog thread. he will be responding soon. right now he’s ripping out a cement structure and in it’s place he is building a dope ass rain barrel wall for a client. and teaching them how to get the fuck off the grid. call that re-wilding, or call it permaculture, or call it dismantling the privatization of water one rain catcher at a time. semantics. point is, people who are sick of the way civilization is murdering this planet are in action using tools like permaculture to speed up the collapse. we want permaculturists on our side.

  13. invent a new language then. i’m all for that. call it something else. keep what works, and throw out what doesn’t. hell, get in touch with david holmgren (co-founder of permaculture) and re-write the whole thing. he’d probably be down for it. google him. altho i don’t agree w/ everything he says, he’s doing amazing work and coming from the right place. i agree, aspects of permaculture language could use a make-over, but i think retaining followers of the permaculture movement would be wise. the reasons are obvious. they too, are your audience. they are exactly the kind of people who you can plant your seeds of re-wilding on. i do want to say that i’m a big fan of you, i just think what feels like a permaculture attack needs to take a different shape. attacking planetary murderers is one thing, attacking people who live every moment of everyday in honor and in servitude of healing the earth is a whole different thing. i think most permaculturists fall into the latter.

  14. I think you should read more. Gaia’s garden, although a great book, does not represent Permaculture. Only a small application of it.
    All your co-opted words cannot express the lack of your deep understanding of an alternative that is rooted as you say in native cultures. Do you havce a problem with Native American Agroforestry? Is any cultivation of plants off limits? You seem to rave against your own privilege. I m a polycuture designer, a part of Permaculture. We mimic natures plant guilds and polycultures of the forest and let nature fill in the gaps. Permaculture works with nature not against it. Anyone thinking they are going to control their environment is delusional.

    Before you slam Permaculture and the thousands of designers, teacher, and practitioners. The least you could do is take the time to look at it. At least as much time as you might Oxallis before ou pick it. Permaculture is a deep tap root of information.

    I am a survivalist, minimalist, ultralight backpacker, edible plant enthusiast, and Permaculture Designer, presenter, teacher. If you saw the principles of Permaculture you would see we integrate, not segregate, We look for diversity, and observe thoroughly all aspects of our niche before we move. You have failed to do any of these things before you even spoke. We are imclusive, all people from all areas. try and be rewilding in the Arizona desert. It would be better you cultivated your yield than take it from the native species. Rewilding is an unfortunate answer to our situation. I hope those left in fifty years have the sense to leave he wild alone and plant their own future, rather than feel entitled to forage the remains of a threatened and dysfunctional ecology.

    Want to learn more,

    See Dave Jacke
    Bill Mollison
    David Holmgren

  15. I think you should read more. Gaia’s garden, although a great book, does not represent Permaculture. Only a small application of it.
    All your co-opted words cannot express the lack of your deep understanding of an alternative that is rooted as you say in native cultures. Do you havce a problem with Native American Agroforestry? Is any cultivation of plants off limits? You seem to rave against your own privilege. I m a polycuture designer, a part of Permaculture. We mimic natures plant guilds and polycultures of the forest and let nature fill in the gaps. Permaculture works with nature not against it. Anyone thinking they are going to control their environment is delusional.

    Before you slam Permaculture and the thousands of designers, teacher, and practitioners. The least you could do is take the time to look at it. At least as much time as you might Oxallis before ou pick it. Permaculture is a deep tap root of information.

    I am a survivalist, minimalist, ultralight backpacker, edible plant enthusiast, and Permaculture Designer, presenter, teacher. If you saw the principles of Permaculture you would see we integrate, not segregate, We look for diversity, and observe thoroughly all aspects of our niche before we move. You have failed to do any of these things before you even spoke. We are imclusive, all people from all areas. try and be rewilding in the Arizona desert. It would be better you cultivated your yield than take it from the native species. Rewilding is an unfortunate answer to our situation. I hope those left in fifty years have the sense to leave he wild alone and plant their own future, rather than feel entitled to forage the remains of a threatened and dysfunctional ecology.

    Want to learn more,

    See Dave Jacke
    Bill Mollison
    David Holmgren

  16. hope you don’t mind, but i’ve taken it upon myself to send your blog to the permaculture community. you said you wanted the feedback.

  17. Scout,

    I’ve got to agree with most of what others have said here. For me, as a person who rewilds, permaculture texts and ideas are inspiring and educational. I’m currently reading Edible Forest Gardens Vol. I & II. As an ecologically illiterate person, I’m learning a shitload about how plants work and interact. I wish to take this and experiment with “food forests” — food for me, for the deer, for the groundhogs, for the squirrels, for the rabbits (domesticated animals not my thing!). i want to emphasize natives. i want persimmons, pecans, and scuppernogs. i want white oaks and ramps. i want lots of these things. and for me, part of what this permaculture thing is about is helping bring back beautiful forests to this land which has been destroyed by agriculture… turning fields and pastures back into forests where humans and our animal brethren can meet. that’s my long term goal. it’s about working with the land to heal us all.

    And I’m hella for more than just homesteading 😉

    in good heart,

  18. You’ll notice two books in my reading section; Tending the Wild and Keeping It Living. Those two books explain indigenous land management practices, by indigenous cultures. I understand their management practices well, so when I look at middle-ground tactics created by civilized people (like permanent-agriculture), I see the “civilized” paradigm leaping out. As I said above, I use permaculture and find inspiration in it. I’m still reading about permaculture. I have noticed in my reading a few inconsistencies with indigenous land management techniques that permaculture glazes over or misses altogether and stem from a civilized paradigm. These elements are the most important to me. The whole point here is to say that while permaculture supports rewilding, rewilding takes the initial inspiration of permaculture further.

    If you are offended by what I write, or take it personally, that’s not my fucking problem. I have struggled with articulating the flaws in permaculture (which only look like flaws if your goal is to abandon civilization, not save it). This blog has sat half done for a while and Jenna asked me to post it, so I thought, “fuck it, we’ll see what happens, even though I’m not happy with it.”

    My blog is my blog. Nothing I write is set in stone. Obviously, I change my mind about certain things all the time. Other things will never change. For you, Jenna, to freak out over this is rather insulting. Constructive criticism is fine. Sending your asshole permaculture friends here to tear me a new one because I didn’t articulate myself very well is bullshit… But go ahead. “No press is bad press.”

  19. wow. it’s a topic i’m passionate about, so don’t mistake my zeal for freaking out. i’m merely interacting in the blogosphere. and for the record, all the posts thus far are from people i’ve never met before. look, if you’re gonna write a book with a chapter in it titled “Permaculture vs. Rewilding”, then be ready for some heated debate from permaculture practitioners. jesus. you said keep it coming, and that’s what is happening. and it’s not about me, as it is about people wanting to discuss the issue. this is all great feedback so i don’t know why you’re ass is all chapped and you are calling my friends assholes. wtf? name-calling? talk about insulting. i’m happy to bow the fuck out tho if you’re all butt hurt about it. toughen up, kid. rewilding the world with your words is gonna require some thick friggin skin.

  20. “Sending your asshole permaculture friends here to tear me a new one because I didn’t articulate myself very well is bullshit”

    i did nothing of the sort. why are you singling me out just because i’m constructing thoughtful, mindful responses to your blog? i am absolutely floored right now, yes, bordering on freaking out, that you would say this to me. i am a very good person, a woman who works very hard to build awareness and take down civilization through my activism and writing. i am the last person you should be angry with. what part of “i am on your side” do you not get? look, i’m really sorry if i offended you so much. it was surely not my intention. i’m a fan of your writing, else i would NEVER give my day to teasing out an issue like this on your blog. again, apologies if you feel that i attacked you. not my way at all. keep on writing and evolving your ideas. i find you to be very inspiring, even if you think my friends are assholes.

  21. Hello UrbanS

    A major concept of permaculture that you seem to have missed is that permaculture is an ecologically based design system which can be applied to any type of issue/problem that requires a solution

    A cursory glance at the early and the vast majority subsequent permaculture literature may give the impression that permaculture is just applied to alternative/agrarian agricultural systems but permaculture has developed a lot since its conception and is now applied to a myriad of issues/problems

    Check out the Transitions Town concept for an example of applied permaculture design

    ‘I see permaculture more often than not used as an example of how to save civilization from collapse’

    Not necessarily to save but definitely rebuild :o)


    Chew (Aoteroa)

  22. Urban Scout,

    This is Jenna’s dad. Jenna just gave be a heads up regarding your perceived attack on permaculture and your position that it is fundamentally incompatible with your rewilding perspective.

    As I was reading your post my first impression was that you have no idea what permaculture is. Because I’ve learned over the years to pay attention to the nature of my reactive mind, I chose to sort of just be with the essence of your comments for some time before responding to your post.

