Principled “Horoscopes”

art, Diploma, permaculture, permaculture principles, Things I Made

My partner’s arts collective Time’s Up develop physical narratives of future scenarios. Or to put it another way, that means they imagine a possible future based on current trends and build and decorate a set that illustrates that story world. Visitors to the space are invited to walk through the exhibition and explore the spaces and details (rooms, audio landscapes, furniture, posters) of a particular imagined future in the fictional harbourside town of Turnton in the year 2047. Over the past fortnight Time’s Up have been installing the most recent incarnation of the Turnton world into the Angewandte Innovation Lab in Vienna, Austria.

One major artefact that Time’s Up develop to explain the ecologically damaged but socially improved world of September 2047 is a newspaper. While it might seem odd that “old-fashioned” technology such as newspapers exist in the future, it is suggested that as the concept of newspapers has endured many centuries so far, it is likely they’ll still exist in 28 years.

Making a newspaper means filling the newspaper out with articles, advertisements and things like comic strips and crosswords. While the core members of Time’s Up write many of the stories, they also invite their broader community of collaborators to contribute material.

Newspapers often include horoscopes and Tim suggested that I contribute that content. While I am quite interested in planetary alignments and transits and their implications for how to plan gardening and personal activities I am not an astrologer! Instead we decided to use Holmgren’s 12 principles and use them as the basis for each sign’s text.

I tried to make the texts somewhat instructional about social permaculture and to provide permaculture ideas by stealth. I do hope that in the year 2047 our world is far more ethical and ecologically minded than it currently is.

I also helped out with the setup of the exhibition (filling holes and ageing sandbags) and made details like care labels from the future for some of the textile based elements.

Offering to contribute to the exhibition follows on from one of the outcomes of my plant woman design which was to get involved in more collaborative art making.

One of the reflections that we had was that maybe in the year 2047 there are no horoscopes in newspapers but just permaculture advice? I actually like the idea of both the astral bodies and permaculture getting the recognition they deserve. Regardless, if you’d like to find out your sun sign’s permaculture advice for Friday 13th September 2047 please read below.

Aquarius / Observe and Interact this week the planetary alignment encourages you to start making plans. Over the past year you’ve had ample opportunity to observe the winds that blow through your life, and forces emerging from within yourself and the people around you. Step into action, but now with an awareness of what to block and what to invite into your life. 

Pisces / Catch and Store Energy Pay attention to what fuels you. Self care can take many forms: healthy food, time in solitude or community, engaging with water or natural systems.   By reenergising yourself now and for future needs you will experience abundance that can be shared with the many lives around you. 

Aries / Obtain a Yield Seeds of projects that you planted earlier in the season are ripening. Now is a great time to make your harvest, to record ideas and understandings and to distribute the outputs to others. This is the time to ask for what you need and deserve and to make sure others are receiving what they need too.

Taurus / Apply Self-Regulation and Accept Feedback The universe is giving you feedback at the macro and the micro level. What is emerging for you and what is being eroded? knowing how to change your behaviour now will have great impact in your own life and for generations to come.

Gemini / Use and Value Renewable Resources and Services Collaboration is sweet, but ensure that your relationships are valued and given the attention they deserve. Who do you want to stick around in your life? What makes them tick?

Cancer / Produce No Waste You are assessing the elements of your life right now, what is flowing in and what is flowing out.. What may seem worn out and stale may still serve another purpose even if you aren’t the one who will see it.  

Leo / Design from Patterns to Details Big picture patterns are just as important as how the details play out in your own life. Working across time and space means you can understand your part in the whole and what makes you whole. Where are the overlaps? how do you know where the world ends and you begin? 

Virgo / Integrate Rather Than Segregate You’ve been isolating yourself from the community and living world around you.  Making the initial steps to participate and interact can be overwhelming but remember that everyone else is striving for connection too. 

Libra / Use Small and Slow Solutions This is not the time to move hastily or overcommit. You no longer feel the need to rush but neither do you want to waste time. Remember that the small actions that you make now are part of a bigger emergent process.

Scorpio / Use and Value Diversity Stop trying to see the big picture of your life as a singular thing. For a different viewpoint, think about the many different parts that come together to make your whole. How do they relate to each other? In particular consider how to diversify flows of information.

Sagittarius / Use Edges and Value the Marginal Consider the border between your comfort zone and the great beyond. What influences, friendships and opportunities lie in this sweet spot of adventure and challenge? Respect your curiosity and take the risk to expand your horizons just a little bit.

Capricorn / Creatively Use and Respond to Change Take the time to acknowledge the changes that are unfolding around you at small and large scales. How can you best respond in order to take advantage of the changing tides? Look around and see who you need to collaborate with at this moment in history.


Time’s Up’s exhibition Change Was Our Only Chance is at AILab as part of the Vienna Biennale until September 27, 2019.

