Permaculture System Design: Part 2

Observe and Interact

In the first part of this series I laid out a very basic overview of permaculture, it’s history and it’s ethics and principles. It still very much had the feel of being mostly about agricultural system design, but as we move on to dive into the design principles I want to focus on it through the spectrum of society, personal life and Bitcoin.


Observation of the system you are occupying or a system you wish to enhance and change for the better is the most important first step.

Observation is NOT making snap judgements based on preconceived notions.

Observation is NOT assuming any output or input is good or bad.

Observation is as simple as it sounds. Observing.

In the realm of Agricultural design, say designing your own property, you will want to spend a lot of time observing all the areas and interactions of natural systems on that property. Within each system are small systems interacting with each other. You can view these systems in various sizes from the Uber macro size of the universe to the atomic in the micro; I say that as more of a mental exercise to think of large and small, not to actually worry about the subatomic level. You will want to watch various portions of that property over different periods of time to see how differing weather effects it. A tree planted in an area that does well in the summer may die in the winter because it is in a low spot of the property and cold air sits there for longer, freezing the vegetation and roots. An area may do well for 3 years and thrive but the once every 5 year a flood comes in, waterlogs and suffocates the inputs you placed their.

Part of observation is to also consider what is the use of the system and what are the systems within trying to achieve. For agricultural design, are you trying to provide the maximum production you can for homesteading purposes or are you trying to let nature automate your property with an eye towards aesthetic beauty? How much time will you be able to devote to upkeep of this system? If you are able to make that your full time job you can integrate more systems into it such as poultry, farm animals more needy but productive plants, etc. If you cannot devote much time to it, you will want to focus on designing a larger system around self sufficient smaller systems who need little external inputs to stay healthy.

It should start to be readily apparent how this principles can fit into your life, business, etc. Observe the systems you currently interact with; Nature, the nation state, society, your community, your family, yourself, your body, those organisms within your body, etc. etc.

If you have never taken that time to observe for long periods of time the systems you live in, do so starting today.

Do not approach these systems with your beliefs or biases. If you are a libertarian, don’t automatically assume that say the actions of a centralized nation state are inherently bad or unnecessary, on the converse if you have never doubted the need for bodies of government to codify laws and arbitrate disputes, don’t enter the observation assuming that’s a given needed service.

We can never truly eliminate bias or the natural inclination to discard that which conflicts with your worldview, but we can consciously be aware of it and attempt to eliminate as much as possible.

Observe for long periods of time how these systems interact with each other, with you, with nature, with everything. There is no right or wrong outcome, this is merely just viewing the world as it is.

In your business or your job, where you are competing with others for higher positions or to maintain your current position observe the actions of not just your competitors and/or consumers but also everyone else. It doesn’t matter if they meet your demographic for a customer or not. Begin to view how you want this system to work, not for you, but with you. You want to have a basic framework of the most ideal system design for your goals.

If you are trying to get a promotion, how can you change the interactions of the various systems within the larger system of your company or business climate so that your wanted outcome of promotion manifests itself as PART of the naturally ordered outcome.

I will as a side note completely agree that this sounds very…new agey, but it’s not. Its simply words to describe something. Whether it’s a field, an orchard or a company… they are systems, and they all have natural flows to them, and when something seeks to force an unnatural change the end result is not good.

We’ve all been in work environments where an outcome, say better moral or comradery was for lack of a better term forced on a team or office. It never works. It feels wrong and unnatural and the best outcome is for a period of time people “fake it until you make it”… but it never makes it.

If however you observe the various systems in the company, i.e. hiring practices, corporate ethos, leadership style, compensation, etc. you will ever able to learn to interact with them. You find where you can insert inputs into those systems to change the outputs to match your goals. By finding a way to make your output goals be the natural end result of the system your chances or achieving it are far higher than attempting to swim against the natural current.

It will just…happen..naturally.

It’s the difference between making someone do something and making them think they came up with the idea themselves.

How does this pertain to Bitcoin and the new digital age?
Those of us looking at this new world of Bitcoin and Blockchain and the burgeoning immersive digital world do so, usually, to find where we fit in. How can we build a business, a reputation or a knowledge base in this space. We may see problems in our society that we wish to fix with Bitcoin.

Satoshi himself used this very same principle as he created Bitcoin(yes I know we don’t know who “he” is, but the pseudonym is a male Japanese name so I will continue to use the masculine pronouns until we learn otherwise).

Satoshi Observed:

  • Central Banks and Fiat money were immensely destructive in society
  • An alternative to this monopoly was needed
  • This would need to be sound (backed) money to avoid it becoming manipulated as Fiat is
  • Using alternative physical metal coins isn’t feasible as the government will crack down ( Google “Liberty Reserve”)
  • There have been attempts to make a digital money but they were unsuccessful
  • You must provide a mechanism for verification of transactions to prevent double spends

I can go on further, however you get the idea.

He had to observe the environment that the problem he was trying to solve lived in. He couldn’t create a solution that would only work in an idealized society, because we are not in an idealized society.

That is at the heart of the reason for the constant failure of socialism. It appeals to an idealized empathetic view of how the world should be, and it’s solutions are tailored to work in a world that will and could never be.

When you observe the environment that your problem and thus your solution must live in (albeit your solution may slowly change the environment and you MUST be ready for that as well) it is imperative to remain objective.

All observations must have as much weight as every other. If you tailor your observed evidence to fit a preferred solution you will fail. If you only look for things to observe that will lead you to your preferred solution it will fail. If the solution isn’t rooted in the full truth of observable reality it will always fail.

In the end truth is the most necessary component for any successful solution to a problem. After you have taken enough time and gathered enough objective evidence you then must begin to tailor a solution based on that evidence. Part of that process is to sandbox and work through reactions of the environment to your solutions.

Real world testing is preferred if possible since hypotheticals played out in mental thought sessions can be useful, they can never truly replace real world interactions and the data you get from that.

In terms of the digital world and that of Bitcoin, this is why tools such as test nets are so valuable as you are able to work through SIMILAIR circumstances with out the real world consequences of mistakes, bugs or unforeseen reactions in an Ecosystem.

There is no perfect amount of time to observe before you begin to execute your plan. While one should observe as long as necessary, paralysis by analysis is as detrimental to solving problems as a kneejerk reaction can be.

Always take time to observe your surroundings in all places at all times. This may seem strange, since you are always aware of what you are doing and where you are, but awareness of a place, awareness of an experience is NOT the same as focusing on OBSERVING that environment, experience, etc.

“You see, but do not observe”

-Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

This was the second of a multi-part series on the Nexus of Permaculture, Bitcoin and the Coming digital age.