Respected permaculture folk who think David Holmgren co-founded permaculture

Discussion in 'The big picture' started by Rob Jones, Dec 8, 2012.

  1. mouseinthehouse

    mouseinthehouse Junior Member

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    I don't see anything wrong with the thread either. Permaculture as a whole needs to be robust enough to handle respectful questioning of issues such as these. I think it is incredibly important that a website such as this one reflect an accurate history and origin of the movement. To skew or blur the previously well documented credits to co-founders would do everyone a disservice. I find it hard to fathom why anyone would consider that unimportant.
     
  2. matto

    matto Junior Member

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    "Mollison may not always be the kindly and beloved white-haired sage we expect of our gurus in old age. There are too many rough edges and angry rumblings for a Merlin or a Gandalf. He's more like the Ancient Mariner, who grabs you with his gnarled hand and tells you truths you don't want to hear; his gift for charm shot through with an impulse to shock and outrage, because often that's the only way to get people to act".

    https://newsstore.fairfax.com.au/ap...ls=18883&clsPage=1&docID=SMH0907253J6QP7GNC8K
     
  3. S.O.P

    S.O.P Moderator

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    Why not quote this part:

     
  4. pebble

    pebble Junior Member

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    That's a great article, thanks.
     
  5. CraigMackintosh

    CraigMackintosh *****

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    The article confirms what I said already, that it comes down to a 'he said, she said' (or in this case, 'he said, he said'). And, as I said, if we're really to get to the bottom of this, you'd need to get Bill and David to settle it between them and let us know the outcome. Anything less than that and it's a case of who you believe.

    I personally don't mind the questioning, but, as I feared, this conversation becomes divisive - Rob turns it into a conversation where he's accusing Geoff of re-writing history, and for what? Just for sharing his understanding of the situation.

    As editor, I constantly strive for objectivity. But with this situation, it's impossible, because when you boil it all down, it comes down to what I said already - get Bill and David together to talk about it and then tell us what they agree. This may well be impossible, but it's still the only way we would get a concrete outcome that's not based on 'feeling' and speculation.

    We need to try to be logical and ethical in these situations. Both logic and ethics tell me that we can't just 'decide' what is true, if both parties are saying the opposite. If you're totally determined for complete accuracy, then you'll never be sure if you have complete accuracy if your final conclusions are based on believing one over another because of preconceived notions or favouritism.

    So, I come back to what I said at the beginning. It's a rather pointless discussion that will only serve to create division.

    I agree with what many have said here - that 'permaculture' pre-dates both Bill and David by, potentially, millennia. There is nothing new done under the sun.

    I think giving appropriate design systems (for agriculture, housing, energy, economics, politics, etc.) a name is a good thing. It means we can find all the most appropriate techniques, and pull it under the umbrella of 'permaculture', so that it's easier for all of mankind to take what they can from that pooling of knowledge, and hopefully they'll add additional aspects. Bill and David's work to find and accumulate indigenous techniques from around the world, and to develop them further, is thus highly valuable. For example, the 'holistic management' people wouldn't call their work 'permaculture', but I do, as it's just one of many valuable methods that we can put into the permaculture toolkit, to make it easier for people to find it, utilise it, and share it.

    Rather than who wrote what, I prefer to put my energy into seeing how fast and how far we can spread permaculture concepts. Spreading permaculture arguments that can not be solved doesn't do any favours for us towards that end.
     
  6. Unmutual

    Unmutual Junior Member

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    While I agree with the above, I'd just like to add that the Permaculture movement is bigger than David Holmgren, Bill Mollison or Geoff Lawton. What's really important is that we have this design system and we can expand upon it freely. Permaculture belongs to the world now, it belongs to us. I thank them all for their efforts: past, present and future.
     
  7. CraigMackintosh

    CraigMackintosh *****

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    I'm not sure that's an addition to what I wrote. It just seems to be a paraphrase of what I was trying to say! :)
     
  8. Unmutual

    Unmutual Junior Member

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    You may be right. I blame the head cold!
     
  9. CraigMackintosh

    CraigMackintosh *****

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    Get well!
     
  10. Pakanohida

    Pakanohida Junior Member

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    Mix honey & cinnamon together with ginger.

