Story by Virginia Littlejohn, October 2015
Permaculture is becoming mainstream. It is supported by a worldwide movement of people concerned with the environment, with sustainability and community. People can now access and synthesise information that is often passed on voluntarily by fellow permaculturalists who willingly and generously share their knowledge and resources.
The Australian government recently held an inquiry into the tax deductibility of donations to environmental organisations such as the Permaculture International Public Fund (Permafund), which is managed by Permaculture Australia (PA) as Permafund. The House of Representatives Standing Committee on the Environment enquired into the administration and transparency of the register of Registered Environmental Organisations and their effectiveness in supporting communities to take practical action to improve the environment.
Permaculture Australia (PA) made a submission to the enquiry outlining the environmental outcomes Permafund has achieved and how our Deductible Gift Recipients (DGR) status was valuable to achieving them. Included in this was the benefit of organisational credibility gained by having DGR status. PA wrote its submission intending to protect the tax deductible status so as to enable Permafund to continue to contribute to ongoing project work and to grow. This is integral to assist in enabling the long term aspiration of Permafund to become the fundraising arm of a strong, united and politically influential Permaculture Australia.There is considerable potential for Permafund to play a greater role in funding..
Here are some of the ideas about, and ideas for Permafund put forward by PA's Permafund team:
- John McKenzie, Permafund Committee member and PA Board member 2015, summarised his thoughts on the role of Permafund — “To channel funds into numerous projects to minimise the impact of energy descent for all citizens worldwide and to share lessons-learned as a way to keep thinking about what good Permaculture aid looks like”.
- Boyd Attewell, Permafund Committee member supporting PA's accounting and membership administration, felt that although the scale of Permafund’s grant activities were modest compared to the enormous global issues of equity and sustainability, for communities seeking to implement permaculture solutions, small successes can teach and inspire others. They often produce results far wider and greater than the initial projects.
- Jed Walker, Grant Round Coordinator for Permafund 2014 and 2015, advised he would like to see Permafund have the resources to fund projects that are game-changers for the communities around them. This would include projects that produce and protect to the point where local communities are convinced that adoption of the practice is worthwhile. Jed feels that the challenge is for sustainable practices to be reproduced without the need for further funding. He hoped that groups that succeeded in environmental and cultural change might be again funded to introduce more grassroots innovations through their ongoing relationship with Permafund.
- John Champagne, who recently returned from the International Permaculture Convention UK, commented that “Permafund plays an integral role within the global permaculture movement to assist networking the many groups working in areas such as aid and development, disaster relief, those working in conflict zones and how to respond to the massive refugee crisis”.
- Permafund committee member, Chris Carroll from the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, is keen to see Permafund increase the number of regular donors, fundraisers and corporate sponsors. She hopes that they appreciate seeing their support and philanthropy funding permaculture-oriented projects that provide practical solutions for needy communities in Australia and around the world to help them enhance and restore their environments.
Potential as a donor
There is considerable potential for Permafund to play a greater role in funding proven and innovative permaculture strategies which assist communities prepare for and recover from unforeseen natural events. Beneficial projects that can be duplicated in other regions are encouraged. Permafund is a vehicle for the international permaculture community to share the surplus worldwide, a means of enacting the permaculture design system's third ethic of redistribution.
Donations to Permafund are carefully dispersed to projects that will have a strong flow-on effect and demonstrate how practical permaculture design, expertise and education can bring greater self-reliance and resilience to communities and diversity and abundance to their environments.
The 2015 Grant round was announced in September 2015 and, with great anticipation, the Permafund team has been awaiting the arrival of new applications to see how we can further assist others to improve their environment and the world we all live in. Small initiatives have capacity to make bit changes.