Hello and a warm, sunny welcome to our Summer edition of Northern Edge. We have recently been revisiting the work of permaculture co-founder, David Holmgren, and the valuable contributions he has made to the field with regards to his future scenarios work. Holmgren, a genuine time scout, has busily reflected on various ways in which our energy descent may play out globally over the coming years. Two of his publications, about ten years apart, give us a great insight into the spirit of our times. In Four Energy Descent Scenarios he maps out possible responses to the coming fossil fuel crisis. His latest reflections on global responses following the recent pandemic emergency are presented in the lengthy but thought-provoking Pandemic Brooding: Brown Tech in New Clothing.
We cannot know which events will eventually come to pass and it may be a combination of scenarios that we will ultimately bear witness to, such is the complexity of the reality we find ourselves in.
We know that the trajectory of globalisation as we have experienced it, is not sustainable or indeed supportive of us as humans or our living planet. So now we have an opportunity to stop, look and listen to what our times are asking of us. As the cost of our old ways of living increase, so will our ability to be resourceful. As online forums become increasingly polarised, with our neighbours in our localities we will explore the potentials of nuanced debate, develop our tolerance, and recognise what unites us. There are many things that we may not have power or control over, but we can choose our actions in each moment; investing our time and energy in those that most fruitfully appear to work for the benefit of all.
Wherever possible we can share our plants, cuttings, and seeds with the knowledge that our connections will strengthen and become more productive. Despite the trying tumult of our times, we continue to have opportunities to work together to bring about another way. What that looks like will hopefully vary from community to community and be as rich, diverse, and evolving as the natural world itself. We can ensure that our endeavours are human scale and human friendly in heart-warming contrast to the increasingly controlled, yet more visibly fragile, globalised paradigm.
If we examine the last six thousand years we have experienced on this planet as a species and acknowledge all the profound hardships, horrors, wars, and atrocities that humanity have endured, we may ask ourselves if we might be one of the most significant embodiments of the power of ‘resilience.’ In that sense, we are well equipped to find a way through whichever scenarios we are met with. That is not to say that there won’t be great hardships, losses, and traumas. As we know, life is full of unpredictability, change and surprises and we cannot know what precisely is in store for us. But we can celebrate the good company that we find ourselves in and draw from our own and our ancestors’ abilities in overcoming great adversities as we embark further on this journey together. We are reminded, at this time, that permaculture design is what we do when we don’t know what to do.