View Full Version : Bill Mollison, the 'Father of Permaculture' Dies

Thursday, September 29th, 2016, 03:32 PM

It is with great sadness that I acknowledge the passing of Bill Mollison on Saturday, September 24 (1928-2016). He was one of the true pioneers of the modern environmental movement, not just in Australia but globally.

Best known as co-originator of the “permaculture” concept with David Holmgren, and recipient of the Right Livelihood Award in 1981, Mollison helped develop a holistic body of environmental theory and practice which is widely recognised as one of Australia’s finest and most original contributions to the global sustainability challenge.

Mollison grew up in Stanley, Tasmania. After leaving school at 15 he moved through a range of occupations before joining the CSIRO in the Wildlife Survey Section in 1954, where he developed his research experience and understanding of ecological systems. He was later appointed to the University of Tasmania, which is where, in 1974, he met the brilliant and radical young research student, David Holmgren.

The collaboration between Mollison and Holmgren resulted in the permaculture concept, culminating in the publication of their seminal work, Permaculture One (https://www.amazon.com/Permaculture-One-Perennial-Agriculture-Settlements/dp/0938240005) in 1978, which sparked the global movement (https://holmgren.com.au/about-permaculture/permaculture-network).

Permaculture defies simple definition and understanding. The term began as a fusion of “permanent” and “agriculture”. Even back in the 1970s, Mollison and Holmgren could see how destructive industrial agriculture was to natural habitats and topsoils, and how dependent it was on finite fossil fuels.

It was clear that these systems were unsustainable [...]. The two pioneering ecologists began to wonder what a “permanent agriculture” would look like. Thus permaculture was born.

In the broadest terms, permaculture is a design system that seeks to work with the laws of nature rather than against them. It aims to efficiently meet human needs without degrading the ecosystems we all rely on to flourish.

Put otherwise, permaculture is an attempt to design human systems and practices in ways that mimic the cycles of nature to eliminate waste, increase resilience and allow for the just and harmonious co-existence of human beings with other species.

A wide range of design principles were developed to help put these broad ideas and values into practice. This practical application and experimentation is what really defines permaculture. Before all else, participants in the movement get their hands in the soil and seek to walk the talk.

There is now a vast array of excellent books detailing the practice of permaculture (https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=permaculture), as well as outstanding websites such as the Permaculture Research Institute (http://permaculturenews.org) for those wanting to learn, share, explore and connect.

Although permaculture was initially focused on sustainable methods of organic food production, the concept soon evolved to embrace the broader design challenges of sustainable living – not just “permanent agriculture”, but “permanent culture”.

Today we face profound environmental and social challenges: ecological overshoot, climate instability, looming resource scarcity, and inequitable concentrations of wealth. In such a world the permaculture ethics of “care of people, care of planet, and fair share” imply radical changes to the way we live with each other and on the planet.

As well as transitioning away from fossil-fuel-dependent agriculture toward local organic production, permaculture implies the embrace of renewable energy systems, “simple living” lifestyles of modest consumption, as well as retrofitting the suburbs for sustainability and energy efficiency.

From a grassroots or community perspective, the transition towns and ecovillage movements acknowledge their profound debts to permaculture.

From a macroeconomic perspective, permaculture implies a degrowth transition to a steady-state economy that operates within the sustainable limits of the planet. Permaculture even has implications for what alternative forms of global development might look like.

So, in answer to the complex question “what is permaculture?”, perhaps the most concise response is to say with others that “permaculture is a revolution disguised as organic gardening”.

Despite developing into a thriving global movement, permaculture still has not received the full attention it deserves. As the world continues to degrade ecosystems through the poor design of social and economic systems, it has never been clearer that permaculture is a way of life whose time has come.

Thank you, Bill Mollison, for the inspiration and insight – and the challenge you have left us with to design a civilisation that regenerates rather than degrades our one and only planet. May humanity learn the lessons of permaculture sooner rather than later.

Source: The Conversation (http://theconversation.com/a-revolution-disguised-as-organic-gardening-in-memory-of-bill-mollison-66137)

Permaculture is not just "organic gardening" - It is a set of techniques that even allow to "Regreen the Desert", as this documentary shows (http://permaculturenews.org/2009/12/11/greening-the-desert-ii-final/).

See also: Permaculture Global (https://permacultureglobal.org)

See also: Walden Labs (Solutions for Self-Reliance) (http://waldenlabs.com)


Peaceful warrior: Permaculture visionary Bill Mollison

Australian educator, author and co-inventor of Permaculture, Bruce Charles 'Bill' Mollison, died on the 24 September 2016 in Sisters Creek, Tasmania. He has been praised across the world for his visionary work, and left behind a global network of 'peaceful warriors' in over 100 countries working tirelessly to fulfill his ambition to build harmony between humanity and Earth. Born 1928 in the Bass Strait fishing village of Stanley, Tasmania, Bill's life story included backwoodsman, academic, storyteller, lady's man, and to many just ‘Uncle Bill', doing all these things par excellence.

