The Global Permayouth Festivals began last year in August when countries around the world were in their first lockdowns. Online, enthusiastic and wanting to reach out to others in the world, Permayouth decided to invite permaculture leaders and elders leading positive action globally to inspire each other, and imagine and create a space to make sense of the rapidly changing world around us.
Permaculture, by definition, is a ‘permanent culture’ – a culture of celebrating diversity, the global community we’re part of and the art, music and wisdom that is waiting to be shared.
Slam Poetry Eve Ballard, now our resident slam poet, writes inspiring and thoughtful spoken poetry to recognise the global crisis while uplifting solutions, which she performed at the first festival. We encourage people to create original content for each festival and Eve (who had never done slam poetry before) decided she would try her hand at it.
Lo and behold, she wrote a poem that knocked us off our feet! This ignited her passion to create more and she now shares an amazing poem at each festival and event we hold.
Music Sumaili Nyange, from the Kakuma Refugee Hub in Kenya, is part of a boy band called the Permayouth Ambassador Crew. To help start and share their music, we invited them to share a song at a festival. They received so much enthusiasm that they are now able to create their own recording studio and share it with other groups in the refugee camp.
Welcoming Elders Welcoming different elders and leaders in the permaculture movement is the highlight of the festival, to create a mutual and intergenerational learning space.
Morag Gamble, my mum, is our mentor and has been part of the Permayouth movement, mentoring us from the very start – being a speaker at every festival and supporting youth around the world with her knowledge and experience. It’s also with her support that we are able to give free permaculture education to refugee youth through the Permaculture Education Institute and Ethos Foundation.
The opening festival was especially moving and memorable for me, as I interviewed Rosemary Morrow (recent recipient of the Order of Australia medal) and Canadian permaculture activist, Sierra Robinson. They both recommended we challenge ideas and beliefs (our own and our community’s), educate ourselves, find new stories and make connection to create beautiful possibilities. Rosemary also described permaculture itself as a way of finding understanding and joy in the world and in turn, to love life and leave the mark you want to leave.
Aiming big, to the next festival we invited co-founder of permaculture, David Holmgren, along with the incredible Australian illustrator, Brenna Quinlan and Australian musician Charlie McGee. Asking what inspired him to co-found permaculture, David replied that permaculture for him was a way to create the world the way we want and leave it better than we find it, instead of fighting ‘bad things’. Brenna added her wisdom that being part of a positive movement allows you to not only share the weight of all that’s going on, but also to collaborate with and empower others. Charlie gave us an excellent rendition of ‘My Dad’s Dunny’, a tour of Melliodora and a quote I think of regularly:
“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”
Unschooling Goggles In October, we invited Matt Powers (a permaculture author and educator from the US) and his son James, to share their stories of a life within the world of permaculture. Matt unschooled James with the idea that if you’re enthusiastic about something, you will learn an infinitely large amount about it than something you’re just not into. James is a fantastic electric guitarist and he performed a medley of a few of his songs, which was amazing.
Huw Richards, the renowned British gardening YouTuber and author, was our guest for the November Festival. His advice to us was to grow in a way that makes you happy as there are so many ways you can help the world. “Find what you enjoy the most and then you can see how to relate it to helping the world around you.” As a YouTuber, Huw has found that we’re in the Communications Revolution. Everything we say online has an impact, so it’s our responsibility to choose what we communicate to spread positivity and connection.
At our last festival, our guest was Costa Georgiadis, the award-winning Australian TV presenter and landscape architect. His enthusiasm and knowledge is fascinating, posing questions like, “How can you retell the narrative?” and “What is the legacy you want to leave? Is it one of debris and deforestation or of regeneration and art?”. He also told us that Dirt-Girl World Gnome’s goggles (Costa plays the character in the popular Australian show, Dirt-Girl) are a symbolic reference to permaculture!† Permaculture allows you to see through different lenses – broad and open to see the big picture – yet intricate and detailed to see the actions you can take.
Our festivals continue as we invite everyone (youth and allies) to come along. You can find out more about and join the Festival and Permayouth at permayouth.org. To listen to the full recordings of the Festival Panels, check out our Permayouth YouTube Channel.
This year, Permayouth won one of the Youth in Permaculture Prizes. We are so grateful to PM and Abundant Earth Foundation. † Meet Dirt-Girl World Gnome at www.youtube.com/watch?v=bm6EgTWrQuU
Maia Raymond is the co-founder and coordinator of Permayouth and lives at Crystal Waters Ecovillage in Australia with her family. Lead image thanks to @sketchingthemove issue 108 summer 2021