Reflections on Bringing Permaculture to the White House and Meeting President Obama
Editor’s Note: I want to congratulate Ryan and the UMass team on this significant milestone, and also wish to thank all of our readers who took a moment to vote to help ensure it came to pass. Onwards!
Over 1 million practitioners, with over 5,000 projects in more than 140 countries. — David Holmgren, 2003
All of us can celebrate this victory: we self-organized our global community and made a statement that want permaculture to be discussed at The White House. And it happened last week. Although it might have been only for a few minutes, it was quite an important step for permaculture in my opinion. I am grateful, humbled, and honored to have been able to tell President Obama personally about the global initiative to transform underused and/or badly damaged landscapes and systems into ones that are more ecological sound and socially responsible. It is done by utilizing the power of community (many many hands!) and only using very minimal amounts of fossil fuels when necessary. It’s called permaculture, President Obama, and we have the knowledge, the skills, and the passion to grow this movement into something much larger than it already is.
A seed has been planted and that is how all things must start.
This is only the start, of something much larger that needs to keep happening by more and more individuals across the planet. Questions have come up in the international permaculture community about whether this will have any affect or if it is just another popularity contest or an attempt to get more young people interested in politics during the election year. In my humble opinion, I think it will have a drastic impact, and already I see this happening through 1) important permaculture discussions on listservs, 2) permaculture presentations being given to Senior Administration at UMass Amherst and other institutions, and 3) dozens of media articles being written about permaculture going to The White House.
- Boston Globe Article about UMass Permaculture
- Blog about UMass Permaculture on whitehouse.gov
- Blog about the Champions of Change on MTV Act
- UMass permaculture program honored at White House
- Live Stream of White House event featuring UMass Permaculture Committee
- UMass Students Honored at White House as “Champions of Change"
- UMass permaculture program wins White House Campus Champions voting
- From Franklin to Washington: UMass Permaculture wins challenge
- UMass garden cited by White House
- Campus Champions Of Change: President Obama, MtvU Nominate Top 15 Students
- UMass sustainable garden group vying for recognition at the White House
- Vote to Send Permaculturist to White House
- Campus Permaculture Project Up for White House Recognition
- UMass garden in running for White House honor
I think we are absolutely ready and must take action to bring the vision of permaculture to the next level at this very important and historic time in history. We know how to implement permaculture landscapes — it’s happening all across the world. Millions are demonstrating how to restore degraded and desertified sites into ecological and edible paradises. But where we run into the most trouble, how I see it, is working together and putting our differences aside. I think it is the social organizing, the communicating, and all of our the inner landscapes that we must improve upon to truly create an environmentally-sustainable, socially-responsible, and economically-just world… one that we all can envision and want to see manifested.
Below is a video that one of my students, Mia Shimokawa, created after filming numerous parts of our road trip to Washington DC and our experiences at the Champions of Change event. As another UMass Permaculture Committee member said, I felt a bit emotional after watching this video, because to me, it accurately depicts what permaculture is truly about: groups of individuals working together to care for each other and the planet. And sharing as much as possible with others who need it. I hope you’ll enjoy the video.