De­sign for the fu­ture

Cli­mate change, a boom­ing global pop­u­la­tion, de­ple­tion of re­sources and pol­lu­tion; the panic-at­tack-in­duc­ing out­comes of our in­ter­ac­tions with the planet. A per­ma­cul­ture de­sign frame­work may just be the so­lu­tion.


Work­shop 1: Phi­los­o­phy and de­sign.

Per­ma­cul­ture is one of those slip­pery con­cepts I had heard a lot about, but never quite grasped. Last month my jour­ney into the murky depths be­gan, guided by the knowl­edge­able co-founders of the Auck­land Per­ma­cul­ture Work­shop, Finn Mack­esy and Gary Mar­shall.

Aussie Bill Mol­li­son is one of the found­ing fa­thers of per­ma­cul­ture. Dis­il­lu­sioned by so­ci­ety, in 1972 he es­caped to the bush to live off the land. He soon re­alised that flee­ing civil­i­sa­tion wouldn’t sat­isfy his urge to change the world. So, in­stead of defin­ing what he didn’t want, he devel­oped a sys­tem ca­pa­ble of cre­at­ing change – per­ma­cul­ture.

Mol­li­son crossed paths with David Holm­gren in Tas­ma­nia and to­gether the two au­thored the bi­ble of the Per­ma­cul­ture Move­ment, Per­ma­cul­ture One, in 1978. In 1981 Mol­li­son scooped the ‘Alternative No­bel Prize’, an award dished out to those “work­ing on prac­ti­cal and ex­em­plary so­lu­tions to the most ur­gent chal­lenges fac­ing the world to­day.” Per­ma­cul­ture was flung into the in­ter­na­tional lime­light.

Over time the term has evolved, go­ing from a con­cept with a fo­cus on ‘per­ma­nent agri­cul­tural sys­tems’ to one pri­ori­tis­ing ‘per­ma­nent cul­ture and com­mu­nity.’

Per­ma­cul­ture prin­ci­ples are tools that can guide de­ci­sions, from cre­at­ing a new garden to a new city.

Finn Mack­esy and Gary Mar­shall of Auck­land Per­ma­cul­ture Work­shop.

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