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What Is Permaculture?

Ever wonder why ‘civilization’ doesn’t work very well? The reason is simple: It’s designed to not work. "Design? Whatta ya mean?" I mean that the agricultural, political, financial, and family systems that humans have created, inherited, and recreated over and over and over are fundamentally flawed. Most are designed counter to human nature, human needs, and ecological laws. For example: Hawaii imports over 90% of it’s food! This means beef, oranges, popcorn, rice, soda, you name it, except papayas, is shipped here from another continent. That means tons of non-renewable fossil fuels and scores of ‘middle men’ are required just for you to eat. This means higher prices, plenty of pollution, lower quality food, and that there are dozens of dock workers, truck drivers, inspectors, and grocery clerks between you and lunch. We’re all used to it. It’s just ‘how it is’. But it’s not just ‘how it is’. It’s actually what we’ve designed! Imagine if air needed to be packaged and shipped to you - now that would seem crazy, huh? Well, we’re almost there - water is shipped to Hawaii from France and the Rocky Mountains. And people drink it!

The funny thing is that no matter how you try to improve this food mega-system it will never be energy efficient, ecological or healthy. You could increase gas mileage, give better benefits to dock workers, use better refrigeration, grow the food organically, or get a new computer to manage and monitor the whole orchestration; and still the system would be inefficient. "Why?" It’s design is inherently opposing nature.

Here’s where Permaculture comes to the rescue. Permaculture is a way of designing living systems that are efficient, productive, sustainable, stable, follow natural laws, and meet the diversity of human needs directly, practically, and ecologically. For example, in Permaculture design one of the first things we do is minimize transportation. "Why?" Because it takes lots of energy to move stuff, and it makes the system more fragile. Well, with Hawaii and food production, that’s a no-brainer: Hawaii grows the food that Hawaii eats. And all we import is sunshine and rainwater to grow it. Now that’s a design that works.

"Why didn’t I think of that? Why doesn’t the government or my school?" Good question. I’m not exactly sure, but the nice thing is that we don’t have to ask anyone’s permission to practice permaculture; we just start doing it ourselves, right where we live. And, as we do it, its beauty and productivity enriches our lives and inspires those around us. Instead of fighting and rebelling, we’re creating and growing! Imagine if food was free and available like air. Imagine walking into your garden instead of driving to the supermarket to get food. Imagine building a house out of wood or bamboo that was grown on Hawaii and harvested sustainably. Imagine crime being eliminated because peoples’ basic needs are being met. Imagine going to the farm instead of the gym. Imagine the free time you’d have to surf or dance if you didn’t work a job you hate just to put food on the table. Imagine stable ohanas and eco-villages.

Guess what? This doesn’t have to be just some fairy-tale day-dream. Through Permaculture we can really make a world that we can feel proud of on all levels. Life doesn’t have to be some lousy rat race of endless, unsolvable, suburban nightmares. We invite you to fulfill the great human dream that the previous generations didn’t, and create a sustainably designed, passionately lived, Aina-based culture on Hawaii.

"Why?" Because such a culture yields abundant fruits of happiness, health, family, play, and true Aloha, that we can enjoy for generation after generation without destroying our only home, this Earth.

Am I makin’ sense? Wanna find out more? See the following websites:

http://www.pangaia.cc http://www.permaculture-hawaii.com

http://blissland.tripod.com/permaculture http://www.metalab.unc.edu/pc-activist

Sustainability and Aloha to All -

Ano Tarletz, Sustainable Lifestyle Pioneer, panpiper@pangaia.cc