Nomad Permaculture as a Non-Structural Education

FR: Javi
FR: Javi

Javier Alba from France presented :

I would like to present myself as a person who’s working on the question of nomadism and its place in permaculture.

My reflection deals with this theme on a down-to-earth basis for I’m asking: “What is a nomad, a traveling person, actually doing in permaculture where the physical link with a particular place seems essential?” And I’m also considering this issue from a broader point of view. I’m interested in what a definition of nomadism according to the principles of permaculture could teach us on the fields of culture and education.

My reflection comes from a diagnosis that I have made myself: I think that we are polluted, that our intellectual life suffers from a contamination that resembles the contamination of water. That is to go against that, to do what I can do against it, that I have decided to present my interrogations to you.

They are the fruit of my efforts to share questions that seem essential to me. I could sum them up in this one: “What can I give?”; and I would like to insist on each and every word…

What can I give? Comes from “What can I do?”; which is the question that I ask when I arrive as a nomad, as a traveler, in a new place.

And, as we are now together to think, about the curriculum, the format of our formation in permaculture, I want to insist on this notion of GIVING, of GIFT. What are we going to GIVE and what can that MEAN?

First of all, it seem obvious that we intend to give information. Now I would like to ask you to consider whether the creation of an organisation systematically organised is the best way to share this information?

I think that nowadays we tend to mix “communication” and “information” and, in this process, the possibility of real “transmission” can be lost.

We are living in the information and communication age, but what about transmission?

Transmission is a slow process that only concerns knowledge with a determinate form of permanence. It doesn’t get lost and ripens.

Let me explain what I fear: if we are too well organised according to principles that are not ours (I’m talking about the language of management and of publicity that I can not help hearing from ours own mouth) there is a danger for us to become just another organisation… something to be consumed between a pot-making and a taï-chi class. Obviously I have nothing against that type of class but I would hope others ambitions for permaculture.

Isn’t our aim to change the world, that is to say to change our perception of our presence on it?

To go against this possibility of considering permaculture as a “cool way to spend a family weekend” I would propose that we should not take seriously all this “looking for grant business”. If some of us want to do it, great! It will surely help, but let’s not fall into the trap of talking the language of “communication”. We are not selling permaculture we are living it.

And on the field that reunites us these days, that is to say the education of future permaculture dedicated people, the formation of them, that supposes a very particular type of “teacher”… I would like to describe what these persons could be , may be, and/or actually already are.

They are people dedicated to their down-to earth work, in the fields or in the building of houses , or in the wine making process and their particularity is that they never forgotten to GIVE and to share their KNOWLEDGE.

And these are two responsibilities of somebody who aims to be considered as a “teacher” in permaculture: the LIVING it and the SHARING it. It would be completely incoherent that somebody should be in charge of the latter without putting in practice the former… And that leads me to some propositions of concrete action:

  • go and collect knowledge in whatever possible ways and support with people who don’t go near computers
  • always invite a local practitioner in a permaculture formation

I realize that this is quite light but this is actually the very chore of my proposition; in order to change our insane relationship with the world, let’s not enclose it in another system, whatever “alternative” it may be.

I propose that we should make this radical jump of trusting each other and accepting errors and intents. For any organized systems has its censors and we don’t want that. It would make us evade our responsibilities again.

I propose, as a conclusion, that any person who feels close to the proposition of permaculture, should merely ask him/her self “What can I give?” and just start acting with others. Taking as a compass not what some organization has said but what she or he is ready to assume.

It’s a jump. GIVING, TRUSTING and not taking seriously the language and the norms of the winner…

I invite you to read:

  • Hannah Arendt’s “Human Condition”
  • Victor Klemperer’s “The language of the third Reich”


Permaculture flower
Permaculture flower
Alchemic drawing (representing the opening mind through new concepts)
Alchemic drawing (representing the opening mind through new concepts)
Interpretation of the Tarot card number 0 (representing the jump, and the Greek concept of Heuristique)
Interpretation of the Tarot card number 0 (representing the jump, and the Greek concept of Heuristique)

Nomad permaculture agrees in an education far away from main stream education.

Main stream education works in a way of communication of information in order to produce competences.

Nomad permaculture believes in transmission of knowledge in order to induce autonomy.

By giving and trusting, it’s up to each one of us to create and to work our own way.

Companionship was proposed as a practical way of working and inducing autonomy by way of transmission from one to one.

Nomad permaculture considers education as a relationship to be built and NOT as a product to be sold and consumed/used.