Intelligent, Real Transformation: The 12 Permaculture Principles: Part 3

In the race to create a more sustainable world, we discover that it’s the little things that add up to meaningful transformation. The last four principles concern a sustainable, whole-systems approach to true transformation, rooted in slowness, diversity, and creativity.

  1. Use small and slow solutions. Nature doesn’t change entire ecosystems overnight. Instead, she changes the species of plants she naturesupports, and in turn transforms the ecosystem slowly over time. Small and slow solutions are more sustainable because they stick around for longer, they are more resilient, and more likely to be picked up by others.

In our own lives and social structures, we tend to want change to happen overnight. Unfortunately, this simply isn’t the way our world works. It’s absolutely necessary to implement small and slow changes to achieve the whole-systems transformation we dream of.
  2. Use and value diversity. Similar to principle #8 (integrate rather than segregate), diversity builds resiliency. Creating diverse microclimates supports a greater variety of plant growth and disease suppression than having only one main climate type.
  3. Use edges and value the marginal. The edges between ecosystems are the most diverse. They serve as a buffer zone between different climates and geographies, protecting the ecosystems within. Different things happen in different conditions, so we want to have many different conditions to support a diversity of activities. This increases the rewards we receive in turn. Marginal land often holds the most potential for innovation and abundant growth.

Like marginal lands, people and cultures pushed to the edges of society often hold great potential for innovation and transformation
  4. Creatively use and respond to change.

“The only thing that is constant is change.” ~ Heraclitus

Change is the only thing you can reliably depend on, so it’s important to be prepared and open to change as it happens. Observe the change that’s happening, and be creative in your response to change. Don’t judge the change, but rather seek the innovative potential that lies within change, and allow it to serve you for the highest good.

This principle easily applies to our personal lives and institutional structures.

The twelve permaculture principles are an incredibly practical set of guidelines that help direct our perspective in ecological design and beyond, being applicable to invisible structures such as personal growth and social organization. When we ground our designs in every area in the principles of nature and ecology, we can build a truly sustainable, regenerative world.