We are thrilled to announce that one of the true heroes of community resilience, Peter Bane, publisher of Permaculture Activist, the nation’s longest-running permaculture magazine, and author of The Permaculture Handbook, will be the keynote speaker at our third annual Climate Adaptation Conference for farmers, on February 6, 2015, at Central Carolina Community College, in Pittsboro, NC.
Bane is a champion of the concept of permaculture – not just as a gardening or farming technique, but as a way to transform societal relations and the way buildings and infrastructure are constructed, so that they work with nature, rather than against it.
Permaculture is a combination of either the words “permanent” and “agriculture,” or “permanent” and “culture,” reflecting the aim of any permaculture system to be truly sustainable – able to continue as it is, forever, without needing to bring in outside resources or to create externalized wastes.
And even going beyond sustainability, permaculture is a regenerative practice, rebuilding the soil and the society, leaving them stronger and more vibrant than they were when we found them.
Bane’s ideas, as laid out in his 2012 book, The Permaculture Handbook, are focused on transforming urban neighborhoods and suburban yards from asphalt jungles and monocrop lawns, into ecologically sustainable wonderlands. His goal is to create more resilient communities by applying permaculture principles throughout, but a great way to start on an individual level is to change how we use our land, whether it’s a yard or several acres of farmland.
And the transformation Bane proposes is crucial for our future. We are in the midst of a a difficult time, but getting through it can lead to something better than we even imagine.
In a 2012 interview, Bane explains how, in adapting to the immanent environmental and economic crises, we will trade in the financial excess of our culture’s recent past for the true abundance of everyone having enough of what we need and feeling connected to their larger communities. Bane says,
A core belief of our modern society is that there will always be more, and that technology will save us. I have the unfortunate task of being a Cassandra, someone warning society about its use of fossil fuel. Oil is non-renewable and as it goes, huge upheavals will be inevitable — they’ve already begun. Household incomes will continue to shrink in the years to come, and the household wealth that has evaporated in the past few years will not be coming back…
But this is not all bad.
When we study the shadow side of our oil-based prosperity we find unhappiness, broken families, and distrust. Look at what fracking has done: this frantic search for more energy at any cost is blowing apart all social bonds. When someone offers you a million dollars to frack your farm, it’s hard to say no, but easy to say yes and ruin your neighbors’ lives.
We are on the leading edge of the mother of all depressions. We can view this either as a crisis or as an opportunity. [This] environmental crisis is also an economic crisis. The storm is on us, but we can take the resources we have and begin bolstering the real foundations of an enduring economy: the household, and its relationship to its neighbors and the community around it…
We have hard work and difficulties facing us, but also the opportunity to be near friends and family and to solve problems creatively in ways that will help the places we love, our homes and communities…
We will begin to do things for ourselves, like our great-grandparents did in the Great Depression.
This is the response to alienation — go outside and garden! You’ll have lots of fun and you will meet people and be rewarded! At the end of the day you’ll be tired, but you won’t be beaten down.
But beyond what people can do on a personal level, on their own homesteads, backyards or rooftops, permaculture techniques are perfect solutions to the struggles farmers are increasingly facing as a result of climate change. Farmers are trying their best to cope with completely unpredictable weather events, record breaking droughts, early frosts, late frosts, a frigid winter followed by a mild one, a cool, rain-soaked summer on the heels of last year’s hot dry one.
Farmers, and the activists and agricultural researchers working with them, need to build on each other’s creative ideas, and they need inspiration and hope to keep fighting the good fight. We all need farmers to succeed if we want access to affordable, healthy, local food in the years to come. Our food security depends on finding solutions to the challenges of climate change. The weather can be hard to predict, and even harder to manage.
Luckily for us, Peter Bane is an incredibly motivating and inspiring speaker, and he is overflowing with good ideas for working with nature and bracing for an uncertain future.
Watch this video of Bane speaking on the topic of How I’m Preparing for a Local Future: Permaculture, and get excited about February’s keynote address:
Learn more about our upcoming Climate Adaptation Conference here.
Want to help provide scholarships to farmers and students to help them attend the conference? If you act now, your gift will be instantly doubled, taking advantage of a matching grant that is being generously provided by the Fund for Democratic Communities. Learn more about the matching grant.