Our History

It was in Sydney in October 1987 that a group of people held the inaugural formation meeting of Permaculture International Ltd:

  • Rosemary Morrow
  • Denise Sawyer
  • Robert Rosen
  • Graham Somerset and
  • myself (Robyn Francis) – the founding directors of PIL.

It was a momentous occasion giving birth to a democratic incorporated entity to serve the permaculture movement in Australia and beyond.

The formation of PIL was triggered by the transfer of our beloved PIJ (Permaculture International Journal) from its inaugural editor Terry White to the EPICentre in Sydney where I took on the role of PIJ’s new editor. Terry started the PIJ before the first pc books were published or first PDC’s were offered. After 10 years of nurturing the movement Terry needed to pass the task on and one of his key concerns was legal incorporation of the International Permaculture Association as an independent democratic not-for-profit organization – hence the birth of PIL.

Over the next 5 years PIJ grew from a 1,200 print-run subscription magazine to a 20,000 print-run newsstand publication valued by both practicing permies and the general public, and PIL was in a position to employ people to keep things going and growing, with help from employment support schemes at the time.

PIL was initially established, not only to publish the PIJ but to provide a vital nexus for permaculturists, nationally and internationally, to support each other, share information and promote permaculture through education and information services. However, the pressures of publishing a regular newsstand magazine became all-consuming and left little time, energy and resources to pursue PIL’s wider vision.

In 2000 the directors were faced with a difficult decision, continue publishing PIJ and risk PIL’s survival or cease publishing and reshape PIL’s service and function for the pc community. The pc gatherings of 2000-2002 realised PIL’s new vision, with outcomes including the establishment of the permaculture-oceania discussion list, a new web site, publication of The Planet newsletter and the development of nationally Accredited Permaculture Training™ (APT).

PIL continues to play an important role for the permaculture movement but to realise it’s potential it needs support and participation from the permaculture community. At gatherings and convergences we dream great visions and things PIL should/could do but these dreams can only be realised through a dedicated membership base plus individual and collective commitment to get the systems operating.

PIL is precious as a non-aligned, independent democratic organization for permaculturists to further their collective voice and vision. In the current global environmental and political climate permaculture has so much to offer the world, and time is of the essence. You can make a difference by encouraging your pc friends, students and colleagues to join as members, consider how you may tithe skills and resources to support PIL’s endeavours as an individual or through local support networks and promote the Permafund to better enable PIL to meet the demand for resources and assistance to permaculturists in the third world and places of extreme need.

United and with cooperative effort we can achieve great things and play a more effective role as catalysts for the changes that must be embraced for a sustainable future.

by Robyn Francis, for the 2006 Annual Report and AGM held in Adelaide.


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