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Design from Patterns to Details

Design from Patterns to Details

By stepping back, we can observe patterns in nature and society.  These can form the backbone of our designs, with the details filled in as we go.   This Principle is where we apply what we’ve learned from our observations and interactions into our systems’ designs. By designing our systems based on the patterns in our environment, we can save a tremendous amount of time and energy. We can observe these patterns in the arc of the sun, with the tides in different seasons, by designing our personal routines around our children's school schedule, or when we adapt our company's business model to leverage our team’s strengths.   How to Design from Natural Patterns What are each individual’s natural patterns, and how can you best work with them? How can we widen our perspective, expand our understanding of the details, and look for patterns that invite creativity? Simply taking the time to design is another inherent element of wisdom in this Principle. A bold idea can turn into a...

Produce No Waste

Produce No Waste

By valuing and making use of all the resources that are available to us, nothing goes to waste.   This Principle continues the practices of using renewable resources and further closes the loop. As our consumption patterns change and we adopt more efficient business practices, we evaluate what remains and go deeper. The more that we practice thinking this way, the more we can find usefulness in what we once considered waste. Current research shows that among the 251 million tons that Americans throw into the landfill,  besides the 20% food scraps that we could compost instead, our landfills are filled with nearly 50% of paper waste products. Also, much of what is in a modern landfill is plastic bags.  It is estimated the US uses 380  single-use plastic bags per year,  and there are as many as 1 trillion used annually across the globe. By reducing our waste, reusing, or sharing what we can, composting, recycling, and stuffing what’s left into bottle bricks, we can eliminate a...

Use and Value Renewable Resources and Services:

Use and Value Renewable Resources and Services:

Make the best use of nature’s abundance to reduce our consumptive behavior and dependence on non-renewable resources. The natural world creates ongoing regenerative processes essential for the survival of the earth and its inhabitants. Worms aerate the soil, clovers & legumes provide nitrogen through their roots, and the leaves, seeds & fruits falling from trees (when left to decompose) provide nutrients for new life (including those worms and clovers). Early humans existed for hundreds of thousands of years, mimicking these naturally cyclical tendencies and living in-kind. We Are Part of the Problem Today, the logic of this Principle is disregarded. At some point, humans started using less-evolved methods for short-term gain. The information age is finally showing us, en masse, the devastation wrought by the shortsighted ambitions of the industrial age. In a short time, humans have managed to exhaust a stunning percentage of the planet’s resources and diversity of...

Apply Self-Regulation and Accept Feedback

Apply Self-Regulation and Accept Feedback

We need to discourage inappropriate activity to ensure that systems can continue to function well. Self-regulation, or self-control, empowers us to be more accountable and effective human beings. It can also lead to greater efficiency in business. Feedback is essential for personal and professional growth. By understanding the effects of our actions, we can make better decisions. This Principle encourages systems to be self-regulating and continually accept feedback so the system can be maximized for efficiency and abundance. The Benefits of Self-Regulation and Feedback Acceptance Individuals or businesses that cannot take feedback and self-regulate leave themselves open to struggle and stagnation. In contrast, promoting these elements can reduce stress, increase efficiency, create healthier home/work conditions, and improve relationships. Tips for Implementing Self-Regulation & Encouraging Feedback Ways in which we might encourage feedback and apply  self-regulation include: ...

Obtain a Yield

Obtain a Yield

"Ensure that you are getting truly useful rewards as part of the work that you are doing." There are many different types of yield that can be collected from the fruits of our efforts. Whether it’s turning last year’s composted kitchen scraps into this year’s garden beds, enjoying your youth and the health of your family while you have it, or choosing to plant fruit trees instead of ornamentals at the office, it’s important to design systems around you to best leverage your efforts. Businesses naturally think about this principle when planning their investments and assessing cash flow.   Don't Get it Wrong However, when practices are used that are exploitative, distorting, and see profit as the sole focus, obtaining a yield in this context is out of balance. Beyond money, other types of value can be created as well. Let’s take a look at what those might be.   Cultivate increasingly beneficial relationships and a more enriching home or workplace, by paying compliments or...

