Andrew Faust, renowned Permaculture Scholar, has been captivating audiences with his message of how we can use permaculture to redesign the current, vulnerable economic landscape to reflect the most resilient systems functioning in nature. With over 20 years of teaching experience, he has, to date, successfully graduated over 400 students from his Permaculture Design Certification (PDC) course that is helping spawn a new wave of green businesses and organizations. The Permaculture movement is growing in the greater NYC area and has also found a home within the Occupy Wall Street community.
Permaculture is a design science rooted in the observation of natural living eco systems. Through years of study on how nature functions, Ecologists, Bill Mollison and David Holmgren, discovered a set of principles at work within an ecosystem, that can be applied to the construction of human systems to ensure resiliency and efficiency. These principles allow for all basic human needs to be met without compromising the integrity of the natural environment. The core ethics behind Permaculture are care of the earth, care of the people and share the surplus, also known as earth care, people care and fair share.
Faust makes a strong case outlining how we can begin, at once, to utilize these principles and start participating in a new, regionally specific economy that supports the local ecology rather than exhausting it, and create a new system out of the shell of the current structure that is failing to meet our most basic needs. He also stresses the great need for these principles to be applied in an urban setting and highlights many of the opportunities to do so in the PDC.
“I believe more than a few of my fellow PDC students came into the class with plans to escape the city and build their Permaculture homestead– myself included. And most of us left with goals of focusing our energies right here in the city, where Permaculture principles and applications are needed most urgently.”– Jenna Spevack, PDC 2010
As Faust sees it, we need to move away from a consumer based economic model and become a culture of producers, in which local communities start redeveloping basic, long forgotten skills that are currently outsourced. He believes that this is where new sustainable green jobs will ultimately come from, for the people and by the people.
Faust also challenges the basic understanding of what sustainability actually is. He says, quoted from a recent talk, “first if we are going to talk about sustainability, we must ask the question, what is it that we are trying to sustain? If we refer to NYC, the city has never, once, been in compliance with the clean air or water act.”
Most view sustainability as a movement towards decreasing our impact on the environment by reducing our carbon footprint. He suggests that we need to participate with our local ecologies and increase our impact to begin shifting into a new regenerative phase, repairing and reversing severely damaged portions of the environment while simultaneously participating in an economy that supports this endeavor.
“I think the biggest shift for me that came out of the Permaculture Design Certification with Andrew, was taking this false idea that we need to reduce our impact on the planet and flipping it on it's head. We need to be improving our influence on the planet, and expanding toward a positive impact not shrinking our footprint.” — Liz Neves, PDC 2009
Faust’s work has struck a cord within the Occupy Movement. He gave his first presentation to the movement at The Atrium Building at 60 Wall Street, where organizers and activists meet to report back on various projects and plan actions. The Food Justice Working Group, the Sustainability Working Group and the Brooklyn General Assembly have hosted him on multiple occasions, to speak on various topics. New York based Occupy farm projects are incorporating Permaculture principles with the assistance of Andrew’s knowledge and rich history in the field.
Among participating in various speaking engagements, Andrew teaches 4-5 PDC’s per year in both NYC and at Yestermorrow, a progressive green building school in Warren, Vermont. The Spring 2012 Permaculture Design Certification Program will run from February 18th to April 7th at the 6th St Community Center, in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Registration is still open, on a first come first serve basis. Andrew Faust is currently the only Permaculture Teacher offering the PDC Program here in NYC.
If you would like more detailed information about classes, workshops, speaking engagements or would like to request Andrew to speak at an event, visit the Center For Bioregional Living at: http://www.homebiome.com
Here is a clip of Andrew speaking for the first time to the OWS community.