Social Permaculture — Designing Our Own Healthy Societies

Featuring: a recommended reading list. Let’s upgrade together!

Naomi Joy Smith
Jun 6 · 5 min read

My thirst for learning is sexual, spiritual, emotional, physical, mental.

I frequently find myself contemplating how to better enjoy the age of information and access to open tools, how to synthesize my perpetual discovery and share the treasures from diving into the many advances and facets of Social Permaculture: and why.

(Short answer: It sucks to watch my brothers and sisters suffer, to feel anxious and helpless so often, and I’m ready to transition to a better version of society).

Unpacking the meaning of “Social Permaculture”

Permaculture provides a lens for designers to connect the resources which sustain life in a complex ecosystem together in symbiotic ways; using systems and processes which generate further abundance of resources.

The “People Care” ethic (which resides in a core triad of ethics alongside Earth Care and Fair Share/Future Care) has evolved into its own practice; commonly called Social Permaculture.

Aspects of permaculture in a social context —developing on Wise Democracy & economic theory

Society can be viewed as an anthropocentric ecosystem.
Mainstream culture commonly speaks to this collective entity, occasionally referring to it as an antagonist; i.e. “The System”.

In recent history, the dominant system has reflected an era of patriarchy (aka ‘The Patrix’); reductionist science, industrialism, colonialism and capitalism.
There are plenty of systemic issues attributed to these worldviews.

Ecology of Systems

A new set of systems have begun to emerge.
Times continue to change.
Rather than striving for some sort of global utopia, ready-made, one-size monocultural System, Social Permaculture applies wisdom from the study of interconnected cultural forces and their patterns; providing tools for small groups, communities, neighbourhoods and organizations to design and re-design our own social systems.

In this information age — where it is now possible to curate a complex sense of the social landscape — this way of designing can give citizens a language to come together and thrive, to grow resilience in the face of the existential crisis.

From where I stand, it no longer seems viable to rely on the large-scale governments or markets to provide for many of our present needs, let alone the future of our collective wellbeing.

By studying social structures and contemplating the ‘holy trinity’ (see above), I have chosen to apply Social Permaculture at the level of the Community and Commons: practicing something I have been calling Civic Sensuality.

I am exploring patterns of interpersonal behaviour, group intelligence, decentralized decision-making, collective ownership and other new models for organization.

I believe Social Permaculture provides an adaptable foundation for anybody to weave meaning from multiple sources of social innovation and human evolution, to connect these parts into a larger, coherent whole and to provide the capacity to maintain life on earth.

Whether you apply these design methods as a facilitator, project coordinator, researcher, economist, developer, engineer, entrepreneur, artist… this is a language that can support you in directing your communities toward fertile futures.

And how might this information flow?

During this north hemisphere summer, I am getting busy with a tasty range of resources which have I come upon; through loans from friends, downloads of PDFs, and the general buzz of what’s cooking.

My intention is to write a piece, and/or record a podcast for each book or concept that I dive into, to discuss how it connects to the burgeoning study of Social Permaculture.

This journey is nested within multiple ongoing journeys, a practice which is called “stacking functions” in Permaculture terms.
Caveat: It’s easy to spread too thin. Go easy on stacking social functions.

I will be:

  1. Collecting valuable components for a future workshop curriculum; offering discounts to early supporters so hmu if that’s you.
  2. Sharing my research with the Permaculture Co-Lab & Think Tank.
  3. Developing a set of design frameworks for myself and other designers.
  4. Using these design frameworks and this knowledge to develop my project: Growing Resilient Decentralized Neighbourhoods (GRDN).

Why books rather than a course?

Courses are great! Certification is great! The world has some incredible educators worth cherishing and brain-picking.
In fact, beginning in July, I will also be taking a Dragon Dreaming intensive.

Right now, I’m choosing to read books as a supplementary way to involve myself in shared context with other social designers from many fields.

This curated set of media offers connection points between explorers of the liminal space; they are published to include an audience of ‘amateurs’.
In other words, those who engage for passion, rather than for necessarily professional purposes. Students of life.

Somehow, when we’re discussing re-designing societies, stepping out of the educational institution seems appropriate.


The Resources!

My summer study circle will revolve around the books in the playlist below. Podcast series are shared as extra juice for the tank.

Podcasts:

Building Local Power
Dialogue Lab
Emerge
For The Wild
Future Thinkers
Leadermorphosis
Next Economy Now
Sutra Show
Team Human
Upstream


Join Me?

Why don’t we have discussions about these materials?
If you’re curious to read one or some of these books, leave a comment below.

I have also created a Study Hub on the Movement Weavers forum for Climate Change & Consciousness. You can request to join my study hub here.

As some of the books (World Café, MVOS, The Practice of Peace) teach better group dialogue and organising structure, we can play with these tools together in Zoom calls.

Support Me?

I would love it if you linked this page to any of your contacts who are into Social Permaculture, anyone who may be interested in organizing a course with me, or who might have a piece of the puzzle which I may like to feature in my curriculum or on the podcast (currently in production).

If you would like to buy me lunch, throw some numbers to me here.

You might also approach me to work on your next step.

With Power and Love,

Naomi Joy Smith

Naomi Joy Smith

Written by

Casually researching wisdom & generosity. Aunty. Geek. I’m into weaving, tea, poetry, music, patterns & social evolution. What questions are living within you?

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