Nearly a decade ago I moved to where I live now-- a tiny, isolated, town in rural Latin America. Its charms include lush towers of tropical rain forest, rainbows of succulent fruits, and a nightly chorus of a thousand frogs. A single disheveled bus leaves in the morning and returns at night, except on Sundays, or when the road washes out. The place is home to farmers, families, and a spattering of eclectic foreigners. The town's namesake, the Mastate, is a tree that bears a thick white sap which people sometimes drink in coffee, like milk.
Developing the physical infrastructure of our campus gets me up every morning. I don't need coffee nor an alarm clock; I'm just excited to keep building. Building the orchards and earthworks, furniture for my home, a better feeder for our chickens; these are the projects that rev my permaculture engine. They are concrete, you can see the results of your physical labor immediately, and they are often the first projects of burgeoning permaculture sites. It requires little effort to dedicate the time, space, resources and money to these projects. Yet their impact on the success of a project, despite all this dedication, pales in comparison to another type of infrastructure; the invisible infrastructure.
Permaculture Design is many things to many people, but one of its pillars is a set of three ethics. These as originally laid out by Bill Mollison are
- Care of the Earth
- Care of People
- Redistribution of the Surplus
These are our primary directives for how to act to sustain the earth. Or on a simpler level these are the ways to a good life.