Sector analysis: identifying risks and designing solutions

disasterriskreduction, permaculture, sector analysis

I love so many aspects of permaculture: the delicious food produced by permaculture gardeners, the sense of global and local community it fosters, the sustainable changes it has supported me to make in my life and the beauty in the nature it helps me see. At a more pragmatic level I also know that permaculture gives individuals, households and communities the tools, attitudes and skills we need to design abundant, inclusive and resilient futures.

This mix of sustainability and resilience is one of the delightfully simple, yet complex aspects of permaculture. A well-designed and managed permaculture system will be resource efficient, productive and may well sequester greenhouse gases, but it will also be a resilient system better able to deal with the inevitable effects of climate change such as natural disasters like floods or wildfire.

The potential for disasters happen when systems can not handle extremes or cumulative stress. One week of limited spending may be a challenge, but a medical bill on top of long-term debt and structural poverty may force a family into homelessness. Water is essential for life, but the extremes of either drought or flood-causing torrential rain can cause havoc in both natural and human systems.

Designing land, the built environment, lifestyles, livelihoods and organisations to deal with extremes as well as everyday conditions is essential for resilience. Resilience is the ability of a system to handle change. There are many ways in which permaculture design and practice supports resilience. In order for designers to design for resilience, they first need to understand what extremes are most likely to have an impact on a site. This is why careful observation and sector analysis is so important for a successful project.

In this video from the Permaculture Women’s Guild Permaculture Design Course I get really excited about sector analysis and visualised data like wind roses. Then again, I am really excited about permaculture and regenerative design in general.

Sector analysis is a critical tool for visually representing observations about identifying how a site may be affected by the “sectors” or the external forces and elements that move through or otherwise influence a project. The sectors recorded can be related to effects on the site caused by climate, ecology, geology, topography and society. For example sun paths, wind and rain patterns, invasive plants, wildlife, pollution, neighbours, areas of high fire threat, views and noise could all be recorded on a sector analysis map.

Sectors are often represented as labelled wedges, arcs or arrows representing the origin and direction of the element. However, rocky areas, contaminated soil, boggy land, or areas of flood risk are better represented as location specific patches over a base map. Some uncontrollable issues such as geological instability or limiting factors such as legal restrictions are harder to represent visually and are best recorded in writing.

Sector analysis maps are visual representations of the external factors that can influence a site being designed with permaculture. Sectors such as summer and winter sun, wildlife and prevailing winds are often illustrated as arcs or arrows representing where they come from.

In the Permaculture Women’s Guild Permaculture Design Course (PWGPDC) my colleague Jennifer English Morgan introduced the idea of Designer’s Mind. One aspect of developing Designer’s Mind is about making observations free of bias. The forces recorded on a sector analysis are neutral and can be both beneficial or harmful. For example knowing that dry summer winds come from the east of a site helps identify the best place to locate a laundry line or to hang produce for drying. At the same time that drying wind will quickly evaporate water from soil as well as dams or ponds. This information guides the placement of windbreak plantings or hedges on the eastern side to moderate the impact of the wind and reduce evaporation.

Used together with permaculture design tools such as zone analysis, sector analysis helps guide the placement of components so that they make best use of, or mitigate the risks of that sector. Sector analysis influences which zones are placed where, but at the same time, zones influence the strategies used to respond to external forces. In outer zones such as 3 or 4, lower cost, less energy demanding solutions such as windbreak plantings are used to slow the wind. Closer to the home more intensive solutions such as walls or use of gray water might be used to protect water-demanding plants, animals and people from a drying wind.

pexels-photo-510436.jpeg

A drying wind may put your garden at extra risk during low rainfall months, but it can also be used as a resource and allow for the optimum placement of laundry lines.

Permaculture designers make a sector analysis for every design project whether it is a farm, balcony garden or community project. Within larger designs, major subsystems such as high intensity vegetable beds may also benefit from their own sector analysis that includes smaller scale micro-climate influences like the impact of trees casting shade.

Working on sector analysis is a great way to review and incorporate the ideas from Permaculture Design Course modules on climate, ecology, water, earthworks, soil and passive solar building design. Knowing how and why to make a sector analysis is a first step in designing mitigation approaches for the major extremes whether they be fire, flood, drought or legal challenges.

You can learn more about sector analysis and other aspects of permaculture design and practice in the Permaculture Women’s Guild Permaculture Design Course (PWGPDC). Along with my colleagues we’ve put together an online learning experience which includes advanced modules on social and emotional permaculture as well as core land-based permaculture content.

