The aim of this work is a cross-disciplinary integration of ideas specifically relevant to permaculture design and the physical structure of human settlements. Although this work is ambitious in scope, I feel this is an important element of the writing, to present an overview such that the reader is able to see the inter-relations of many ideas relevant to design. This is a synthesis of a kind which I believe has so far not been attempted.
Ecological design principles are illustrated through a consideration of a variety of topics, such as urban-rural planning, agriculture and economic systems, hence a general appreciation of the application of permaculture is achieved.
The first section of this work uses the idea of quality of life to define alternative possibilities for working, and for a different relationship between people and the natural environment. The second section is about the patterns of nature which provide the wisdom for permaculture design. The third section describes the observation underlying this design. As nuances of patterns in nature are infinitely varied, permaculture must begin with the local environment. It follows that a permaculture lifestyle would not arise from a ready-made plan, but would involve an on-going process of learning from nature. This process of learning alludes to archetypal underlying patterns, but defies definitive description.
It is the application of these underlying patterns to design which is the basis of the fourth section. This deals with the way in which insights from chaos theory and ecology could effect the design of human communities using the idea of a pattern language. The fifth section is about the processes through which humans interact with natural systems and obtain their needs. This is very important, as it is our methods of production which cause a good deal of environmental degradation. The sixth section is concerned with what effect these changes in design could have on social and economic structures. As these economic structures could also be seen as a catalyst for change to a more sustainable community, there is a cyclical relationship between the physical form of society and its social structures. The conclusion seeks to identify ways in which people can begin to make changes in their lifestyle to move towards a permaculture system….”