by Marisol Maddox – Hudson Valley, NY
As a new member of the Northeast permaculture community I was grateful to have the experience of meeting other permaculture practitioners at the recent retreat at Omega. My partner, John and I recently launched a permaculture-envisioned mushroom business called MycoCulture Design. We produce tinctures, incorporate mushroom landscaping into backyards and farms, lead mushroom foraging walks, and produce spore print artwork. Since we both had limited experience with the logistics of starting and operating our own business it was a true blessing to get to connect with a group of people who were familiar with the process and who were guided by the same permaculture principles.
One of the most important aspects of the evolution of MycoCulture Design has been to constantly re-evaluate and ensure that we are staying true to our core principles of building strong communities, enhancing the local economy, increasing local food resilience, and being ecologically regenerative. There is a lot of fluidity in the identity of a business as it gets off the ground and getting business advice from any old source could easily start to navigate us towards an extractive economy model. This is where the value of the permaculture network comes in because John and I met several people at the retreat who had recently dealt with similar situations and were able to save us hours of research with their advice.
The aspect of permaculture that most impresses me is the bravery that is almost inherent upon its practitioners. In getting certified in a PDC you confront the most daunting issues of our time. It is easy to become paralyzed by pessimism so it takes a strong individual to recognize those issues, look them head on, and then step boldly towards a solutions-oriented path. To take this path you must be creative and innovative, which is another joy that I have found in my exposure to the permaculture community of the northeast. The ideas that people come up with and the ways they incorporate those ideas into the already existing skeleton of society, in an effective and meaningful way, is truly inspiring. Many people believe we have to completely restructure society in order for humanity to survive, and yes, there must be some substantial changes, but it is much easier to work from within the system that already exists. An example of this that stood out to me was the work that Abrah Dresdale is doing at Greenfield Community College in Massachusetts. The fact that she was able to get a permaculture design course accepted as a lab science course is one of the most inspiring actions I have heard in some time. Education and spreading awareness of the potential of permaculture are vital in effectively creating positive change. I foresee many other schools catching on to her wisdom and hope that such an offering becomes commonplace in the not-too-distant future.
Permaculture communities have strong futures because of their structurally sound foundations. Permaculture values and open-source attitudes are positively reinforced by the individuals who collaborate to turn the vision of a regenerative future into a reality. PINE, as it develops its membership base, will be a wonderful resource for further connecting members of the permaculture community. I eagerly look forward to my future involvement and encourage anyone who is interested to take a PDC, if you haven’t already (the one I took at Omega in Rhinebeck, NY was fabulous, in case anyone needs a recommendation). If you have already taken a PDC then please take the next step and engage the community and contribute your strengths. Synergy is a beautiful thing.
by Marisol Maddox – Hudson Valley, NY