Bill was co-founder, with David Holmgren, of the permaculture movement - a worldwide network of remarkable resilience, with organisations now operating in 126 countries and projects in at least 140, inspiring individuals and communities to take initiatives in fields as diverse as food production, building design, community economics and community development. Bill left much useful information and numerous words of guidance and encouragement for those who will miss him most:

"The greatest change we need to make is from consumption to production, even if on a small scale, in our own gardens. If only 10% of us do this, there is enough for everyone. Hence the futility of revolutionaries who have no gardens, who depend on the very system they attack, and who produce words and bullets, not food and shelter."

Growing up in Stanley, Tasmania he left school at 15 to help run the family bakery and before 26 went through the occupations of shark fisherman and seaman (bringing vessels from post-war disposals to southern ports), forester, mill-worker, trapper, snarer, tractor-driver and naturalist. His lack of formal education gave him many learning opportunities in how the real world works.

A first class scientific career - Bill joined the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO, Wildlife Survey Section) in 1954 and gained extensive research knowledge. His time in the Tasmanian rainforests gave him the founding structure for what became his life's passion, Permaculture. The idea that we could consciously design sustainable systems which enabled human beings to live within their means and for all wildlife to flourish with us.

A spell at the Tasmanian Museum in curatorial duties, a return to field work with the Inland Fisheries Commission took him back to college in 1966 living on his wits running cattle, security bouncing at dances, shark fishing, and teaching part-time at an exclusive girls' school. Upon receiving his degree in bio-geography, he was appointed to the University of Tasmania where he later developed the unit of Environmental Psychology. During his university period (which lasted for 10 years), Bill independently researched and published a three-volume treatise on the history and genealogies of the descendants of the Tasmanian aborigines.

In 1974, he with David Holmgren developed the beginning of the permaculture concept, leading to the publication of Permaculture One. He became fixated on proving and promulgating what he saw as a world renewing concept. Leaving the University in 1978, abandoning a secure academic tenure at the age of fifty (an unheard of move) Bill devoted all his energies to furthering the system of permaculture and spreading the idea and principles worldwide.

He founded the Permaculture Institute in 1978, his ideas influencing hundreds of thousands students worldwide. As a prolific teacher, Bill taught thousands of students directly, and contributed to many articles, curricula, reports, and recommendations for farm projects, urban clusters and local government bodies. In 1981, he received the Right Livelihood Award (sometimes called the 'Alternative Nobel Prize') for his work in environmental design. In recent years, he has established a "Trust in Aid" fund to enable permaculture teachers to reach groups in need, particularly in the poorer parts of the world, with the aim of leaving a core of teachers locally to continue appropriate educational work.

Of all the accolades he received, however, the one he was most proud of was the Vavilov Medal, in large part due to the tenacity, courage, and contributions of the award's namesake, who Bill considered a personal hero. Bill was also the first foreigner invited and admitted to the Russian Academy of Agricultural Sciences.

A leader of 'peaceful warriors' for a better world - Bill came to the UK in the early 80s, visiting city farms and early permaculture projects, teaching courses and visiting the newly formed Permaculture Association. His charismatic style drew large audiences and led to a flurry of new projects and programmes. We are helped in remembering Bill by his 1996 autobiography Travels in Dreams. Typically he laughs at himself: "This book is a work of fiction: most if not all of it is lies. Even the lies are imprecise reports of old lies overheard."

He wasn't universally liked. One reason being he was committed to disrupt the status quo of misguided and unfeeling management. "First feel fear, then get angry. Then go with your life into the fight." He was eloquent about the need for peaceful ‘warriors', as he called them, to challenge the stupidity of ill-governance on a global scale. Despite, or perhaps because, he was an iconoclast, he engendered a global respect which will endure and grow as others develop his foundation thinking.

He authored a number of books on the permaculture design system, the best known being The Permaculture Designers' Manual, published in 1988, and often cited as his most outstanding work. Bill collected solutions and his Permaculture Book of Ferment and Human Nutrition, is an outstanding compendium of traditional food storage systems from across the world. Few could match his intellectual vigour or ability to recount stories that thrilled and taught deeper lessons about our relationship with each other and nature.

