Recorded down by the river, this is me trying to pull some thoughts together on the theme of what permaculture has to offer in helping us understand the situation we find ourselves in. As we face economic contraction and turnmoil how can we can better support our selves and our communities, with long term mutual ends in mind?
I am really keen to find ways to have this can we have wider conversation about the times we are in and how we best respond with problem solvers, creative minds, especially of those with values rooted in rooted in ecology and co-operation. #permaculture
The focus for S39 work in the last 12 months has been East Africa we are however running weekly sessions at treflach farm in Shrophire. This is an ideal opportunity to find out about permaculture, food growing, animal rearing and som much more. We have some low impact building projects in the pipeline potentially as well as some formal training according to demand.
The Treflach Thursday sessions run every week, and start from 10.00 am, there is a brig and share farm lunch most weeks and increasingly we will be enjoying the produce from the garden. it is informal so just come along, contact me @Misterjones2u on Twitter or find Sector39 on Facebook. There is acontact form on thei site as well.
What might a permaculture economic model look like?
In resonse to a request about ethical invesntment I have dusted down my economics lecture from the PDC, something I have been thinking about and working on for several years and presented these ideas in a slightly different context. As much as we are all caught up on the chase for money and livelihood we rarely stop and think about this strange thing called economics that seems to shape everything in the world around us.
It can be argued that climate change is the greatest market failure, the tendency to externalise the costs of production by both driving down or eliminating labour costs and dumping waste into the environment is the feature within capitalism which has bought us to the brink of our own destruction. We need an economic rationale which values natural resources above all else, one which build cohesive community, one which binds us together in common cause, not that pits us against each other in a never ending fierce competition for dwindling resources.
The economics of regeneration should be a central idea of our 21st century journey, leaving the neo-liberal nighmare of the late 20th century far behind us.
“Capitalism is a system that creates its own crises” says Yanis Veroufakis
In the short video above you can hear a summary of the ideas underpinning that statement. He gets much deeper into his analysis of the failure of capitalism below. One thing I think we must all realise is that at this point it is no longer about right or wrong, it is about recognising that the train which bought us all to this point, is no longer fit for purpose. Capitalism gave us the iPhone but it also gave us refugees, it created wealth like never seen before but it also created inequalities so extreme the whole system is set to topple. It has clearly failed to innovate on the ecological concerns despite having decades in which to bring about the necessary transformation.
Marx, in the labour theory of value explored what might happen when productive systems become fully automated, what is the value of a good if it is 100% intellectual property but created no meaningful work? Innovation in many ways is creating poverty. Rather than freeing workers from meaningless toil it has destroyed once productive and meaningful ways of living, replacing it with nothing.
Einstein feared that wealth disparity would lead to the ownership of media and communications by tiny elites who then would present only a distorted half truth, one convenient to those in power. This is clearly playing out today where dissenting voices are excluded from the conversation and the window of acceptable debate constantly narrows.
The greatest failing of capitalism is climate change, the notion of market externalities, competitive, unrestrained capitalism leads to the externalization of the costs of production onto environment and society – instead of reflecting the true cost of production unintended outcomes such as pollution and social damage is hidden, masked or simply ignored. The market rewards the lowest cost producer and this is the mechanism which has bought to this place of unfolding catastrophe.
Those days are upon us already, so what must we do? Firstly I would argue it is time to recognise that this is where we are, say thank you for whatever trinkets and ball-balls the system allowed us and be ready to move on to what must come next, the transformation to a regenerative economy.
As the world stares the climate emergency in the face, ecological destruction on a scale hitherto un-imagined we must move into overdrive to head off the worst of the damage or the likeliest or soonest of the irreversible tipping points. Varoufakis touches on the need to address the crushing poverty affecting so many of us by socialising the benefits of quantitative easing and banking trickery and by diverting 25% of GDP into a widespread and effective green new deal and finally by reversing the limits on freedom of movement for people while putting much stricter limits on the movement of capital.
Permaculture is regenerative development. By that I mean it includes a specific objective of re-building soils, of harmonising with ecology and society, investing in social capital and targeting social outcomes above cold hard numbers. Those numbers forgot to include the fragile interconnected nature of the environment, the source of clean air water and the resources which sustain us. We each must tackle this multi-headed crisis from where we are, but it will require co-ordinated actions and consistency over time.
I started out as an economics teacher. A rather turgid, dry and uninspiring subject at school, I switched to ecology and then did a degree in sustainable development. It was only years later that I realised permaculture sits at the intersection of those two fields of study. Our ecological salvation lies in the re-understanding of the economic rationale that underpins all of our decision making.