    If it were up to me I probably would just have let it slide and attribute you comments to simply a lack of wisdom or understanding, and maybe get back to you in 10 years or so….maybe never.

    My daughter requested that make some effort to respond to your comments as quickly as possible as long as it was today. So here I am.

    One of the biggest traps that we fall into as human beings is to give credibility to the illusion of duality. Given that the vast majority of the planets human inhabitants live in this illusion it is quite understandable that you would fall into this trap.

    This is profoundly reflected in your position that somehow permaculture and rewilding are somehow mutually exclusive. I even hasten to waste anytime attempting to supply you with evidence to support my perspective as evidenced by your comment that although you are willing to take a deeper examination of permacuture you have (by your own admission) already determined that it is unlikely to change your premise.

    Do yourself a favor then and don’t waste your time with a deeper examination of permacuture as you already seem to have reached your conclusion.

    If on the other hand, you might be willing to abandon your perspective unconditionally (if only temporarily), with the willingness, humility and openness of the indigenous child you’ve expressed a longing to be, then by all means dig deeper.

    Take some time to go inside, dive into the realm beyond thought, let go of your concepts and preconceived notions, feel the source of all life within you. If you are so pulled, make this effort several times a day, every day. The rewards may astonish you.
    I really have no need nor inclination to “convince” you one way or the other as to the viability of permaculture or civilization or this Vs. that or whatever manifestation of duality you wish to present.

    You see, I trust that if allow yourself to find your answers within, to quietly reflect inwardly, you will have found the ultimate bullshit detector and your truth will become self evident. It is simply a process of letting go of what no longer works, and embracing that which does.

    Although I’d never heard of you before today, I did take some time to read your “about you” and it’s clear to me that you are awakened and paying attention. You clearly are committed to being a part of the solution rather than part of the problem and for that I thank you for you are.

    One last thought I’d like for you to consider.

    It is one thing to judge and attack the existing system (or any system for that matter) which I acknowledge is systemically terminal, it is quite another however, to approach the problem with love and compassion, with careful observation and analysis, armed with viable solutions, patience and understanding, wisdom and clarity and ultimately the understanding that at our very core we are all connected to one another, even when we do not see it.

    Ken Benway
    St Petersburg, Florida

  23. my final comment: my dad (previous post) is the only person on this blog thread that i know. every other person i have never had one single sliver of communication with. so these elusives that you refer to as “my asshole friends”, are in fact complete strangers to me. in life, and on the internet. i just wanted you to know that i had nothing to do w/ any other posts, outside my fathers, which after reading, i don’t find to be an attack on you at all. best, jenna

  24. You obviously didn’t read my post.

    I never said that rewilding and permaculture are “fundamentally incompatible.” I put them side by side because rewilding encompasses more of an indigenous mindset than permaculture. That’s all I’m saying. Permaculture is simply a movement about and only about food. Its not about story-telling and primitive skills and animal tracking and team-building etc. etc. It’s one aspect of a whole range of elements.

    Your response means little because you missed my point, which simply means I need to clarify and articulate better my position and show the contrast between the two elements more clearly. The second problem with this kind of blog release of chapter is when someone comes along who has no idea what rewilding means and has no bearing on where to place it at all. Therefore, you have no authority on my subject and so cannot possibly see the fallacies and holes in permaculture that I do. That said, your feedback makes it clear that I didn’t do a great job at making the contrast visable to more people, not that I don’t know what permaculture is or where it came from, I do.

    Please people. You’ve made your points. I’m done here until I can get back home and delve into the books so that I can quote them and reveal the differences between the two. I don’t do that as a means of attacking permaculture as you have all perceived, but in revealing why rewilding means MORE and offers more than permaculture.

  25. i for one, am quite eager for the collapse of civilization.
    i would also very much to be both of your’ asshole friends, so i wish it would not become (or remain?) heated over semantics. (nor do i mean to suggest that all of the disagreement is semantic.)
    ((but i cant help but picture the two of you, red faced and fighting over the life and world of plants.. then i pan up..up.. and there, languishing in smog are a thousand cities that still need to come down.))
    ok. not that i have taken any down yet or anything.
    just a thought. i am likely much less an authority than any of those opposed here. i was just expressing my thoughts after i had read it.
    (but really i am not an asshole.)please?

  26. well ian, (i’m tiptoeing here, as i fear i might get blocked) anyone who wants to actively partake in taking down the collapse of this ship, is a friend of mine, asshole or not. maybe we can chat one day about the shit i’ve done to expedite it all…i’ve found that an axe works wonders on small dams…from one asshole to another…hugs and stuff, jenna

  27. Scout, I’ve been reading your blog for a year or so and generally appreciate your views. I have to agree though that this essay seems incredibly underinformed. I’m not sure of the value of any more discussion, but I want to raise this:

    ” I also think that it needs mentioning that these methods still lack an all encompassing cultural/environmental economic system of sustainable management. In fact I believe any form of living that has sustainability does not think in terms of ‘management’ but in relationships.”

    Permaculture is ALL about relationships. You can’t practice permaculture without that. I can’t see how you can form any coherent critique of pc or comparison with rewilding if you have missed this essential point.

    I don’t want to put you on the back foot any further so am unsure how to say this. Your essay *looks* like it might be based on mainstream Americanisation of permaculture, not on what pc (US or otherwise) actually is. It’s certainly an inaccurate representation of pc as practiced in most parts of the world.

    David Holmgren’s work on energy descent is a practical, immediately applicable response to civilisation’s idiocy. From what I remember he doesn’t use anti-civ language but I can’t see how his work, or that of pc in general is inherently incompatible with the end of civilisation. Yes there are permaculturists out there who wouldn’t want civilisation to end. But not all pcers are like that, or probably even most.

    I find the ‘vs.’ stuff in this post unhelpful and unnecessary too. It’s the closest I’ve seen you come to saying ‘mine is the one true way’. That’s dangerous.

    Permaculture isn’t above criticism by any means. One area that I disagree on is the high value placed in non-native species (which doesn’t exclude the high value placed on native species btw). But come the end of civ we will lose the capacity to talk about native and non-native in the way we currently do because we have no way of knowing what will happen once the controls of civilisation are gone and all species are left to get on with it.

    Permaculture is one of the pre-eminent disciplines currently offering humans ways of working with that situation, and is probably the most accessible currently to westerners.

    The other thing that pc offers is it’s overwhelming proactive and constructive ideologies and practices. I guess you could use that to bolster civilisation, but you can just as easily use it to dismantle civ too.

    I think you might be tripping over some semantics. “permanent agriculture” was coined in the 70s, was a phrase of its time. But pc has moved on since then. Many people now consider pc to mean permanent culture, meaning ways of humans being able to co-exist with the rest of reality in a way that works rather than what we’re doing now.

    “I never said that rewilding and permaculture are “fundamentally incompatible.” I put them side by side because rewilding encompasses more of an indigenous mindset than permaculture.”

    Strange, because when I talk with a friend of mine who is living on the land her family have live on for 1000 years, she tells me that the things I say about pc are very similar to what her people have been doing all that time. The concepts and principles, not necessarily the techniques. People often make the mistake of thinking that pc is a set of techniques. It’s not. It’s a design system to help humans live sanely with the rest of the world. Indigenous landbased people most likely don’t need such an obvious system, because they already know how to do it and its integrated. Civilised people do need that system, because they’ve forgotten. I like alot of the rewilding stuff I’ve been reading coming out of the US, but it’s in its infancy. PC has four decades of practice of getting civilised people to rethink their relationships with the world.

    “That’s all I’m saying. Permaculture is simply a movement about and only about food. Its not about story-telling and primitive skills and animal tracking and team-building etc. etc. It’s one aspect of a whole range of elements.”

    PC is not only about food, and again if that’s what you’ve gotten so far you are seriously missing the whole point. PC encompasses all of humans’ relationships with the world not just food.

    I wish you well with your further study on this. I hope you can find sources of information that are broader and deeper.

    btw, here’s Bill Mollison’s CV (because the description characterising him and Holmgren as a bunch of 70’s hippies is ridiculously misleading):

  28. another btw. I’m not sure how compatible or not permaculture is with rewilding or vice versa. I look forward to reading and hearing more on that. I just want it to come from a place that is thoughtful and informed.

    Maybe permaculturists could offer some more references here for rewilding people to read?

