Why do they belong together?

Okay, but how do free knowledge and permaculture relate?


Permaculture and the movement behind free knowledge have more in common than one might think.
For example:

  • Both movements are global, driven by shared beliefs, very heterogeneous and decentralized and are, at the core, working for the common good.
  • There is only a small set of basic principles and established rules (see Four Freedoms12 Principles3 Ethics). Apart from that, the projects can be very different.
  • Solutions or content are independently tested, adapted to one’s own conditions and are improved constantly. People of both movements use a lot of curiosity and inventiveness.

Especially in the area of global cooperation (via the Internet), however, the “free knowledge” has clearly more experience, of which the permaculture movement could benefit.

The idea

Imagine more Permaculture content under free licenses and furthering the culture of free exchange of knowledge. Imagine a knowledge commons for people worldwide who want to live sustainable and self-determined lifes: The Permaculture Commons.


How can Permaculture benefit?

Here are a few ideas derived from permaculture principles.


Produce no waste

Fragments, photos, abandoned items, ancient books – the internet and libraries are full of content that could contribute to practical, living projects, but instead fall into disregard.

Free licenses can help to transform waste into input here. If this forgotten content can be used without a hassle, it will be used. And then: There is no such thing as waste.

Cooperation instead of competition

“Many Hands Make Light Work”

Writing a book: Hard work. Write a permaculture planning software: Phew! Insane.

Let’s start small, let’s work together. Free licenses are made for cooperation and make huge projects possible.

The free operating system Linux is a good example. Started by a single person, improved by more than 100,000 people and in fact used by all Internet users today. An incredible success story that is only made possible by free licenses.

By the way: The Permablitz allows a group to archive more in a day than you alone could manage in weeks. And it has a direct equivalent in the world of free knowledge: In a Book Sprint authors come together and write a whole book in 3-5 days, with great fun and results of very high quality.


Use and preserve diversity

“It’s True That [writing is] a solitary occupation, but you would be surprised at how much companionship a group of imaginary characters can offer once you get to know them.”
–Anne Tyler

The image of the solitary author seems firmly rooted in our culture. But the benefits of the collaboration of several people with different approaches, expertises and even time zones are enormous (see Book Sprint above).

To reach many people, you need a variety of media, languages and styles. Collaboration and free licenses allow an unexpected variety.


Respond creatively to change and use it

When the winds of change blow, some build protective walls, others build windmills.
– Chinese Proverb

The printed book loses its importance, books are scanned, shared and downloaded illegally. Publishers and authors do not earn enough money. It happens every day.

It seems highly unlikely that these things will change in the near future. Stricter copyright laws and elaborate copy protection might be able to slow these trends down, but won’t stop them.

Authors can decide to fight or recognize new possibilities and use them. See free licenses.