Our goals, principles and tools

Summary of permablitz

Permablitz is a social enterprise committed to improving the sustainability of our cities and suburbs.  We use a sustainable design system called permaculture to help communities move away from denial and dependent consumerism to engagement and responsible production.  Our core focus is helping people sustainably grow food where they live, building healthy community in the process.  Rather than depressing people with the bad news, we empower them with the good news - that the solutions are at hand - and get on with having fun rolling them out.

Permablitz started in April 2006 with a collaboration between permaculture students and a South American community group in the outer South-Eastern suburbs of Melbourne, Australia.  Since then, over 100 permablitzes have been held around Australia and permablitz has gained an international reputation as a successful tool for fast-tracking the suburbs towards sustainability.

The term permablitz is a contraction of permaculture and blitz, where a blitz simply means a focused application of energy or a concentrated effort to get something done.  Once a design is in hand, a permablitz is a day where volunteers come together to help make that design a reality.  And we use follow up visits to learn from successes and failures.  To read a more complete definition of a permablitz, see What is a Permablitz?

What is Permaculture?

Our primary tool is permaculture, an ethically underpinned design system for sustainable living and landuse.  The term permaculture was coined in the 1970s by Australians Bill Mollison and David Holmgren who were developing alternatives to industrial agriculture based on perennial polycultures -- ie. biodiverse long lived plants arranged in ways such that they compliment each other.  The permaculture concept has since been developed by these two co-founders and many thousands of others into something much more expansive.  Permaculture has come to mean a design system, for taking patterns and relationships observed in natural ecosystems into novel productive systems for meeting human needs.  In meeting these needs, permaculturists aim to not merely achieve sustainability, but to actually enhance and repair damaged enviroments.

Part of the permaculture vision is massively decreasing the distance between where food is produced and consumed.  As an integrated design science, however, food is just one part of the permaculture equation.  Permaculture equally addresses and integrates water, energy, waste, shelter, community, local economy, governance and community facilitation, and all other aspects of sustainable living.  It's broad, it's exciting, and it's blindingly relevant to the challenges we all face.  The Transition Towns movement is one leading example which has emerged from the permaculture movement, integrating all of these facets.

As we enter an era where -- whether by peak oil, carbon taxes, or both -- we have less energy available to industrial society, both the ethical stances of permaculture, and the design methodology, become ever more relevant and practical to our daily lives.

In suburban contexts, permaculture design focuses on the relative location in space and time of things like herb gardens, vegetable gardens, chicken houses, paths, ponds and fruit trees.  Permaculture aims, through intelligently arranging these elements, to minimise inputs of materials and labour, and optimise outputs, while producing no waste.

Suburbia is often seen as the antithesis of sustainability.  James Howard Kunstler has called it “the greatest misalocation of resources in human history”.  Suburbia however, has roughly the population density of some intensive self-sufficient south east asian cultures, while it also has the benefit of many hard surfaces for water catchments.  While permaculturists do not generally advocate complete self-sufficiency, we can grow a sizable proportion of our food in our suburban yards.  We can show you living examples.

It is hard not to get excited when you see a good permaculture design in operation, where all the parts function harmoniously together and the system largely provides for its own needs as well as providing for a good portion of yours.  As integrated design, permaculture is much, much more than organic gardening.

For a summary of permaculture ethics and design principles see: PermaculturePrinciples.com

Our Core Beliefs

  1. A sustainable system is one that keeps going when external inputs of non-renewable resources are turned off
  2. Our current mode of food production, namely industrial chemical and fossil fuel dependent monoculture, is not sustainable
  3. Permaculture is a tool we can use now to decrease our participation in industrial agriculture and to directly act on our most pressing issues, including peak oil and climate change.
  4. We know the problems and we have the solutions. It is time to transition not just from denial to awareness, but from awareness to action. Let's go!

What We Do

Our primary role is facilitating permaculture designs, permablitzes to help implement those designs and follow-up visits to see how well they've worked out.  In the process, we are:

  1. rolling edible landscapes out across the suburbs
  2. helping take permaculture to the mainstream and helping people take their first steps
  3. facilitating the growth of a new generation of permaculture designers
  4. building community and creating networks of gardeners helping each other
  5. having fun while we redesign the future!

 

 

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