Thursday, April 30, 2009

Directives for Architects

So what's the role of architects in all of this?

Architects often become the de-facto landscape designers, because the majority of money in any development budget is spent on the buildings. Any landscapes design, much less integrated landscape design, is a often a tired afterthought. To go beyond sustainability, we need to step past this paradigm! The following notes are from a talk I gave at the University of Massachusetts in September 2008

As architects for a resilient & thriving future, here are your tasks:

• OBSERVE - prolonged at thoughtful observation instead of protracted and thoughtless action

• DESIGN the simplest, most functional, and most vital built 'environments' possible.

• INTEGRATE your buildings with the landscape so that they functionally interconnect with as many living systems as possible

• REGENERATE openly seek out and heal the damage and oppression done to living systems -- both internally and externally.

• LEVERAGE your work to do the greatest good for the greatest number of beings for the longest amount of time by EMPOWERING people to design with you. Spread your energy and knowledge and excitement through the networks as fast as possible.

Ask yourself:
- What is the simplest solution? what's the most functional? and what will serve the interests of all life-giving forces on the planet and meet their needs in the most harmonious way?

Whad'ya all think? Do these directives resonate with any of you architects out there?

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

GEEK! Permaculture Computerizing

I get this question all the time:

"What are the computer programs you use every day? What are the most useful for your work as a permaculture designer?"

So, here we go...

• Omnioutliner Pro - incredible note-taking and organize-everything software. The program I use most.
• Omnifocus - the omnigroup's implementation of David Allen's Getting Things Done (GTD) system. beautifully simple and powerful.
• Microsoft Excel - iWork Numbers would work as well, I just haven't switched over yet.
• Mozilla Firefox 3.0 - advanced web browsing
• Visual Understanding Environment (VUE) - powerful cross-platform mind-mapping; a little quirky at times but really excellent.

• Wordpress - powers my website
• Blogger - runs my 7+ blogs
• Doodle - best web app for organizing meetings
• Gmail - rocks. best email ever.
• Google Docs - realtime collaborative editing.

• Vectorworks - $1800 professional Computer-Aided Drafting (CAD) software. Awesome, and a steep learning curve.
• Google Earth - free and versatile. combines beautifully with...
• Google SketchUp - free 3D modeling - quick and easy to use

• Adobe CS - especially acrobat, photoshop & indesign
• Preview (Mac OSX) - quick and functional image & pdf editing
• Quickbooks - bookkeeping & invoicing
• Keynote (Mac OSX) - way, way better than powerpoint. seriously.
• Quicktime Pro - most of my video editing here, final touch-ups with iMovie.

AWESOME. Enjoy geekin' it out.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Permaculture Pancake Polyculture

Fresh off the press from a PDC in Vermont -- A PERMACULTURE PANCAKE POLYCULTURE.

Here's the species - function list :

Long-term overstory
• sugar maple (Acer saccharum) - syrup
• black walnut (Juglans nigra) - nuts, syrup
• shagbark hickory (Carya ovata) - nuts, syrup
• black birch (Betula lenta) - syrup, tea
• sweet-acorn oaks (Quercus spp) - acorn flour for pancakes! (see for a great selection)

Selected Understory
• chicken (Gallus domesticus) - eggs (for the pancake batter!)
• pawpaw (Asimina triloba) - banana custard-flavored fruit, shade tolerant
• gooseberry (Ribes uva-crispa) - tasty tart fruit, shade tolerant
• currant (Ribes spp.) - tasty tart fruit, shade tolerant

This arose from our discussion of mixed-species sugar-bushes. My research & experimentation this spring shpowed that black walnut (Juglans nigra) trees can be tapped and boiled for a DELICIOUS syrup, and friends inform me that Hickories (Carya spp.) can also be tapped. Add these to the traditional sugar maple (Acer saccharum), other maple species (Acer spp.), and birch (Betula spp., especially B. lenta), and we're looking at a significantly more diverse stand of locally-appropriate sugar production!

Let's step beyond the relative monoculture of sugar maples! And go even farther for some delicious perennial permaculture pancakes.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

50% by 2015: A Perennial Agriculture Challenge

From Kevin Skvorak of Regeneration CSA to the Northeastern Permaculture Listserv:
"...What percentage of the calories in our diet (NE region) should we be getting from perennial crops?  How if any way should this influence the thinking of people involved in local planning, farmland protection, and smart growth issues?"
My Response:

Howdy Kevin and All!

I think the 'should' is difficult. It depends on who we are talking about, and what their goals are.

If we approach this from the CO2 and climate change angle, and set a goal of reducing CO2 emissions by shifting to perennial agriculture, here's a proposed research track to answer your questions:

• What are the CO2 emissions resulting from annual ag. in the northeast?
• What are the estimated CO2 emissions (or sequestrations!) from perennial ag? We might look at some small-scale estimations (e.g. Martin Crawford's forest garden in the UK) and larger estimations (Badgersett Research Center's Woody Agriculture in MN, Carbon Farmers of America's Holistic Management grazing in VT)
• What might be the CO2 emissions resulting from transition between annual & perennial agriculture?

Personally, I think I can get to 5% of my calorie intake from perennial crops by fall 2010. And, I'm going to aim for 50% of my calories from perennial 'crops' (including animals!) in the next 5 years.

How about that? 50% by 2015? Anyone else want to give this a try with me?


Sunday, April 5, 2009

Congratulations Epworth PDC Graduates!!!

You all rock! Congratulations to everyone who presented their final permaculture designs and received their certificate! Here are some photos from the weekend.

Could someone post a photo of the whole class? And maybe an image of your certificate?

Go Ninja Turtles!

14 Things to do after a Permaculture Design Course

Here's a list of 14 things to do after a Permaculture Design Certification Course. This list came to me from Geoff Lawton of the Permaculture Research Institute of Australia, and Christian Shearer of the Panya Project and I added to it at the January 2009 PDC at the Panya Project.

1. Start at your own back door! Design and Implement!
2. Create or join a local permaculture guild.
3. Travel to other permaculture sites. (UK Permaculture database; PRI projects; Permaculture Activist Directory)
4. Take another PDC or focused course.
5. Volunteer or work in a related field.
6. Give intro talks about permaculture to groups in your area.
7. Practice making designs.
8. Host a course taught by someone else.
9. Apprentice or intern with an experienced designer or teacher.
10. Start a locally impacting enterprise.
11. Do a Diploma of Applied Permaculture Design (more info coming soon!).
12. Get an accredited permaculture degree through Gaia University.
13. Eventually become a permaculture contsultant or teacher.
14. Register as a Tagari-certified teacher.

Would you like to add to this list? Or reorganize it? Go for it the comments!