Bill asked: "Are we the public or the private person?" The truth of the matter is that for all seasons we are both. Perceived as challenging, a huge harvester of great ideas from around the world (and not always crediting their sources), Bill was also a sensitive man, eloquent raconteur, poet and appreciative of the poetry of others. He knew how to provoke others to action, but also when to withdraw and let others carry on the work. He paraphrased Lao Tzu: "True change is to so change things that it seems natural to everybody but no-one knows who thought of it."

Bill returned to his Tasmanian homeland to spend his final years at Sisters Creek on the Bass Strait coast. Bill's legacy is that hundreds of thousands of past students have created a worldwide network to take his concept forwards. In a world in which we are acutely aware of our environment, its capacity and limitations, permaculture design offers a systemic approach to meeting human needs which respect those limitations and provide strategies to actively repair ecosystems.

Thursday, September 29th, 2016, 06:37 PM
Fifty thousand years ago Australia was a forested continent, watered every season by monsoon rain. Then came man. Man burned the forest to hunt. The megafauna disappeared. The forest disappeared and was replaced by desert. Desert is a new thing in Australia.

Hippy-dippy guys in funny hats pimping green peace ideas are not the solution. Stop the fires and the land knows how to heal itself. When Australia is healed there will be ample opportunity to grow crops suited for that environment.

Friday, September 30th, 2016, 03:21 AM
Hippy-dippy guys in funny hats pimping green peace ideas are not the solution.

If you'd take some time to read what Permaculture is really about, you'd probably see it is the modern, practical version of 'Blut und Boden' ideology.

People will talk about Blood and Soil, as long as it remains an artificial theory, but when presented with an actual practical solutions, they ignore it!

All the far right/racist environment, both online and offline is pleagued by that kind of total negativity and cynicism regarding everything. It's like everybody is looking for a place to vent out his frustrations and discharge his bile on everything...

I mean, not only you on this thread, it's like everybody on every thread. People are just looking for something to complain about (hence the popularity of "politics" and "elections", since everyone knows politics is never going to change anything - you can basically complain forever, which is what people in this milieu really want - complaining - and hope on someone else ("authorities") to magically fix their problems).

But come up with a constructive, proactive solution and suddenly, nothing... People put it down, or ignore it.

In life, there is usually a constructive solution for everything. But in the far right/racist/patriot/nationalist environment, it's not about looking for the solutions, but to put down everything and stay idle. Especially in environmental matters, the far right's answer is systematically "let's do nothing" / the problem does not exists / it is a gub'ment conspiracy, etc...

- In reality:

- Nature doesn't always regrow by itself, especially in deserts
- There are many other reasons than fire for desertification
- Permaculture is much more than "greening" some land - it is about building "food forests" made of hundreds of different species that complement, fertilize and protect each other. The results are that the food forests also grow much faster than other plantation types.

For example, Geoff Lawton is leading a project to plant a food forest in a desert that has been dry for the last 2,000 years or so in Jordan:



Another huge advantage of permaculture is speed - it can grow food for total autonomy in just a couple of years:



Friday, September 30th, 2016, 04:08 AM
Blut und Boden is the interaction of biology with culture. NS supports the gene pool of its people. The culture of that people supports the gene pool. It is all rather simple. The NS view was that Germans were farmers so they tried to promote farming as the way to ultimately return the people to a more pure gene pool.

The way to restore a continent, any continent, to a more natural state is to do exactly that. The fauna and flora which existed before the interference of man has to be restored. For instance, where I live it has been learned the forest is deficient in certain minerals, calcium and phosphorus. Why is this? Because in the Pleistocene there was a calcium/phosphorus cycle which has been interrupted. Whale poop in the ocean floated to the surface and was eaten by birds. The birds carried it onshore and their bodies and egg shells were eaten by other animals and gradually brought up the mountain by cycling of both plant eaters and their prey, the megafauna, mainly elk, bison, and mastodons. That megafauna is gone. The whales are mostly gone. No nutrients high in the mountains. The fix is to allow whales to reproduce and to substitute grazing cattle (I would also like bison) for the megafauna. Once this comes together the forest will be restored.

These same ideas apply to Australia or anywhere else.

European crops did not like the conditions in Australia. This is because those European crops were accustomed to their native fungi in the soil. The fungi interact with the roots of say wheat for instance and allow the roots to function normally. These fungi did not exist in Australia and the crops grew poorly. The fix, eventually the fungi spread from bits of soil from bare root trees to Australia and sort of a half-ass relationship developed. Also, selective breeding of crops aided production. But the fact is Australia is a very different place from Europe and it should be Australian crops which are grown there for the reasons above. This is not impossible. The Thai people do a wonderful job of growing and exporting their native fruits. This is real Blut und Boden.