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Story by April Sampson-Kelly, 27 October 2015

Recently, we went to IPC UK – International Permaculture Conference and Convergence in London.
I have been going to Permaculture Conferences since 1996 and they are a great chance to glean new ideas and get a sense of where the movement is headed.  This conference had a bright confident atmosphere and there was a deep sense of maturity and belonging at the convergence.
Congratulations to Permaculture UK – the hosting association was strong, purposeful, empowered and well-organised with great teams and buckets of enthusiasm.

Great cultural icons

What I loved most about this conference was the was bright and tangible cultural flavour.  Of course, the meetings were openly welcome for all the international delegates, but always there was a lovely English cultural flavour.
There was a touching sense of pride and value in:

  • Native foods (such as apples, berries, cider, beer, sandwiches, cheeses).
  • Traditional folklore such as wreaths for crowning the hard-working, well deserving volunteers, and traditions such as natural plant dyes.
  • Epping forest, London IPCUK delegates from Africa and Hong Kong marvel at the abundant wild food in a major city.
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    Epping forest, London IPCUK delegates from Africa and Hong Kong marvel at the abundant wild food in a major city.

    The Arts – theatre, poerty and song.  Three Acres and a Cow did a fantastic play that mentioned the clearances and sang about the value of people versus the land. This made me surprisingly sad because I am descended from people those very same people who were undervalued and shipped off.  Later, as I left the English Autumn, I remember how blessed I am that my people landed in a rich and creative culture.
    I really enjoyed the magical personal and fun session by Charlie Mgee, so proud of you and pleased our little crowdfunding donation was very well spent!!
  • Local history was honoured. Even the venues were of cultural significance.
    The Conference venue [The Quakers Friends house] is an old English Society that has changed the notion of peace around the world.
    The Convergence venue [The World Scout Headquarters] is also an English international movement and has taught many young people world-wide life skills (including myself).
    We enjoyed a guided talk through Epping forest by permaculture teacher, Richard Webb. It was great to see these cultural icons. (people, traditions and places)

A clear future for the permaculture movement

Keri Chiveralls is heading up the first Permaculture Graduate Diploma with world-wide recognition.
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Keri Chiveralls is heading up the first Permaculture Graduate Diploma with world-wide recognition.

Since the last Permaculture International a lot of social aspects of the movement have been addressed. The movement is getting more skilled at finding the balance between people care and earth care.
We are seeing a lot of strategies that were once touted as alternative-living or hippy practices (composting, solar power, growing your own food, supporting local markets, fixing things and having a go at doing-it-yourself) are now recognised as common-sense and even good business strategies.
There is a huge passion in building scientific based research and a world-wide scientific research community to investigate, document and publish findings.
There is also incredible growth in permaculture education at university level (The new Permaculture Design and Sustainability Program at CQUniversity looks very exciting).
The eductation and training for young people is also growing (including the fantastic energy from Charlie Mgee).
Finally, the most promising development for me was the emergence of co-operation overcoming the competitive corporate thinking that rules most of the western world and building a new community of resilient, intellectual harmony.

Co-operation on the world-wide permaculture stage

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April and Wes Trotman discussing the value of getting together at International Conferences and Convergences.

The Next-Big-Step project got hundreds delegates together listening to one another and talking about their passion and challenges and we saw the beginning of a plan to bring permaculture together as truly cohesive and aware  — documenting one another’s projects:

  • successes
  • failures
  • goals and
  • well-researched movement.

This Convergence demonstrated the incredible potential of co-operative projects rather than competitive permaculture.  Competitive behaviours sometimes rear their ugly heads in permaculture.
This is all part of a democratic, empowered society.
It was a joy to see the maturity of a movement that can sit together and learn from one another regardless of how famous or successful each individual has become.

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