Design through permaculture is often aided by a set of design principles that mimic and reflect natural and ecological processes. These principles explore natural laws of energy flow, resource creation, depletion, and regeneration, abundance and diversity, economy and forms of capital, and the intersections of natural and social structures. The study of natural patterns and erosion and growth cycles provide insight into the ways that structures evolve or devolve and the ways that elements and people interact. All of these elements can provide insight and application in social and group contexts. Mirroring nature, the use of a permaculture design protocol leads to solid, effective, and sustainable design.
Permaculture principles are used in workshops at The Small Earth Institute in order to provide a structural framework for problem solving related to planning and processes in schools, and for strategic and project planning in businesses. The aim is to present the principles and help participants to use them in their own contexts. Briefly, the ten permaculture principles that will be explored in context are:
Observe and interact- take time to observe situations, patterns, and systems and interactions when creating a design.
Catch and store energy- identify the sources of various types of energy at different times and places in your systems, and devise economical strategies for obtaining, storing, and using it.
Obtain a yield- determine what the yield(s) of your design will naturally be, and how and when it can be obtained. Change your design if it is not yielding what you mean for it to yield.
Apply self regulation and accept feedback- create feedback mechanisms in your design and manage responses for optimal effectiveness.
Use and value renewable resources and services- explore all the resources at your disposal; determine which can be renewable and how, and create mechanisms for renewal.
Produce no waste– identify the waste in your design and create solutions for its use, reuse or absorption.
Design from patterns to details – Step back and design generally before specifically.
Integrate rather than segregate– Integrate smaller designs into the larger pattern. Identify areas of segregation and create solutions for integration.
Use small and slow solutions– Start small and build slowly
Use and value diversity– create a diversity of opportunities and offerings, identify value and integrate diverse perspectives, use diverse resources and diverse solutions
Use edges and value the marginal – think beyond the conventional in designing and planning, to look for solutions at the edges of what is normal.
Creatively use and respond to change. the rate and amount of change we can expect in the next decades, due to climate change, food and water scarcity, migrant populations, and many other factors, will be greater than we have seen before. This principle encourages us to creatively use and respond to that change.
Together, these principles provide a broad structure for systemic planning and solutions in concert with natural patterns and processes. This will be introduced and given specific context in the full day seminars for business and schools, and then can be more fully developed through additional planning sessions as desired.