This event had a modest turn out. Most people who came were searching for ways to improve their current financial stability by incorporating permaculture principles and practices. During the lecture, I tried to make an overview of certain principles through examples of existing businesses that I have been particularly impressed by, or even been a part of…
The most important principle OBSERVATION was covered by an analysis of the inputs and outputs of the modern business, and where someone can jump in to meet certain needs. Students concluded that a Permaculture economy does not mean a limited cash flow, simply a much more efficient way to allocate labor and organize society that may actually give way to MORE economic exchange, rather than less.
We discussed STACKING and STOCKING functions in a business, and related it to labor management by analyzing the value and intrinsic characteristics of volunteer services. The RELATIVE LOCATION principle was used as a segue-way into thinking globally and acting locally, using urban beekeeping/honey production as an example of how a primary industry can develop in densely populated places such as the Netherlands.
My friend Dimo from Waste No More Farm is my signature example of a business that USES BIOLOGICAL RESOURCES. He interrupts a waste stream and sees it as a resource.
The principles of DIVERSITY, COOPERATION, ENERGY CYCLING, ENERGY EFFICIENT PLANNING, NICHE MANAGEMENT and EDGE EFFECT were all discussed with examples of existing business such as my CSA in upstate New York, BKFarmyards in Brooklyn, NY and Covoiturage in France.
The final exercise encouraged students to align the permaculture principles to a certain sector of a business plan. We covered HUMAN RESOURCES together and then the class was divided into two groups: MARKETING and FINANCE... and this is what they came up with…
Applied to Marketing
Applied to Finances
Paying attention to worker needs.
Paying attention to feedback from advertisements.
Volunteerism = student + labor + new ideas + money saved…
Using something functional as an advertisement, such as an event to advertise a product or facility
One expenditure covers many needs.
Using compost toilets! We humans are a resource!
Giving the customers incentives to come back.
Re-investing your profits into the functionality of the
Making sure that the work environment is a well-balanced and relaxing one
Place your ads wisely... target your audience! Do they use internet? Go to cafes? Where do they shop?
Keep the money local! – Spend/sell primarily within the community!
Making sure everyone in the group has a wide variety of tasks in the work day
Put out many different kinds of adverts.
Maintain many different sources of income. Not only by having different products, but also different points at which money (or any other asset) enters the organization. i.e. CSA, donations, courses, etc.
ENERGY EFFICIENT PLANNING
Cooperation skills being developed and discussed within the group to make things run more smoothly
See: Stacking functions :))
Also, placing a priority on internet advertisement.
Put priority over keeping costs low rather than incomes high.
USING BIOLOGICAL RESOURCES
Practice what you preach = OFFER GOOD
Internet is kind of organic, ain’t it? i.e. "viral" emails, low paper consumptions, etc.
Basically, word-of-mouth advertisement is ideal and that is easiest done online nowadays.
Cut down costs and close your own system by producing your own
biological resources –compost, mulch and plant species.
FOCUS ON NICHES AND EDGES
Be patient and allow everyone find their own place within the group. Don't rush to assign tasks before understanding each person's likes and dislikes. Highlight people’s strengths and match them with compliments to their
Always have an audience in mind when formulating a marketing strategy.
Observation is important to receive feedback as to how certain long-term and short-term investments are doing.
Later, I asked the groups to each come up with a permaculture-related business. When both groups were done presenting, I asked them to brainstorm ways that they could combine the two ideas. This group was easy since they thought of a school and an old folks’ home. Great focus on edges in a design, once again!