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Social Permaculture

16 Sterling Drive
Craftsbury Common, VT

Earth care. People care. Fair share. These concepts—the foundational ethics of permaculture—are also the predicates for a sustainable, just, and equitable society. Permaculture takes wisdom and inspiration from ecological systems to design gardens, farms, and homesteads that have the benefits and resilience of natural ecosystems. It offers a way for people to meet human needs while increasing the health of the ecosystem. The applicability of permaculture principles extends well beyond agriculture; most human designed systems, including social systems, can benefit from mimicking ecological systems. Social Permaculture, therefore, applies the ethics, principles and design process of permaculture to social systems, rather than agroecological ones.


This five-day Social Permaculture intensive uses permaculture ethics, principles, and design language both as a lens to critically explore problems and a creative tool to generate resilient solutions. During our time together, we will find and articulate the connections between social, ecological, and economic problems. By exploring case studies of grassroots organizing, the cooperative movement, the solidarity economy, and participatory budgeting, we will move beyond problem identification to solutions-oriented planning and action. We will also study and practice frameworks and tools for consensus building, facilitation, relational theory, direct democracy, commoning, and participatory design. The course features a combination of thought-provoking readings, perspective-shifting case studies, engaging hands-on activities in the outdoors, and challenging in-class exercises, providing diverse learners with ample opportunity to build their capacity for catalyzing long-term societal change. After learning to apply permaculture principles to the social domain, students will be better equipped to hold transformative spaces, foster resilient, equitable communities, and provide generative leadership.