News Archive

News

September 22, 2010

Fall Potluck to Feature Presentation on Permaculture

The chapter’s annual meeting and fall potluck will take place at First Presbyterian Church, 17 Park St., Canton on Sunday, November 21. Bring a dish to share and your own table service. We’ll meet at 5 pm to start supper at 5:30. The annual meeting will run from about 7 pm to 8 pm and be followed by our speaker.

Our guest speaker, Dr. John Radigan, will speak on "Permaculture: A Soft Landing for a New Era.”

Most of us are aware, to one degree or another, that human society today is at a transition point, perhaps even a tipping point, in ways of life. This is due to a combination of factors, most notably climate change and peak oil, but the inevitable outcome will be a shift to a new "Energy-Descent Culture" in which, for the first time in human history, future generations will have less energy to draw upon than did those who preceded them. This shift will have a potentially devastating effect on culture as we know it, so we need to prepare for it soon to minimize the prospects for chaos when it occurs.

Fortunately for us, a body of thought and practice called "permaculture" has been developed over the past 40 years to help us be prepared. First pioneered by Bill Mollison in Australia about 1980, it has since spread into a worldwide movement with over 100,000 certified consultants and practitioners. Permaculture, unlike many of our modern technologies, seeks to work with nature instead of against it, and rests on three basic ethical principles: care for the earth, care for people, and redistribution of surplus. It shows us how to mimic natural systems in designing our human spaces, consciously creating environments that produce no waste, maximize the efficiency of each element in the system, and are self-reliant and sustainable, even in urban areas.  In the process, it fosters human community and encourages strong local economies that are far less dependent on huge yet fragile institutions like agribusiness, international shipping, and our aging electrical grid. It provides a "parachute" for our gentle landing in the new world that's on our doorstep.

Dr. Radigan has been on the English/Humanities faculty at Paul Smith's College for 25 years, and earned his own Certification in Permaculture Design in August 2009. In addition to a Ph.D. in English from Syracuse University, he holds an MFA in Poetry from Vermont College, and is emerging as an authority on Albert Schweitzer's ethics of reverence for life, of which permaculture is one practical application.

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