Toby Hemenway and Some Permaculture Principles

This last weekend Justin and I attended a lecture and workshop with Toby Hemenway, a prominent Permaculture visionary and author of Gaia’s Garden. One of the great points that he made was in the definition of sustainable:

Sustainability is just the mid-way point between degenerative activities (like coal mining, and applying chemical fertilizers) and regenerative activities (like soil-building, and walking instead of driving). And if we think of sustainability in terms of where we want to be; if someone asked you how your marriage was going, and you said it was “sustainable,” would that be acceptable? Toby Hemenway is my new hero for the year because he was so interesting to listen to, so informative, and so realistic about some fantastically optimistic solutions!

If you’re not familiar with the concept of Permaculture, there are several ways to define it. One is that it is a toolbox in which to house all of the possible solutions. This toolbox doesn’t tell you what to do, but gives you a set of principles for decision-making strategies. Another way to show this is with with the almighty Venn diagram.

care for people, care for planet, return the surplusCare for People, Care for Planet, and Return the Surplus are Permaculture principles. When you care for people, you are caring for the planet, and visa versa. Anytime you care for the planet, the planet will create abundance and surplus. This surplus will be returned to the people. In this way, moving toward regenerative processes, we will be allowed to survive on this planet.


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