This past week I learned a new aspect of permaculture that I did not know before, it’s called social permaculture. Social permaculture is basically taking permaculture principles and adding them into families, groups, communities, or any other interaction you may have outside of your garden. Here are some permaculture principles you can add in your social interactions.
- Relinquish control. You can plant your garden but you cannot control it, when you are with others try not to control the conversation or situation, allow others to put their thoughts or talent into the project or discussion as well.
- The problem is the solution. Think creatively and turn constraints into resources. There is a saying that the answer lies within the problem, so if your group has a problem then everyone should think about how to turn this problem into a solution.
- Multiple functions. This means that each element within your garden should support as many functions as possible. In a group you should use each persons individual talents to help your group grow and flourish.
- Work with nature. In your garden you would work with nature the best way you can, you work with natural cycles and seasons. In a group you should work with the natural flow of each individual, each person has their productive and fruitful times and they have their dormant times. When groups truly understand that no one is meant to be in “charge”, then they will begin to produce higher and higher “yields” of people and talent.
- Least change, greatest effect. The least amount of change that is created allows the natural energy within a group to emerge. When you want to become involved in a group or charity, don’t jump right in with all these changes you would like to make or problems you see. Give the group some time, be silent and observe, reflect upon what is going on and what is being said.
- Edge effect. Basically this is when two ecosystems come together to form a third which has greater fertility and productivity. I think we can all see the implications in this principle, it’s when two organizations or groups come together to form a third group which can add more growth and productivity.
- Diversity. In a successful garden you want to add diversity, all you have to do is look at our current farming system and you know that the monoculture idea does not work. Bugs can decimate an entire field of one plant so tons of chemicals are used to keep this from happening. Bringing in a variety of perceptions will help your group or organization to grow more than you ever thought possible.
- Functional interconnection. This basically means that the waste of one plant is what another plant needs. This function is highly important and is vital to our mental health. If you belong to one group and find that you are not helping or interacting the way you like, don’t feel bad if you have to move to another group. There is an old saying that goes, “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure”, be open to change, be open to moving and doing different things. We are not meant to be stagnant, so if change is where life is taking you, then follow it without regret or remorse.
- Redundancy. Every need should be met in more than one way. In a group you should promote the idea of sharing, allow others to plan events so they too can build the skills needed to lead, life is not about making permanent followers, it’s about teaching people to be their own leaders and helping them acquire the skills they need to accomplish this.
As I’m thinking about each principle mentioned above, I can see that social permaculture is something I would like to carry out in my life, not only for my mental health but for the good of all the people and groups I encounter.