While in the Blue Mountains, a beautiful region of NSW just outside of Sydney that reminds me a lot of the Blue Ridge Mountains in southwest Virginia, though admittedly a bit more dramatic, I attended a Permaculture Blue Mountains (PBM) meeting. PBM is a core group of about 20 members, though their online community is 100 and growing.
I was impressed that the meeting was opened by a reading of the permaculture ethics: care for people, care for earth and share surplus, followed by permaculture principles to be used in personal dealings, e.g. “accept feedback, observe and interact, use small and slow solutions, integrate rather than segregate and use and value diversity.”
A large part of PBM is providing opportunities for the Blue Mountains community to engage in local permaculture projects and permaculture education. One way PBM accomplishes this is by hosting monthly sustainability talks: for example, Craig Laurendet spoke on using recycled materials in construction last week and next month, Rosemary Morrow will be talking about what’s happening in permaculture on the international scene. In addition, every October, PBG teams up with TAFE (Australia’s largest vocational training and education provider) to provide an 8-week introduction to edible and sustainable gardening course based on permaculture principles.
PBM also provides support for establishing and improving local community gardens, and networks with groups such as Slow Food, Cittaslow, Transition BM and Fruit and Nut Tree Network, and Blue Mountains Permaculture Institute, and holds bimonthly working bees (group gatherings in which an existing garden is further developed or bare lawn is transformed into an edible garden, open to all, regardless of age, experience or skills; tea and food is usually served).
In addition to providing me with great contact information for other organizations I should check out along my way, PBM provided an example of a community group actively and effectively engaged in community education around the principles of permaculture.