Social permaculture

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  • 1. Socialaround at the festas ClowningPermaculture Kids group and Home schooling group Car share Regional permaculture group Co-Created byJosh Gomez& Rosie Stonehill

2. Social PermacultureWe are very much aware that for permaculture to grow into the permanent culture it proposes, itcannot simply end at the bottom of the garden. We must, as individuals, as communities and as amovement, deeply and positively involve ourselves with the people around us, bridging our differencesand asking the question how can we help one another in bettering ourselves, our environment, ourcountry and our planet?.Community only has meaning for the future when it extends into and includes all of society GrahamBell, The Permaculture WayPersonally, we have, for many years, been getting involved in the local communities where we havebeen living. Whilst living for a time near Aljezur in the Algarve we were involved in helping to initiateand develop a variety community based endeavours. There had been some work share days and freemarkets in the past in the area but we were helping revive this practise and assist with creating a morefocused and cohesive group. This was happening in parallel to the extended PDC run by Daphna whichwas largely focussing on enhancing local regional strength. We hosted one work share party at a landwhere we were staying which needed extensive clearing work on and around the house and it was agreat experience to see the effect and energy created by many people working together. Since comingto this area we have helped at and hosted some work share days (clearing land, house building, fenceerecting, olive picking) and we will definitely continue with this in the future.We have included here some examples of ways in which we have been interacting with and involved inpositive action in our local communities, both with the local people of the area and with other familieswho are also establishing more sustainable lifestyles and working towards a cooperative andempowering extended community.From taking the circus to the local villages, to sharing our car with our nearby friends, to creating andshaping our childrens education, to our hopes for the emergence of local, regional and bioregionalpermaculture groups here are some examples of our community building so far... 3. We have been in this area for a year now and it has taken a lot of effort to beaccepted (though having Lowarn has helped), but in the last couple of months wehave been starting to do our circus shows and workshops, this has made the biggestdifference and now we are generally warmly greeted and have shaken the hands ofall the local influential people, like presidents and village leaders.Also we realized that it might be the first time in history (or at least for a long time)that anything like what we do ( fire swinging, juggling, hula hoop , face painting, etc)has happened at these festas. It seemed that almost everyone appreciated thechange of colourful entertainment and we really enjoyed to bring something ofourselves to this community.We have been invited to various local events in the coming months and also to manymore festas for next summer. We hope to broaden our range of shows andworkshops we can do at these festas, by finishing off our puppets and preparing ashow with them, doing mask & puppet making workshops for the children, doingmore days of circus skills workshops & finishing with a matinee show with thechildren performing too. 4. It has been clear to us for a long time that, if we ever had a child, unless we were in avery different or special situation, we would want to do home schooling. We feel thatthe dogmatic learning of questionably valid information, the total lack of attention givento really useful knowledge and the social psychoses which develop due to the modernschooling approach mean that there is little of value to be gained from enteringinstitutionalised schooling.That said, it has also been equally clear that we would always ensure possibilities ofcontact with other friends of the same age, as well as a varied range of age groups, asthis seems an essential part of life and development. In the specific case of Lowarn, heis incredibly sociable and loves to talk to just about anyone so in some ways he reallydoesnt mind who he spends time with. However he also enjoys very much to have thekind of connection and interaction which only children can have together.It is important therefore, for us, that there are other families with young childrenwherever we settle. In the very local area (a few kilometres radius) where we are livingnow there are currently four families with at least one more planning to move here. Thiswill make six children (plus one more due in October). We all have at least some interestin home schooling and to begin forming a group we all are regularly meeting (at leastonce a week) to give the kids time to play and learn together. See Childrens educationdesign to see more about our hopes and plan for the future of Lowarns education. 5. When we began our move up to this area of Portugal, we decided that, especially with aone year old, it might be much simpler to buy a second hand car to make the wholemoving process more possible. We do not intend to always have a car and, with ourhorse, are in the process of making the transition to a more localised life style.However, for now, we realised that, whilst we are still wanting to keep the use of a car,it made more sense if it was being used by others in the local community as well,reducing the need for all having vehicles and getting the most out of our car.We are currently three families sharing this car and, as we all tend to only need it onceor twice a week, is very simple to organise and generally working very well, benefittingall of us. Whilst deciding whether to initiate this, we used various tools to break downthe relative pros and cons and relative costing of the car per kilometre. We haveincluded a costing and PMI for this Car Share.CostTotal10 KM / litre Fuel @ 1.66 / litre16.6 C/KMMaintenance 2 C / KMLegality tax, insurance, MOT2 C / KMEventual replacement car0.4 C / KM21 C / KM 6. Less cars so better for the environment No need for everyone to have a car Share costs of maintenance and legal requirements Could share cost of purchase so people could buy a better, more environmentally friendly car than they could individually. Makes people think more about their car usage, plan ahead Encourages sharing trips and shopping missions Could be that car is kept clean and tidy by everyone if there is a rule that each returns it as they got it Cooperation within communities Allows a different perspective of ownership Mine becomes Ours On a larger scale gives people access to different types of vehicles for different uses e.g. A small car or a van depending on requirementsPlusPeople have to cooperate CarCan be complicated if people may encourage newwant it at the same timesocial contactsshare Car gets used more = moreOn a larger scale may wear and tear = higherneed clear rota and morestrict organisingInterestingPMI Minus maintenance costs Only applicable for a certain number of users before more than one vehicle is required 7. We intend to start a local permaculture group in this area as we feel that this senseof cohesion and wider cooperation could bring more strength to the individualmembers and to the group as a whole. We see that there is huge potential forcommunity action, for example reforestation tree planting events, cleaning up therivers, work share days, group schooling, freemarkets, seed swaps and helping in thelocal villages. There is very little happening here at the moment but we are awarethat local councils are beginning to switch on to a more ecologically conscious focus(or at least thats what they say) such as native tree planting days, Feirasustentavel (sustainable market/event). If we can show that there is a strongmovement in support of these activities and a local awareness of sustainableculture/agriculture then we can maybe join what is beginning to happen here andhelp ensure that it is not just a fad of green washing and that real, long term,positive action continues to happen.It is clear that, whilst a single family or couple may have little say on decisions madeabout the local area and ecosystems, together with a group of regularly meeting,environmentally aware, consciously thinking people, we will have a stronger positionin terms of influencing the local and wider government bodies.We have been considering possibilities of local people we have come to know overthe last year and we already have a list of about 30 people we intend to invite to thegroup. Beyond this, we would also like to be involved in helping other people startpermaculture groups in their local areas. Copyright 2011 Rosie Stonehill and Josh Gomez