When the last minute cancellation of the Permaculture Australia AGM was announced by the board, a quick decision was made to not lose the opportunity for a gathering of great minds in creating a vision of the future.

Graciously facilitated by Meg McGowan, the 40 plus in the room and 10 online were given the following framing

Human organisations in the dominant culture have traditionally been dendritic (top down). Permaculture Australia also adopted this model but by default it is not the only pattern. If we are to redesign the organisation we need good questions.

What do indigenous patterns teach us?

What would nature do?

If Permaculture was a forest, what role would Permaculture Australia play in that ecosystem, perhaps it would be the soil, sun and rain creating the environment that supports the healthy growth of permaculture?

Perhaps it would be the mycelium,connecting the various life forms that rely upon it for connection. But what about animals, birds and insects?

No clear answers emerge because organisational design is a wicked problem. 

We know the current pattern no longer serves us and we do not yet know what the new pattern will look like, so we need to establish a clear collective vision and join together in heading in that direction. 

Fortunately we have joint stewardship of a powerful model for redesign – permaculture.

Set alongside client interviews, visioning planning, implementing, learning and then proceeding around and around the design spiral – learn – dream – plan – do – repeat 

We will not find answers today but we might evolve great questions 

What does the Earth need?

How might we contribute to that?

How might we design in a capacity to evolve and adapt?

And how do we incorporate the ethics and principles of permaculture not as a design overlay but as a base map.

Activation Question

It’s 5 years from now and Permaculture Australia is the world’s best example of permaculture ethics and principles? What does this look like?

In the interest of keeping as true to the discussion as possible, the dot points below are grouped in their working groups. They may not read clearly and smoothly as they are a bit of a visioning, mind dump process.  Points have just been cleared up for content and clarity.

The zoom recording is available if you would like to view it please contact hello@permacultureaustralia.org.au

