Exploring permaculture cooperation in Britain
Via colloboration at the Scottish Camp for Climate Action at the Mainshill Solidarity Camp, fighting the Greenhouse Fuedalism of the United Kingdom, we met some very wonderful people.
Permaculture cooperation ? why not forest gardens or Transition Towns ?
As I have written before i.e McGaia, I am interested in Fair Share and People Care ethics of permaculture. Also, focused on scaling-up permaculture from the home, garden and farm to community and larger i.e city, region, state and planet, see Gaia Permaculture. At Mondragon we discussed industrial ecology and permaculture, and how that might happen. As such, we have been focussed on permaculture AND cooperation projects. Which narrows the number of projects down enormously. Transition Towns Totnes is still on the list, but at the bottom, as I naturally must explore the more radically cooperative projects first. Robert Hart inspired forest gardening is vital, but its off the agenda for the moment. So to is Schumacher College, we where to study Gaia Permaculture there, but they have summer recess and are closed. Hopefully we might develop Gaia Permaculture at University of Massachuetts, Amherst.
Permaculture Association of Britain
A good friend, made at the camp, suggested the Permaculture Association of Britain would be a good place to start. That business is booming for the association.
Trapese Popular Education Collective
I asked said friend about Transition Towns Totnes, and he offered a reference to the Trapese Popular Education Collective's critique "A Rocky Road To Transition" PDF. Indymedia review the critique, and a reply from Transition Culture.
Trapese are worth a special mention, as Transition Culture explain in their rebuttal of the critique.
The authors write from a perspective strongly rooted in their work as left wing activists and educators, with a strong anti-corporate, anti-globalisation stance. One of the aspects of their critique of Transition is that it shies away from directly confronting what they see as being the enemy. Their starting point can be summed up in the sentence “it is fundamentally important to identify and name the cenemies in the battle to make a real Transition”.
I couldn't agree more. Transition Culture response states that "Yes there are tremendously powerful global forces at work, doing appalling things with increasing boldness, but they function as such because, in many cases, we have given them, consciously or unconsciously, the power to do so". What happens when they have taken the power, by force, by violence ? or manipulation of the institutions of industrial civilisation ? The Transition Culture response continues with magical thinking
Transition is determinedly inclusive and non-blaming, arguing that a successful transition through peak oil and climate change will by necessity be about a bringing together of individuals and organisations, rather than a continued fracturing and antagonising.
If only. The current trajectory is heading more towards a Sustainment scenario, a kind of Fotress World, with Green Zones for the rich and powerful (and perhaps communities of other classes that can organise themselves sufficiently and form symbiotic neofeudal relations).
Trapese have an excellent resources page Do it yourself; A handbook for changing our world, some highlights
- Why we need holisitic solutions for a world in crisis and How to get of the grid.
- Why do it without leaders. Seeds for change collective.
- Popular education and social movements
- Presentation on popular education (powerpoint)
- World time line (powerpoint)
- Introduction to permaculture
Via another climate camper, a radical UK cooperative federation was suggested , Radical Routes.
Here we are in twenty-first-century Britain, in a world not of our making but one that has been moulded over thousands of years of exploitation and injustice.
Our world is shaped by the forces of greed, capitalism and materialism, where maximum production and optimum profits are vigorously pursued, making life a misery for many and putting us and the environment at risk.
The system is ultimately controlled by the rich and powerful, the capitalists and bureaucrats, through the use of many mechanisms such as ownership of the economy (making people slaves to a job) and control of the media (creating a passive culture).
Radical Routes is a network of co-ops and individuals seeking to change all this.
Once again, this is exactly the correct position,
The specific means it is pursuing are:
The setting up of housing co-ops to house people and projects with the above aims.
The setting up of workers co-ops which operate with the above aims.
The promotion and organisation of participatory education through skills- and knowledge-sharing events, Taking Control events, informative material and workshops.
The raising of finance to take control over resources (property, technology, land...) through co-operation and economic interlocking of the co-ops.
The support of like-minded projects.
Radical Routes have an ethical investment arm Rootsock
Rootstock is a social investment society set up as an initiative of the Radical Routes network of co-operatives. Radical Routes is a growing network of housing and workers' co-operatives working for social change.
Radical Routes co-operatives are active in many fields, including:
Sustainable land use through permaculture, land restoration, woodland creation, and growing and distributing organic food.
Communal housing - co-operatively owned housing is a resource for the whole community rather than a commodity for the profit of a few.
Resource centres for communities
Information through publications, radical bookshops and practical support for new co-ops.
Campaigning on issues such as ecological preservation, animal rights and housing.
International peace work
Electrical, plumbing and small scale building work
Support services including Book keeping and accountancy, Computer services, Training and consultancy, Mediation and group working
Transition Towns Totnes
TTT have dropped to the bottom of my list of permaculture cooperative investigations.
Coming from the Mondragon-Permaculture investigations and most recently the activism of Scottish Climate Camp, the Transition Network seems naive and New Age at best, a kind of group therapy focussed on community gardens and workshops. I also have serious reservations about the pyramid selling business model of Transition Towns.
In the next two weeks we have an enormous amount to do; wrap-up this phase of the Mainshill campaign work, the Coal Health Study, a trip to the sustainable Isle of Eigg, presentation of our work at a workshop at London's Climate Camp (possibly volunteering in the Indymedia again) and also the Permaculture cooperation network in the UK.
On the agenda with the Permaculture Association of Britain, Trapese, Radical Routes & Rootstock would be the creation of a global permaculture cooperative group or network of groups. Making real many of the projects listed on GaiaPermaculture.com.