Is the PDC a requirement for entry to the Permaculture movement?

John Mckenzie writes...

Is the PDC a requirement for entry to the Permaculture movement?

As Permaculture Australia makes it's transition from operating as Permaculture International this old chestnut of an issue has come up:

Is it useful to use the PDC as a membership prerequisite?

At the IPC11 that's just happened in Cuba the three day Conference was open to all but the six day Convergence was restricted to PDC holders only.

At Australian Permaculture gatherings this pattern of open Conference and PDC-only Convergence has also been used.

This two-tier system is currently used by Permaculture Australia in it's membership structure. There are two categories of individual membership:

  • Full Membership for PDC holders and
  • Associate Membership for those without a PDC.

Voting rights go only to full memberships.

Why do these restrictions apply?

What’s the benefit and are they still needed?


Published in Perma-thinking...


  1. Janet Millington

    My comment from email discussion 6/1/14. Apologies if out-dated.

    I think a Permaculture Conference and a Permaculture Convergence are 2 different things.
    The conference is where you open our ideas up to the public and draw from beyond permaculture those who have worked and thought deeply about an issue and they are invited to speak to permaculturists on their topic once it has been established that there are no ethical conflicts. This is open to all.

    The convergence is where permaculture PDC graduates ask the question….where to from here? This is usually based on discussions loosely founded on what has been happening in Pc since our last meeting, what worked and didn’t work and what are the priorities for the future.

    The 2009 Sydney Conference/convergence was an excellent example of this formula. But it was different as it was based on a theme of Water…which was topical in Pc and mainstream at the time and offered a lot of potential for the cross pollination of ideas. It was also the topic suggested by Row Morrow; and the Sydney group was keen to follow her suggestion and thereby acknowledge her valuable work over a very long period.

    So the conference allowed the sharing of all ideas from those who have worked on water strategies and then allowed the PDC holders to have their meeting (the Convergence) and decide what we could do from that point forward in working with water as individuals, communities regions and as a nation.

    Without the conference I feel our convergences would not be as informed and valuable and without the convergence of just the PDC holders we could not have the permaculture solutions going forward. I for one am not interested in spending days arguing about the ethics, principles and practices of permaculture with those without any experience of the PDC curriculum, but in forming a designed plan of action with other pc practitioners.

    Convergence time is reserved for decision making by informed permaculture practitioners. There is no intent of exclusivity just a practical way of having the right people at the appropriate meetings. All are welcome at the convergence to sit in and listen.
    Regards to all and best wishes for 2014
    Janet Millington

  2. Robyn Francis

    For PA to be a truely national body for permaculture it urgently needs to get the incorporated memberships activated so that local permaculture groups and institutes can become PA members.

    Local pc groups becoming actual members of PA will strengthen PA’s role and credibility as a national voice and network for the movement. PA can then actively promote these member local groups and organisations for non-PDC folk to get involved and engaged with.

    The individual membership of PA remains important especially for geographic areas where there isnt a local group folk can join. The ordinary membership should remain as it is for those who’ve completed a PDC or APT qualification Cert II or higher and engage in more ‘high-level’ discussion and action to further permaculture as both a popular movement and as a profession nationally, and provide mentoring and support for local grassroots organisations and initiatives.

    The Associate (non-voting) membership continues to be valid for people interested in being members of a national pc organisation, and also for related groups and organisations that would like to be formally affiliated. BTW not everyone joins an organisation because they want to be able to vote, but rather to ‘belong’ to and show support for something they think is worthwhile. There are local associations for example that I personally would prefer to be a non-voting member of to show support but have no interest in being directly involved in governance or attending meetings, just happy to be a member and get news.

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  4. Matt

    Cheers, I’ve got thirty years organic garden experience, 7 years horticultural consultant experience, a degree in philosophy and I would really like a different way to become a registered permaculture designer, and to learn that which I do not know.

    I would very much like to see the PDC be offered in a cheaper more diverse. A 2 week residency can of course be a great thing, but normally only very cliquey groups who just want to hang out with other likeminded people run professional courses in that way.

    The need for a person to do a PDC to be on the boards etc should be obvious. But what is permaculture? If it is a professional org, then training needs to be offered in a professional way. Things like catering and sleepovers are unnecessary. I would like to see permaculture days at my local community gardens – say I attend ten of those, lead two and that would be most of a design certificate, the rest made up from online book learning. Have a probationary period and a practical. Have a yearly update like pharmacists. Also $450 is a good price. $2000 is a heap of solar panels. There are heaps of ways to deliver low cost professional training these days.
    Then is permaculture is a social org, it needs to grow, and growth is only through doing something. If the something done is out in the country, far away, for two weeks, and costs $2000, well I’m out about three times.

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