In the PWGPDC I present an in-depth module on Designing for Resilience: Chaos and Catastrophe. I consider the social and structural conditions that make people more vulnerable to disaster as well as the design approaches we can use to make our sites safer. My final Masters project explored how natural hazards are dealt with by permaculture designers and teachers and my results showed that “designing for catastrophe” is currently focused on the physical aspects of disasters rather than the people care aspects that increase coping capacity.

The pre-hustle bustle

permaculture, teaching

I’ve been lax in the hustle of writing and video making and sending the emails needed to sell places on the Permaculture Women’s Guild Permaculture Design Course and you know, earn a yield. You know what? I’m not rushed. This is a project which will endure and get better and better and yield long into the future.

IMG_0341.JPG

I’ve been preparing a supporting handout on working with sun angles and solar sectors. Explaining this in person is fine, but putting it down on paper is another educational process entirely.  I am pretty sure that one of the main reasons I love teaching is that I learn more deeply every time.

Instead of marketing and spruiking I’ve been helping Heather Jo Flores and other wonderful women as we polish modules, take some final photos, prepare handouts, proofread and clarify and generally make sure that this collaboritive online experience is an integrated and functioning whole. I’m getting sneak peaks of the completed and uploaded modules and DAMN this is good. We really are working to make a quality permaculture learning experience that works with the limitations and benefits of the online context.

Whether you’ve studying permaculture for the first time or wanting to deepen your existing knowledge this is going to be an excellent experience.

Right, I’d better get back to that eagle eyed proofreading so that I can go through and study the whole PDC with the eager mind and heart of a student.

On Hot Topics

disasterriskreduction, permaculture
I have to say I am feeling both excited and overwhelmed at the thought of holding my first heatwave planning workshop_this_ weekend. One motivation for my Masters research has been driven by concern that my hometown Adelaide would be in heatwave conditions and have rolling or catastrophic power shortages at the same time.  And bang on time – a heatwave blasts the country and power starts getting “managed” across Adelaide.

heatmap

Welcome to hell on Earth in Australia – Higgins Storm Chasing

Inevitably this leads to criticisms of sustainable power generation – but very rarely is the heatwave and power conversation broadened to consider the nuances of demand – our own, justifiable air conditioner use, compounded by the multiple televisions, appliances, extra fridges for beer that we take for granted. We blame power generation for not keeping up with demand and are concerned that life support systems, basic infrastructure and traffic lights fail to run, but we don’t engage with our own complicity in peak _demand_.
We feel we have the right to keep the power on, but what about our responsibilities ensuring everyone else’s comfort and safety?
My gut feeling is that the general population is not yet engaging with heatwaves as emergency situations that affect _everyone_ and which, opinion again, should trigger a heightened awareness  of responsibility and corresponding actions.
Heatwaves and their increasing threat, demand for electrical power from air conditioning and other services, sustainable power generation and climate change mitigation. It is all a wee bit complicated and interconnected and not something that is going to be _fixed_ in my MSc workshop. But – I am going to host a conversation and work out ways to stay as cool as possible when the power goes out and the thermometer is high.
If you are interested in being part of this discussion and are based near Adelaide or in Sydney, there will be two further workshop events as part of my research project.
Adelaide Heatwave Planning Workshop #2
The Joinery, 111 Franklin St, Adelaide, SA 5000
Saturday, February 25
10am – 2pm
Sydney Heatwave Planning Workshop
Frontyard, 228 Illawarra Road, Marrickville, NSW 2204
Saturday, March 4
10am – 2pm

On trying to do better

Nature, permaculture, Uncategorized
Earth Care, People Care, Fair Share
These are the permaculture ethics, ways to live. Every day I try to be better with them, to consciously apply them to decision making and my interactions with the world.
When I follow the guidance of the ethics life feels better, it’s like there’s something sunny and rosy and a little bit exciting. It feels like hope.
A lot of the time these ethics are really hard to maintain: easier, cheaper and more sparkly options are presented, other people are difficult to engage with and the world just feels full of horribleness.
You know what? That’s ok. You acknowledge that you are always going to be learning and you try again tomorrow.
Maybe these aren’t your ethics, but they are mine and I’ll let you borrow them for a while. Take a moment with the words, place them in your mouth, lay them on your eyes, hold them to your ear.
Things will be different.

On storing wood

permaculture

Venie Holmgren, the poet and mother of David Holmgren passed away recently. Together with his son and a friend, David made her coffin out of saved and salvaged wood, each piece with a memory and meaning. And then it was covered with poems.

I read somewhere that you can’t learn gardening from philosophy, but you can learn philosophy from gardening.

So, this “permaculture” with which I am so enraptured?

It is not just about gardening or sector analysis and zones. It is not just about ethics and principles and patterns and learning from ecosystems.

It is about a way of being: consciously assembling and creating the worlds we want to live in and at the same time collecting meaning and crafting it together so that the systems and objects we create are beautiful and are read as stories.

Let’s begin.