Individual Needs


Individual people and their needs are a component of permaculture design. As with the classic chicken example, we need to know intrinsic characteristics, products and behaviors, and needs. While we may be inclined to generalize for the chicken, generalizing for a particular client would be a grave error. We may know that characteristics, products and behaviors, and needs will fall in certain categories but we do not have knowledge of where an individual will fall in the wide range of potential responses to these concerns.

Characteristics will vary by gender, genetic structure, age and health condition, family and friend characteristics and life-style to name a few. Physical characteristics and what we can determine of psychological and spiritual concerns are considered.

Products and behaviors may be determined. Most individuals produce things or ideas through their work or hobbies. We all produce some level of 'wastes'. A permaculture design is not a passive product; it demands financial or time commitment. Therefore, understanding behavioral patterns is essential for permaculture design. While permaculture may be about vegetables, it is not well adapted to the production of couch potatoes.

The concept of needs has been well classified as ranging from the need for food and shelter through a series of hierarchical levels to self-actualization. Separating needs from wants becomes increasingly difficult in a consumer directed culture. However, an attempt must be made to gain perspective on individual physical and psychological needs in a design.

Our consideration of needs should include sensual and spiritual needs as well. A person's need for visual order or stimulation, things to touch, taste, smell and hear bear investigation. Places for meditation, silence, privacy or contact with psi phenomena might be considered.

The problem of determining another's needs is perplexing for a designer. Those needs can not be determined from outside observation and, to a large degree, the expression of needs must come from the individual participant who may have difficulty expressing them. Fortunately, designs and people's needs do change so a design that has diversity and flexibility may be able to satisfy a reasonable range of changing characteristics, behaviors and requirements over time.