A breaking away from the study of wealth and money might allow us to study instead more human forms of wealth and capital. The economic question has to be along the lines of how do we combine different forms of capital in a way that meets both human and ecological needs as a specific objective. The idea that one may come at the price of the other should always have been an anathema for us.
Sector39 – as a training organisation is ready to lead. Rebuilding community, food security and habitat is central to our experience and skill base. We offer a deep understanding of both economic and ecological theory and can bring a great many years’ of experience to bare in these area. We are keen to hear from anyone ready to work with us.
Sector39 are planning courses for 2020 in Wales, Uganda and Rwanda as well as working on a series of local food initiatives here in Llanrhaeadr. This is your opportunity to get involved in this essential and rapidly growing global movement of permaculture design. The video is of Sector39’s Steve Jones in Manchester from a couple of years ago, laying out the basic concepts and ideas permaculture is established on. There is one below for 2018 placing permaculture in the context of international development, presented in Nairobi at the Norwegian Refugee Council.
Breakdown of the six weekends of our Winter/Spring PDC at Dragons
This is a fantastic lecture; the fundamentals of economics: capitalism, socialism, Marxism leading to a brilliant explanation of co-operatives and how they represent a democratisation of the workplace. His analysis brilliantly reveals the faults of the system and explains how we got there.
Richard D. Wolff is Professor of Economics Emeritus, University of Massachusetts, Amherst where he taught economics from 1973 to 2008. He is currently a Visiting Professor in the Graduate Program in International Affairs of the New School University in New York City. He wrote Democracy at Work: A Cure for Capitalism and founded www.democracyatwork.info, a non-profit advocacy organization of the same name that promotes democratic workplaces as a key path to a stronger, democratic economic system. Professor Wolff discusses the economic dimensions of our lives, our jobs, our incomes, our debts, those of our children, and those looming down the road in his unique mixture of deep insight and dry humour. He presents current events and draws connections to the past to highlight the machinations of our global economy. He helps us to understand political and corporate policy, organisation of labour, the distribution of goods and services, and challenges us to question some of the deepest foundations of our society.
(this is an early announcement of a course we are currently developing and seeking funding for, if you are interested to hear more please contact us after May 1st 2019)
As a design system for food security, sustainable livelihood and land regeneration permaculture directly addresses many of the challenges faced by farmers, urban communities as well as displaced people throughout Africa. Permaculture theory is easy to learn and to apply, draws heavily on local experience and resources, and is spreading like wildfire in East Africa. Permaculture is also a process of developing social cohesion whilst combining design skills with a consensus approach to problem solving.
Over the last 3 years Sector39, PRI-Uganda and PermoAfrica Centre in Kenya have been working closely to build a team of permaculture trainers, practitioners and teachers as well as demonstration plots and training hubs. With its young and vibrant population permaculture is being readily adopted and adapted by its enthusiasts. There are already many models and case studies to offer as building blocks to achieve much greater ambitions.
We are proposing two, 2-week courses in November/ December 2019, the first in Kumi, Eastern Uganda and the other on Mfangano Island, Homa Bay, Kenya.
Kumi – 12 day full PDC in English language. Permaculture for teachers, community leaders and pioneers.
Mfangano – 12 day full PDC in Luo, Swahili and English. Permaculture for community transformation and teacher development.
This second course is especially aimed at Homa Bay area aspiring permaculture teachers and practitioners and especially Mfangano islanders who are farmers, teachers and community leaders.
S39 is UK based and a leading permaculture training enterprise with over 2 decades of experience and with 3 years experience working Uganda. We are involved in teaching permaculture for schools, teachers and community leaders in UK and Uganda and also for refugees and displaced people. We have recently completed a 6 month contract for the Norwegian Refugee Council delivering training to refugee and host community members in the Western Nile region.
PRI-Uganda is a non-profit organisation whose major objective is to empower individuals and communities to undertake sustainable agriculture and culture using the Permaculture Approach. We work in close partnership developing appropriate training experience and outcomes. See more at Permaculture Research Institute Uganda.
Founded by Paul Ogola who was a graduate from the first Uganda PDC with Sector39 in 2016. PermoAfrica Centre are a training organisation based in Homa Bay, Kenya. They reach out across their local farming community to train, support and develop capacity for permaculture farming and demonstration.
Paul has developed his own training centre, PermoAfrica Centre as well as a strong local network of farmers he has trained with his team
EK-FM is a community radio broadcaster based on Mfangano Island. Their core listener-ship covers the island and reaches the lake shore communities in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. They broadcast daily in Luo and Swahili reaching up to 300,000 listeners.