Catch and Store Energy

Catch and Store Energy

“By developing systems that collect resources at peak abundance, we can use them in times of need.” Let’s start with a note about self-care. My friends, human potential is more powerful than we can comprehend. The computing power of our brains and our ability to increase their abilities with practice is incredible. Our bodies’ innate ability to heal, detoxify, and regenerate is our single greatest asset in this life. Our bodies and minds are organic processes of perpetual energy in motion, and yet we must remember not to take that for granted (at least not for too long.)     Don't Lose Your Greatest Assets By maintaining a balanced diet, attitude, and lifestyle, we can maximize the energy that our bodies are generating every day. Failure to maintain the body and mind with healthy daily habits and mindsets is the surest way to squander and lose our greatest assets. So, how do we optimize our lifestyles with this Principle? Do whatever it takes to get excited about eating a more...

Observe and Interact

Observe and Interact

The following Principles are those first identified and defined by David Holmgren in his book “Permaculture: Principles and Pathways Beyond Sustainability.” My own adaptation follows each as to how I feel these Principles may be applied to our lives and business practices. Bill Mollison has offered another list of design principles that I’ve interwoven into these for the purpose of keeping this essay succinct. The exciting thing about these principles is that they are tools that we can use to think deeper into any aspect of our life or business. Contemplation of these Principles can lead one to discover new and exciting options for living a more sustainable life, more efficient business, and a more integral contribution to the community and humanity’s chances for survival.   How These Principles Work “By taking the time to engage with nature, we can design solutions that suit our particular situation.” Making solution-based decisions, of any sort, requires that we can first...

An Approach Grounded in Ethics

An Approach Grounded in Ethics

In Part 2 of our Permaculture Lifestyle Series, we're going to take a look at the role that Ethics plays in guiding our decision-making and design. Most people have some concept of ethics and (hopefully) think of themselves as ethical human beings. But what does that really mean? How often do we really stop and think of what the word "ethics" means to us?   Linda Elder defined ethics as "a set of concepts and principles that guide us in determining what behavior helps or harms sentient creatures".  Google defines ethics as "moral principles that govern a person's behavior or the conducting of an activity." Before we dive into the practical applications of the Permaculture Design Principles and how they can apply to our lifestyles, let’s take a look at the Ethics from which they’re all based: Earth Care, People Care, and Fair Share. Earth Care In the wake of the corona pandemic, we’ve seen what it can look like when industry and petroleum-based travel take a pause.  In a short time,...

What Is Permaculture and How It Can Make Your Life Better

What Is Permaculture and How It Can Make Your Life Better

Many have come to know the term "Permaculture" in reference to land management.     As a result, many of those people mistakenly think that it doesn't apply to them and their life in the city or suburbs.    It's a shame, really, because the principles that guide permaculture design are exactly the kind of approach that can solve a wide spectrum of today's urban imbalances.  I'd like to take you on a journey, in this series, to help you understand not only what permaculture is, but how it can make your life better, no matter where you live. The term “Permaculture” was initially coined in the 1970s by Bill Mollison and David Holmgren. They devoted much of their lives to traveling the world, investigating best practices for land management from indigenous, traditional, and modern-day land stewards alike.  The term originally referred to “permanent agriculture” but was later expanded to represent “permanent culture,” since social aspects were recognized to be inseparable from a...

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Don’t Envy The Change Makers  – Be One!

Don’t Envy The Change Makers – Be One!

I’ve laid out a long list of options for how one might choose to apply the Permaculture Principles to their home life, relationships, business, and lifestyle.  You may very well be practicing some of these things, already. Congratulations! The Principles, themselves,...

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Creatively Use and Respond to Change

Creatively Use and Respond to Change

Change happens.  It’s up to us to decide how we’re going to respond to it. To remain firmly fixed, in the face of change, can be difficult and ultimately lead to stress and a breakdown of vitality and effectiveness. To be flexible in life and business is considered...

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Use Edges and Value the Marginal

Use Edges and Value the Marginal

The interface between things is where the most interesting events take place. These are often the most valuable,  diverse, and productive elements in the system. As someone who enjoys dreaming up systems composed of systems connected in synergistic ways,  this...

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