Decolonizing Permaculture – We got this!

Two of our team members, Simon James and Stephen Clark, drove down to The Eco-Institute at Pickards Mountain in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. They were at the Eco-Institute for a 5-day intensive course called Decolonizing Permaculture, organized by Eco-Institute’s Meg Toben with Dan Wahpepah, an Ojibwe Anishinaabe Kickapoo Sac & Fox Song Carrier and Permaculturist.

Simon & Stephen shared their experience of this intensive at a gathering of Delaware Teachers Institute, a partnership between the University of Delaware and local school districts in New Castle county. The Delaware Teachers Institute is affiliated with the Yale Teachers Institute, and is proud to have state-wide participation. The funding for discussion was provided by Longwood Foundation, and organized by Professor Jon Cox of the University of Delaware and with ACEER Foundation. To get a sense of what happened at the 3 day in person DTI Summer Institute, check out this minute and a half video.

Simon James, photo credit:

I settled into learning from the recorded discussion with Simon an Stephen, and will retain this from Simon…

1. We need to “shift our mentality from that of reducing carbon footprint. With a paradigm shift, we could be a gift to Earth and to future generations.”

2. “Permaculture is a science, and also a gateway to spirituality, reminding us of our unity. Instead of being simply homo erectus (those who stood up) we could be homo espiritude (those with a spirit).”

Gardenia, photo credit:

At this intensive, Stephen, who also calls themself Gardenia, “realized permaculture is such a familiar pattern, we still run with the land and know that everything has a soul. 

Gardenia also recognized that he “was gifted with that knowledge, to share with my people. I gained knowledge from an elder way out west, a stranger speaking about something my people have known for a very long time.”

You can watch the entire hour of this discussion yourself.  

Since then, we’ve found this message from 10+ Indigenous leaders and organizations stating that regenerative agriculture and permaculture offer narrow solutions to the climate crisis, when compared with indigenous values. Something to think about.

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