  29. Hey Chewbyka, Your earlier post landed in my spam filter. I fixed it. Thanks for the heads up.

    BTW, I only delete posts if they are out-wardly mean and tear down my character in a baseless way (mostly from alleged Green Anarchists). I made the mistake of posting this too soon without fully understanding the jargon and rhetoric of permaculture; it’s my fault. Once I learn the language, I’ll make it clear how rewilding differs from permaculture. Just because they differ doesn’t mean they can’t support one another. But they are not the same thing, so what’s the difference between rewilding and permaculture? Maybe you can all help me figure that out and if you say there isn’t a difference you don’t understand rewilding.

    The “vs” thing is not putting them at odds, but putting them side by side and examining the differences. If you’re not interested in that, carry on somewhere else. My site is about learning to understand rewilding and how it differs from other cultural movements. Rewilding means a lot to me and spending time thinking the strategy through is what drives me. I do believe it is my “right way,” and have an obligation to spread that idea. If you don’t like it, GO AWAY. I prefer rewilding over everything I have heard and read thus far about permaculture (and I live in Portland and have many friends who practice permaculture). Why is that? I think it comes down to what someone said, that you don’t have to have an anit-civ perspective to be a permaculturalist. From a rewilding perspective, that’s dangerous and ignores the problem of civilization. Even the earliest civilization’s practiced more sustainable agricultural strategies than we do now. That’s one reason why I choose rewilding over permaculture; you can’t have a pro-civ rewilder, (or a build civilization again rewilder) because rewilding means un-doing domestication and taking down civilization, among other tenets that match up with other social groups like permaculture and primitive skills and animal tracking, etc. Understanding the problem of civilization is as important if not more important from my point of view than knowing how to grow a food forest. Before you start interacting with the land, you need to know how to not fuck it up so that when you do start, you don’t make the same mistakes again, like rebuilding civilization.

    Please though, help me figure out how rewilding differs rather than just tell me I don’t know anything about Permaculture (which is bullshit).

  30. Yeah, I don’t think rewilding and pc are the same either. And I’m interested in understanding the differences, and where they intersect.

    I also don’t think you ‘don’t know anything about permaculture’. But you obviously don’t know some very important things about it. I do agree though that once you know more you will probably still feel the same way.

    I think you are entitled to follow your own path, especially on your blog. Myself I have no problem with working in multiple paradigms and I would feel greatly deprived if I didn’t have access to the many tools that pc gives me that rewilding doesn’t (and to a lesser extent vice versa). I just feel you are throwing the baby out with the bath water. Which may of course be a useful thing for you to do in your own work.

    Still, this is the internet, so if you make some mistakes in portraying something you are likely to get a whole bunch of people responding to that. There is no way round the fact that you’ve said pc is solely about food production, when it’s not.

    There is no problem with you looking at the differences between pc and rewilding, except where you do so inaccurately.

    You have a number of people here who know alot about pc. If you want us all to piss off, that’s fine too. I just thought it could be a more interesting conversation to bring the two things together and look at them that way.

  31. just a quiet observation, but it seems that much of the disagreement here arose from our troubles with b-english. …
    permaculture IS this
    rewilding IS that

    can she permaculture and rewild at the same time? can he permaculture and not rewild? probably. strangeness alive.

  32. an addendum:
    “do they permaculture or do they rewild?”
    squint closely, can we tell at this point? it seems to me that rewilding will take a long time — generations and generations. at this distance, i think distinguishing between what constitutes rewilding at this point may prove difficult. certainly, some things exist which scream “I AM NOT rewilding,” but with things like permaculture, I think we close in on strategies that will add to the momentum of rewilding. i seem to recall mentioned in some e-primitive writing by either you or Willem that things shapeshift in our perception the natural world, holding not always static forms. like when walking in the woods and seeing movement in only the periphery. “a deer!” we turn, and now it appears as a squirrel. “wow that’s a large-hearted squirrel!”

    i think distinctions between permaculture and rewilding may follow a similar pattern. “permaculture!” we turn, “oh, now it appears as rewilding!”

  33. addendum pt. 2 (more thoughts keep coming):

    i also want to caution against citing sources as a method of understanding. i think it could prove more beneficial to see and experience what the work permaculturistas do looks like to understand what permaculturing signifies. even if the original language of Permaculture One may indicate one thing, the on-the-ground practice would probably help in understanding more than anything, and avoid the trouble of the stasis of the written word found in books.

    from the forest,

  34. i agree that learning something experientially over reading a bunch of quotes it is the ideal platform for taking something like this in. however, i would really like to get a definition of “rewilding” from someone, as i believe language (written or spoken) is our most powerful tool when building movements such as permaculture and rewilding. my only experience with the word/movement/idea/practice of rewilding is through this site and while i’ve read a fair amount here (most of which i agree with) i have never been fully clear on exactly what rewilding is, except that it circles around taking down civilization and how to survive during/after its descent. i’ve learned a lot more about all the stuff to the left of the VS. (English, Schooling, Denial, Pacifism, Ageism, Generalization – all great, great stuff) than i have about actually “rewilding”. maybe i need a class? maybe i need to pay closer attention? i confess, i’m rewilding retarded. please enlighten. what exactly is the definition of rewilding in the context of all this?

  35. um, yeah, there’s enough irony here to inspire a new alanis morrisette album. but beyond that, i think the creative flow here is magic.

  36. thanks. i’m switched on. santa cruz needs you to do a rewild camp. do you have a community of supporters here that my friends and i can tap into? or should we start one so that we can bring you here to help us rewild?

  37. I’ve got a few friends in Santa Cruz right now who may be organizing one. I’ll check with them.

    Before you read ahead, a few things. I know a lot of permaculturalists. I’ve seen many “permaculture” gardens. The problem with my perception of permaculture stems, I think, from the urbanization of permaculture and the terminology used in the books. When I read the books, and I hear “sustainable agriculture” I shut the books and write it off. Because in my experience it doesn’t matter how much you teach people about subsistence practices if you don’t articulate the problems of civilization simultaneously.

    When I see the people practicing “permaculture” in the city I see people clinging to a false hope that their garden will save civilization. It’s not that I lack a knowledge of permaculture or need to read more. The language in the reading says volumes. I get that it’s schizophrenic to some extent because if you actually followed the principles of permaculture to their fullest extent, you would eventually live as a horticulturalist/hunter/gatherer. It’s not because I haven’t met permaculturalists or haven’t seen permacultured gardens, it’s because of the large number of urban gardens I have seen that have been labeled as permaculture. While permaculture may mean something else entirely (such as anarchism) the verbage and culture I have seen tell a different story.

    Rewilding refers to a context of ecological principles that challenge the mythology of civilization. Without that context of ecological principles, the skills take on the dominant cultures mythological context and therefore, have little to do with rewilding. If permaculture by itself did this, or did this well, you wouldn’t see non-anti-civ permaculturalists.

    Permaculture, to a rewilder works great. Someone can use permaculture to rewild, but permaculture itself doesn’t reach outside of the framework of civilization. If it did, all permaculturalists would understand how civilization controls us. Because permacultural texts and culture has more to do with design and lack the articulation of how/why civilization kills the planet, civilized people can and do easily miss out its implications.

    I have had a hard time understanding what permaculture aims to do because of the terminology used in the books and actions of the people within the subculture. The words used to describe permaculture often obfuscate its real intentions, and further confuse the civilized and rewilders a like. Aside from the books general pro-civilization/agriculture language, the sub-culture of urban permaculturalists have also given rise to my own misinterpretation. I live in a metropolis and have attended permaculture events and seen little discussion of walking away from civilization and tearing it down and more about how permaculture can save civilization; ie the widely known and cherished, “City Repair Project” that bills itself as “Permaculture for Urban Spaces.”

    If you have people saying that you can have permaculture in Urban Spaces, either permaculture doesn’t mean what I think it does, or those people don’t understand permaculture. If we see Permaculture as a design science for creating horticultural villages, we would know you cannot permaculture cities, because cities have a fundamental unsustainable quality; nothing will make cities sustainable. If permaculture means to render the land sustainable, how would anyone get the idea that you can permaculture a city?

    A couple of fruit trees in your yard and a small garden of self-seeding annuals will not feed you and your hungry neighbors (though it will soften the crash of civilization slightly). The population density of a city far exceeds the carrying capacity, even if every yard had a garden in it. While you can use one or two principles of permaculture to design your urban garden, it misses the point and obscures the intentions of permaculture (if the intention means to create a horticultural/hunter/gatherer culture). If you can’t fully feed yourself with your urban permaculture garden, than you still require the importation of resources from the country side. If every farm became a permaculture farm, than we could not sustain the populations in the city because permaculture doesn’t create excess (grain) food production that makes cities possible. This means that cities would collapse. If everyone took permaculture to its intention, civilization would collapse.

