Tagorean world change is like permaculture: positive, creative, local, ethical and practical – hence ‘Tagorean Permaculture’.
I attended the South West Regional Permaculture Convergence (SWRPC) last weekend (9-11 June 2017) and my most important learning (key idea in Pc) was that the three very different things I’ve been doing for the past several years are connected. These are: Tagore studies; running the Plants For A Future charity; and socialist/anarchist politics. But I need to take action to bring those three together. There are two actions to achieve this, one a writing task: writing on ‘Tagorean Permaculture’; the other a practical task: ‘Promoting Permaculture Perennials’. Where’s the politics in that? It is (re)localisation, which is the main direction needed in a socialist/anarchist politics. The great thing about this politics is that it’s not party political, it’s not anything to do with representative democracy. Instead it is participative democracy, getting together locally and making decisions for ourselves together. And a small but relevant point is that it’s not about voting and majority rule – or the most opinionated and vocal rule – but about consensus.
Having started this blog when I was a graduate student at Exeter University, I have tended to write studious-looking posts. But my focus now being on Tagorean Permaculture linked to a practical project invites a more flexible approach. So I’m going to add here some of my notes from SWRPC. The most important session for me was a participatory one on ‘What Would a South West Network Look Like?’ I jotted down just the gist of what people said, with their first names. A few names might be recognisable in context, but I asked permission to mention names if I put the notes online and everyone was happy with that.
The first point discussed was whether there are any existing networks and/or lists of SW permies and what they are doing.
Claudia: I got lists of SW people at the International Convergence in London.
Ian: There is a North Devon network. We need hubs within SW.
Tim: There was a Devon network set up 10-11 years ago which lasted a year; and again 2 years ago which petered out, although 6 people remained in touch.
Paul: In Cornwall there is a forest garden network which is active and really useful.
Tess: There was an initiative to have one-day convergences in different places, and they were fantastic. There was one like this once a year plus smaller ones. The challenge is coordination, how to keep it going.
Claudia: There was a gathering of SW people who’d done PDCs (Pc Design Courses) held at High Heathercombe Centre. It needs a central person to coordinate.
Ian: We did have monthly meetings but it was sporadic because of the distances. We’re trying to have one regular venue and Sunday at no cost for continuity and stability.
Tim: It would be good to organise meetings by watershed bioregion, with a spreadsheet calendar, for an open spot at weekends per bioregion.
Polly: Perhaps we could learn from other regional networks. What’s working well?
Claudia: Bristol is good.
Marion: There was a PDC spread over 6 months and people stayed connected. Each month it was held in a different site. There was a Yahoo group. You need a purpose for meeting, difficult to commit time otherwise.
James: I am an ex-programmer new to Pc and want to share skills. I’ve developed a prototype website for people to share their skills and interests. The system has algorithms to match needs and offers, including 3-4-way trade. I’m looking for people to test it. you can put a venue in and the system identifies who might be interested and lets them know. they can put their availability in and the system will choose the best day. It needs quite a lot of work to develop. It’s all open source.
Andrew: Sounds complicated. Bristol use a yahoo account, which works for them.
Jo: How would it be financed?
Chris: I’d really like to help.
Helen: If we’re connected we can see each others’ sites or projects and resources to share, and would be useful for teaching.
Ian: Pc projects are useful for schools in all sorts of ways.
Mark: We meet every 1st Sunday. We are at the extreme east of SW but want to link up.
Helen: Hector Christie has a big Pc garden, and is campaigning against Roundup.
Roxanne: Hector Christie’s Tapeley is to be the venue for the Convergence next year. On the online SW network, we’re considering how to provide internet access in very rural areas by means of a travelling office with technical support, printer etc. also logon to James’ system to upload info. into the knowledge base. We can also have a mobile library and do seed swaps. The Pc Assoc. is happy to support that as a pilot.
Julie: When we need enthusiastic human beings we could contact the volunteer service Exeter CVS.
Tess: Communication is important but weak. On International Pc Day it appeared there were only 2 events in SW UK, but actually there were many things going on.
Peter: Pc is a global network needing collaborative mapping to include Transition Movement and others, so how do we link, create a network?
Chris: I’ll write up my notes. I don’t know how I’ll use them but if I put them online, does anyone mind if I use your names? [Everyone looked happy with this, and someone said it was a good idea.]
Polly: What are the actions taking forward?
Roxanne: They’ll be a survey, hoping a critical mass will sign up, then have a meeting to discuss, and get the technical group together, send emails round.
[I made notes at other sessions which I’ll write up later.]