Our program is based upon the ethics of Permaculture: Earth Care, People Care, and Fair Share. Our goal is to bring these ethics into action through group travel. How do the three ethics of Permaculture apply to tourism? Let’s take a look.
• The Earth is our home. We depend on the health of the environment to meet all of our basic needs. We are not separate from the Earth, but intimately interwoven components of her body. Our human systems are now so vastly spread throughout the landscape, that our species has become a primary influencer upon the health of our environment. As individuals we are each directly shaping the enormous collective impact that humans are having on the planet.
• When we start to look at our “footprint” on the planet, travel is certainly a factor of consideration, since our modern modes of travel involve the consumption of large amounts of energy. Thus there is an inherent dilemma within “tourism” in regards to caring for the Earth. Air-travel, in particular, requires massive amounts of fossil fuels, which environmental scientists agree is the primary factor influencing global climate change. And that is only the beginning considering the influx of development and trash that comes with tourism. So how can Permaculture Design help reverse the destructive nature of tourism? Rallying to overthrow tourism for the sake of the earth won’t get us anywhere since as we know it, the interest in and accessibility of tourism is only growing.
• The goal of the Permacultourism Initiative is neither to encourage or discourage the use of fossil fuels. Our goal is to give those who are interested in World travel an avenue to leave a regenerative impact on the Earth while traveling. We do this by teaching and practicing permaculture design methods in areas of the world that could benefit. Each human being on this planet has the potential to leave such a powerful impact, whether that be creative or destructive. As the words of Mahatma Gandhi suggest, if we want our impact to be positive, we have to to “Be the change that you want to see in the world.” It is for this reason that we are dedicated to serving the ecological awareness and health of people on this Earth, for the sake of the Earth.
• “Earth Care” and “People Care” are so intimately interlinked, that it is sometimes hard to distinguish the two. They go hand and hand, and one cannot be achieved without the other.
• We live on a planet which is so remarkably rich in diversity, both ecologically and culturally. The vast number of cultural traditions could be weighed equally with the plethora of unique species on the planet. Just as we love to observe the grand array of colors and patterns found in wildflowers and birds, we also marvel in awe at the traditional dress of the Wodaabe tribe of Africa, the spiritual practices of the Tibetan Yogis, and the dance and hospitality found on the Island of Bali. Just as ecological systems depends on species diversity for their full thriving operation, our cultural systems also thrive on diversity.
• With the rise of globalized, consumer-driven economy, both ecological diversity and cultural diversity is diminishing. Hundreds of generations worth of tradition begin to suffer once “western” pop culture, and corporate business enter into the picture. Everywhere in the world people are abandoning the cultural values and lifestyle that their parents and grand-parents held, to move to cities in hopes of “making it” and moving to America. The land of “America” still stands as an illusory symbol of abundant wealth and success without hardship.
• Our hope is to help encourage the retention of traditional culture and skills while sharing new and innovative tools and practices which support sustainable lifestyle. We hope to communicate that wealth and happiness do not come from the dollar and living a flashy pop-star lifestyle, but from deep relationship with one’s Self, the Earth and Community surrounding.
• We approach “people care” not through aid, nor lifestyle-conversion, but through engagement in global relationship that facilitates the sharing of life-abundance giving knowledge and practices. We all have much to learn from each other.
• Industries are infamous for taking, taking, and taking more at the expense of people and the earth. The Tourist Industry is no exception to this tendency. When tourism enters a previously isolated area, it may appear at first to be of great benefit to the local people. Tourism brings in money to areas which we may have previously called “impoverished”, or “third-world”, which sounds great right? Well it is wonderful if that money can be channeled in the right way to equally benefit all inhabitants of an area, human, animal, and plant. What we often see is that that money goes towards further developing an unsustainable system of further segregated members. The entrepreneurs learn to gather this revenue to modernize their lifestyle, while the villagers take to begging the tourists for their income. Those who are not able to plug into this revenue stream from the newly formed tourist-economy encounter greater and greater obstacles in obtaining their basic needs. Thus, all over the world, there is a huge movement of people from rural to urban environments.
• When tourism enters an area, the Earth gets the worst end of deal. As the money flows in, homestays turn to high rise hotels, ox-carts turn to jeeps, and once prized landscapes turn to parking lots and vending grounds of cheap trinkets. The erosion off of this now impermeable ground pollutes the local rivers which formerly supported the livelihoods of entire communities. The health issues that ensue may now only be addressed by “aid” organizations coming from the same populations that originally supported the source of the problem. The only solution to this cycle is ethical travel operations which are breaking out of this tourism model of “pass through, pollute the environment, and leave some money”.
• So this brings us to how Permaculture ethics can transform Tourism. Our focus is to facilitate global community relationships which equally feed body, mind, and soul of all, and contribute to the health of the Earth. The Permaculture Ethic of “Fair Share” refers to the equal importance of the needs of all inhabitants of the planet: people, animals, and plants. Permaculture can transform tourism by designing tourism opperations which equally benefit the visitors and the locals, while implementing vastly productive edible landscapes. To ensure that the revenue brought into an area is beneficial, we give our support in setting up cooperatives which can continue to bring life into the community. With a little bit of design, education and community planning, our impact can plant the seeds of long-term abundance which continues to blossom with time.
Our ethical purpose is not to pull people away from their local environments, but to give all participants of a Permacultourism Adventure, western or eastern, visitor or local, a greater appreciation for the Earth, and the skills to manifest abundance within global and local systems. Those who have traveled far distances, and experienced through emersion, often return home with a much greater appreciation for their own local communities and ecosystems. This sentiment is expressed beautifully by the well-traveled poet and writer, Herman Hesse in his personally favorite work entitled Wandering: “Everything belongs to me more than ever before, it speaks to me more richly and with hundreds of nuances. My yearning no longer paints dreamy colors across the veiled distances, my eyes are satisfied with what exists, because they have learned to see. The world has become lovelier than before.”