by Steve Hart, Ecology Architecture
The generational patterns of Permaculture’s evolution is becoming more and more evident through what I perceive as a collapse in standards. How do I arrive at this thinking? As Jan Fischer says: “I was a lucky one of the first generation of students and activists.” I had the privilege of working alongside the founders and walking the pathway of the high standards that were set. I also supported these standards in recognising they were critical in evolving the world of Permaculture into higher levels of academia and professionalism. As an Ecology Architect working in professional offices this attitude was reinforced through all aspects of my professional daily life.
What we have observed is a great demand from people wanting the education and training for their development into and through Permaculture. We had a lag and still do have a gap in providing qualified teachers to take up this demand. The original standards asked for anyone wanting to teach to be an apprentice for two years and attain a diploma in teaching. Apprentices first lead introduction courses coupled with being an assistant teacher or a member of a team to teach until experience and skills were developed enough and competence and confidence built to teach alone. This pattern was accepted and evolved very well through the first generation.
Now into our third generation it is my observation that these guidelines have been ignored and sometimes belligerently retaliated against. Today we have unqualified and incompetent teachers taking on all levels of teaching. The result is a collapse in the rigour and thorough complexity of all elements of Permaculture. Many of the guidelines originally set have been ignored and not passed on or down through the generations. Perhaps it is an example of our anarchistic nature. But the results are the same: a weakening of everything Permaculture. What will the outcomes be? Our Collapse Dance. Our next generation needs to become aware of this potential, argue it, accept it or deny it and strategically develop the renaissance.
Our challenge is to rebuild higher standards and ensure how they can be maintained. I am airing this publicly for the first time here at EPT 6, Denmark May 2014. Will this issue be recognised for I see it through those privileged eyes? How do others see it? I suggest we revisit the original guidelines and formats and fix them as our norms; the critical component being the curriculum of the PDC. Coupled to this is what courses are recognised as the key and critical layers of teaching. Many of the first generation supports the view that the PDC is the core teaching component, which is then supported by many different advanced courses of a week duration.
As an outcome of EPT I suggest that an official body is formed, that being The Permaculture College of Europe. This well be a secretariat that operates primarily electronically having a database and a registrar of all teachers. It will also promote all layers and levels of teaching.