I've been thinking about permaculture lately in the context of rhythms, relations, and what Anna Tsing calls 'polyphonic assemblages.' I'm reading her recent book 'The Mushroom at the End of the World' (2015), and if you're familiar with Anna Tsing you won't be surprised that it has my brain exploding all over every other paragraph - Tsing is incredible. And while this book is not about permaculture per se, it is in the sense that it is concerned with our collaborative survival, with pracarity and encounter, with livability and emergence, with creativity and imagination.
'Since the time of the plantation, commercial agriculture has aimed to segregate a single crop and work toward its simultaneous ripening for a coordinated harvest. But other kinds of farming have multiple rhythms... These rhythms were (plants') relations to human harvests; if we add other relations, for example, to pollinators or other plants, rhythms multiply. The polyphonic assemblage is the gathering of these rhythms as they result from world-making projects, human and not human" (2015, 24).
Boom, brain explosion (she's sneaky like that).
So all week I've been reflecting on permaculture as polyphonic assemblage, as layered rhythms of world-making projects. And I can't really think of a better way to explain it - permaculture is about (re)making livable worlds, at all scales, by gathering together multiple ways of being.
Permaculture is the process of re-imagining spaces - from doorstep to yard, home to community, state to planet - using principles and practices designed for innovative ecological regeneration and productive (not as defined by capitalism) landscapes that place collaboration and relationship at the center. It emerged as a way to think about creating human landscapes that mimic nature, and it applies broadly from designing yardscapes and farmscapes to shifting cultural and socio-political landscapes, to rethinking how humans exist in and relate to the world.
Permaculture as (re)making livable worlds at all scales through the gathering of multiple ways of being...doesn't that just so perfectly encapsulate the task - the radical opportunity - that we face right at this moment?
That makes us excited.
Tsing, A. (2015). The mushroom at the end of the world: On the possibility of life in capitalist ruins. Princeton University Press.