Permaculture Principal 12: ‘Creatively Use and Respond to Change’

What a year to delve into Permaculture. I have really enjoyed revisiting each of the twelve principals with you this year and thinking how each might offer new perspectives to how I run my life, garden, business, family, home and how we could, collectively, apply the principals to our communal life together. ‘Creatively Use and Respond to Change’ is so apt for 2020. This year we have all been forced into situations we never dreamed of and have had to adapt so quickly. 

At other times, change may come upon us slowly, creeping in, but we can sense it, then we hear about it in the news. This principal invites us to choose to adapt early, with positivity and creativity, instead of being forced to change later, perhaps when we find ourselves in a situation where our business or system become outdated or obsolete. 

In a crisis like the one we have faced this year everything feels like it’s tilted, so much has changed, we have all had to get creative on some level, from businesses holding meetings online to creatively changing your eating habits to suit the frequency you can visit the shops. We have thought creatively about how we can support each other, how we can reach out to each other without touching, and how we can entertain our kids without them having their pals over. Though we all look forward to the day we can pop into each other’s homes again and for that lovely casual pint with friends down at the pub, perhaps some of these creative adaptations will stick – the non-essential travel for business, the long-distance video chats with old friends, the stay-cation, bike rides to the beach, rediscovering old hobbies, not to mention the generally slower, smaller-scaled pace of life. 

This principal is not saying that change is easy, or without anxiety, sadness or even anger. Knowing that climate change will cause crops to fail, or that losing a job might mean not being able to cover your rent, or that a pandemic can affect every part of your life, these are terrible things, but this principal and all of Permaculture design centres on the vision that we, as human beings, are very resilient and that we can change, we can bend and create new possibilities in the face of change and that once we accept inevitable change, we can be a positive force working towards a new, exciting future.

To look at this from a ‘Cool Clon’ perspective I will visit one of my passions – transport systems – as an example. We all know, collectively, that the way we move around, the speed and frequency of our travel, is something that can’t last, that the planet can’t sustain it, so this principal would ask us (and our government representatives) to think creatively and positively now to embrace future inevitable change. Investing in better public transport, with more frequent and reliable service could be one solution, as would be better access to our beaches by foot or by bike or reducing travel by incentivising working from home. We could also look at how we are using our resources, our land, public space, waste, food systems, energy, in what ways can we better acknowledge and prepare creatively for upcoming change; climate change, population growth, changes in technology, impacts of globalisation? Another local example is the 10,000 tree project, an initiative that is responding creatively to change, we know that Ireland currently has the lowest tree coverage in all of Europe (now around 11 per cent cover down from it’s native 80 per cent), and instead of accepting this continuous decrease volunteers are responding with positivity, envisioning an new future and taking it into their own hands. 

So that is the invitation this month, and going forward, let’s use and respond to change creatively. May we not turn away when faced with inevitable change but accept and embrace and create anew. I wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas season and happy 2021, thank you for your feedback and comments, as I’ve revisited these principals again this year, they are endlessly applicable to all of life and I really encourage anyone interested to keep discovering and delving into them deeper, there are so many books and online resources available. Stay well!

Allison Roberts

Allison Roberts is the Founder and Head Chocolatier at Clonakilty Chocolate.

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