Introducing myself and questions of education

Discussion in 'Introduce Yourself Here' started by Krisztina, Mar 22, 2017.

  1. Krisztina

    Krisztina New Member

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    I am a traveling Canadian who dreams of settling in Yukon
    Dear Permaculture enthusiasts,

    My name is Krisztina. I am an ecologist, an environmentalist, a researcher, a traveler, a former tree planter and an inquisitive individual. I have gained an increasing curiosity for fungi and would love to study the role fungi plays in permaculture using scientific methods. Through my ecological background and the horrors I have witnesses against our ecosystems during my travels I have been drawn to permaculture. I have not undertaken a PDC nor have I practiced any permaculture other than on one farm in New Caledonia. I want to commence my permaculture endeavours immediately, with reference to Robert Hopkins, I do not wish to wait until I have my own land! No time like the present. Presently, I am traveling long-term on my bicycle with my partner, Keegan. We started our tour in Tasmania over a year ago and are currently in Viet Nam. Shamefully we did not participate in permaculture while in Tasmania, the home of the founding father Bill Mollison. Our knowledge of permaculture at that time was superficial at best and our priorities different. With the help of the internet we have improved our knowledge base significantly and are anxious to start digging. We are fond of volunteer work, especially work that involves cultivation of any kind. We would love any suggestions with regards to permaculture projects needing hands here in Viet Nam or surrounding countries (we are in love with Cambodia and would go back in a heart beat). We are not entirely sure about where we would like to take our first PDC as we have big dreams of settling in the Yukon and are of the mindset that perhaps we should wait until we return home to Canada to take a course in an environment more familiar to where we will eventually have land. Any comments on where we should take our first PDC are most welcome!

    More immediately, I would like to pursue a thought on education and am reaching out to you, the permaculture community, on opinions and reference to resources that could inform me further. I would consider myself an educated individual. I have an undergraduate degree in Zoology and a Masters degree in Primatology, and yet I hadn't heard of the word "permaculture" until after I graduated from my masters degree. I am a white, privileged person with an active interest in ecology and sustainability. If I hadn't heard of permaculture until my mid-20's, I wonder how is one to find out permaculture exists without the resources and education I had access to? Today's world brings new educational opportunities, especially in South East Asia where internet and data capabilities are affordable and almost universally accessed. I would like to try my hand at merging the utility offered by social media, mobile technology and the internet in general to educate the marginalized that typically do not have access to quality education (typically rural and indigenous populations). Keeping in mind that where I am currently (South East Asia) features indigenous agricultural methods, on which I would never want to impose. I believe in maintaining diversity of all kinds, including cultural diversity. Younger generations of these diverse cultures, however, are not necessarily following their ancestors into the fields (or food forests!). More and more migration to urban areas is occurring. I would like to get the message out to those young people that there is something called "permaculture" without imposing ideologies. I would also like to reach the rural populations who, perhaps with their hands tied, are subjected to global markets and, therefore, monocultural cash crops replacing the ecologically valuable diverse organisms. As cyclists, we venture into areas not necessarily visited by other tourists and naturally attract a lot of attention everywhere we go. We are frequently asked to have our photo taken with local people and tourists a like. Through this inherent and almost "celebrity-like" status we have the opportunity to promote ideas like permaculture simplistically and through social media. So far we have created a sign using reclaimed materials, tape and a sharpie that says "Permaculture". We have this strapped to the back of my bicycle in hopes that when people notice us, they read the sign and look up the word "permaculture" on their mobile devices. We are also going to encourage that the sign be incorporated into any photos taken with us, which presumably will end up on whatever social media platforms the "photographer" is using. While the sign itself offers no real information, the idea is to introduce the word to everyday people hoping that, as tends to happen when you google something, other aspects of ecologically-minded agriculture will appear, such as agroforestry, agroecology, etc. The sign is in English, but more and more people are learning to speak English (for better or worse) and like to learn new words. We are often approached by native English speakers as well. Ideally we would translate the word "Permaculture" into the local language. If anyone has any ideas on how to do this accurately (i.e. Not relying on Google Translate), please share your knowledge! We are considering turning the sign into a flag so it is more noticeable. We imagine the sign will evolve as time progresses (unless, through this thread and hopefully discussion, we are convinced that this is a terrible idea, then we will do our best to recycle it). We would also like to incorporate mycology into this method of "education" (if we can call it education) as I would like to study the role fungi have in permaculture and want to spread the idea that fungi are an integral part of working ecosystems, etc. Our goal with this method is to passively inform people, rather than tell people that what they are doing is wrong and they need to change their ways -an approach I think we can all agree is meant to be left in the past. This is a baby step towards a more holistic approach to a permacultural life, but one that I think could have an impact if not a small one.

