Permaculture aims to create human systems in ways that mimic how ecosystems work in nature. Food production, energy, housing, water, communities, cities, and organizations can all be reimagined according to permaculture principles. There is so much talk today about sustainability, but do we really know what it means to live in a sustainable way on this planet? Can we create permanent culture? The goal is to regenerate our degraded landscape and live in a way that produces no waste and allows all beings to coexist and cooperate while maximizing the earth's potential to create abundance. Is this even possible?
Permaculture design is much more than food forests and herb spirals. The need for true sustainability is forcing us to reevaluate everything we do at every scale with a new lens. This course integrates concepts such as the lean approach, which is already widely used in business planning, as an iterative and incremental approach in sustainable systems design. We will combine tried and true engineering concepts of problem solving with practical and novel principles to create a new means of dealing with our most pressing issues.
This course introduces a series of patterns and principles to create a new language of design. This process is the focus of the month, and we will utilize small groups and real issues, identified by the class members using an Open Space format, to work through the process and learn the patterns and principles of the design methodology. Students will identify problems — some personal, some related to issues at Esalen, others on a larger, global scale — and learn how to distill the essential question driving the problem, and then work through a series of steps to move toward solution-oriented design. Upon conclusion of this program, students will have lived the process and will have created and shared with the rest of the group a complete cycle of design.