It’s becoming painfully clear that the culture of consumption created by the global market economy cannot sustain itself on a finite planet. Ecological and social crises are at hand, and loom larger as populations continue to grow and resources shrink. Scientists may disagree about the number of years we have to make this shift before we reach an ecological “point of no return,” but it is clear that the current dominant system is leading us down the wrong path. Another way forward is being called for, and that means a fundamental shift in our beliefs and practices— a cultural shift.
Permaculture, a re-evolutionary design system evoking perma nent agri culture as well as perma nent culture, is about observing nature and working with its flow. It uses ecological principles to design systems of food production, housing, appropriate technology, and community development. Over the past quarter century it has grown into an international movement for sustainable land use practices– a code of ethics based in the wisdom of many traditional and indigenous cultures.
What could the future look like if we make this shift toward sustainability? We believe that the culture of permaculture is pioneering a path toward a positive future, while honoring the wisdom of our ancestors. It is a growing, international group who are “changing the dream” of the dominant culture, in the shamanic sense– shifting the cultural imagination toward an alternative way of living. They actively choose to live in a way that respects the Earth, recognizing that this change is inevitable in the face of global warming, peaking resources, and growing population.
In a modern world irrevocably shifted by human impact, what does a more sustainable culture actually look like? We decided to take our skills as anthropologist/writer Juliana and visual artist/activist Louis
on the road and document this emerging culture in a book called Sustainable (R)evolution.
John Perkins, in his book The World is as you Dream it, tells a story of his first meeting with Don Alberto, a Shuar elder in the Amazon. He asks him how long it would take to change the dream of global culture from its patterns of domination and destruction.