23 January 2009

Permaculture: The Path to Self Actualization

Taken from the Bloomington Permaculture Guild Blogspot posted by Keith Johnson

"Permaculture or 'permanent agriculture' was originally conceived almost 30 years ago by Australian ecologist Bill Mollison. Observing aboriginal culture and forest ecosystems, he concluded that we could deliberately design agriculturally productive ecosystems, echoing diversity, stability, and resilience of natural ecosystems.

Permaculture designs provide food, energy, and shelter for people and animal inhabitants while linking the needs and outputs of each element.

Permaculture is a holistic approach to land use, which works with nature's rhythm and patterns, weaving together the elements of microclimate, annual and perennial plants, animal, water and soil management, and human needs into intricately connected and productive communities."

I keep thinking about this over and over. It is by far the most simplistic, yet descriptive and graspable description of permaculture that I have seen, read or heard. I feel the need to memorize those three paragraphs so when the inevitable question arrives, my answer flows eloquently without my stumbling, "Uh. uh, uh, well it's very complicated." Because it is complicated in a simplistic way.

In permaculture, the agriculture proponent is highly stressed and for good reason. Besides clean water and air, what else do humans need to survive? According to Maslow's pyramid the basic elements of humans' needs are: breathing, drinking, eating and excreting, sleeping, shelter, sex, etc. If humans meet only the biological and physiological needs, we wouldn't be much more than animals. At it's most basic definition, permaculture addresses these immediate basic human needs.

Abram Maslow developed a five tier pyramid: Biological and physical; safety; belongingness and love; esteem; and self actualization. In the seventies, the pyramid was adapted to include cognitive and aesthetic needs to read: Biological and physical; safety; belongingness and love; esteem; cognitive; aesthetic; and self actualization. The nineties brought change, too, to include transcendence needs (tier 8), which addresses the need to help others reach self actualization.

I mention Maslow and these adapted versions of his original theory because I think that permaculture addresses all these needs, and is the road to self actualization. Through teaching it (permaculture), humans fill the need of transcendence. What proof is there? Those who I meet who are completely immersed in the lifestyle and teachings of permaculture are very grounded, adjusted, secure and wonderful people to be around. Permaculture reaches a basic need in us: to survive. Permaculture allows us to reach within ourselves and to become free of harmful environmental practices by living off the land in a most fundamental way. If we stripped ourselves of everything materialistic as the human culture and placed our naked bodies in the middle of the land, permaculture would lead us to transcendence. Every need and niche is filled through permaculture because we blossom by working with the land, by touching earth and becoming one with the forces of nature. Permaculture is more then reading a book and saying, "Yah, okay." It is a practice, a lifestyle, a soul's path and a return to our natural beings.

Some people may ask, “What do you mean? Transcendence? How can you transcend or reach self actualization by crapping in a composting toilet? Isn't self actualization more like the movie Demolition Man where we don't even have to wipe our own butts much less compost our poop?" And I would say no. Through stripping ourselves and building within the natural biorhythms of the earth, we reach God, Goddess, the Creators. We allow these energies to guide us. Our natural beings need Earth and to unite with Her. Through permaculture basic needs are fulfilled: creativity, beauty, intelligence, community, and spiritual growth. By working in harmony with Earth, we reach our full potential and we are then able to teach others how to reach theirs.

Bill Mollison started this revolution 30 or so years ago. There have been many other warriors, sages and shamans through the years who have carried the torch, worked in the trenches, battled societal pressures to keep these principles alive. For the most part, permaculture has been an underground movement, but now as the world as we know it crashes around us, folks are scrambling for answers. The time is right for education. The challenge will remain to keep it pure. Support and endorse accredited PDC (permaculture design course) schools or teachers who have completed their PDC. Let's not get confused between 'living green', 'environmentally friendly', 'organic' and the true meaning of being intricately connected and completely aware of how lifestyles and choices affect Earth and humans oneness with Earth.

I originally began this blog because I wanted to link God to permaculture and to human needs. Keith's blog post focuses on land use. Maslow doesn't outright mention 'God' in his tier system either. I feel a human need to express my spiritual views, which are tied to Earth and bring about the need to practice permaculture. I see them linked. It was through gardening that I reconnected with God, but it wasn't the God I was raised with through the Catholic religion. Through following the Earth, I have reconnected with Spirit and feminine energies that have long laid dormant. Like the Tree of Life, I feel my roots taking hold of Earth as I reach for the sun and sky.

I'm not sure that I have an ending to this blog or that I have even fulfilled any complete thoughts. This is a three-day-long stream from my brain. Like permaculture, my own thought process, education and actions are ever evolving; hopefully rising to new levels, reaching higher tiers, and connecting with my soul's purpose. I do believe that permaculture can help me accomplish this. I also truly believe that permaculture is the hope and answer for 'saving' Earth and humans.

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