Saturday, October 08, 2011

Slow the Money Down

I encountered these questions today:

  • What would the world be like if we invested 50% of our assets within 50 miles of where we live?
  • What if there were a new generation of companies that gave away 50% of their profits?
  • What if there were 50% more organic matter in our soil 50 years from now?

This is the heart of regenerative design: slowing the money down to stay where we work and live and, in doing so, providing real wealth for the future.  Our wealth will be in the form of thriving local living economies and fertile, rich, abundant soil.  By "returning the surplus" (a permaculture ethic)  we create and ensure such a future--one of ever increasing abundance.

Did you know that carbon is best sequestered in soil? That the simple act of building soil, around the world, will help the climate? Think about that.  This means that we can repair the world... one compost bucket at a time.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Permaculture Book: Tending the Soul's Garden

Denise's book entitled Tending the Soul's Garden: Permaculture as a Way Forward in Difficult Times is available online.
If you would like to order the paperback, visit here:

You can also order via


 Inspiration is not garnered from the litanies of what may befall us; it resides in humanity’s willingness to restore, redress, reform, rebuild, recover, reimagine, and reconsider.
-- Paul Hawken

Ethical Intention

Permaculture starts with ethical intention.  The three statements of ethical intention for the practice of permaculture are:
Care of Earth: All life systems have the provisions and resources to continue and thrive.
Care of People: All people have the provisions to access the resources necessary for their existence.
“Fair share” or Return the Surplus: We set limits to consumption by taking only what we need, and by governing our own needs so that resources are set aside for Earth and others.[i]

The ethical intention is a statement of our most significant primary relationships and in some sense, what “right” or “good” relationship can be. The ethical intention of permaculture is the conscious dream, or the desired fruit of our work.  We imagine the world as we would like it to be.
Underlying this deepest intention of permaculture, is a personal decision or commitment to take responsibility for our own existence and that of future generations.
This decision is profound, and by making it, we find inner resources and give ourselves permission to learn and grow.  By this commitment, to take responsibility for our own existence and that of future generations, we begin with a decision for our own existence.
 We, thus, must begin this journey with ourselves:  our own inner being, inner authority, inner wisdom and deepest emotions, dreams and desires.  In this ethical intention, we, by necessity, first open ourselves to a path of self-knowledge and growth.  

[i] Adapted from Mollison, B. (1988). PERMACULTURE: A Designers' Manual. Sisters Creek, Tasmania 7325, Australia: Tagari Publications. p. 2.

Friday, September 02, 2011

What is Permaculture?

At first look, permaculture, also known as regenerative design or ecological agriculture, (permanent agriculture) is an ecologically-based design system which allows us to improve our relationship with the land by observing and imitating nature, while using and integrating natural systems and methods rather than fighting against them. Permaculture ethics, root practices and principles are those of nature herself, and can be applied to the garden, the farm, and indeed any living system including human structures.

However, in practice, permaculture also cultivates a way of being that tends to go much deeper than simply a system of ecological design. Somehow, by engaging with nature in intimate observation, we gradually become a part of the system and magically and necessarily engage in our own evolution and transformation. In fact, the ethics, principles, and roots of permaculture practice, can go far beyond the garden or farm and into the invisible structures of our relationships with ourselves and others, as well as our community and organizational structures. By engaging in permaculture, one soon and eagerly applies the approach to other complex systems and challenges.

One of the key tenets of permaculture is relationship. Everything gardens. In an actual garden, this is easy to observe, over time. Every element in a garden, whether it is a plant, an insect, a rock, a pond, animals, a tree or a structure, has an effect on the others. The effect, in most cases, is predictable just by observing the nature of the element placed.

For example, where I live in Northern California, a large rock in a garden covers the soil preserving moisture, creates habitat for frogs and lizards, provides shade at certain times of the day, and may even create a small micro-climate for some plants. The rock, by its very being, its relationships and its placement, is gardening. It might be fair to say that we, like the rock, need simply find our appropriate place and relationships to create a beneficial impact. And, like the rock, we might have a detrimental impact if we are not in the appropriate relationships or place.

So, permaculture offers a way to engage with the world on a small scale, while keeping in mind a vision for the larger design. This is how nature works: a set of laws or principles, such as gravity and atomic bonds, are true for all systems, and nature uses the same elemental building blocks to evolve many diverse, intelligent, systems—systems that evolve from small experiments into successful co-creative regenerative ecosystems.

By understanding how systems work and especially how they change, we can accept that we are doing our part by doing what we do well and what we feel the energy to do.  We work at what brings us joy.  We can look for those points of leverage where a small amount of applied energy can have a large impact.   Paradoxically, by focusing on small solutions, we find meaning and purpose even in the face of the larger destruction around us.

"Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I shall move the world." --Archimedes

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Denise's Book: Tending the Soul's Garden

I've published a book entitled Tending the Soul's Garden: Permaculture as a Way Forward in Difficult Times

I really enjoyed writing it... it was a labor of love.

If you would like to order the paperback, visit here:
Tending the Soul's Garden or order via

or buy the ebook for $9.99 here:

Support independent publishing: Buy this e-book on Lulu.

What is Permaculture?

Permaculture (permanent agriculture) is an ecological design framework inspired by living systems. The ethics, root practices and principles in permaculture can be applied to the garden, the farm, and indeed any living system including human structures.