    Add tsp of honey (or to taste) to your tea. :)
     
  11. Rob Jones

    Rob Jones Junior Member

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    I agree with the 1978 Bill

    The meeting and discussion that Craig proposes has already happened and agreement has been reached—better still, Bill and David have published their agreement to the world in very explicit terms.

    The quotes—of their words—are:

    From the acknowledgments section at the beginning of Permaculture One:

    The involved mess of our first manuscript was first clarified by Zenda Onn, and later patiently edited and set out by Joyce Strong. Both gave more than normal help in preparing the final document. Val Hawkes assisted in correction and Phil Mollison* endured the innumerable fireside discussions of our formulative ideas.

    [*It appears “Phil” was Bill’s partner at the time, Philomena O'Neil.]

    Note: “innumerable fireside discussions of” THEIR “formulative ideas”.

    Later, on page 1 of Permaculture One, Bill and David go on to say:

    We have designed the system, as it is presented here, for cool temperate conditions; using other and additional species it would suit any climactic region, and is designed to fit into urban situations.

    We jointly evolved the system in the first place as an attempt to improve extant agricultural practices, both those of Western agribusiness, and the peasant grain culture of the third world.


    Note: “We jointly evolved the system”;

    And with the first sentence of page 1 of Permaculture One, Bill and David say:

    Permaculture is a word we have coined for an integrated, evolving system of perennial or self-perpetuating plant and animal species useful to man.

    And so we know that the word “permaculture”—like the design system it denotes—was created jointly by Bill and David.

    I am pretty sure Bill was over 18 at the time he and David agreed to publish Permaculture One as co-authors. So there we have it: If two adults voluntarily put their names to a single account of events that have transpired between them, then that is the stone cold end of it—there is no need to have a meeting after 34 years to find out if what was true in 1978 is still true today.
     
  12. Unmutual

    Unmutual Junior Member

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    Hot water, lemon juice and honey is my traditional fix, though I won't say no to chamomile tea with honey either.
     
  13. matto

    matto Junior Member

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    To continue to play devils advocate, at the very beginning of the PRI's Intro to permaculture DVD, Geoff states that permaculture "is a design system conceived by Bill Mollison in the 1970's". Not that permaculture is a movement that was expanded by Bill Mollison in the 1980's...

    As we have seen, Bill doesnt believe David had any formative input to the early works of permaculture, maybe Geoff swallowed the hubris?
     
  14. Pakanohida

    Pakanohida Junior Member

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    At this point, it doesn't come across that way. More like fishing with a baited hook from a moving boat.:think:
     
  15. pebble

    pebble Junior Member

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    That analogy is lost on me, but I'm still struggling to see what is wrong with this conversation. Why is it wrong to talk about how Geoff Lawton presents the history of permaculture?
     
  16. CraigMackintosh

    CraigMackintosh *****

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    Hi Rob - Yes, all that text is there. But, as you know, both Bill and David have subsequently said, in effect (to paraphrase), "I only wrote that because... blah blah" and they both contest how they formerly attributed the material. The article Matto linked to illustrates this fact. It doesn't matter what you quote - the fact remains that Bill and David have their own views today which don't match. Determining with confidence who is right on this 'issue' (as you put it) is thus impossible. It becomes just a matter of who you believe.

    Pebble - the only thing I see 'wrong' with the conversation is that it's pointless. It's an argument that cannot be won (unless, again, you get Bill and David to agree and let us know what that agreement is). For myself, I don't see the point in creating division over a question we cannot answer. Geoff answered the question posed to him based on information he's been exposed to. Whether he's right or wrong we will likely never know, but he answered it sincerely. Where I take issue is that Rob is making a big thing out of it, accusing Geoff of rewriting history. But it's Bill and David who have 'rewritten history' (i.e. they both contradict the published text Rob quotes above).

    If you like going on wild goose chases, then all I can say is have fun. I've personally got better things to do.
     
  17. CraigMackintosh

    CraigMackintosh *****

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    I have found a good way to knock an illness on its head is to take a clove of garlic, blend it with orange juice, and drink it. It tastes pretty terrible, but it works. The point of putting it with the juice is that the sugars carry the garlic's goodness quickly into the blood stream.
     
