It is my hope that Principle 0 can contribute to the growing movement to decolonize not just permaculture, but the regeneration movement around the world, weaving it back to its roots …
Restoring and Re-storying In working with ethnic and indigenous communities affected by disasters and displacement, great care is taken in terms of using Nature to heal, especially when there has been loss of life and damage from floods, landslides, and trees that have been uprooted or fallen, among others. It is important to design with dignity in ways locals can use permaculture to reclaim their narratives in relation to the land where a lot of their identity is rooted.
In Marawi, south of the Philippines, we worked with ethnic Meranao IDPs (Internally Displaced Persons) displaced by an ISIS affiliated siege of their city. We collaborated with local knowledge bearers and ethnobotanists to invite them to share their edible and medicinal plants and to design their garden in a resettlement. It is our hope that the plants they grow and consume can represent their stories of home, their place of belonging where they may never return. In the process, we hope that a sense of healing can take place given that gardens have therapeutic effects and support well-being.
In Kalinga, north of the Philippines, we worked with the local government in developing a permaculture demonstration site after Supertyphoon Haima in 2016. It was to showcase the benefits of the transition out of GMO corn which the locals have resorted to for economic recovery from a failed coffee program. In the aftermath of Supertyphoon Mangkhut (2018), we were able to raise a small amount to support the community with initial relief goods from organic rice to beans, to dried fish that were locally sourced.
Based on our usual justice-based approach as a nonprofit, we decided to allocate more goods for families with more children to be equitable about how we offer aid. This meant, however, that not everyone would receive something. In a feedback circle from our partner indigenous leaders, they advised it would have been better if we could have trusted their indigenous way of sharing. Coming from their strong communal nature, this meant giving everyone equal amounts, so everyone felt they received something, no matter how little. Then in the process, they would naturally share more with those in need. This humbling experience really changed my whole approach to working with indigenous communities.
As a living design framework, permaculture’s principles and ethics should continue to evolve over time. It is my hope that Principle 0 can contribute to the growing movement to decolonize not just permaculture, but the regeneration movement around the world, weaving it back to its roots – the indigenous knowledge, systems and practices that it drew inspiration from. My proposal is only one of many movements that are amplifying the call, like Liberation Permaculture,7 Green Dreamer,8 Possible Futures,9 and this statement on White Washed Hope,10 the Global South Permaculture Network and many others.
I believe permaculture, a global movement of more than 20 million practitioners, can play a role in healing not only our ecological ecosystems but our socio-cultural ecosystems. Because of its growing popularity and predominantly white cultural following, it has the privilege of attention and support to inspire a much deeper remembering of our relationship with the Earth. I am sharing this story with the intention of inviting conversations about this topic through an emerging platform called Restore-Restory. We have already started with our first conversation11 as part of the Soil Circles of Commonland with the Presencing Institute. We will continue on with an action-research dialogue with New Stories12 to weave regenerative voices through regenerative dialogues where we feel there is a separation or divide. This can serve as an opportunity to unlearn and learn from each other in a time when growing systemic collapse is taking place and inviting us to work together, rather than apart, in deep adaptation.
resilience-and-regeneration 2 www.greenreleaf.org 3 https://open.oregonstate.education/permaculture/chapter/zones 4 https://re-alliance.org 5 https://bit.ly/livingstorylandscapes 6 www.icca.ph 7 www.instagram.com/liberationpermaculture/?hl=en 8 ttps://greendreamer.com 9 www.possiblefutures.earth 10 https://farmerrishi.com/blogs/farmer-rishi/whitewashed-hope 11 https://4returns.earth/events/restoring-and-re-storying-narratives-of-
ecosystem-restoration 12 https://newstories.org Clickable links to all footnotes can be found at: linktr.ee/soilsoulstory
Sarah Queblatin is a systems weaver on a journey to restore and re-story narratives of place and belonging, between soil and soul, between chaos and creativity. She co-founded Green Releaf Initiative and the Living Story Landscapes Project and holds a merit diploma from Blue Mountains Permaculture Institute. www.soilsoulstory.com / email@example.com issue 110 winter 2021