Wales/ Uganda farmers support link. Dolen have been a supportive partner to our interests in permaculture in East Africa since 2011 and are based in the same rural area of Mid Wales as Sector39.
Here are some photos from our last week’s work in Uganda at Maaji refugee settlement area. These farmers were new to permaculture back in June, but by September they had created these and many more examples of working with nature.
A convergence is a coming together, in this case we are hoping to bring together leading practitioners and advocates for permaculture design in East Africa. The aim is to accelerate the already considerable momentum in the region by profiling some of the amazing work already underway in the region.
Since 2015 Sector39 have taught two full PDCs in Uganda and are planning the third currently. We have also formed a supportive partnership with two Ugandan organisations to enable us to extend our regional ambitions. East Africa is literally hungry for permaculture and there is so much that can be done to significantly improve people’s lives and resilience utilising resources that are largely already available.
It seems an obvious step forward for our East African partnership to try to raise the profile for permaculture by creating an event that demonstrates the many possibilities for its positive application. We are inviting some of the region’s biggest enthusiasts as speakers and workshop leaders and planning for an event that can bring together students from our first three courses with school heads, politicians and other social and financial gatekeepers with whom we might build new and mutually beneficial relationships.
The planned venue couldn’t be more ideal as it is home to the most mature designed food forest in the whole region and the school has embraced permaculture design and ideas within its core curriculum, even the Head Teacher has completed a PDC!
Sabina school is near to Rakai in central Uganda, the region that was the epicentre of the global AIDS epidemic. They are still in recovery from the terrible loss of life, creativity and human resource but are well on track to have the situation fully under control by 2030. Modern drugs have massively reduced the mortality rate, it is no longer a death sentence and people are open about their HIV status. That said there are still many orphans in the region and a great deal of work to be done to compensate for the terrible effects of the epidemic.
Sabina students in the school’s forest garden. Bananas, avocado, pumpkin, jackfruit, there is food everywhere!
The 2-day conference is intended to both bring permaculture practitioners, students and pioneers together as well as creating a platform to celebrate and showcase achievements to inspire and demonstrate possibilities for new and interested parties. There will be talks, demonstrations, a permaculture futures forum and a school partnerships proposal launch.
As well as site tours and demonstrations at Sabina there will be a chance to visit The Permaculture Research of Uganda, (PRI-UG) which has an ecological farm and demonstration site less than an hour from the intended venue and that is en route for anyone traveling from Kampala. The day immediately before and after the actual convergence will be open days for the site with guided tours and discussion forums planned.
Permaculture belongs in schools. Imagine the anxiety for young adults when confronted with the fact that the next 30 years of their lives is going to be dominated by climate change, a dwindling oil supply and the possibility of never-ending resource wars accompanied by ceaseless waves of refugees.
Currently it feels like no one in the mainstream is offering solutions or ways forward they are battening down the hatches and tightening border controls. We need to offer more than a vision of a sustainable future, we need to provide the mechanism for change and pathways for empowerment and inclusion in that process and where better to begin than at school?
We have the support of the minister for education for Buganda and the national minister for education was a founding force behind Sabina school where the event will be held, so there exists a solid foundation to link the event to movement on a political level. When we arrived in Kampala some 6 weeks ago our first meeting was with Mr Mula, permanent secretary to the Vice President of Uganda, and he offered us his full support and strongly endorsed the work of Charles Mugarura and partners BEU Permaculture. We are looking to the younger generation to take the lead he emphasised.
Launch of BEU permaculture, Uganda’s most dynamic permaculture team and partners with Sector39 delivering this event
Sector39’s education team have since begun work on 12 educational units for use in school that will introduce permaculture’s key principles to the curriculum, not as a subject but as cross curricular themes.
The East African Convergence gives us a timeline now to develop and profile this work. We have a key partner school in Wales to develop and trial the materials with as well as an emerging school network in Uganda so we are absolutely ready to take this work to the next level.
Pre-booking and sponsorship packages are available to help us develop these potentials and we are also reaching out to teachers and educators to help realise these ambitions.
The Sector39 education team are taking a lead role in organising this event, please contact us for bookings, sponsorship and other offers of help. There will be volunteering and internship opportunities as well.
On the ground logistics, site development, volunteer hosting plus marketing support and branding services are being provided by BEU Permaculture, Kampala.
PRI-UG are offering demonstration visits, networking and practical support for workshops and site development.
PermoAfrica Centre and K5 community permaculture are linking us to on the ground community permaculture practical work in Kenya and will be profiling their 2 years of developmental experience for the conference.
Keynote speakers tbc. We are inviting a leading Author on East African botany, a leading agronomist and politician in the educational field to outline the key themes of the conference.