    Please comment and offer suggestions and opinions about this mode of spreading the word (our simple sign on my bike and social media) as well as educating rural, marginalized populations in developing nations. I have attempted to research methods in which to educate such populations on topics like permaculture, sustainability, etc, using social media, but find the resources limiting (or maybe I am not looking in the right places). I realize that there are many projects around the world educating rural populations on permaculture techniques and books being incorporated into schools for children (eg. i-permaculture, IDEP, Matt Powers, etc). What I am attempting is a way to educate a general public spread across many regions using the resources I have around me (in this part of the world -ample, affordable, accessible internet) without input from external sources (eg. Funding) and our outward conspicuousness being foreigners on bicycles -bringing people to us. This goes along with some of the premises of permaculture itself (I think!) and is my way of contributing now, rather than waiting until I'm settled somewhere. I have nothing against organizations that educate people, but as with everything, their are limitations stemming from funding and time constrainsts that lead to focusing on specific and small number of groups. We are not limited by funding through the method I propose and we can reach many groups of people. I see the method I'm proposing as complimentary to the approaches already in place. I know I am not alone in thinking that the first step in having a more sustainable approach to life on this earth is education and knowing that permaculture, agroecology, agroforestry, syntropic agriculture, etc exist without imposing ideals. Education in densely populated world regions should be priority, in my opinion. So here I am, doing something about it now! I would love to discuss these principles further. Hoping this forum post will ignite discussion. Thank you for listening!

    [​IMG]
    https:[email protected]/7NbqRh

    (Hopefully I've done this right and two photos appear above)

    -Krisztina
     
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2017
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  2. 9anda1f

    9anda1f Administrator Staff Member

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    Hi Krisztina and welcome,
    While I could link to your photos, they don't show up in your post as photos. The direct link to your share is: https:[email protected]/33185602380/in/shares-U9b6US/
    To embed the photos themselves, you'll need to use the direct link to each photo individually (something I can't do for your flicker account).

    I like your idea for using your sign, photos, and social media coupled with curiosity and internet search to pique interest and awareness. These types of strategies are welcome and bound to be fruitful.
    Here's one project located in Viet Nam you might be interested in: http://www.permaculturenews.org/files/speri/HEPA_brochure.pdf
    and also: https://permacultureglobal.org/projects/340-speri-hepa-ffs-vietnam
    You can search for other Permaculture People: https://permacultureglobal.org/users and Projects: https://permacultureglobal.org/projects by using the filters or zooming on the maps.

    I read Bernard Moitessier's "Tamata and the Alliance" which describes his childhood in Viet Nam (Indo-China) when it was a French colony. His descriptions of indigenous cultivation practices are quite Permaculture-ish! Geoff Lawton visited a 300 year old food forest in Viet Nam:

    As soil is our base resource, soil micro-biology and specifically fungi are critical to reversing our path of soil destruction towards soil restoration and soil-building. Paul Stamets is one of the premier mycologists and would be a good source of inspiration and knowledge: http://www.fungi.com/about-paul-stamets.html

    I personally applaud your efforts and look forward to hearing more as you progress!
     
  3. Krisztina

    Krisztina New Member

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    Hello Bill!

    Thank you for approving my message, replying and pointing out that my photos were not showing up. I hope I have fixed the problem now.

