Permaculture forum: Earth care, People Care, Fair Share

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Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
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dave
Mar 5, 2012 4:08 PM CST

Garden.org Admin

The three permaculture ethics of "earth care, people care, fair share" is a topic that sometimes raises eyebrows.

Everyone agrees that caring for all life on earth, as well as people, is a perfectly noble goal. But "fair share" makes people think of communism at worst, or redistribution of wealth at best. The phrase brings to mind taxation and other forms of forced confiscation of property by a government with threat of violence. It once seemed uncomfortable to me that this negative feeling would be associated with such a positive ecological movement.

To force people at gunpoint to give from their excess goes against everything nature teaches us.

Therefore, when I teach permaculture, I prefer instead to demonstrate this using something we all understand: the backyard vegetable garden and/or fruit orchard.

Everyone who has every produced food in their backyard knows that they can easily (and accidentally!) produce an abundance beyond what they can consume. Therefore, everyone shares their extra produce with their neighbors, and they feel great about it. That good feeling you get from sharing stands in stark contrast to confiscation.

I think that it is this spirit of generosity in sharing that is so neatly encompassed in the idea of "fair share", and understood in that spirit, it becomes clear why "fair share" is one of the three main ethics of permaculture.

We don't want to produce waste, and we want to care for the people around us. If we are not freely sharing our products with those around us, we are greatly limiting ourselves and our community.

In sharing out of our production, we are exponentially increasing the benefits of our work. Instead of a bunch of tomatoes rotting uneaten in the field, they are being enjoyed by everyone we know. Those people, in turn, are enriched by our sharing and they can then take the benefit and "pay it forward" on to yet more people. Eventually, I believe, this "energy" that's been shared finds it way all the way back to the original giver, in one way or another.

Anyway, those are just some thoughts I wanted to share. Smiling
[Last edited by dave - Mar 5, 2012 4:10 PM (+)]
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hazelnut
Mar 5, 2012 4:18 PM CST
I know old farmers in Alabama never heard of the word "permaculture", but I learned something about their ethics when I traveled around the South doing my work. We often had to get land clearance to survey land, and that's how I met countless old folks in the South and learned what they thought was the right thing to do.

Invariably, when you talk to an older person in Alabama you would leave his property with a brown paper sack full of what ever he had to spare at the moment. It might be a sack full of pecans. Or, it could be some jars of strawberries that his wife had just canned. But to send some one off -- even a passerby like ourselves surveying property -- with nothing would be unthinkable.
Name: Chris Powell
Glendale, AZ (Zone 9b)
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milkmood
Mar 6, 2012 7:41 AM CST
Southern hospitality. Love it.

On the Fair Share point...

...I am a natural born giver, I love to see people who are in need receive; it's part of what I do for a living.

That said, without turning this into a political discussion, there is no reason Fair Share can't go one step further and include selling or trading produce out of your excess as the Dervaes Family does in Pasadena. I'm also a huge proponent of the barter system and Farmers' Markets. I believe that all three, giving, bartering and selling, promote a healthy (perma)culture and a more productive society.

Just a thought.
[Last edited by milkmood - Mar 6, 2012 7:55 AM (+)]
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Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Region: Texas Master Gardener: Texas Permaculture Raises cows I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
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dave
Mar 6, 2012 7:45 AM CST

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I agree completely.
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
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RickCorey
Mar 8, 2012 4:31 PM CST
I agree with and admire all of the above. There's a huge difference between giving freely at one's own option, and taking.

(I like to THINK of taxes as being more like usage fees or a subscription for living in a society that is more hospitable than Somalia or Beirut. But they aren't really voluntary unless there's an accessible frontier to which one could emigrate.)

I don't know if database and GUI software use the same terms, but embedded control SW talks about sharing information by either a "push" or a "pull" style.

In "push" style, as soon as my module creates or discovers some information, it pushes it out to any module that it thinks might need the info.

In "pull" style, every module just makes its info freely available - and then any module that wants it, just "pulls" it when needed. Usually "pull" works better in control SW.

I think that's easier with SW than people: if people make every bean they have freely available to anyone at all, the greediest people would soon have all the beans!

The nice thing about information is that you can give it away all day, and still have just as much as you started with.

With people, either "push or pull" (offer or ask) can work, as long as people are willing to share when they can, and people are willing to ask for what they need.

It's hard to be a hoarder and a good neighbor at the same time!

Name: Chris Powell
Glendale, AZ (Zone 9b)
Living a better life; if times get
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milkmood
Mar 8, 2012 7:49 PM CST
I agree as in beer.

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hazelnut
Mar 9, 2012 8:21 AM CST
RickCorey: What a poetic way to phrase generosity!

I have found as a teacher, that the information you give out sometimes comes back in much greater magnitude.

I first began teaching as a teaching assistant at San Diego. The kids were so smart I had to stay up at night just to read the journals because they wanted to know what was happening right now in the field--even though it was just a 101 class.

I found out if you give all you've got, smart kids will take the information in as their own and "cook" it along with their other interest, and you will get it back --much enhanced--on their term papers!
Name: josephine
Arlington, Texas (Zone 8a)
Hi Everybody!! Let us talk native.
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frostweed
Mar 9, 2012 12:01 PM CST
Rick said
" The nice thing about information is that you can give it away all day, and still have just as much as you started with."
_________________________________________________________________________________________________

I also think that love works the same way. Smiling
Wildflowers are the Smiles of Nature.
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Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
Mar 9, 2012 1:45 PM CST
Spider Robinson said something like "Joy shared is multipied, but sorrow shared is diminished" (He might have saod "halved" or "divided".)

If you delight in making someone you love (or even like) happy, it truly becomes more fun to give than to receive.

>> I have found as a teacher, that the information you give out sometimes comes back in much greater magnitude.

I also agree with that. I agreed to tutor someone several gardes behind me in algebra, which i was fairly good at, but tended to forget some of the basic rules. Because I had to explain it clearly, I had to review them myself until they were more clear to me. Then I had to repeat them several times for the student - and, like magic, they sank into my mind MUCH better than they had when I was the student!

Many common things seem to become even more true when you stand them on their head!

Name: Horseshoe Griffin
Efland, NC (Zone 7a)
And in the end...a happy beginning!
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Horseshoe
Mar 9, 2012 2:56 PM CST
NIce post, Dave.

"Permaculture" tends to exist outside our gardens, overflowing to the people and community, doesn't it.

Hazelnut, same here in my neck of the woods, we tend to send folks off with a sack of whatever goodies. I love it! Even when I was a little one and saw my Granny send the electrical workers off at the end of the day, each with a sack containing a jar of jam, a ham biscuit, and some of MY peppermint candy. (They'd just hooked up electricity to our place so I guess they earned it, eh?)

And to this day the permaculture carries on, the people care, the fair share, and the earth care was just a given.

Shoe

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