Equity and the Permaculture Association

Permaculture is based on a set of ethics, one of which is People Care. The Permaculture Association recognises that disadvantage and inequality of opportunity exists. We are committed to the principle of equal opportunities.

We intend to ensure that all people are treated equally and fairly in all our activities and services. We aim to ensure that no individual or groups of people are discriminated against on the grounds of colour, race, ethnic origin, creed, age, disability, gender, care responsibilities, class, sexual orientation, sub-culture or trade union membership.  We recognise that people often face discrimination based on more than one aspect of their identities. 

Committed to action

The Permaculture Association is committed to a programme of action to make our equal opportunities policy fully effective. We will regularly examine and challenge barriers - this includes recognising that some people are prevented from accessing education due to structural biases. 

We have come to understand that equality is different from equity. 

During this clear time of pain for black communities amplified by COVID-19 and the subsequent restrictions, we understand we need to do more to fulfil our equal opportunities policy.

Even though permaculture is used all over the world and we work across cultures and countries, the Permaculture Association (Britain) is a predominantly white charity with a majority white membership. We have benefited from white privilege. We are genuinely looking to understand our privilege and engage better with all communities, particularly as permaculture offers design solutions - solutions that can tackle societal and structural inequalities. We want to design a more equitable and fair world, with people care, earth care and fair shares at its centre. 

Equity 

Historically there are many communities with inequitable access to shaping and benefitting from the development of systems and resources. This is particularly relevant considering how climate change is disproportionately affecting certain groups.

Inequities have been further amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic. Inequality of access, overconsumption and a variety of cultural, social and political biases and injustices exist, and have an impact on social management via lockdowns. Lockdowns have had a significant feedback effect on planetary health and disproportionality affecting groups already marginalised. The PAB is committed to providing equitable access to its services and activities.

What have we done so far? 

  • We have worked to understand how permaculture is and has been used in marginalised communities - Thriving Communities project

  • Provided bursaries for convergence events

  • Ran a Group Visit Scheme for disadvantaged groups to visit permaculture projects

  • Hosting member discussions to explore these issues, inspired by Liberation Permaculture work and the Black Permaculture Network

  • Core members of our team are undertaking Whiteness training, using the ‘Me and My White Supremacy Handbook’. 

 

Permaculture Education 

  • Access to education is so important - hired an online course developer who is experienced in providing equitable opportunities to marginalised groups. 

  • Equalities monitoring for online learning 

  • Bursary places - We sought funding to give away free places to people who are ethnically and culturally diverse, and who experience racism in our society to help us test and refine our first online course during development. 

 

What are we doing about it? 

Work to do within the permaculture network

  • A more radical approach to education may be needed, such as the pedagogy of the oppressed approaches that work with marginalized groups.

  • Bring politics into permaculture more and work to broaden people’s understanding of what permaculture is and can be. 

  • Change / add to the conversation in the wider permaculture network to make sure marginalised voices are heard and not shut down.

  • Use this as an opportunity to increase people’s design skills and knowledge: making designs accessible to all socially / economically.

  • Directly address the issue of access to permaculture education: overcome barriers of time and cost.


Work to do within the Permaculture Association

  • Secure funds to ensure that the people that contribute to this work are recompensed.

  • Work on the Permaculture Association as an organisation: auditing our processes, recruitment, wording, reviewing projects and activities.

  • Capacity building support to increase voices, confidence and leadership across the network.

  • Create an open forum for practitioners working to increase diversity in permaculture.

  • Develop a training for members on privilege, equity, diversity. 

  • Continue to increase diversity at events. Continue with bursaries and develop further strategies. Linked to increasing the diversity of our membership.

  • Plan to increase diversity of membership, staff and of the Board of Trustees. This will need proactive work to reach new audiences, make time for outreach, secure funds for bursaries.

  • Conversation is key. We need to make time to find out what people need and to understand barriers to participation. Work with people to create solutions and the support that is needed to get involved. 

  • Active collection and sharing of stories where equity and diversity in permaculture is being increased and developed. Pay practitioners for time to engage with the communications work.

  • Make sure that permaculture language is made accessible and connect in appropriate ways for different groups.

  • Stress and restate the connection and respect for indigenous knowledge that is part of permaculture’s approach.