    Now, given the choice, civilized people will and have for 10,000 years choosen mono-cropped grains for survival. Those in power will not allow real permaculture (by real permaculture I mean the full extent of the intentions to create horticultural/hunter/gatherer cultures) even though permaculture does a great job of re-framing indigenous horticulture and making it appealing to the masses who still think that hunter-gatherers spent their lives hungry and in constant search for food. As long as civilization holds a monopoly on violence, it owns you and your permaculture farm. So when the time comes, that excess you had for trade will now go to the military so that they can kick your ass and hold you captive. I don’t see these issues addressed by permaculturalists or in permaculture literature.

    So you have people who say, “don’t listen to what the books say, look at what people do” than when I look at what people do who make permeculture popular (urban peoples) I see people clinging to civilization and calling it permaculture. This shows us how, while permaculture attempts to abandon civilization as a subsistence strategy, without articulating the systems that keep us stuck here in its own literature, it brings civilization along for the ride and civilization kills the idea before it has the chance to break free. I can hear Tamaracks Songs quote about Primitive Skills cultures ring true for permaculturalists as well.

    Regenerative Design works as a more dynamic term than permanent culture (as permanent implies a sedentary quality). Regenerative design implies adaptation. It still lacks the anti-civilization perspective though. Rewilding refers to the process of un-domesticating ourselves so that ideas like permaculture (or regenerative design) can and will live up to their potential; creating biologically diverse landbase, seasonally maintained by horticultural/hunter/gatherers, free of civilization. Rewilding offers a newer term to describe the culture that understands the power of unarticulated abuse and domination from civilization. It seeks to understand these invisible and visible shackles out right. Once we articulate the problems and control mechanisms of civilization, permaculture becomes one of our strongest allies. But as long as permaculture remains a design science without articulating civilization, it will continue to lose meaning through the urban people who perpetuate false hopes.

  38. i believe that permaculture creates scenarios that do not require the importation of resources. and i have seen it happen on a large communal scale. i do not however think (nor desire) that huge cities like san francisco, or portland, or l.a., or n.y., or miami, the list goes on…will ever be sustainable. it does not matter what new innovative green (there’s that word) technology is created next, and it doesn’t matter how much green (and again) language enters public discourse. this is it. we are in the crash now. and nothing is gonna “save” civilization (thank god). huge cities are not sustainable and the unravelling has already begun. i am however deeply concerned that millions of people will begin (myself included) flocking from the cities into the countryside without a solid understanding of how to live off the land, of how to rewild, of how to be earth-kind. this will be equally disastrous for our already injured planet. some of the most ecologically ignorant people i know live in big cities, that’s why they live there. they think being ecologically active is shopping their way to sustainability. so as the proverbial shit continues to hit the fan, these idiots are the people who will be joining the permaculturists and re-wilders, whether we like it or not, whether we have guns or not. i think it’s important to use tools like permaculture alongside rewilding to prepare for that inevitable scenario. the thing i really like about your ideas and the language of re-wilding is that it is a total un-doing, un-domesticating, of civilization as we know it. but mostly, i like the un-doing and re-working of language surrounding sustainability. keep me posted on efforts regarding re-wilding in my area. if there are not any, i’m delighted to carry that flag.

  39. Great conversation! While I initially supported the folks getting defensive about the “permaculture bashing,” I’m glad you stuck with it
    Scout, because now I’m actually more interested in the main point you want to make: (here’s how I see it) There’s a Huge Pink Elephant in the room that no one seems to talk about, and its (what’s the quote from Princess Mononoke?) a Big Huge Slimy Life-Sucking Monster of Death called Civilization. I love permaculture and regenerative design, and those are the folks I’ll talk to when I want to figure out how to garden my yard, or how to inhabit my land with my community more sustainably. But what about that little problem of civilization? 75 species a day–gone. 90,000 acres of forest a day–gone. 13.5 million tons of CO2 a day into the atmosphere–fuck! That’s civilization. What I hear Scout saying is simply “but let’s talk about that too!” And specifically–in what ways does not directly addressing that elephant’s presence influence us when we get into our permaculture design, or regenerative design, or ecovillage planning, or re-souling work, or whatever? For me, it’s pretty significant to look around and think “We really can’t do this good stuff for real with all this here. With all of US here. Only a small amount of what’s here now can be here and have this work.” I would rather NOT notice that, and feel good about buying my heritage seeds and my commerically-produced organic compost. But the more I take an interest in the long view–“how is this really going to play out and work out?” the more I see that elephant sitting there, shitting on everything (no offense to elephants), and there’s just not enough room. I like the ‘vs.’ to the extent that it gets us to look up from what we’re doing (regardless of how friendly that activity might be to rewilding) and ask “yeah, and how exactly are we addressing the elephant as we do this?”

  40. agreed. the death culture of civilization and all it’s machines must go. i’ll do my best to become the kind of woman it will require to do whatever necessary to take down that elephant (no offense to elephants, either). but i’m scared shitless. maybe i cling to closely to permaculture ideas cuz it makes me feel safer?

  41. Hey Chris, It’s so funny that you brought up the elephant in the room metaphor! I wrote that into my last post in our discussion over at, but deleted it at the risk of already sounding too long-winded. Either you’re spying on me, or reading my mind, or I’ve gotten pretty good at narrowing down what I mean to say. It hits the nail on the head. The other issues I had with permaculture were more or less bullshit. Thanks Jenna for pushing my buttons a little and making me clarify things a bit. This blog would have sat there and remained in question for a while if you hadn’t asked me to post it. I feel like I more or less have my argument together now. Still needs some touching up though.

  42. you’re welcome. thanks for saying that. i’m just glad it came full circle. i really like the direction it’s taking and your last post is some of the best writing i’ve ever read from you.

  43. this is so on the mark that it made me want to write an entire book marrying the two. seriously, an entire series could be written on just this single quote as a premise. man, i’m lit the fuck up over this quote.

    “Because in my experience it doesn’t matter how much you teach people about subsistence practices if you don’t articulate the problems of civilization simultaneously.”

  44. Pingback: W66,67: Perma-fried | Urban Scout: Rewilding Cascadia

  45. Scout, I see both re-wilding and permaculture as survival strategies nothing more. My anarchist side loves the blatant honesty of re-wilding.
    Keep posts like this one coming. This much traffic and the heat of discussion, Wow. Go for it. You’re getting your message out.

  46. Scout, I’m now trying to simultanously read Endgame and the various chapters of your book. I’m not doing too well as I have to direct a summer camp this week. However, I’m very inspired at the breadth of topics you’re hitting. One little comment for now, not having read many of the other chapters: It’ll be hard with some of the chapters to avoid just saying “good idea, but they forget that civilization won’t go without a fight, and it can’t really work while civilization is around.” The point seems to be to examine the details, the concrete particulars around how it is that, when the background context of civilization goes unquestioned, each of these other efforts your examine gets derailed, or castrated, or whatever. Stick to the nitty gritty, and the examples, so you’re pointing out the actual consequences of not talking about the elephant, and you’ll be making a very important contribution.

    I look forward to reading more


  47. Wow, Urban Scout. You should talk about permaculture more. Look at all the discussion!

    I also often get frustrated with the permie perspective that consists of urbanites trying to save their way of life. On the other hand, I also get frustrated with the primitivist perspective that doesn’t take into account the great changes of the Anthropocene. We need those pear trees and potatoes if we’re going to thrive with all these people and degraded ecosystems. In the meantime, we should change our land interactions so we can have fields of Camassia or Brodiaea bulbs. At least that’s what I’d like to see. Salmon, waterfowl, elk. I’m getting hungry.

  48. feralkevin: Well, we *can’t* live with all these people and degraded ecosystems, that’s just it. We’re all perched atop a very shaky house of cards. We can’t all live on fruit (the pear trees); most fruit doesn’t contain enough calories. We can’t all live on starches (the potatoes), because the data coming out from researchers who are honest about human dietary needs points to most of us needing animal fats more than we do starches. In fact, the health history of families like mine indicates that starches kill us more than they keep us alive. But to live the way that agrees with most of our bodies best, we have to have a lot more land per capita to gather food from than we do currently. We have WAY overshot our population limits, thanks to the inputs of petroleum and of civilization generally.

    Lots and lots of us are going to die. About the best those of us who are aware of this fact can do is figure out how those of us who live through the die-off will survive and thrive afterward.

    This is why rewilding is so damn important. And to address another commenter here, I don’t think it is going to take centuries to do. Think about how many generations of dogs and cats it takes to go from domestic to feral. Not many at all. I understand that some dogs go feral in their own lifetimes, and if not them, their puppies sure do. There will be some difference in human beings because of our heavy emphasis on culture over instinct, but I can’t see it being much more than two or three generations’ difference. What will help is having a feral culture to socialize into.

