Fair Shares: Economics for Permaculturists and Others
July 22, 1:00 PM - July 23, 4:00 PM
Permaculture practitioners often focus on the very important aspects of gardening or farming and home economics. Indeed, Ralph Borsodi, one of the original "back to the landers" focused on the same things, and found them integrally necessary to both human freedom and flourishing as well as ecological sustainability. However, Ralph Borsodi was also interested in economy beyond the walls of the home, and out in the wider community. This wider interest in community economics can also be found in the later pages of permaculture founder Bill Mollison's textbook, Permaculture, A Designer's Manual. Mollison, however, places much less emphasis on this than he does on ecologically sound and economically lucrative food production. Economics are intimately tied to sustainability, because economics is about how people handle resources. It is directly tied to sustainability, because resources are about energy flows.
Throughout my community organizing activities, I have found that permaculture as a gardening project is often limited by human rules and infrastructure, particularly the limited access to property, which keeps many from pursuing more sustainable lifestyles. Tenants don't have security to invest in their (often uninterested) landlord's back yard, and smallholders wish they had room for animals. Many fear the idea of getting loans, or have poor credit. These are issues that need to be addressed if permaculture is to become the norm. Like permaculture, the ideas are out there, they just haven't taken hold.
Both Ralph Borsodi and Bill Mollison promote localized and community-controlled economics, centered on humane and liberatory institutions, such as mutual credit systems, credit unions, cooperatives, community land trusts, and more. Some of these institutions are already existing in Texas, and can provide valuable services for the members. My credit cooperative, Texas Farm Credit, is an example. Others, still, must be built, but in order to be built, the vision must be understood, and that is what this workshop will be about.
At this event, we will cover a basic introduction to sustainability and economic principles, and discussion of their inter-relatedness. We will address the question, "If sustainability makes sense, why is it economically unfeasible?" and "What can be done to make it feasible without creating more problems?" Perhaps most importantly, we will address surplus, what it is, and how to split it into fair shares, in line with the third principle of permaculture, "Fair Shares," or "Share the Surplus."
There will be a basic introduction to alternative models of economy. Proposed but inadequate resolutions will be addressed, from communal and private ownership to time-based currencies. We will then focus on what works: Mutual credit, credit unions, ROSCAs, cooperatives, land trusts, cohousing, and more. We will look at the ownership interests, decision-making, and numbers behind the ideas presented.
There will be hands-on demonstrations when applicable, and room for discussion. I will try to keep presentations to a minimal length, but come prepared and dedicated to learn.
About Your Instructor:
My name is William Schnack and I am starting up a cooperative permaculture farm in Ben Wheeler, TX. I am the author of two books, "The Evolution of Consent: Collected Essays, Volumes I and II," which focus especially on community economics. I am influenced directly by the same folks who influenced Ralph Borsodi, such as Laurence Labadie and Henry George, as well as numerous others in the same or a similar tradition. I have contributed to discussion with award-winning economist, Fred Foldvary, and others, at the Center for a Stateless Society (C4SS), and have given lectures to university student groups, churches, and non-profits on the subjects of mutualism and community economics. I have been gardening for ten years.
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The investment for this weekend's worth of information is $20 cash or $25 via PayPal. Come with a friend or family member and both will get a $5 discount.
Pre-registration for this event is mandatory. Seating is limited.