Monday, 15 July 2013

Permaculture Design Course South Africa

As promised I am posting about what I have been doing the past few months since the termites moved in!

I think an important thing to mention is that what I am doing is not just about building a house. I have been focusing this blog on the process of building, sometimes it’s necessary to go a bit deeper though…So no I’m not just building a house, I’m building a lifestyle that is based on the ethics and principles of permaculture. When I first started down this path I wasn’t sure if I should first do a natural building course or a permaculture design course. I thought having a home was the first step so I did the building course first. I have just been to South Africa to do the full permaculture design course, and I really think I should have done that first!!

Here is a short description of what permaculture is, many people have heard the term but aren’t really sure what it is:

“Permaculture is the conscious design of human living environments that are reflections of the ecological principle that underlies nature. It is the harmonious
integration of landscape and people providing their food, energy, shelter and other material and non-material needs in a sustainable way. Permaculture
design is a system of assembling conceptual, material, and strategic components in a pattern which functions to benefit life in all its forms.”

The course was amazing, the teachers Tahir Cooper and Alex Kruger where truly inspirational. As were the course participants. I had read a lot about permaculture and done an introduction to permaculture course but I don’t think I really understood it until now. I think if I had done this first I would have really chosen the most appropriate natural building method for this area rather than just what I loved the most!! Doing the course in a place that demonstrates a community of people living together and meeting their needs, without harming their environment, even better,  healing their environment, is truly the best teaching method. 
Permaculture makes you think about everything in a wholistic way, rather than living a linear life of consumerism and waste. 

Permaculture in it’s most basic form is about sharing so that everyone and everything can have what they need today and in the future. If we consider every action we take and the effects it has, will people and the environment be the same in 7 generations if I….. (fill in the blank)? I have found it a real wake up call!! If every decision we make has an underlying universal ethics of people care, earth care and fair share, we will always be making the right decision!! It means taking action now, and it’s not about paying off carbon credits or giving 10 dollars to WWF and thinking this is all we have to do to secure a bright future for the world. The world we are wilfully destroying, the world which we depend on for our every need!!! 

I feel excited, hopeful and motivated after doing the course, it’s not about doom and gloom, but about solutions. In many ways yes it’s easier to move towards a simpler life where I am, but it is also one of the most difficult. The challenges that face us in our context here are huge, no water, sandy soil which is hard to grow food in, the rainy season only lasted 2 and a half months this year, climate change is only going to make this worse, Elephants and other animals roam in the area where people grow food. A huge mine is now underway just down the road which will destroy the environment and could seriously affect the water in the aquifer in this area that both people and wildlife depend on. And for what? so we can continue to have an  unlimited source of electricity, dependent on non-renewable resources. Would this happen if an ethical framework had been the starting point for decision makers?

I am now moving forward with the building of my home, and a life with positive impact! 

More mud dancing coming soon!

(Thanks Yvonne for the photos!!)