Last year I wrote about my conscious living quest. I wanted to think a little more consciously about the things I was doing. Did they fit with my values? What could I change?
Over the course of the year I wrote about
I didn’t turn my life upside down, but I did find some small habits to change. I got more involved in my local community garden. I decided I didn’t want to work full time any more – this week is my first four day week and I love it already! I’ve made my own soap, washing powder and face scrub, and not bought any of those things all year.
I got both of my bicycles properly serviced (although I confess I haven’t used either of them since…). I’ve added some storage so now all the compost goes into the compost bin, and toilet roll tubes go into the recycling. And I’ve thought long and hard about where my money goes, and am trying to make sure I spend less on bills, more on adventures.
This year I want to shake up my thinking again, in a slightly different way.
I mentioned a few weeks ago about the permaculture design course I did in 2001. I did a bit of voluntary work for the Permaculture Association a few years ago too. Then last week I got a renewal letter for my Permaculture Association membership, and because I signed up by standing order, I got a free copy of Permaculture in a Nutshell. Then, in this month’s Country Living magazine, Tom Hodgkinson (talking about growing herbs near his kitchen door), writes
‘I have taken a leaf out of the permaculture movement’s book: instead of wasting energy trying to reform my personality, I’ve created a system that accepts my sloth…’
Permaculture keeps cropping up in my life, and it’s an idea I feel drawn to but have never been able to explain very well if anyone asks. Several things spring to mind – ‘it’s about working with nature rather than against it…’, ‘designing things well to make them easier for yourself…’. The Permaculture in a Nutshell book says
‘Permaculture is a process of looking at the whole, seeing what the connections are between the different parts, and assessing how those connections can be changed so the place can work more harmoniously.’
As an idea, it was originally conceived in terms of creating ‘edible ecosystems’ – ways of growing food that mimic a forest environment, with trees, shrubs, smaller plants all growing together, rather than acres of one crop. But it’s moved beyond just food growing now, with people applying the principles to relationships and business, among other things.
I went foraging around for a simple way of explaining permaculture, and came across David Holmgren’s list of principles. These are
‘…thinking tools, that when used together, allow us to creatively re-design our environment and our behaviour…’
Rather conveniently, there are twelve principles, and here we are right at the beginning of a brand new twelve months. And so I’m going to take one of these principles each month, and use it as a way of thinking about what I do and what I have, and what I need, and what I want.
What fun! I do love a new project. And I’m hoping that over the course of the year I’ll come to understand (and be able to explain) permaculture a little better (because really sometimes the whole concept feels a little fuzzy…).
You can read more detail about the principles here or here. I’ll start at the beginning with ‘observe and interact’ soon and follow them throughout the year. You’re more than welcome to join in – I’d love it if you did. I’d also love to hear your thoughts on what I’m thinking about as we’re going along!
If you fancy reading a little more, there are some free (and not free, but very good) ebooks about permaculture and all kinds of other things here. Have a rummage, see what you can find out!
What are you going to be thinking about this year? Have you ever heard of permaculture?