"Do no harm". That has been my gardening philosophy since reading Rachel Carson's seminal work Silent Spring, when I was in high school. One of her guiding principles is that we have a moral responsibility to protect our environment, not only for ourselves, but for future generations.
However, in hindsight, I've implemented this philosophy in a very passive, limited way. Once I moved to Cape Cod, I quickly learned how fragile our local ecosystem is and began a journey to learn how I could "do better". I recently read two books by entomologist, Douglas Tallamy, Bringing Nature Home, How You Can Sustain Wildlife with Native Plants,and Nature's Best Hope: A New Approach to Conservation that Starts in Your Yard. In his books, the author not only makes the case that we can make a difference as individuals, but also leaves the reader with a profound sense of why we should care.
What does this all have to do with Permaculture? Based on the articles and other materials we've covered this week, my understanding of how interconnected we are with the natural world has been strongly reinforced. While the case can be made that as humans, we are destroying everything in our path, I also found hope in the idea that we can still learn how to live in harmony with nature. I think Permaculture offers us a cohesive design system to achieve that objective.
The defining characteristic, or ethic, that is really resonating with me at this point in the course is Earth Care: Protecting healthy ecosystems and regenerating degraded ones. In my view, this is the foundation that People Care and Fair Share will build upon. I don't think this hierarchical view diminishes the objective of a "consciously designed whole", as described in Steve Gabriel's article, What Makes a Site "Permaculture". I'm not making the case that Earth Care is more important than either People Care, or Fair Share, just that we need to learn how to be good stewards of the land to make any progress. I'll be interested to see how my opinion changes throughout the course.
As you may have sensed, I think the other philosophy that Permaculture is similar to is the Environmental, or Ecology Movement. The similarities include the Environmental Movement's philosophy that humanity is recognized as a participant, not an enemy, of ecosystems (People Care), and its call for the sustainable management of resources, and stewardship of the environment (Earth Care). While the Environmental Movement varies country by country, and is not always united in its goals, its ethics are centered on ecology, health, and human rights - not unlike the ethics at the center of the Permaculture philosophy.
I'm truly looking forward to learning more about how I can make a difference.