Action Cycle

This is my current thinking on a permaculture design process. I’m sure it will mauture and change on down the road, but this is just a snapshot.

Over the years I’ve never been able to do any of the OBRADIMET or SADIMET type design processes that are commonly taught in permaculture. However, I’ve observed my own process of working in the world with permaculture and have teased out a pattern I’m calling Action Cycle. It works weather you’re designing a property or the next move in your life.

Vision is the why we do. It’s where we are going but not where we will end up, owing to the influence of many other beings we share this world with and their own visions. It reflects the permaculture ethics of earth, people, and future care. Vision keeps us directional and also begets shorter goals that move towards the vision that are the actual apparatus of change.

Awareness is opening yourself up to what is really going on in the world and all the other people that we share it with. It’s an ongoing, ever expanding process itself. If we let awareness completely dominate we would never get anything done but if we ignore it what we do won’t reflect reality. It’s always growing and changing.

Process is how you do things. That can vary from consensus to royal rule, hand made to industry made, fossil fueled to horsepower, improvised to meticulously planned. It affects the actors involved and creates their experience of being. As our awareness and vision change they will affect our process so to can process change awareness and vision.

These spin around until a critical mass is achieved and action begins to happen. Action can inch forward or move in complete units. It brings forth change in the world that moves us closer to our vision, creates new opportunities for awareness, and plays out a certain process that specifically affects the world. Action creates reaction and we begin the whole new cycle begins.

For example, if you were working as a chef for a tech company in central California, you might have a vision of buying a property with no mortgage, starting a mobile pop up concept, and using some perennial veggies/fruits grown on that property to highlight the food for the pop up. And raise chickens too. Process would be working on your chef job to make it more sustainable/profitable, researching land for sale to help shape might include checking land prices, making contacts with farms, researching mobile pop up requirements, calculating how long you would have to work/save to make that happen, figuring out how to do it progressively (what’s the minimum required to start), brainstorming alternative visions. With awareness expanding in these specific ways the next right thing to do to.

Each being that we share the world with participates in the same cycle. When we are aware of something we change our process, thus change the multitude of effects that come from our actions. The action cycle is easy and natural to follow. If your not sure what to do start to increase your awareness, that will change both your vision and process, naturally leading action. And the cycle repeats.

Published by Milton

C. Milton Dixon is an permaculturist, forager, educator, and computer wizard. He is co-manager at the emergent Cooperative at Dawn Farm and teaches with Three Waters Permaculture. You can reach him at or 773.789.8887.

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