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Permaculture and your Urban Lifestyle. The World will be saved by Beauty! (Dostoevsky)

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Presentation on theme: "Permaculture and your Urban Lifestyle. The World will be saved by Beauty! (Dostoevsky)"— Presentation transcript:

1 Permaculture and your Urban Lifestyle. The World will be saved by Beauty! (Dostoevsky)

2 WARNING! Using permaculture design may be hazardous to your complacency, ignorance, gluttony, greed and indifference!

3 Permaculture: the Word  Permanent + Culture  Permanent + Agriculture  Permaculture is about design.  Permaculture is not gardening class.  Permaculture is not subsistence homestead agriculture.  Permaculture design is holistic, relevant to all aspects of life.

4 Our Permaculture Focus – Lifestyles in the City!  Majority of the world's population lives in cities.  The future of the planet's ecosystems rests on whether we can learn to live sustainably in the city.

5 City living can be very green! NYC is the most green city in the USA.  The carbon footprint of the average New Yorker is less than 30% of the US average.  54% of NYC households don’t own a car. On Manhattan, 77% of the people live without a car.  NYC is the most densely populated US city – 27,000 people per square mile. Manhattan = 67,000 people/square mile.  – 1/3 of all public transit miles in the US happen in NYC.  – While the average size of living spaces elsewhere continues to increase, in NYC the average size of dwellings is decreasing.

6 Why is it easier to live green in the City?  Depending on your geography, you can manage your life without owning an automobile.  Cities require less wire, pipeline, and street infrastructure per person than do rural areas.  On a per capita basis, there are economies of scale in moving resources to cities.  It takes fewer resources and land to house people in apartment buildings than in single family dwellings.  People in cities walk more than people in less densely populated areas.

7 Cities help us to --  live in smaller spaces,  live closer to each other, and  drive less.

8 Cities have persistence, constancy, and resilience issues.  Constancy is the ability of a city to maintain itself.  Long supply chains for food, water, energy.  Waste and pollution, even if less per capita, are major complications because of the large volumes generated by urban populations.

9 Cities have persistence, constancy, and resilience issues.  Persistence is the ability of a city to resist damage.  Sandy exposed just how defenseless New York City – our richest city! -- was.  Oklahoma City has flood defenses but that’s about it.  Our electrical and communications infrastructure is mostly above ground. Infrastructure in general is brittle and vulnerable.  Our pioneer ancestor’s sod dugouts gave them great persistence advantages.

10 Cities have persistence, constancy, and resilience issues.  Resilience is the ability of a city to repair itself. Here we do better.  Police, fire and emergency services departments.  Civil society organizations.  National and regional systems of disaster relief and recovery  But all of this comes at a high cost.  “Three roofs in ten years!”  High insurance premiums.

11 These are all design issues.  Increase redundancy.  Develop storage.  Stronger, more resistant building and systems designs.  More effective transportation systems.  Stop subsidies for waste, pollution, and generally trashing the environment.  Use better, smarter design to solve urban issues.

12 Why praxis permaculture design?  “Is it all worth it? If we do our best to heal the Earth and make our place in her a sustainable one, is there a good chance that we will succeed?…to my mind that’s the wrong question. Even if we could answer it – and we can never know anything about the future for certain, it would beg the question How do I want to live my life? So my answer to the question... is that I want to be part of the solution rather than part of the problem”. – Patrick Whitefield, Earth Care Manual

13 What you do matters. You can never do just one thing.  A s you learn to design your life using permaculture principles, and live according to permaculture ethics, you will experience more beauty, health, happiness, freedom, security, and cooperation, with less work, consumption, injustice, conflict, stress, danger, and waste.  Through using permaculture design to live a better, more sustainable, beautiful, and peaceful life, you will impact the entire planet as you become part of a grassroots movement that will free peoples from oppression, make justice possible, end tyranny, halt genocide, and restore and renew ecological systems. This authenticity of life and action is a source of wisdom and peace.  This is really not gardening class.

14 Fundamentals of Permaculture Design A Commitment to Ethical Living.

15 The Three Permaculture Ethics: Accepting personal responsibility to live your life so that you --  Care for people,  Care for the planet,  Have a care for the future.

16 Design or be designed.  These are your only options.  Permaculture offers a way to design a practical and ethical guide for your life that tells your story.

17 Six critical design principles.  Everything connects to everything!  Everything serves multiple purposes!  Every important need comes from multiple functions!  Prefer natural methods and solutions. Embrace the small and slow. We start small or we don’t start at all.  Focus on the journey, not the destination. Find the seeds of the future in the present.  Use less stuff!

18 Solidarity – Participation – Cooperation!  Sustainable living in the city depends on connections between people. “Invisible Structures.”  Create systems that make it easier to do the right things and harder to do the wrong things.  Cooperatives (Housing, Food, Worker, Financial, Transportation)  Reform building codes and regulations.  Better Public Transit. In the meantime, use what we have.  Involve your civil society organizations  Use permaculture design in your business and workplace.  Walking your talk creates an authentic life that is attractive to others.

19 The Processes of Permaculture Design It is always easier to design with community.

20 The Five Basic Steps of Permaculture Design.  Observation  Study  Evaluation  Design  Implementation  Use the acronym “OSEDI”!

