So I’ve been working with the GLPDC to create lectures for our ongoing PDC. We’ve adopted using the permaculture flower, by David Holmgren, as a landmark for each topic but I’m thinking it works differently than we initially understood. Before we thought that a topic, say water, would manifest certain petals of the flower. Now I think it’s the opposite. The whole flower manifests through every topic; it’s why instead of what.
What’s more the flower can be divided into two distinct groups. Things that manifest in the physical world, like buildings, trees, swales, etc. and those that are invisible structures: education, community governance, finance.
Notice that I’ve rotated the flower so that the top three petals represent the physical and the the bottom four are “invisible” as if they are roots below.
So, to take the example of water:
Land & Nature Stewardship
How we take care of the physical water we have.
Dams, ponds, piping, water treatment plants.
Tools & Technology
How we treat, move, and clean water.
While the three above are not exclusively physical, they have very real manifestations in the physical environment. You can go to a place, walk into a building, and grab a tool. You can’t do that with the others. They arise emergently out of the combination of people, physical places and things:
Land Tenure & Community Governance
Regulations and requirements, how we use, or even how we think about water. Who owns it.
Finances & Economics
The business and cost of water.
Health & Spiritual Well-being
Our health in relationship to the water around us or the spirit or life of the water (see Spirited Away for one manifestation of this).
Education & Culture
How we act and communicate the importance, care for, and cleaning of water.
The flower gives us an organization and structure for different aspects of how water can be used and thought of. The same holds true for any other topic in permaculture. We can orient ourselves to the different petals of the flower on a topic, thereby seeing (and then being able to make use of) the patterns of.