The framework: social


& systems thinking

Holistic solutions to systemic problems

Creating spirals of health and regeneration. Using yoga, dance & art as tools of expression, heal, grow and change. Interser is a social permaculture project and uses an inclusive pedagogy that connects all aspects of the human experience: body, mind and soul.

A lot of valuable projects often fail because people do not manage to get along with each other. The biggest obstacles are not usually economic or technical or lack of vision, but are closely linked to the need to learn to collaborate and coexist, to know how to listen to each other, to incorporate diverse views, to design united and resilient communities. Today permaculture can give us a solution.

Permaculture is recognized worldwide as a system for designing sustainable human environments.

With nature as a guide and teacher, it is a discipline that studies its patterns and dynamics and then incorporates them into healthy agricultural systems. It emerged in Australia in the mid-70s with a special focus on the ecological design of productive areas capable of sustaining families, communities and even bioregions in an integrated way.

Permaculture seeks specific solutions for each geographical area, interpreting the characteristics of each community, the systemic health of ecosystems and maximizing the energy delivered by nature. It is based on three ethical principles that work in total interconnection: care for the Earth, care for people and fair sharing. The culture of care is the philosophical center of permaculture, assuming that true harmony can not be achieved if any of these three ethics is not met.

It also has 12 design principles that teach us to establish a deep bond with nature when designing and working in our productive enterprises. These principles advise us to carefully observe nature before starting any type of material intervention. Observation allows us to decipher the responses that are subtly found in natural environments.

Zoning is a central tool of permaculture to efficiently plan how to organize the elements within our projects based on the frequency of human use and the needs of plants or animals. Elements that need frequent attention are located closer to the house, such as the vegetable garden, and those that need less contact, such as a forest, are located further away. Starting then from zone 0, where the house or the core of the activity is normally located, it will extend and move away until zone 5, where with minimal human intervention nature can flourish in all its splendor.

How can we use these permaculture principles and tools to observe ourselves and make a better design of our inner landscape?

Achieving healthy human bonds is an immense challenge. In the whole process of achieving collective harmony, personal work is also crucial. Social permaculture helps us to develop design zones similar to those we use to design a sustainable productive landscape, but applied to human relationships to move towards a regenerative culture. Zone zero would be that of self-care, of personal regeneration. Zone one is linked to the most intimate relationships; family, partners, children, friends, co-workers. It deals with the prevention and healing of conflicts with our closest relationships. Zones two and three are linked to the design of organizations and communities. And zones four and five aim at strengthening social movements, building networks and designing regenerative public policies.

In her book “People & Permaculture” Looby Macnamara argues that zone zero is where we have the greatest capacity for impact. If we do not manage our own inner zone well, if we fail to embody the change we propose, this ends up having negative effects on the rest of the zones. It is within our own inner landscape that we can cultivate compassion, love, understanding and resilience. It is from here that we can nurture and inspire others to continue building regenerative relationships. We are system within systems. Within our bodies, in the social networks we are part of, in the different roles we play in society there are plenty of systems involved and interrelated.

If what we think, we create, it is time to change our way of thinking.

The linear mind-set that characterizes the Industrial Society of Growth and the scientised view of the world look at individual parts or things and often ignore the connections between them. System thinking brings us a shift in thinking: looking at things as wholes and the relationships between them. Austrian biologist Ludvig von Bertalanffy founded systems theory, which he described as a “way of seeing”, moving us from thinking about “stuff” and “what” the universe is made of, to the “process” and “how” the universe is made. What is a system? Donella Meadows (Thinking in Systems): “a set of things -people, cells, molecules, or whatever – interconnected in such a way that they produce their own pattern of behavior over time”.

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