  18. deee

    deee Junior Member

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    And the garlic pong on your breath means that no one comes near you and you don't pass on the infection (an example of multiple function?).

    I'm trying to keep out of this thread, but I will say that its very common for postgrad supervisors and students to part company at the end of the process. My PhD supervisor told me that there wouldn't be room in NSW for two of us and that I should move to Adelaide. No people care, fair share, or "co-operate don't compete" at work there.
    Danielle
     
  19. ShadowWalker

    ShadowWalker Junior Member

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    I'm not sure that this discussion is doing much to move permaculture forward. People grow and part ways, it doesn't discount the work they did together. Who started the movement isn't as important as the movement itself, that it grows and flourishes.

    As seems to happen, really important ideas seem to come out in different places from different people around the same time. What matters is their dissemination and practice becoming a way of life. To paraphrase Graham Bell, "Permaculture is a direction, not a destination." We won't know the destination unless we start moving in the direction we need to go.

    Bill, David, Geoff, Sepp Holzer, Masanobu Fukuoka and many others have contributed to permaculture. For that I am very thankful because each has brought their own perspective that allows us to form our own and in turn make our own contributions. As anyone who has taken a PDC, we own the word and a responsibility to act in accordance with our new found knowledge.
     
  20. CraigMackintosh

    CraigMackintosh *****

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    Hi again all.

    I don't want to - at all - stir up the pot again, but in revisiting thoughts on this as I've had time, I feel that I need to come back to Rob's statements about who 'founded' permaculture. And I've discovered that in my revisiting this 'issue', I myself see better exactly what Geoff was saying.

    Rob's original post was titled: "Respected permaculture folk who think David Holmgren co-founded permaculture".

    Now, please consider the meaning of 'founded'. 'Founder' and 'originator' have different definitions in the English language.

    To 'found' something is to 'establish' something. To 'found' a movement is to 'establish' a movement (remember, Geoff's response in the first edition of the Q&A series was in regards to whose role was the most significant in 'establishing the movement').

    Think about it this way: I could have a brilliant idea, but unless I find a way to establish this idea in greater society, that idea will likely die with me. We see this over and over again, where good ideas go nowhere due to lack of establishment of systems of uptake, lack of financing, etc.

    Bill founded the permaculture movement, first through the development of the design practice -- he designed over 700 properties prior to writing Permaculture Two -- then by the creation of a curriculum, with its text book and the establishment of the certificated course. He then travelled to 120 documented countries teaching the curriculum. These are all ways to 'establish' permaculture, turning it from an idea into a 'movement'.

    From Wikipedia:

    If Bill had done the same as David, and worked only on one or two properties, and not gone from country to country working on hundreds, if not thousands, of designs, would his work have led to the founding of the permaculture movement? Would we see it in almost every country, as we do today?

    In any day, at any time, thousands of concepts are being conceived around the world – but few take root and grow. Bill founded – David didn’t. I personally believe David understands this, and is likely why he himself uses 'Co-originator of the permaculture concept' at bottom of his emails, rather than 'co-founder'.

    David was very young when he first met Bill. There is no way he would or could have done what Bill did as far as 'founding' the permaculture movement. He was not old enough or experienced enough, and there is no shame in that. Today David is the age Bill was when Bill set off. David has already accomplished far more than most of us, and I am sure he will accomplish a lot more yet. But for Rob and others who are feeling defensive over the use of certain words, I hope the above helps to put some differentiation between the words 'co-originator' and 'co-founder' - between spawning an idea and founding a movement. As I try to look at this objectively, it seems to me that Rob's dissatisfaction for anyone stating that Bill 'founded' the permaculture movement is unwarranted.

    I had never given that much thought to this topic, as (as I said before), I am more concerned about where permaculture is heading and how fast (and I might add, in what form). Historical 'domestic' disputes between two people are of little interest to me, but for those who feel this topic is of interest to them, then perhaps what I'm saying here may clarify things somewhat. I hope people take this in the spirit I write it. David's work has been seminal, and genius. He is clearly a co-originator. I really don't care for this conversation at all, but given Rob's strong statements and his desire for accuracy, and his accusations against Geoff's well-meaning response to a question put to him, I think it's better I speak up than say nothing.
     

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