    The project you mentioned in Viet Nam is beautiful! I would love to check it out. Unfortunately it is not on our route and our visa is up on April 4th, so I don't think we will be able to detour and make it there. Hopefully one day though. Seems like a really wonderful place and project. Do you know of any in northern Viet Nam?

    I hadn't heard of Moitessier's book. I just looked it up and WOW! Touches on so much that is relevant to my recent travels/endeavours: Viet Nam, French colonies, sailing and cultivation! I must read it! Thank you for bringing it to my attention.

    I had checked out the video on the 300 year old food forest a little while ago. This is also amazing. We spent a month in the Mekong Delta and there seems to be permaculture everywhere there. So many properties with a plethora of fruit trees surrounding fish ponds, etc. Wish I had known about the 300 year old food forest and where it is exactly (do you know?) while we were in the delta.

    Indeed Stamets is a world leader in mycology. I have been researching his work for some years now. I had only heard of Elaine Ingham recently though and she seems to be the leader in soil microbiology and is a fantastic bridge between the academic science world and the permaculture world -something that seems rare. Please inform me of anyone else that is also involved in academic science (specifically mycology) and permaculture. I would love to look them up!

    Thank you for the encouragement. I will send updates as they happen!

    -Krisztina
     
  4. songbird

    songbird Senior Member

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    wow! quite an adventure you are on there!

    i love the sign on the bike idea. :)

    as for spreading the "word" including it in your website top page somehow, tagging articles with it...

    i see more signs of various ideas being incorporated into communities (water harvesting in arid regions, garden designs using native or compatible species, animals in an urban setting being permitted, energy efficiency) but often these are done without any reference to an overall philosophy and no reference to permaculture is used. often if you can get someone to think about gardening in general you can then use that as a way to move them along with thinking in a more systematic way and how to add various elements to support their gardening and then of course the follow on topics of soil and water quality, food storage and waste recycling. then to get them to step back and look at the rest of their home and energy aspects to make them more efficient or sustainable.
     
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  5. Krisztina

    Krisztina New Member

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    Thank you for the reply Songbird and the positive encouragements! The more I become involved in permaculture, the more I will incorporate the word into my online platform (I don't have much of one at the moment). I like your approach of keeping things simple at first, introducing gardening ideas and implementing permaculture along the way. I think I may have found a way to write "permaculture" in Vietnamese. I will be adding this to the sign!
     
  6. BajaJohn

    BajaJohn New Member

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    Hi Krisztina
    I'm new to this forum also - and to permaculture, although it's principles seem to have been a part of my entire life.
    Your travels put you in a rare position of seeking the world from many different perspectives. I started a similar journey by boat but got no further than Mexico. Here they often use a special name for exceptionally beautiful places - Salsipuedes. It translates into "leave if you can" and it certainly applies to me here.
    I just wanted to offer some thoughts that may or may not shed light on a less recognized perspective of how the world works. Significant inspiration for me along these lines was provided by Jared Diamond's book "Guns, Germs and Steel". Before my journey to Mexico I was a researcher and university teacher of mammalian physiology.
    One aspect of permaculture is about recognising value in things beyond the obvious. That is fundamental to the Lovelock/Margolis idea of Gaia. It seems also to be the antithesis of the modern Western culture of self-importance, heroes, superiority and a general acceptance of the unfortunate lay-interpretation of "survival of the fittest". Unrecognized by all to many - and especially those in power is that we exist on a vast and intricate foundation of support from almost everything that exists in the world and which demands nothing in return. Apparently, not even acknowledgement. Those "external" influences are barely perceived by many, but are in fact as essential to our existences as our own hearts or lungs. Your own journey would be a much greater challenge, if not impossible, without the skilled hands that made your bicycles and that put food in your own hands every day. (and, of course, the natural events that have brought that food - and even you into existence). It transforms us from individuals fighting for survival into an essential part of a cooperative and supportive world, thriving and revelling in the complex wonder of our mutual existence. Hidden in the academic focus on survival of the fittest is a quieter undercurrent of published, peer-reviewed literature exploring the importance of cooperation in natural selection. From such a different view of the world comes the notion that we are fundamentally reliant upon the fellow humans so many see as rivals and upon the natural resources that so many see as merely opportunities to exploit without any responsibility. We need to view our fellow humans and all the contents of our world as potentially precious resources providing us with the opportunities to better ourselves and the world around us.
    Permaculture is about cooperating to thrive rather than the current culture of fighting to survive.
    Best wishes in your travels - through both space and time.
    John
     
