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|Permaculture From the Beginning: a short history of permaculture conference/convergences IPC1-IPC6||| Print ||
|Tuesday, 06 September 2011 23:16|
From IPC7 Newsletter (Croatia, 2005), by Max Lindegger
I was invited by Bill Mollison in 1979 to participate at the first Permaculture course which was held at Bill's home in Tasmania. Australia. The course was an obvious success, and a second course was offered to a larger group in Buchan (Victoria. Australia). I decided to participate again, and joined that second course. If memory serves me correctly, Bill suggested that this would be it - all done and over. None of us could have predicted at the time that Permaculture would take off worldwide.
Lea Harrison, Tony Gilfedder, the late Rill Peak and myself organised the 3rd ever Permaculture course.
This was held in Nambour in Queensland Australia in 1981. At this time I decided to resign from my civil engineering design work and concentrate on Permaculture design and implementation work - and later on ecovillage design.
Over the last 22 years since then, the work has taken me from Argentina to Portuguese Macau, and from Slovenia to Alabama USA - and many cultures in between. 1 have attended all the International Permaculture Conferences, I have seen Permaculture magazines come and go, and I have experienced the highs and lows of Permaculture.
The 1st Permaculture Conference/Convergence was held in the early 1980's, at Rowlands, in New South Wales Australia. It was held during a growth period of Permaculture, and when we till all pretty well knew each other. Like all the Conferences which followed, the Rowlands Conference/Covergence was organized by dedicated volunteers. I can remember travelling down to NSW (I was then living at Nambour, north of Brisbane) with Lea Harrison for a pre-planning meeting.
The 2nd Permaculture Conference /Convergence was held at Breitenbush Hot Springs & Olympia in the NW of the USA in 1986. Hundrcds of participants turned up. Was this the peak of Permaculture?
Pernaculture was still new to the USA - was this the reason so many came? I can remember up to 5 presentations being made at the same time, and having to make choices between absolutely top brass presenters. I remember Bill Mollison at his elegant best, Wes Jackson from the Land Institute, and of course Fukuoka-san, who was introduced to us by Larry Korn. Will I ever forget the quiet early morning hour with Fukuoka-san in the hot spring, discussing the potential of natural farming in the West?
1988 brought the 3rd Permaculture Conference/Convergence Christchurch (New Zealand), and an opportunity for me to catch up with the Scandinavian contingent I had met when teaching Pemaculture courses in Norway, Denmark and Sweden. Permaculture had become quite 'settled' by then, the family grown and a new generation of graduates were making their mark. I think it was around that time that some of us realised that Permaculture had to move into the mainstream, become 'organised', more professional. But many worried that we could lose Permaculture's important grass-roots connection.
The 4th Permaculture Conference/Convergence1991, held in Nepal, was the first time the gathering moved to the global South. When we arrived in Biratnagar, our luggage was picked up at the airport and we walked to the newly developed site - where we dug the holes for the latrines. While a number of us had already been working in countries of the global South, for others the food, the sounds, the basic amenities, were all new, exciting and exotic. The strong English delegation spoke convincingly of the need for self-education, organisation. and the founding of a Guild. As we now know, it all turned out differently. I still believe the time was right, but maybe the ideas were not communicated well enough. This was before the internet revolution- in today's email world, could it have worked?
By 1993 and the 5th Permaculture Conference/Convergence, Scandinavia had become a strong focus for Permaculture. The Conference/Convergence was held in Copenhagen, Denmark and Gerlesborg, Sweden, and the preconference courses and tours were a great success. The Danes - fantastic organizers and fundraisers - were able to collect enough money to sponsor participants from poorer countries. It did give the conference very International and all-inclusive atmosphere. Bill Mollison was, back on deck - convincing full of urgency and anger. Many, many old and new friendships were strengthened and connections made. The Conference was professional and held in comfortable surroundings, was very businesslike. The question was, could we carry the momentum out into the world?
The 6th Permaculture Conference/Convergence in Perth, Australia in I996 felt like a village, and indeed the team from the Global Ecovillage Network were present in full force. 'To me it was this conference, more than any before it, which illustrated the important part Permaculture could play in so many of the planning disciplines. Bill Mollison seemed slowly to be becoming comfortable at being the Permaculture Elder. But Permaculture also showed some 'cracks'. Permaculture, at least in Australia, had its detractors. There was a growing demand for Permaculture to become more scientific, produce the facts, the proof.
There must be a reason why there hasn't been an International Permaculture Conference for so many years. Is it because just about every organizational team suffered from post-conference burnout? Because the organizational load and financial responsibility for each conference fell on too few shoulders?
I have attended smaller, regional conferences in Australia, Scandinavia and the Balkan,, and I have seen energy and interest in Permaculture ebb and flow. I am excited to we that Tony Andersen and his team are making ~ the effort to bring us together again. I detect new drive and energy. David Holmgren's recent book has been inspiring. Permaculturalists around the world are working on impressive and important projects. Let's network and learn from each other again.
Let the Permaculture History continue...
Max Lindegger , is a mechanical and civil engineering designer by training a qualified Permaculture designer since 1981, have worked on the design and/or implementation of over 750 ecological properties, including the UN Habitat Award winning Crystal Waters Permaculture Village and works as consultant on the development of ecological town subdivisions and villages throughout the world He is the Regional Co-ordinator of Global Eco-village Network (Oceania/Asia) Inc and teaches courses on ecological sustainability, eco-village design and Permaculture. To date he has provided his expertise in over 35 countries around the world. Max holds a Permaculture Diploma (first issue) and was awarded the first Permaculture Community Service Award in 1985. He has recently been awarded the Prime Minister's Centenary Medal for distinguished Achievement in the field of developing sustainable communities.
|Last Updated on Thursday, 15 September 2011 08:48|