Permaculture Film Project: First of its Kind

The Kick Starter campaign ends May 29th for the epic film about permaculture, “Inhabit: A Permaculture Perspective.” RS caught up with the filmmaker, Costa Boutsikaris to learn more about the inspiration and plans for this first-of its-kind documentary capturing a current bioregional snap shot of Permaculture in the North Eastern United States.

Kelly Fragale: What inspired you to make this film? 
Costas Boutsikaris: I took a Permaculture Design Course four years ago that radically altered my perspective on the true problems we are facing as a species and planet.  In making this film, I wanted to explore how this design process can be used in different settings to help integrate human systems with ecological systems. We traveled to over twenty different sites ranging from large scale farms, to suburban homesteads and urban parks. The film “Inhabit” aims to share a collage of stories and replicable solutions that are being successfully implemented across the Northeast/Midwest. 
What is Permaculture by your own personal definition? 
Permaculture is a design framework that looks to ecosystems for inspiration, and uses these principles to weaves human systems into the landscape. The word is a combination of “permanent” and “agriculture.” Fundamentally, permaculture strives to create a regenerative agriculture that has the permanence and resilience of nature. This design process can also be applied to how we design our homes, energy systems, economies, and ultimately, our culture. It’s a lens to help uncover solutions.
Did you learn anything new or gain any insights during the filming? 
During this trip, we were able to witness and capture many forms of ecological design systems in action. We spent time in a 100 acre permaculture farm in Wisconsin amongst cows and pigs roaming happily under the shade of nut and fruit trees. I was led through a rain garden in Camden , New Jersey where local students captured rainwater overflow from the streets to grow native plants. We tasted the morning harvest of paw-paws and kiwis as an urban homesteader walked with his son through their backyard forest garden. It was very hopeful to see theories of permaculture in practice, and very exciting to encounter the surprisingly diverse variety of landscapes in which it is being applied.
When did you encounter permaculture? 
I stumbled upon Permaculture videos online in 2009 while researching peak oil and alternative agriculture. I was struck by its beautiful focus on a vision for what the world could look like, and clear roadmap for getting there. The following year, I took a course with Andrew Faust in NYC and then went on to study around the Northeast. 
How has it effected your life? 
The Permaculture network has exposed me to a wide range of farmers, designers and pioneers who are applying these ecological design methods across all scales. It has given me a compass for designing the places I inhabit and the work I want to be apart of. 
Not everyone knows what permaculture is. Who did you make this movie for, the permaculture community or the general public?
Both! We want to introduce Permaculture to people in a more accessible and compelling way while also giving permies a deeper insight into success stories from around the Northeast. We are hoping to help shape the new cultural narrative and help share these vision of regeneration.
What is the overarching message of the documentary? 
We hear a lot about the need to minimize footprints and to reduce our impact. But what if our footprints were beneficial? What if we could meet human needs while increasing the health and well-being of our planet? This is the premise behind permaculture: a design process based on the replication of patterns found in nature.
Is there any message that you would like to offer RS readers, specifically about the documentary? 
We are running a KickStarter Campaign to help cover the costs of editing, original score, color correction, distribution,marketing etc. The campaign ends on Thursday May 29! We have reached our goal but are still hoping to reach our stretch goal of $45,000 which will allow us to grow our team and to work with other creatives and ensure the best and farthest reaching version of Inhabit. Every dollar helps spread this message further! 
What are you hoping the takeaway is for people just learning about Permaculture? 
Permaculture design can help guide all types of human systems toward greater ecological integration and sustainability. These strategies go way beyond just theory and are showing signs of real on the ground success in communities and farms across the Northeast/Midwest. By partnering with ecology and biology we can build a much more secure society that future generations will be proud to take on. 
What are your intentions for this film?
Inhabit is a tool for learning about Permaculture and the many forms it can take while also being a collection of human stories about adaptation and ecological consciousness. 
Is it relevant for people not living on the East Coast?
While the film was shot in the Northeast and Midwest the solutions we documented can be replicated in all parts of the world and the design theory is universal. This film is relevant for anyone interested in ecological design and permaculture theories being put into practice.