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"Permaculture: Consciously designed landscapes which mimic the patterns and relationships found in nature, while yielding an abundance of food, fiber and energy for provision of local needs. People, their buildings and the ways they organise themselves are central to permaculture. Thus the permaculture vision of permanent (sustainable) agriculture has evolved to one of permanent (sustainable) culture." - David Holmgren, Permaculture: Principles and Pathways Beyond Sustainability

As mentioned in the previous post (Observe and Interact), permaculture plays an important foundational role in the Transition movement. A Permaculture teacher himself, Rob Hopkins, the founder of the Transition movement, writes in the Transition Handbook:

"Peak oil, to me, is a call to the bodgers and chairmakers and orchardists up misty rural lanes, the small-scale wind installers on the windswept highlands, to bring all the wonderful skills they have accumulated, the insights they have obtained through years of practice and contemplation, back to where the mass of the population is starting to realizse things are not right. It is a call to learn new ways of communicating with the mainstream, and with an ethic of service, to seek to engage with others on an unprecedented scale.

"The Transition approach is, I hope, one in which permaculture principles are implicit, not explicit...Permaculture principles underpin this approach, which is designed to mainstream its concepts, presenting them as fundamental to any response to energy descent."

If you're a regular reader of the Sustainable Bellingham Community Newsletter (and who isn't!?), you will have noticed in recent months many Permaculture classes, workshops, and certificate courses being offered. There's a reason more and more people are becoming engaged in the concepts and ideas of perrmaculture - it simply makes sense, and the more problems that begin showing up in our current arrangement of things, the more obvious it becomes that permaculture is a viable alternative. Just as Rop Hopkins calls permaculturists to communicate and interact with the mainstream culture, so also do some of us in the mainstream culture feel the call to learn some permaculture principles and skills so that we may apply them to all the work that we do.

Cindi Landreth, of our Transition Whatcom Initiating Group, recently completed a Permaculture Design Course at the Sahale Learning Center. "It brought the principles of nature into my life in every way," Cindi said. "Not just in gardening but also in culture. It helped me build to completion a web of understanding about how to be a human being in this world, and how to make decisions that support life."

Coming up soon are a few more great opportunities for us all to expose ourselves to what permaculture has to offer. On April 11th, Certified permaculture instructor Bruce Horowitz will be teaching a "Hands-On Introduction to Permaculture" at Inspiration Farm, just north of Bellingham in the Laurel district. Topics will include Compost Science, Plant Guilds, Fruit Tree Planting, Elements, Functions, Sectors, Zones, Permaculture Principles, Ethics, Concepts, Site Tour, Sheet Mulching / Keyhole Bed Construction, Integrated Systems, and Herb Spiral Construction.

Instructor Bruch Horowitz says, "The Introduction to Permaculture Class is the perfect opportunity to the learn Permaculture Basics and get a sense of how to turn a lawn into an abundant, beautiful edible landscape."

Another opportunity for an intro workshop will avail itself the following week on April 18th, and this one with a twist. "Introduction to Permaculture Design and Nature Awareness" will be taught by Cody Bebe of Earthways Nature and Alan Seid of Cascadia Training and Mediation at the 25 acre forest permaculture site of Bodhi Creek Farm in the Mount Baker foothills. Learning some nature awareness skills will help connect us to the natural world, learn what it will take to become "native" to our place, and find out about local edible and medicinal plants. Instructor Cody Bebe was mentored in the tradition of world-famous tracker Tom Brown Jr. The nature awareness portion of the workshop will then bridge into a Permaculture introduction by Alan Seid, who's been certified in Permaculture design since 1999, and who owns and runs Bodhi Creek Farm. Together, we'll develop confidence around working on and with the land, and how to create landscapes for food, fuel, fiber, and fun!

According to Alan Seid, "In this workshop we'll demonstrate how to create an interactive relationship with nature, and prepare for Peak Oil. The approach I teach involves increasing the functional connections between elements so that nature does most of the work, and the need for human labor is reduced."

Finally, for those who are ready to dive deep into the permaculture experience, the full meal deal (sorry...McDonalds references are probably not appreciated by permaculturists!) of a 72 hour Permaculture Design Certification course will be offered beginning May 9th, again at Inspiration Farm. Broken up into a manageable one weekend per month series, this will be a great opportunity to learn the range of what permaculture has to offer, and to come away with a Permaculture Design Certificate. Some great guest instructors will be involved, including the internationally regarded Doug Bullock from Orcas Island.

"The Design Certification Course offers an in-depth overview of the most comprehensive, holistic methodology for sustainable living," says Horowitz. "Any one concerned with improving their environmental footprint, and especially those into getting skills for the Green Economy would benefit tremendously from the course."

Both of the above events (April 18th intro at Bodhi Creek Farm, and the PDC course starting May 9th at Inspiration Farm) are being co-sponsored by both Transition Whatcom and Sustainable Bellingham. As Horowitz states, "Permaculture empowers individuals to confront the looming challenge of Peak Oil, navigate a sustainable path through the chaos of economic meltdown, and become part of the solution to Global Warming!"

"What permaculturists are doing is the most important activity that any group is doing on the planet. We don't know what details of a truly sustainable future are going to be like, but we need options, we need people experimenting in all kinds of ways and permaculturists are one of the critical gangs that are doing that." - David Suzuki

"When designing the transition that our settlements and communities will inevitably have to undertake, we need a design template with which we can successfully assemble its various components - social, economic, cultural and technical - in the most efficient way possible. Permaculture can be thought of as the design 'glue' and the ethical foundations we use to underpin Transition work, to stick together all the elements of a post-peak settlement." - Rob Hopkins, founder of the Transition movement

Full Disclosure - I'm involved in the production team for both of the above workshops.

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