"I'm not interested in what you do in your garden. You can read any one of 1,000 books on the topic. What I want to talk about is where you're banking your money, and how you're spending it."
Bill Mollison, the Founder of Permaculture
As a system of design, Permaculture can be applied to almost every aspect of our lives, including how we structure our finances and fund our endeavors. It's worth noting that far less than half of the Permaculture Designer's Manual is about growing food. And for me and Kim, it is the materials on Social Permaculture design, money, assets, investing and funding that have been the most profound and transformational!
Hardly a week goes by that we don't discuss these tools and put them to use. Ironically, it has been these tools for MONEY and FINANCE that have actually had the largest impact on how we garden, farm and grow food! That's right, it's the materials on money which have come to completely define our whole approach to gardening and managing our landscape, by helping us cut right to the core of what gardening activities are TRULY valuable to us, and which are just a waste of our time, energy and money.
Unfortunately, since Permaculture is "revolution disguised as gardening," most people enter through the garden gate, as we often say, and many never learn or engage with these most impactful and transformative applications of Permaculture design.
And from what I've seen, too many aspiring Permaculturists end up discouraged or unhappy with their path, because they've never found a Permaculture which was truly VALUABLE to them, which truly allows them to obtain a yield that funds their dreams.
I think that's why my writing, talks and workshops on Permaculture and Money have consistently had such a spectacular response. When I do this workshop, people tell me it's changed their lives. I'm not surprised, this is the material that really changed OUR lives, too.
So, here it is. Or at least, an introduction. This isn't a normal blog post or article, it's a reduced FREE blog version of my introduction workshop on Money and Permaculture. This is for people who really want to take their Permaculture to the next level, those looking to make their Permaculture business or farm into a real livelihood, or people who are looking for a way to join me in being full-time Permaculture activists BY creating a truly beautiful and rewarding life.
This workshop will probably take a commitment of at least a couple of hours, but it doesn't have to be done all at once. But if you take it seriously, I think this material for applying Permaculture to finance has the chance to transform your life, livelihood and perhaps the way you think about money, work and business. It has had that effect on us, and on our students and community members who've done this same work.
So, if you're ready and interested, let's get started:
Our first step is to dream. To think deeply about what it is that we want. How else will we know how to get it? Take some time to brainstorm, vision and mind map out the conditions and energies you want to have in your life. Some people may find it helpful to start a "Permaculture Vision Board," using a tool like Pintrest.
Our second introduction step is to start thinking about our money as our life energy. This is something you might want to save until after completing the other steps. Then you can come back and go deeper by completing this step, as you review the others. For many, it's extremely helpful to start looking at how we've been spending our life energy and more importantly, whether it's taking us where we want to go. For the purpose of this expercise, it might be helpful just to look over our recent expenditures on our bank and credit card online statements. These days, we have some fantastic tools for keeping track of where we're putting our life energy. For a more in-depth exploration, I recommend the book Your Money or your Life, by Joe Domeniguez and Vicki Robin.
In the next lesson, we'll begin to OBSERVE the basic situation most of us feel trapped into, so that we can formulate an escape plan.
This step is optional, but many find it helpful. Sketch a diagram of your own financial life. What inputs do you have? What are you spending your life energy on the "outputs" side?
For the next step, let's change the way we think about that "input" side of the equation. We're way richer than we think we are. Brainstorm a list of forms of capital available to you.
Now we're to the really powerful material, where we put the creative power of generative assets and natural systems to work for us. Brainstorm a list of regenerative assets that support you in getting where you want to go. Look back at your "vision." What kinds of regenerative assets will get you what you want? Which are in line with your passions, informational and experiential capital? Which give you "windhorse?" This is the most important part of our workshop.
Now, we have a life design that looks much more like a negatropic natural system. Return to your sketch and revise what your personal economy looks like. What forms of capital do you have to invest? What kind of regenerative assets will you catch and store them in? Which will you prioritize?
With that as a start, we can go way deeper into designing our regenerative assets, investments, and catching and storing our various forms of capital into regenerative assets. How do we capture our social capital into regenerative organizations? Which regenerative investments do we start with? Which ones will stack together well? Which investments are more valuable than others? But this at least gives us a framework to begin applying design to these vital support systems.
For more ideas and information, check out our links on Social Permaculture at the top of this page, and look out for our workshops on Permaculture and Money or Life Design. We may soon offer a full workshop online if there's enough interest. And if you want to go even deeper, I'd love to help you design your own regenerative life and livelihood, and choose wise ways to invest your life energy.
Now go forth and live beautifully!