    I would love to hear from rewilders here in Ohio, actually. There is such a wonderful diversity of food plants and animals here on the land; lots of rivers too, and the state territory butts up on the Great Lakes as well. If the fucking Southwest doesn’t drink them up, anyway…

  49. Holy crap, Dana Seilhan! How odd to find you here! You’re everywhere I want to be!

    (I got here trying to figure out how to nixtamalize my corn.)

  50. i think you miss the point of permaculture entirely..and you act like its a given that ”civillization” (im not even sure what that means to you the human race? the ability to read and write ? capitalism ? what?) will come crashing down..its like this simple all of nothing black and white situation for you ? we can find a sustainable ways to live..we control our societies ..if we see humans are getting overpopulated we can choose as a society to have fewer children..and we can choose as a society to use sustainable ways to grow our food and provide ourselves with energy and housing like permaculture ….are you saying we dont need to deal with issues like water run off from lawns and roads and single plant farming? youre addicted to the plow? what does rewilding mean to you eliminating human beings like we arent part of nature ourselves? are you saying humans dont have to be a part of society or a civillization at all that they can live on their own totally self sufficient? because you need at least a caretaker for the first 16 years of your life..would you rather break your leg in the forest alone or with a friend? thats the same as asking would you rather live or die want your power back take it back by not cooperating, what power will they have if the people dont give it to them by cooperating ? what power would hitler have had without millions following him or bush or any government without the soldiers fighting for it ? if humans dont agree to use money it wont have any value..we have to come to a collective decision as to what we make of our society. right now the collective says capitalism and unsustainablity its our job to show people there is another healthier way ..and how dare you bash bill mollison a beautifull man who never hurt you permaculturists arent individually nice of you to bash people who are trying to do the best they can to learn more ways to create a healthy society for us all..your 10 people buy a piece of permaculture land and they all look the same bit is also absurd its all about diversity and bringing back lost know what looks the same a farm with nothing on it but corn or potatoes

  51. spew, barf, barf spew! I love it when people with no understanding of civilization or rewilding, who obviously haven’t read the comment thread post a comment. I love it even more when they put “civilization” in quotes (as though I and many others haven’t clearly defined it). It’s sooo cute.

  52. i read your comment in its entirety three or four times. you kept saying ‘not that i mean to bash permaculture’ and yet mercilessly do ..bill mollison just some hippi? well youre just some end of the world conspiracy nut than. you love it when people have no concept of rewilding ? i find it disturbing you seem to have no concept of permaculture ..and what have you and others described civillization to mean for the second time i ask? columbus and his men were civillized while rain forest tribes are not? that means nothing to me . christian missionaries trying to bring so called civillization to tribes in africa ? they have a civillization just not yours. according to most civillization means society or what youre saying is you believe all human societies will collapse? what if our society is based on living in harmony with our planet? when i asked what civillization means to you it would have been nice if you had answered my question instead of bashing me but mayb thats all you do is bash good people while you do nothing but complain p.s. mayb you should get your stomach checked, you seem to be spending all your days throwing up ..

  53. I get really irritated when idiots come here and read my shit out of context and than babble all over my blog. I have no patience for lazy people who don’t do the work. If you post again, I’ll delete it. You haven’t done the reading, you have no idea what this discussion is about. If you’d like to know, than read my f’ing book. It’s not hard to find. Click on “writing” above and you’ll see the list of chapters. You can start reading there. To spare you:

    Civilization refers to a way of life characterized by the growth of cities (not villages). Cities are defined as culture of humans living in such densely populated areas that only become possible with the advent of agriculture (not permaculture or horticulture). Civilization is not a synonym for culture or society since every other human culture did not build cities. Our culture would like civilization and humanity to mean the same thing, but that is far from the truth.

    If you post again, I’ll delete and block you. Have a nice day.

  54. civillization from websters dictionary civ·i·li·za·tion (sv-l-zshn) An advanced state of intellectual, cultural, and material development in human society, marked by progress in the arts and sciences, the extensive use of record-keeping, including writing, and the appearance of complex political and social institutionza·tion (sv-l-zshn) 2. The type of culture and society developed by a particular nation or region or in a particular epoch: Mayan civilization; the civilization of ancient Rome. 3. The act or process of civilizing or reaching a civilized state. 4. Cultural or intellectual refinement; good taste 5. Modern society with its conveniences: returned to civilization after camping in the mountains. And im not surprised youll block me i knew you were a nazi wanna be jerk who didnt know what he was talking about enough to defend it from the first reading of your stupid permaculturist bashing post. take it away speech police ..

  55. dear reader..”urban scout” is playing the part of speech police to erase my posts here because he cant defend or debate his own ideas …when bashing me didn’t force me back down he resorted to censorship..remind you of anyone? every idea the sob has is suspect..beware..

  56. whatever you need to tell yourself to excuse what youre doing here you liar.. i think what you do is delete anyone who doesnt agree with you..bottom line ”permaculturists are nothing but gardeners and farmers” proves you dont have any real concept of what permaculture is sorry to have wasted my time on you and the only reason i continue to do so is out of concern for the unsuspecting reader like i was..*warning dear reader if you disagree with or question urban he will just bash you and delete your post like a nazi so dont bother

  57. You didn’t read the comment thread before posting here, or you simply don’t understand what is being talked about. I don’t delete things that contradict what I write or I would have deleted everyones comments. You attacked me with baseless comments that ignored the entire thread above, I shouldn’t have taken the bait but I did. If the thought of “end of the world conspiracy nut” comes to mind, you putting civilization in quotes, and your lack of understanding what the hell I am talking about whatsoever shows that you have done absolutely no reading on the subjects talked about at this website. Usually I just delete assholish comments from ignorant people, but I was feeling frosty I guess. Feel free to stop wasting both of our time and stop coming back. But you just can’t can you? You have to post one more time. That’s the ugly side of the internet, isn’t it?

  58. Saultic,

    I can personally attest that Urban Scout allows for differing viewpoints and debates. I’ve done it several times, and was responded to with equally well-thought-out answers. You, however, just sound like a douche. Grow up, and learn to spell.

    Also, considering a dictionary an authority on any definition more complex than that of an apple is ridiculously ignorant and naive, especially in reference to a specific discourse with its own lexicon. Primitivists have thoroughly explained what we mean by civilization, which is a much subtler definition that looks at the implications that the word has had behind it, historically.

  59. I think one of the problems we’ve got is that civilisation has, for the most part, already trashed huge swathes of previously wild land. Now I don’t know about America because I haven’t been there, but if I look out of my window in rural North Yorkshire (England) I see not much other than fields, with a few trees in hedgerows between them. There are the odd few acres of woodlands around here and there, but nothing you would call a forest! I gather there are still places you can go in America and wander through forest for miles? Unless you travelled some distance to forestry land and walked round and round in circles, there is just no equivalent of that here.

    I agree civilisation hasn’t got a future, and living as people once did is by far the best way to go on. But trees, woodland, and ecosystems don’t just appear overnight. It’s going to take longer than my lifetime to return this country to anything like it once was.

    In the mean time I’ve gotta eat! I think permaculture can be a useful strategy to help feed ones self and community/small band of like minded people post collapse in order to prevent drawing too much on nearly eradicated wild plants and animals. As things repair themselves – scale it back. This would be the reverse route from civilisation to the wild again given the fact that there really isn’t very much wild to return to. Around the point of collapse all hell breaks loose and there isn’t much certainty of keeping the fruits of your labour, but I don’t see a better way. The emphasis should be on maintaining the right mindset – that rewilding is the end goal, and gaining the skills and experiences to do that.

  60. Just wondering, urban scout, if you’ve had a look and read of the website;
    It’s the website that Dan suggested in an earlier post.
    It’s by the co-originator of permaculture, David Holmgren
    and what your opinion is here?

  61. Well, first off he says this:

    “The simultaneous onset of climate change and the peaking of global oil supply represent unprecedented challenges for human civilisation.”

    Which obviously sets out a premise that what he will talk about will “save” civilization, by fixing the “challenges” against it.

    Seconly his whole view on collapse is rather meek. Never, in his entire piece does he talk about ecological die-off and environmental collapse. His focus is on the “energy decent.” A slow sort of “power-down” from where we are now to a more Amish-permie type life.

    And while I agree with more or less most of what he says in his conclusion, it doesn’t change the fact that what I’m saying is that the most important element here is what is not being said; that civilization is unsustainable and we cannot fix it. The sooner we abandon all notions of saving civilization, the sooner we will find real solutions.

