Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Bad Permaculture - Apply Self-regulation and Accept Feedback

Bad Permaculture! Stefan Geyer and I are collecting permaculture critiques - we've read Anne Owen's 'The Trouble with Permaculture', Chris Smaje's 'Permaculture Design Course Syndrome', Graham Strouts's 'The Cult of Perma' (and more critique on his site), Peter Harper's 'Permaculture: The Big Rock Candy Mountain', Simon Fairlie's 'Permaculture: Back to Basics?' - who/what are we missing?

In Stef's words, we want 'to collate the most common grievences together and respond. For example, some of what people are saying is either out-dated, obviously personal & subjective, something we hadn't noticed before, something we have or haven't [got] an official line on, or something we have our eye on and are working to sort it out; or haven't gotten around to it yet; or can't figure out what to do about it etc.'

We also welcome collaborators, if you are interested and can commit time to this task, let us know!

  • Louise Tipping has alerted us to an anarchist critique of permaculture in 'The Reason I Don’t Like Permaculture ' by anonymous, initially published on ‘Feral Philosophy’ blog, October 25th, 2009. [There's some crossover here with the 2006 online conversation between primitivist Jason Godesky and Toby Hemenway (apparently largely lost to website death now, some of it retained on the Internet Archive)
  • Ken Thompson attacked permaculture in this article in The Daily Telegraph (2011).

There are some older critiques of particular 'permaculture' claims:

  • Jon Robin's concerns about invasive species [public debate with David Holmgren at University of Tasmania (1990)/unpublished paper (c.1980?); Neckie has further alerted us to the similar critique in Feral Future; The Untold Story of Australia's Exotic Invaders (1999) by Tim Low]. David Holmgren has responded to Robin and Low in the articles 'Permaculture and Revegetation: Conflict of Synthesis' (1996) (update of a paper included in the proceedings of  a Greening Australian seminar held in Melbourne 1996) and 'Weeds or wild nature; a permaculture perspective' in Plant Protection Quarterly Vol. 26(3) (2011)
  •  A review by Greg Williams (HortIdeas) of Toby Hemenway’s book Gaia’s Garden in Whole Earth Review (Winter 2001) regarding the productivity of forest systems (Hemenway later responded in the same journal) [anyone have issue details?]. Mark Fisher discussed this in his article 'Not Seeing the Woods from the Trees' (21 January 2002).
  • Graham Burnett notes that Bob Flowerdew has made many disparaging comments about permaculture over the years. In Flowerdew's Organic Gardening Bible: Successful Growing the Natural Way he describes permaculture as only being suitable for the tropics. Graham recalls him elsewhere complaining that 'permaculture is all very well if you just want to grow a handful of scrubby spinach?' but doesn't have a source [perhaps the Gardener's World Magazine mentioned by Mark Fisher in his article referred to above][Hannah Thorogood writes that 'Bob Flowerdew did a talk at a 'Power of Just Doing Stuff' launch in Swaffam and admitted to me that he didn't really understand that much about permaculture']

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