Unfortunately, we are not … quite … Post-COVID.

The COVID-19 pandemic has turned out to be a contentious issue in the Australian permie community. As we are approaching the biennial Australian Permaculture Convergence (APC), a gathering celebrating all things Permie, organisers and participants must navigate the complexities of meeting face-to-face in as respectful and safe a manner as possible.

Individuals within the permie community, like many communities in Australia, hold a variety of different relationships with COVID, and with COVID-safe practices. A number of participants who will be at the APC are beloved permie elders, in their 70s and 80s, who are at increased risk from the impact of COVID. Others among us are immune compromised, unable to be vaccinated while simultaneously at higher risk from complications of COVID.

Others of us are healthy, vaccinated, and committed to keeping our more vulnerable embers safe by doing all we can to stay COVID-safe. Included in this is a concern for our over-burdened health system and health workers, and the vaccination imperative for protecting our health system. Yet others of us are sceptical of vaccination technologies.

Some of us choose not to be vaccinated, and some see mandatory vaccination, mask-wearing and lockdowns as infringements on individual and community rights. There is a concern among some that the pandemic has provided justification for autocratic government and police interventionism; others are concerned that some of the protest actions of this last group have opened the door and invited right-wing, white-superiority, US-style “preppers”, and the culture of racism, misogyny and violence that accompanies them, into the permie space, thus putting members of our permaculture community at risk.

Some of us argue that COVID and vaccine debates have nothing to do with permaculture, while others argue that they are issues central to our ethics: People Care (eg: the importance of keeping people safe); Earth Care (eg: COVID is a zoonotic disease, and zoonotic diseases are exacerbated under industrialised monocultural food growing practices) and Fair Share (eg: discrepancies between food security and access to health care, including vaccinations, between wealthy and impoverished communities).

Organisers of the APC are doing all they can to ensure that our convergence is a physically, intellectually, emotionally and spiritually safe space. 

There will be a couple of sessions at the APC for open and respectful discussion on covid and Permaculture.

Some background reading  David Holmgren’s various writings on the pandemic: see, for example, Pandemic Brooding

For a review of the variety of responses within the Australian permaculture community, see Terry Leahy’s piece Permaculture’s COVID Conundrums.

Debbi Long

Board of Directors

Permaculture Australia

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