  62. Ouch! I never thought of Permaculture as being the bastard child of civilization’s agriculture, propping up a failed system of land use. I do know, though, that it was a useful next step for me after outgrowing organic agriculture. But let me tell you, I am a Permaculturalist firmly wedded to ecological succession, to an eco-restoration of forest habitats for restoring native plant populations and practices. I do not in any way see the Zone 5 in Permaculture as an arbitrary wilderness zone, it is an essential element in the mix of “larger scale management”.

    I envy you your youth. Whether I knew it or not in the last two decades, it is apparent to me now, as I reach my mid-fifties, that I have been on a journey to find meaning in life. I don’t measure my life by others in the sense that there is no ambition in me other than to make sense of my existence. Maybe it has resonance with many others before, but what makes me feel it is important is that it is not just my existence amongst other people, but amongst all the species of the world. I have fallen in love with wild nature and want to take my place in that community.

    Permaculture was a good schooling for this outlook, not just because it envisions a relationship with nature based on limiting our impact and use, but because it recognises that humans must have a true value for wild nature that ensures that it has its own space (the Zone 5 in Permaculture, which is analogous in some ways to the designated wilderness in America). When I first learnt about this over 10 years ago, I didn’t realise the full importance of it, and most people learning Permaculture and living in our predominantly urban settings in Britain wouldn’t. But it’s that collision of circumstance, the interest in exploring landscapes for native plants and then seeing the context of how and why they flourish, and how all the other species of the land community flourish, that showed me how important wildland is to the existence of humans. Lose that wildland, as we certainly have in Britain, and we are impoverished in so many ways, spiritually, aesthetically, and in our long term survival. When we lose wildland, we lose the ability for landscapes to self-renew, to wholly regenerate, and to be supportive of the whole land community.

    I have written of our blanding out of landscapes in Britain from millennia of farming, and how that has taken them to the point where they no longer support the human species, only the livestock that has despoiled them. Shortly afterwards, I came across a remarkable juxtaposition in the landscape of the Yorkshire Dales that powerfully demonstrated this point. I was on my way to look at an area of rewilding on South House Moor in the Ingleborough National Nature Reserve when I came across an area of limestone pavement that stood out from the rest – it had trees growing in it. This is not entirely uncommon in limestone pavement areas, a few ash and hawthorn have sometimes in the past “got away” in spite of the attentions of rabbits and sheep. But what was different was the range of tree species and the fact that there was a developing scrub that you just don’t normally get. The reason had to be that this area of limestone pavement was walled off, excluding the sheep from getting in from the surrounding area. And so I found rowan, bird cherry and ash, with willow, hawthorn, hazel, blackthorn and raspberry. In the ground layer there were greater burnet, wild strawberry, meadow sweet, bittercress, stonecrop, bedstraw, ferns and giant bellflower. By comparison, the landscape outside the wall had just grass around the pavement and no trees within it.

    This is simple proof of what happens when the ecological impact of farming pressure is removed from our landscape. Native species re-establish, brought there by wind, birds and small mammals, and the returning natural state of a diverse vegetation community brings with it species that our hunter-gathering predecessors and modern day food foragers would recognise. In this case, the rewilding has been deliberate since the walled limestone pavement is a reserve owned by a wildlife trust, and their aim has been for the site to develop naturally by maintaining stock-proof boundaries.

    The returning food potential of the rewilding limestone pavement put me in mind of the wild landscapes I have seen in America where as well as the wild meat, the wild food plants of the Native Americans could be seen in abundance: thus the expanses of camas lily and arrowleaf balsam in Yellowstone National Park; the vast areas of mules ears in Grand Teton NP; the astonishing array of fruiting shrubs beside the Curecanti Creek Trail in the Curecanti National Recreation Area; and seeing most of these and other food plants in all the designated wilderness that I walked. I understand the criticism of protected wildlands from surviving Native American communities since it is an exclusion of these peoples from some of the few areas that can be considered to be their ethno-botanical heritage.

    Kat Anderson, author of Tending the Wild, is a powerful protagonist for the importance of Native American management of landscape. She sees California’s indigenous people as having been active agents of environmental change and stewardship. Her belief is that we no longer have the relationship with nature that these native peoples had, and in that separation our knowledge has been reduced to the point that we need to get reconnected. It is arguable whether the native peoples of California shared a conservation ethic, as she avows, but they would certainly have learnt from their mistakes. Anderson shows that overexploitation led to shortages that wild nature would have to struggle to renew, and it is the case that native peoples in California were responsible for the extinction of a number of species such as the flightless goose and the giant island mouse.

    The management of the landscape by native peoples was the transition to domestication of native plants within a natural landscape, indicating a degree of ecological knowledge. Modern day exemplars of this would be the Kayapo in Central Brazil who concentrate native plants by growing them in resource islands, forest fields, forest openings, and tuber gardens by selecting and transplanting a number of semi-domesticated native plants. But the Kayapo today, and the Native Americans before first contact with Euro-American settlers, were shaping their landscape from the rich resources of the wilderness that came before them since the Americas were not populated with humans until about 13,000 years ago. Thus the designated wilderness we see today is a valid expression of landscape, albeit that the Clovis culture, that early settlement into the Americas and from which its native peoples derive, extinguished many of the larger mammals of the Pleistocene.

    Andersen does allow that designated wilderness as an untouched place, a standard and reference (Zone 5), should exist at one end of a spectrum, and which has human designed environments at the other end. For reconnection to occur, she believes there has to be a middle ground on that spectrum, where ecology and culture are brought together again and where complex knowledge is applied. She calls for ethno-botanical reserves to be set up by an equivalent department at Government level to the US Fish and Wildlife Service that sets up wildlife refuges. These ethno-botanical reserves would be places where in partnership with Native Americans, the correct relationship with wild nature could be learnt.

    Britain has a legacy of harvesting wild foods that endures in spite of the massive reduction in landscape cover that gives opportunity for this wild food foraging. As there is in America, there is an imperative in Britain to move towards a contemporary ethno-botany, as much as there is also an ecological need to increase the amount of wildland in our landscapes. The two are interconnected since restoring native species allows us to recreate ecosystems and restore diversity, while meeting some of our own needs in the process from such as wild foraging. There will be conflicts: we risk destroying that new wilder landscape if we don’t relearn our correct relationship with wild nature, if we just regard it as another resource to be plundered and over-extracted.

    In our reconnecting with our extended wild nature, we will need to be clear what areas of wildland are to be left untouched as reference areas and out from which an ethno-botanical renewal can take place (Zone 5). Then there will be the areas of the middle ground that range from foraged but unmanaged native habitat, through lightly managed native habitat, and on to predominantly native habitat within which some non-native species can be introduced for specific harvests. The Forest Habitat Network proposals in Britain amply illustrate a spatial model for these middle areas, and the developing approach of Analogue Forestry guides us on how to introduce a limited palette of non-natives into a predominantly native eco-system.

    The Analogue Forestry approach seems to me to be a powerful bridging between the structurally similar forest gardens (“food forests”) of Permaculture and the essential greater woodland infrastructure that Britain needs. A manual for Analogue Forestry gives a set of principles for its design and implementation that would be familiar to any Permaculture Designer, and I think most Permaculturists will recognize it as a solution for the scaling up of forest gardens, but with a much needed re-emphasis on native species.

    I am perhaps not typical of Permaculturists in Britain. I have always been wary of its origination by just two Australians, and make no assumption about its primacy or universality. But it has helped get me to where I am now, for which I am grateful.

    Mark Fisher

  63. Dear Urban Scout
    your comments clearly indicate you have read chapters 4 or 14 in the book “Permaculture A Designers Manual”.

    I advise you do this to assist you ability to rewild.

  64. Okay, I’ll bite. I didn’t like the vitriol of some of the previous posts so I skimmed the 2nd half…

    Anyways, a few months ago a presentation at a sustainability seminar turned me on to Permaculture. I only recently purchased the designer’s manual, and I’ve only skimmed it. I highly respect the intent and the philosophy seems sound so far as I can tell and I feel the teachers are doing good work. I do have criticism though.

    1) Domestication taken as a given. Not the plant management per se, I refer to the non-humyn animals. The permaculture presenter spoke of using the foraging of Indian Runner Ducks (a Malaysian domestic breed) because they cannot fly away (capitalizing upon their domestication rather than helping or allowing them to rewild). Also, the “lawn-mower” practice of moving foraging animals in pens. The level of containment (& planting bushes that serve as walls) seems contrary to re-wilding, and I feel it disrespects our non-humyn neighbors. Freedom of movement seems pretty essential for respectful relationships. I need to read pc’s take on aquaculture bofore making assumptions about that, but the rest stands. You have a slippery slope here. The logic of domestication flows easily from breeding plants and animals into humyn eugenics and racial superiority. We must tell lies of superiority in order to justify our victimizing of others. It flows easily from caged animals to caged humyns. It always comes full circle.

