It’s the end of an era with the passing away of Bill Mollison, co-founder of permaculture. It’s up to us now to follow in his footsteps and be courageous, bold, outspoken, practical and visionary.
When an elder dies it is a real wake up call to the next generation – we are now the ones to take it forward, we are the leaders. One of the amazing gifts that Bill and David gave the world with permaculture was making it open source well before open source was even a term. Permaculture has shifted the paradigm of just one leader to – there are many leaders. Through letting permaculture out into the world to be tried and tested it has evolved and grown immensely over the last 40 years, well beyond, I imagine, even what they originally envisioned. And we still have a long way to go. One day hopefully the term permaculture will become obsolete, as everyone will have permaculture ethics, principles and design as part of their internal operating system.
When I first did my permaculture design course, I loved that it allowed gifts to surface, you didn’t need one particular skill set, all skills are needed and welcomed. Permaculture tapped into our innate wisdom and creativity and was a collaborative effort. I am very grateful to permaculture and all it’s brought me. I am very lucky that everyday is a permaculture day for me now, with teaching, writing, tutoring and living and thinking permaculture. Permaculture has connected me with magic, hope and possibilities and a global community that is fun and connected and using their gifts, developing skills, and making real change. Now I see this global community is collectively giving thanks and grieving. Bill has given so much to so many people through permaculture.
There have been many progeny of permaculture, Transition, LETS, incredible edibles and many more. My own work with People and Permaculture, 7 Ways to think Differently and now Cultural Emergence are descendents of permaculture. And permaculture has had many ancestors and siblings as well. It was almost an accident that perma-culture had an incidental focus of culture, though of course our agricultural systems are a result of habits, priorities and beliefs embedded in our culture. Cultural Emergence is a fledgling initiative with a vision of long-term, large scale cultural transformation. Bill wasn’t well-known for his focus on peoplecare, and no doubt his response to Cultural Emergence would be “hope it’s not any woo-woo stuff”. Well there might be a bit of useful connection practices in there!
His famous quote ”although the problems are increasingly complex, the solutions remain embrassingly simple” is a reminder to all of us that we can simply make change in our lives. My personal vision for my work in permaculture is to share the simple solutions that can change anyone’s thinking and lifestyle. I have learnt through experience that we can manifest through design and action, and am happy that 17 years after my permaculture design course, my family and I have manifested the Applewood Permaculture Centre where we will plant an apple tree in Bill’s memory.
At the end of our courses we invite people to take 3 steps to participation that Bill shared –
1 – align yourself with like-minded people – the peoplecare ethic, 2- involve yourself in the growing cycle – the earth-care ethic, and 3 – reduce your consumption of non-renewables – the fair shares ethic.
I only met him once at IPC in Croatia but his influence has been immense in my life. And to end on another quote from him – “I can’t change the world by myself, it will take at least 3 of us.” Thank you Bill for ensuring there are hundreds of thousands of us globally committed to bringing more earthcare, people care and fair shares into the world.