Use Edges and Value the Marginal

May 12, 2021 | Blog

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  Principle is one of my favorites.

The practice of “stacking functions” provides compounded value when we can find multiple uses for each element, creating synergy within our systems.

This principle applies to nearly every aspect of life or business but requires an open and creative mind.

Everything exists in proximity to something else,  either physically or conceptually. The more we observe and contemplate each peripheral component’s needs and values, the more we learn to see where their overlap provides new potentials for innovation and growth.


It May Be Small But It Could Be the Game Changer


We can apply this to maximize potential between two or more things that are already in proximity to each other, or we can use this principle to design our systems, from the ground up, creating intentional high-yielding edges.

“Marginal”  is an interesting choice of words here, as well.

While marginal essentially refers to that which exists at the margin, or edge, it also refers to a person or thing that seems to have little value,  importance, or influence.

This Principle calls us to recognize that these marginal elements are often where many treasures of innovation lie awaiting discovery.


How to Find Value in Unusual Things

value finding in unusual things

A few ways  that  this Principle might uncover hidden potentials in your  life could include:

  •  If you have a small or shady yard,  talk to a neighbor to see if they would be interested in allowing you to use some of their yards for a garden.
  • An unused (marginal) property could likewise be a great place to start a community garden. The friendships & partnerships forged through these types of collaborations often prove to be the most valuable yield harvested from the effort.
  • When finding ourselves in a disagreement with someone, we could consider exploring where those different ideas might find a common interest and build from there. Thinking together from that place has the potential to create a much more reliable, more unified solution.
  • Invite your children to be part of family decision-making. They might come up with some great ideas, and the empowerment they feel will help them become more valuable human beings. It might even prove healthy for your overall family dynamics.
  • Learning to use the split-screen option on one’s cell phone could significantly impact the ways and efficiency in which they use it.


This is Part 13 of a 15 part series, pulled from the Permaculture Lifestyles Explained eBook, which contains over 100 tips for how someone might apply the permaculture principles to their life for greater efficiency, impact, and happiness. 

If you’d like to get the whole book to download and read offline, drop your email below and I’ll be happy to send you a link.

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