    The divisions of zones 1-4 & then 5 seems important. From what I read, it comes across as the Orignal Sin mentality: we can’t live sustainably in wilderness (this externali ing of our own being), so we must completely manufacture a habitat with a strong element of control. I will concede most of the civilized, myself included, should not be try reckless forms of “earth-stewardship” without learning and connecting, to make climax ecosystems. Mother Earth should be let to rewild Herself, but I beleive humyns need to play an active role in helping her, rather than consigning ourselves to gardening. The duality of complete authority in 1-4, and then the thought that zone 5 is to be left to itself, seems like a conflicting duality; it implies an alienation from being a sustainable symbiont of the wild, which doesn’t seem to be rewilding. They also seem to advocate terra-forming the land, and if there are plants that humyns act allergenic towards, will pc teachers teach the students’ to hold to Mollison’s concept of working with it rather than against it?

    Also, Permaculturists need to absolutely, unequivocably discourage consumption of cereal grains – the exorphins and lectins poison us; we didn’t evolve to consume diets of cultivated grasses. The studies and paleo dieters demonstrate the addictive and unhealthy natures of cereal grains by the superior health of those who return to our Pleistocene niche diet.

    Also, pc has another dangerous assumption. As any “well-researched” anarcho-primitivist text will show us, sedentary living is disastrous for us, we evolved as nomads. The systemic lack of excercise increases womyn’s ovulation, and coupled with direct control of food supply, creates the positive feedback loop that created cities. And there are other biological aspects too, such as the high protein, lean meat, non-domesticated meat inherent to foraging diets that counteract fertility & thus population/consumption growth, among other things. Also, sedentism allows for property accumulation (& thus inequality). Even in the Pacific Northwest Natives who settled into horticulture we can see hierarchical power, slavery, and high levels of warfare. (but they didn’t turn it into conquest b/c they had an attachment to the salmon runs.)Probably universal cultivation of contraceptive and abortifacent herbs would go a long ways, but I don’t see that as a systemic component.

    I don’t know pc’s take on energy for sure, but the people I spoke to seemed to buy into the “green” energy myths. Solar panels need the extraction of metals from the Earth and industrial processing to work, meaning Civilization is a given. I don’t know about windmills really, other than that they don’t produce much energy, and I saw a windmill in one of the pc designs. Hydroelectric emits CO2, and would probably negatively influence already fragile rivers. Power lines kill between 5-35 million birds per year, so I hope pc doesn’t call it “green”.

    Scout mentioned in his preemptive post was guns. I don’t see how pc can teach a design philosophy that claims to be sustainable without teaching some type of hardcore Rhizome defense system to protect against the apocalypse around the corner (the one all around us). How well can eco-villages take on a desperate military-industrial complex? If no, they have Executive Orders that allow them to steal the land and force you to labor to feed them, making for a sustainable serfdom perhaps…

    Also, with the global temperatures increasing, that drastically increases the breeding cycles of all the “pests”…will “pure” pc prove sustainable in the longterm, moreso than foraging w/ part-time gardening?

    Nevertheless, the practices seem useful and a move in a better direction, so I will learn both foraging & permaculture, but of as espoused has some characteristics that I think are really flawed. If they’d adapt the practices to supplement a primary foraging lifeway, then I wouldn’t have much to say against it, and as a transition I wouldn’t bash it, but I don’t think humynity can live primarily permaculturing instead of foraging in the long run. Still reading though… I remember someone mentioning Masanobu Fukuoka demonstrating how to help domesticated plants re-wild…maybe I’ll look at that too for a successful trilateral fusion!

    Hope this was of use to you Scout, and everyone else too.

    -Autumn Phoenix

  65. Looks like I’m a bit late to the conversation, but I want to relate a first hand experience with the difference between what I call “ReGardening” (very similar to rewilding) and permaculture.

    Last fall, I seeded several greens on a Garden Earth Project ReGardening demonstration site. In just a few weeks, a lovely Mizuna plant, which had been seeded amidst wild grasses and leaves was beginning to grow quite healthy and large.

    A permaculturist who was assisting me on the site saw the Mizuna surrounded by the grasses and became quite distressed. He was concerned that the grasses would deplete the nitrogen and stunt the Mizuna. His solution was to scrape all the grasses away from the Mizuna. He also established a “natural” rock border to accent the plant and prevent it from being stepped on.

    Over night, the healthy, growing Mizuna was gone – nothing left but the stub of a stem.

    What the permaculturist had failed to recognize, was that in scrapping away the nitrogen sucking grasses, he destroyed the homes of hundreds of insects, and also bared the ground, removing the moisture retaining ground cover and allowing the soil to evaporate, weakening and traumatizing the plant. The angry, hungry displaced insects attacked the weakened, dehydrated Mizuna plant, rapidly devouring it. It never recovered.

    Had he simply allowed things to be, without interfering with the symbiotic relationships of plants and insects that had already been successfully established, the Mizuna would have grown to full maturity, reseeded the location, and been the source of many future Mizuna plants for generations to come.

    And that, in a nutshell, is my experience with the difference between the permaculture approach and the ReGardening/ReWilding approach to plant/food propagation.

  66. “Permaculture is simply a movement about and only about food.”

    this is so incorrect on so many levels that it’s hard to know where to begin. please educate yourself before misleading others.

  67. “Had he simply allowed things to be, without interfering with the symbiotic relationships of plants and insects that had already been successfully established, the Mizuna would have grown to full maturity, reseeded the location, and been the source of many future Mizuna plants for generations to come.”

    right, if the ‘permaculturist’ had followed permaculture principles he would have done just that. i take it that because one person who calls themselves a permaculturist and makes one mistake violating permaculture principles while doing so, you’d like us to completely discount permaculture. utter nonsense.

  68. mollison says «permaculture first seeks to stabilise and care for land, and only thereafter to produce a surplus for exchange, if needed»

    I see a symptomatic word it this, the word produce. This is where the permies “logic” is wrong. They want to “PRODUCE” food and worst than that to “PRODUCE SURPLUS”. Permies take the relation between population and food in reverse direction, a fatal flaw. The same junklogic behind agriculturalism. Mad, Mad,and stupid idiot running natural law in reverse order.

    Permaculture = PRODUCE so permaculture is shit for me.

  69. i look forward to reading the revised, further researched version of the original post in the book! i always appreciate a good critique.

    the ethos of total collapse has certainly become more widespread since the original conception of permaculture, which is an ongoing experiential educational enterprise. an enterprise which can learn much from urban scout and the rewild movement.

    i assume that a total critique of civilization is omitted from much of the permaculture literature as either a given, and/or as a means of not alienating a potential, more domesticated, drunk-on civilization and its enjoyable technologies, crew/audience. its true, a permaculturist is generally not much of a luddite, nor hunter-gather wannabe, in my experience.

    in rewild vs. permaculture (which i do not read as mutually exclusive, but as a contrast/compare function) i would emphasise the ‘zone 5’ dimension. permaculturists seem to insist that zone 5 be left alone. rewilders seem to exist exclusively in zone 5. many environmentalists deeply desire sanctuaries devoid of human trace.
    the zone 5 concept is naive in the sense that, since humans are a part of nature, we have been altering its ecology since our origins, as does every living plant and animal. in the more harmonious 99.9% of human history, hunter-gatherers have been hunting, foraging and cutting down trees for firewood/shelter. there has never been a virgin landscape since homo sapiens sapiens came along. paradise found is a paradise lost. but perhaps we should say paradise altered. we’re aren’t total misanthropists are we, scout?

    as a budding permaculturista (tho i consider myself a survivalist first), i feel that much of pc has neglected the importance of zone 5. this is probably due to the fact that there is so much to learn about proper management of the home/energy use/garden/orchard in terms of how grossly off course we have gone in our journey as western civilisation and its insistent globalisation. permaculture may focus on food ‘production’ because the ‘green revolution’ has been such a shit storm. ‘we’ll get to zone 5 later.’ so here we are: further research/collaboration required.

    as an urban permaculturist, zone 5 can be interpreted as ‘everything unmanageable outside of my home and garden’ ie. the juggernaut of progress and urban excrement at large + all those nice national parks a few hours drive away. it can be too much to try to handle, especially in a mainstream culture insistent on dismantling true community.

    i like to think that when i abandon my garden someday, in search of shelter from the coming storm, it will be a tear-jerking haven to the knowledgeable forger passing through. and there are definitely seeds in my survival pack.

    as for post-instable-period-post-collapse, i imagine a world of variable communities and migrating tribes -whatever floats the boat for the person on their current stage of personal development. in the diversity of which, i would hope to share my horticultural and ‘permaculture’ knowledge. aahhhh dreams of utopia.

    ps – obviously some of could use some anger management here. god knows i did after the incessant rage my inner animal developed from learning how entrapped and poisoned we had become. nip it in the bud people! anger is a useful tool but u have to know how to use it effectively!

