The permaculture world lost a great warrior Sunday, November 30, 2008. David L. Dungan died of an unexpected stroke while visiting family in Ohio over the Thanksgiving holiday. David was a great mentor to many people. He lived his life with love and immeasurable integrity. David L. Dungan was one of the Masters whose knowledge seemed to permeate an uncountable amount of subject areas. David was always forthcoming and when he spoke it wasn't superficial. David Dungan traveled with his beloved wife, Anne, to teach and study Theology. He always spoke of his sons, daughter-in-laws and grandchildren with the utmost adoration and respect. The Earth is a more wondrous place because David L. Dungan shared his time here educating, uplifting and inspiring all those around him. And as with every great leader, David L. Dungan listened to those around him and did not put himself above learning something new.
With the will of a strong river, David believed in permaculture. Permaculture is shortened term for the equation, "permanent + agriculture = permanent culture," and coined by Bill Mollison of Australia over 30 years ago. Mollison believes that societies can deliberately design agriculturally productive ecosystems, to echo diversity, stability, and resilience of natural ecosystems to create a sustainable human culture. Permaculture is a (w)holistic approach to agriculture and lifestyle. Productive communities are woven through interlacing human needs and nature's natural rhythms and patterns. When the Earth is sick and unhealthy, life on Earth is sick and unhealthy. Through permaculture, societies and cultures build whole and healthy environments by practicing sustainable agriculture, sustainable building and sustainable energy while creating multiple yields or outputs from a single element or thing. For example, an outdoor shower would also water fruit or vegetable plantings.
David would have been the first to say that he, himself, wasn’t practicing the principles of permaculture as diligently as he would have liked, but Dave was very humble. In the 1970's during the Carter Administration, David and Anne designed and built a two story passive solar greenhouse on the south side of their home and used the warmth to heat part of their home. (Joe Hulquist, south Knoxville's city council representative was the young contractor!) David wanted to build a home in a community that based it's origins in permaculture. He was a guiding force in organizations like Narrow Ridge, which he whole heartedly worked toward creating a thriving intentional community with families, farming, cottage industry, education, publications, etc. He had great hopes, but when the idealism of Narrow Ridge didn't pan out, David didn't stop, like the water trying to reach the ocean, he decided to focus on permaculture in an urban aspect and committed to further transforming his home in the city. David and Anne jumped right on board without a second thought when the Knoxville Permaculture Guild started. David was truly excited and hosted the second monthly guild meeting without a moment's hesitation. That was Dave.
It's so incredibly sad to know that David L. Dungan won't be alive to see the fruition of his work and education. The Knoxville Permaculture Guild has lost a great member and leader. David's spirit will always guide us, though, and if we allow ourselves to listen to the nature around us, we will be able to hear his thoughtful, nonjudgmental, no-nonsense wisdom. If we quiet our thoughts, we can see David's visions and make them happen. And when we do, we can remember each time, "Dave would have loved this!"