These are the responses from the group work

  • Million dollar charitable organisation
  • All Permaculture organisations in Australia being members of PA
  • Public liability insurance for members of PA to run tours etc at their site
  • Register of sites around Australia – similar to what the UK has done
  • Peak body of research that is communicated to the World
  • PA is recognised as a leader of land restoration and climate action and recovery and emergency response
  • Permaculture units are core in a variety of diverse qualifications
  • Permaculture is taught in 90% of schools
  • PA funds international permaculture projects being a philanthropic organisation
  • PA has a strong marketing and PR campaign group to get the message out to the rest of the World,  Australia and into the Mainstream
  • Active permaculture media that documents all the wonderful things we are doing around Australia
  • It has a position as the peak body within Australia and other industries and is consulted and our voice is included in national matters and decisions that affect all of us
  • It is known as a functional organisation that attracted the best and broad talents within the Permaculture community
  • It’s a driver in offering formative permaculture education and that the educators are accredited using peer review model to help set standards within permaculture teaching and training and helps maintain those standards
  • Recognise and interact with indigenous communities and learn from them and work together
  • Sociocracy
  • PA building connections – collaboration  with state permaculture organisations in a meaningful way
  • Lobbying for planet and for people 
  • Professional partnerships with other sustainable organisations and also great relationships with international bodies
  • A PA that is inclusive – so actively and meaningfully supporting inclusivity projects 
  • Having a first nations advisory team 
  • Actively promoting diversity
  • Permaculture translation support for people applying for grants and funding but also for educational materials
  • And standing against white supremacy actively
  • Education  – helping people to get the certificate 4 training and assessment by running it as a national body a couple of times of year
  • Being a hub for information so that is Youtube – ebooks, educational resources
  • Helping with professional development
  • PA is very well organised so that it doesn’t burn through people. It adds to people’s livelihoods and adds to the fun in their daily lives
  • It uses sociocracy  and that leads to an inclusivity and empowerment of people and transparency
  • Scrum mentioned as another way to organise ourselves in groups
  • Strong marketing PR group -paid, which ensures PA is relevant
  • An active Permaculture media
  • PA has a position as a peak body, is consulted and has a voice in important matters.
  • It is known as a functional organisation that attracts effective and best talent 
  • PA has a strong presence 
  • PA is a driver and offers formative permaculture education.
  • PDC educators accreditation using a peer review model
  • Recognize and integrate with indigenous community
  • PA delivers effective communication 
  • Giving out $500,000 of micro grants annually
  • Fund projects around the globe and in Australia 
  • Implement school gardens across the country
  • Upside down pyramid  – at the top local permaculture groups – connected to the regional – PA at the bottom
  • Being a voice on global and national issues and handing out solutions from our wealth of knowledge within the movement
  • Write the solutions and slip them on the desk in Canberra and let them grab it and take it forward 
  • Stand with other groups and voices
  • Coordinate permaculture education – teaching permaculture training that doesn’t have to go through a separate university – university of permaculture
  • Effective communication between the smaller groups and the larger groups 
  • Connecting the smaller groups up via membership 
  • Free membership if you are member of your local organisation you are automatically a member of PA
  • A heart group doing the nurturing the well being of the whole
  • Enabling not controlling 
  • Inclusive
  • Filled with opportunities and really well funded
  • Place specific and connected with first nations cultures
  • First nations advisory team
  • Connected through the biosphere regions and connected with state and national organisations
  • Permies want to join
  • Representative
  • Regenerative and supportive
  • People are proud to belong to it 
  • Everyone has a voice
  • Resources rich in information that is widely shared with everyone and highly accessible
  • Cost not being a barrier as well
  • How to be well funded though – have to work that through
  • Organisational structure made up of circles and links interconnected and decentralised
  • But also well connected outside the permie community
  • Being able to engage in lobbying role in local state and national government as well as the education sector and business sector but that nodes are still relatively autonomous
  • Structures in place that help build and are represented by past present and emerging leaders through meetings like we have right now – but maybe other structures similar as well
  • And that we have diverse representation that is really inclusive
  • Elder recognition and allowing space for exhalation for our elders and
  • Succession planning 
  • Terms of PA board 2 years or 3 and 3 that swap so that there is not a full change over
  • Fair representation for youth 
  • Structures where there are interlinked in groups
  • Sociocracy
  • Talk about things like the taurus where pressure in the change is welcomed as a pathway toward flourishing 
  • figure of 8 infinity symbol to do with the ecological succession modelling because theories of change we need to welcome as well  as well as theories of solidity
  • Fairness – farmers market funding young farmers as a model that PA could use to fund
  • Resource to new people to run courses and make scholarship through Permafund to help get those things up and running
  • Needs based – organisation supports each of the directors of PA  checks in on where it meets their needs to be there and how it can so they don’t burn out so easy
  • And what are the needs of PA directors and board so that they get care as well
  • Peak body 
  • Political influence and an advisory role
  • Representation of not only the states but also by Bio regions 
  • Overlays and connecting in many different ways
  • Education from School through to university and research beyond that
  • Peer reviewed journal / magazines
  • Not top down
  • Indigenous voices connections and leadership 
  • Have moved past the white fragility stage
  • At our core we are a safe place and our ethics of care are paramount in everything we do
  • Not aligned with narrow philosophical beliefs 
  • We have an international presence
  • Website is an amazing online resource that is like our organisation, it is inviting and inspirational and respected 
  • Not like a one stop permaculture warehouse but more of a social forest ecosystem where you can go for a walk in the forest and come out with something that you need and you might not know that you needed
  • The body for Permaculture Australia, being involved in Politics
  • Representing all of Australia at a governmental level 
  • Advocacy role to represent our views to decision makers, from refugees to agriculture implementation would require ramping up communication, 
  • Increased visibility of PA
  • Permaculture is a grassroots effort from the soil to the top of the atmosphere, a peak body would have to keep this in mind to be sure to be heard
  • PA could collects points of communication from the whole country, from grassroots people
  • PA could have a larger role as a hub in regards to all states
  • Connection between states, has been some discussion over the years to look at joint memberships as an example
  • Committee associations to connect with PA board
  • Growth, reason to be a member. Accreditation, how to make people aware of events in their area
  • Discounted books and online workshops and in person lectures
  • Education at a tertiary level could be our approach to keep younger generations engaged
  • Permaculture Australia is the peak body that represents all Permaculture groups at a federal and state level, integrated in education at all levels including tertiary education. PA connects with all state and territory community organisations to build deeper connections for our aims. Our biggest opportunity will remain in the future generations that we leave this earth to by assisting them to use our knowledge through the challenges we face through climate change.
  • PA is a peak body that embodies the space, operating as a beacon and is very aware of what it does do and what it doesn’t do
  • It has a lot more members and the reason it has a lot more members is because it offers great value to its members – in the form of insurance, resources, particularly for new people entering the permie world. Pathways so that goes to training, mentorship
  • research – international as well, looking at what other organisations around the world offer
  • Courses
  • Advocacy
  • Global ecological design – basemap of australia working with indigenous people to do a base map of australia 
  • Trusted form of leadership
  • With a stronger focus on fair share the sense is that we need more assistance from PA in that area and a non competitive model of economics
  • Diversity – one person in the group wanted centralisation others want decentralisation
  • Offering multiple levels of access
  • PA also provides fantastic support to local groups to begin and lots of resources to begin local permaculture groups if they don’t have one locally

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