  70. This is poor journalistm. You must research the subject before you cticique it.

    I need all my fingers and toes to count yhe instances where you have misunderstood about Permaculture.

    If the idea was to get response, it works. But only becuase it is such a ill formed attack on Permaculture that it grates on me and my fingers can not help but respond.

    Do a bit of research next time.

    Or better still. Do a Permaculture course.

  71. I have not read all of the comments, but good number of them. I’ve read a lot of permaculture books and have begun to put some of what I’ve learned there into practice. I’ve done some brief permaculture workshops and the Transition Training.

    I do think that the original article presents permaculture in a somewhat superficial way. For example, the permaculture principles include the idea of community and see community as a key element, very different from the idea of each person having a self-contained permaculture homestead. The permaculture principles involve lots of observation of the natural world. In my own experience, this has involved something like rewilding, since it requires that I notice all the living things around me, the sun, the rain, all of it. In some ways, this may be an opening into rewilding.

    At the same time, I do think that there is a gap between rewilding (as I understand it from writers like Quinn and Jensen) and permaculture. There are the permaculture principles and the practice of permaculture. One of the differences for me is that permaculture is anthrocentric and rewilding is centered on what Jensen calls the landbase. While permaculture tries hard to be egalitarian, in practice there is something somewhat hierarchical about it that I associate with having civilization as the center of concern, even if it is a different more earth-friendly civilization.

    I would definitely say this about Transition Towns. Transition Towns appear to be all about civilization, sustainable civilization, not industrial civilization, and the transition to sustainable civilization. There is a lot of focus, for instance, on alternative currency systems and alternative energy. Energy descent plans with local governments are part of the plan. It’s a way to reform civilization. Those things are not wrong if in fact they become a transitional stage to rewilding, but they are generally seen as part of the relocalization design of TT and a way to maintain a civilization, far from rewilding.

    I’m very unhappy with the blending of Steiner-based biodynamic farming and permaculture (Holmgren’s permaculture and Hopkins in Transition Towns). The biodynamic movement comes from the Steiner tradition, and TT appears to have some roots there, too. There is something disquieting about Rudolph Steiner apart from the historical associations that are extremely disquieting. There is quite a bit of invisible hierarchy in the Steiner movement up to the present. There are a variety of secretive practices in Steiner, very different from the transparency and egalitarianism in rewilding in my limited understanding of it. I don’t find permaculture alone to contain this secrecy, but a biodynamic/permaculture blend does contain it. Steiner is definitely not rewilding, in fact, he felt indigenous peoples and animals were little more than mud when it came to spiritual development, and (caucasian, blond, blue-eyed) civilized people were at a pinnacle of spirituality and their civilizations should be based on that. Steiner education is designed to move children up the ladder, though it is felt that some will never be able to progress much. These hidden beliefs still inform Steiner practice at the center of the movement, nor have they been admitted and disowned by the Steiner movement in health, education, or agriculture/food production.

    Another term for permaculture is ecological gardening and I like this term better. As I understand it Mollison did not want permaculture to be taught in colleges or schools, but rather to be taught to people who lived in villages, often third world places. These were not indigenous people in the wild, but closer to it than the industrial civilizations that are part of the first world.

    Urban permaculture is a new emphasis from what I’ve seen. In one way, it’s possible that this could be a part of the dismantling of civilization. If urban lots are made into permaculture gardens, it would be a step in the right direction. One of the cities that is collapsing the most, Detroit, has some permaculturalists and also some people who want to buy up land and have large traditional farms. The permaculturalists are closer to rewilding, even though both may dismantle harmful elements of civilization, like concrete.

    I’ll look forward to reading the final draft in the book.

  72. I have been exploring for a little bit for any high quality articles or blog posts on this sort of area . Exploring in Yahoo I at last stumbled upon this web site. Reading this info So i’m happy to convey that I have an incredibly good uncanny feeling I discovered exactly what I needed. I most certainly will make sure to don’t forget this website and give it a glance on a constant basis.

  73. 1. “Permanent agriculture” is an unfortunate concept indeed.
    2. Bioregionally informed permaculture/horticulture is entirely possible, and in fact, it should happen. In the city. Now.

  74. I stumbled across this when looking for criticisms of permaculture. I do not agree with some of the principles, and wanted to see how other people feel. In particular, early stages of deign might require a some heavy landscaping, and the use heavy machinery is advocated for building dams, swales and compacting walls. Same work can be done by cooperating with other people, and will have an impact on the people doing the manual labor. On the other hand, using fossil fuels to create something that harvest water in an arid area is a good application to restore the damage done by civilization. Another way to look at it is making the fossil fuel bubble happen faster because you are using the fuel and not trying to be “carbon neutral”, so the problem is an ideological one.

    When the demise of civilization became apparent to me, going wild was the first choice, but currently, it seems the most unreasonable choice of action. Apart from all the regulations in place for hunting, there is very little untouched wilderness out there. And unless you want to go to Alaska, it’s hard to be “wild” when you have to watch for cars when you cross the road from one part of the forest to another. It would also alienate your tremendously, as this type of behavior would be misunderstood by most and make you a target. Also, because of the alienation, it would be next to impossible to perpetuate your views.

    I’m not saying that going full wild isnt the way to go, it’s just that the step is too drastic for most people, and at a current level, could sustain very few people.

    The world has no place for big artificial and flawed organizational units like the federal government and corporations, but all life is some sort of organization. The US in particular will be much better off as 50 different countries, or tribes, not having to agree on every decision. Civilization needs to die, but the people don’t have to. What is seen as a problem of overpopulation, I see as a problem of population density. The US is almost 2 billion acres. With 300 million Americans at 1/4 acre per person (more than enough to achieve food self sufficiency) that still leaves 1.925 billion acres that people won’t inhabit. Even India, which is pretty bad with population would have around half a billion acres in reserve for wilderness, zone 5 essentially. There isn’t much focus on zone 5 in permaculture so you might feel that it’s not doing it justice, but if you want the current population to have self sufficient food production, there needs to be little emphasis on zone 5. As long as it’s mentioned and planned for and designed for, it’s going in the right direction. This will allow the wilderness to reestablish itself, so that people like you, who want wilderness now, can poke around it freely, and decide how you want to utilize or maintain, or coexist, whichever semantic you chose, with it.

    With the collapse of current social structures emanating over us, it’s clear that only broad scale social awakening can save it. It’s not really saving, just making a dethronement of current powers more pleasant. While some of us are preparing for nuclear holocaust, food shortages, and mass mayhem in the streets, this is not what most people would like to see, outside of conditioning by the media. The way of awakening seemed to me to be too far fetched, but after time, I start to see more signs of progress, steps in the right direction.

    I think what permaculture does, at least in the way I apply it, is create a path from civilization to wilderness, and uses the vocabulary that you so hate because that’s the only thing that would be familiar to the misguided masses. You could say “self sufficient food production” instead of “sustainable agriculture”. Bill Mollison actually goes though quite length to provide his definition of sustainable, and is as critical, if not more, of green washing as you. In a world full of green washing, it’s good to have something that can say sustainable and actually mean it. And it’s far from just trying to save civilization. Bill makes apparent the problems of society and a good starting place on how to solve them.

    The notion of land ownership doesn’t sit well with me either, but it’s working within the current system to bring it down, because as I said, simply picking up and going to live in a forest won’t do much good. But if you purchase some land in the arid part of Texas where there are no people nearby, you can permaculture your property and use that as a base to reforest the rest of the humanless desert without much opposition. Lastly, I see this as the least “working within the system” way to stop paying taxes, which should be the first step in withdrawing support for your government.

    I don’t see nationalized military controlled agriculture happening in this country, to a point of land seizure for the purpose of food production, as the agriculture bubble will burst not only because of soil erosion, but irrigation, fuel, food quality, etc.

    Permaculture is just a collection of natural principles and patterns, and it’s up to you how you want to use them. The current trend is to apply them to agriculture, to increase yields, minimize inputs, etc etc, and it sure is better than the food production system that is in place. But there is knowledge and technique in there that can be applied to repairing damage in any landscape, and how to live on that landscape, obtained from indigenous people from all over the world, and it’s silly to stay ignorant of this information simply because of semantics.

    Instead of books, I recommend the permaculture design course. I’m looking through the 13 dvd set now, it seems the most informative of the ones out there.