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2017
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  7. Krisztina

    Krisztina New Member

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    Hello John!

    Thank you so much for your reply! I apologize for the tardy reply, travel does not always permit me to participate on the internet.

    I too was inspired by Diamond's book about 8 years ago. I would argue that after reading "Guns, Germs and Steel" my worldviews and the way I thought in general completely changed. I have since learned of some real discrepancies in the stats he used in the book and have sadly had to question his anthropological and historical work since. Funnily enough, my Comparative Animal Physiology professor suggested the book to the class after teaching us Diamond's findings on snake digestion. Diamond is brilliant enough to write prolific and transformative literature found on most book shelves as well as discover that snake digestive systems breakdown to nothing but a lumen when they go weeks without eating, as many snakes do. I thought you might find these connections interesting given your background in physiology.

    Indeed I have spent many hours and days on my bicycle wondering the process by which the hunk of steel was made and by whom! I came across a bamboo bicycle making class held in Hoi An, Viet Nam. Had we had more time and money, I would have liked to attend the class. I aspire to learn how to make my own bicycle one day out the materials around me. I appreciate your holistic view of the energies required in a system and that we are connected and dependent upon each other.

    Thank you for continuing the discussion!

    -Krisztina
     
  8. BajaJohn

    BajaJohn New Member

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    Thank-you for your response Krisztina. The challenges of internet availability were a constant issue when I wandered this region on a sailboat, so I understand intermittent communications. Plus, of course, there may not always be something to say.

    Diamond, like any other intellectual isn't always going to be right. I felt he was biased and found his follow-up book, Collapse, much less interesting. I always used to tell my students not to believe everything I said but to use it as part of the foundation for constructing their own understanding. Evidently Diamond helped you in that respect. He is certainly an accomplished man who I first encountered in his publications on the neuromuscular junction.

    One of the motivations for my own travels was to experience new cultures and even though I now feel settled in one place, I am still learning a great deal. Perhaps the most basic lesson is the blessing and simultaneous tension of diversity. Differences can be very stressing yet they can also provide revelations and opportunities to do things more effectively. It often surprised me how my family background of engineering and even things I learned from sailing turned out to be useful in my work as a biologist (foreign languages too). The great thing about learning to make a bamboo bicycle isn't the new bicycle you may gain, it is the new knowledge you carry for yourself and others. From that experience you gain more choices to meet the challenges of your future.

    If you ever intend to return to academia, you may find Lee Smolin's book "The Trouble With Physics" provides an interesting perspective. He chose an unfortunate title for a book that critically discusses the modern academic environment and seems applicable to all science. He uses his own field of quantum physics to provide examples which gives the book an additional role of revealing the intricacies of string theory in a way that I found quite engaging. He also touches on the philosophy of science, expanding upon Popper's widely regarded but misunderstood views and contrasting their current interpretation with Feyerabend's rejection of a universal scientific method. It's available as a download if you need something to fill those internet-starved days (just kidding).
     
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  9. Krisztina

    Krisztina New Member

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    Thank you for the book recommendation John! I really appreciate various perspectives on academia, especially nowadays. There are many questions I find go unanswered in academia, which seems counterintuitive. The prospect of knowledge gained as knowledge to disseminate, as you suggest with the bamboo bicycle example, is not always well translated. We'll see where life takes me!
     
  10. Krisztina

    Krisztina New Member

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    [​IMG] Our Warmshowers host in Hanoi.

    Please let me know if you cannot see this photo!
     

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