Human 2.0 Project

Permanence * Adventure * Culture

PDC challenge problems - introduction

2014-03-27 00:00:00 Erik Lee

Review Questions

These are some quick questions to bring back some of the important concepts from the videos, and to get you warmed up for the discussion questions that follow. I tried to pick the stuff that will be most important for later in the course, to help solidify the memory and give a reference for where to look things up if you forget. Here we go!

  1. What are the three ethics?

  2. What is permaculture? What does a permaculture practitioner do?

  3. What is a simple way to determine if a system is sustainable?

  4. What is the prime directive of permaculture?

  5. What are some of the most critical problems that we can solve with permaculture design?

Discussion questions

Don't panic!! This is not a test. You don't have to get these "right" in order to get a design certificate. These questions are here to spur thinking about permaculture on a deeper level than you might get just from watching the videos and reading the book. I've found that having some real problems to get my hands on really helps me learn, so I'm putting these out for anybody who wants to use them to "go deep" with the material Geoff is presenting. I'm hoping they'll start some interesting discussions on the forums, and maybe send a few of us down rabbit holes that will lead to new insights. Again, these aren't testing your knowledge - they're for expanding it, so don't stress out if the answers don't immediately come to hand. Sometimes, there won't even be a clear answer...

  1. In some ways, permaculture is a really clever application of the idea of division of labor. Yet, it's common for a single person to implement a full-blown permaculture system on a scale anywhere from a patio to several acres of previously degraded farm land. How is this still division of labor? Who (or what) is doing most of the work?

  2. Geoff presents a very simple and powerful way to think about sustainability - it's just an energy audit. A system that stores more energy than it uses is sustainable and will grow over time. Are there other properties that would help a system be sustainable over the long haul? What are they and why do you think they may be important?

  3. Feedback loops are one of the primary strategies that systems (especially ecosystems) use to stay on an even keel. You can find these loops everywhere - any time there are a few things that work together to help a system recover from a disturbance you have one. When you're driving a car, you have a feedback loop between your eyes, hands, and the car that lets you steer the car around things that get in your way without crashing. Permaculture is modeled after ecosystems -- how can the three ethics work together to make a feedback loop that keeps our systems running over the long term?

  4. Opinion: With permaculture design, we have the power to transform deserts into thriving living systems. Do you think we should do it, and if so under what circumstances? What would the three ethics have to say on the issue?

  5. Challenge: Looking ahead a bit in the course, we'll see that permaculture is mostly about arranging complex interconnected systems, because in the natural world these are the most robust. If you look around at our civilization, it looks very complex and interconnected. Do you think our technological infrastructure is robust in the same way that a functional ecosystem is? If not, how would you describe the difference between the two?

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