Principles

 

THE IDEA OF PRINCIPLES AND 10 PRINCIPLES OF PERMACULTURE

Webster's New Universal Unabridged Dictionary, Second Edition, Dorset & Baber publishers, gives us several definitions of the word principle. The third and sixth seem well suited to defining the term as we use it in permaculture.

prin'ci ple, n. [Fr. principe; L. principium, beginning.]

3. a fundamental truth, law, doctrine or motivating force, upon which all others are based.

6. an essential element, constituent or quality, especially one that produces a specific effect.

As used here, 'principle' is most related to the idea of a 'motivating force, a constituent or quality' of a design. From the point-of-view of permaculture it is particularly relevant that the principles be directly applicable to design, that they provide specific guidance to our thinking and that design alternatives or results can be evaluated against them. The point of having principles is that they provide us with a framework for making design decisions and they assist us in evaluation of design alternatives.

In the permaculture course we were presented with twelve principles. Since then we have reviewed 'statements of principles' by Bill Mollison and Reny Mia Slay, John Lyle, Sim Van der Ryn and Stuart Cowan, Nancy Jack Todd and John Todd, the U.S. National Park Service and Andropogon Associates. A review of a collective 64 'state- ments of principles' from the course and by these authors resulted in the distillation and consolidation of all
statement ideas into the 10 principles presented here.

The 10 Principles are:

ETHICS: Ethical or philosophical stance guiding design decisions is stated for the client. Client's stance defined.

CONTEXT: Design reflects its larger scale setting.

NATURE AS MODEL: Natural physical, biological and chemical systems and processes are the model for design.

RELATIVE LOCATION: Components of design are placed to make useful connections.

REDUNDANCY: Each element provides several functions; each major function is addressed by several elements.

EFFICIENT RESOURCE PLANNING: Biological, chemical and physical resources are reduced, reused, recycled and maximized.

EFFICIENT ENERGY PLANNING: Energy reaching the site is retained and used many times.

COMPREHENSION: Scale, technology, social relationships and governance are understandable, responsive to and controllable by users.

INFORMED DECISIONS: Information and participation replace standardization, power and anonymity of decisions to produce a precise fit between elements and functions to meet need.

REFLECTIVE FORM: Designed form and operations reflect the functions and processes being achieved.


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