21 Long and thorough observation.  Goals – short, medium, long term  Functions – what is necessary for your life?  Activities – must be done for goals and life functions.  Elements – things involved with goals and life functions.  Involve all stakeholders.  Holistic viewpoint. This is excruciatingly hard.  Journal your observations.  Takes time and work. Don't skimp on either. Measure twice, cut once.

22 Maps are necessary.  The map is not the territory. It is an interpretation of territory from a particular viewpoint.  Household base map: your dwelling.  Community base map: our life geographies.  Life base map: if your life is particularly widespread.

23 Study!  Find beneficial connections to strengthen.  Look for negative connections to eliminate.  Examine your inventory of existing resources.  Anticipate future resource needs.

24 Study Methods  Find a study method that works  Lists for each function and goal.  Big chart with sticky notes for activities and elements relating to the function or goal..  The more lists or sticky notes a function or element is on, the more important it is.

25 Ethical evaluation  Does this care for people?  How does it care for the planet?  What impact on the future?

26 Use design principles to evaluate.  Many elements support every function.  Every element should serve many functions.  Everything is connected.

27 Set priorities.  First things first.  Second things second.

28 Use testing questions.  – How do I maximize the beneficial connections within the various elements and functions of my personal lifestyle?  – How many ways can I meet this important need?  – How many functions can stack on this element or function?  – Do the energy patterns in the situation work for me or against me?  – What is the least change I can make for the greatest effect?  Etc.

29 Design!  “By resourceful design, we keep the number and scope of our actions to a minimum required to meet human needs, provide a quality life, protect and (if necessary) heal the ambient ecosystem, all living things that our actions might touch. The less we change to achieve those goals, the better we have designed. Good design is not gaudy, it is efficient, humane, and above all restrained.” Dan Hemenway, Elfin Permaculture, "Appropriate Scale Considerations,” July 2009

30 How your design proceeds.  Design is always founded upon observation, study, and evaluation.  Make specific decisions that lead to actual outcomes consistent with your goals and list of functions.  Small incremental steps. Avoid grandiose leaps.  You design for personal and for community action.  Be systematic. Holistic.  Don't reinvent the wheel or the flat tire.  Do use natural solutions wherever possible.  Stage your design decisions.  Don’t depend on memory. Write every decision, with a short rationale for it, in your design journal.

31 Areas of Design.  Food  Energy  Shelter  Water  Geography, Access, Transportation  Community  Economics  Resilience  Health  Education

32 Bob’s Food Design.  Household food production – fruit and nut trees, berry bushes, perennial and annual herbs, greens, alliums, tomatoes.  Food storage (household convenience and hedge against hard times).  Oklahoma Food Cooperative  Advocacy for better food systems and government policies.

33 Bob’s Energy & Shelter Design  90 tubes of caulk, 20 cans of foam, renewed regularly.  9 inches insulation in walls (R-33), 14 in attic (R-50).  120 sq ft of glass facing south.  Interior R-20 insulated window shutters.  Ceiling fans in every room.  Zone heat and cool.  Shade for summer.  On-off switch for electric water heater. Roof-top solar hot water heater.  Pay extra for wind generated electricity.  Cook outside during the summer.

34 Bob’s Water Design  If it’s yellow, it’s mellow. If it’s brown, flush it down.  Short showers.  Low flow showerhead, faucet aerators.  Personal discipline on running water.  Outside, deep mulch.  Lawn sculpted with berms and swales to catch and hold water so it can infiltrate (slow rainwater down, spread it out).  Have improvised cisterns using large trash cans. Have plans for ferrocement tanks.

35 Community and Economics Design  Helped start Oklahoma Food Cooperative.  Organized Oklahoma Worker Cooperative Network.  Shop, spend, and earn locally.

36 Geography, Access, Transportation  I live in a walkable neighborhood, with walking access to shopping, culture, entertainment.  I drive a 1995 Geo Metro, which gets 38 MPG around town and 50 MPG on the highway, less than 7,000/miles/year. Goal is to cut that in half. Plan to sell car when I retire and enjoy a car-free lifestyle.  Take public transit where possible.  Advocate for better public transit.  Buy a monthly bus pass, even if you don’t need one.

37 Resilience Design  Food storage  Plans for underground cellar.  Household emergency plan, including contact numbers and rendezvous places if we can’t return home.  Bug-out buckets ready for instant evacuation.  Advocacy for more persistent, less brittle, infrastructure.  House can remain comfortable, summer and winter, without grid generated electricity.

38 Implementation.  Do what you decided to do.  Adapt your decisions as circumstances change.

39 The Invitation of Permaculture.  Become intentional in your ways and manners of living,  Be engaged with and aware of your surroundings – your community, your family, your ecosystem, it’s history and your own narrative.  Commit to incorporate into your life ethics that care for the Earth, care for people, and care for the future by being aware of limits and putting surplus into circulation.  Walk your talk! Live an authentic life, in accordance with your ethical principles, that is regenerative, productive, and hopeful.

40 Conclusion  This was only the most basic introduction to this very big subject.  My ebook, iPermie: How to permaculture your urban lifestyle, goes into the subject in considerable more detail, with 14 sections, 248 chapters, and 399K words.  Available in a variety of ebook formats at

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