Sunday, March 27, 2011

Permaculture Finale

Last day of class.  So sad to see it all go.

Two weeks have passed in which we've been challenged to change the way we see the world and to organize our fragments of understanding about the natural world into cohesion. In the last three days, we split into groups, touring the site trying to reconcile the tenants' needs with the land's potential.  In the end, each team came up with a rudimentary design and presented it to the class.  It was a fun little exercise and made it abundantly clear that we have a lot of work to do before we start telling people what to do with their property.

The focus of the final lecture shifted from physical structures to invisible ones:  personal connections, communities, governments, businesses, etc.  It is important to remember that we're aren't starting with blank minds and social structures waiting to happen.  We operate within existing structures and have to understand them in order to be successful.  More importantly, the only way we can be successful is by building communities based on sustainable principles and that remember that life can be, should be joy.

Joy is what I am most impressed by.  That evening we had our certificate ceremony and windup party.  Joy was the word.  Everyone turned into such a bunch of hippies.  The certificates were handed out with hugs instead of handshakes and the word love was used without restraint.

And then, the party!  On the first day of the course, each attendant was told that they would be required to perform at the party and everyone answered the call splendidly.  Because we were given no guidance as to what should be performed, the show varied widely.  On the more ridiculous side, Robyn sang a song about a cow being impregnated by a rooster, Jevin hosted a failed social experiment in which he laughed like a fool in front of everyone (he hoped people would join in but they just stared awkwardly), Ikut predicted what the world would look like in 100 years if Permaculture was widely adopted (it involved several short-lived cults who confused the observation of passionfruit with the path to enlightenment), and Adam sang Candy Mountain reworked with Permaculture-inspired lyrics.  Alternatively, we were guided through a meditation by Natalie, read a spiritual poem regarding awareness by Louis, and Nathan composed a somber reflective poem using key phrases from the lectures.  I left Permaculture entirely out of the mix and read some descriptive prose about some of our travels.

After the performances, the party was officially wrapped up.  But instead of leaving we all turned into a bunch of hippies.  A few people had brought hand drums and starting playing some simple rhythms.  It wasn't long before it escalated to the whole group banging away at anything they could get their hands on:  pots and pans, stools, cushions, the broom, didgeredoo, empty skulls.  People (Jevins) were literally swinging from the ceiling and making all sorts of strange noises, all adding to the miraculous and spontaneous cacophony.  There were about two people in the group who had rhythm so the whole thing sounded dreadful but, in a different way, it was the greatest thing I'd heard all day.  Everyone was losing their inhibitions, swallowing their ego to serve the community.  In other words, it was all a lot of good fun and it was enhanced by the state of mind we shared.  No drugs, no alcohol.  Just us like we are everyday.

That's it.  Done Permaculture.  Time for the real world.

But wait!  That's not it.  Today is another day and we learned something today as well.  Hooray!!!

Today we went to a lady's house to learn all about the whys and hows of raw food.  We made a coconut milk soup, vegan mayo sushi, and a host of other dishes that don't have names because they were improvised.  

Tomorrow, Jevin and I are attending a yoga class that may prove to be very dangerous.  Everyone and their dog is a yogi in this village and most of them have studied in this school.  A common phrase is "I was on my way to go diving in Koh Tao when I decided to attend the free day of yoga.  That was five years ago and I've yet to go diving."  I truly am only planning to go to the free day but we'll have to see how effective the brainwashing is.

David J Parker


  1. Wonderfully written David! Sounds like yet another great adventure.

  2. One more month to go on your trip...whoa!! It seems like you've been away for a long time! How's the job search going? Your youngest brother got a full-time job this week in home restoration (clean-up after floods, etc.).Bro #1 was slated to start landscaping this week. My year end work is wrapped up and it's catch-up time; this shouldn't be quite as intense as the last few months. My thoughts and prayers are with you. Sending bunches of love ...Mom Parker