Shaping the Future

The call to become an effective agent of change

There is a rising tide of awareness of an urgent need to change, which has been accelerating rapidly over the past 12 months. Most people now accept the reality of climate change, and it’s connection to increasing droughts, water crises and extreme weather events, and accept that we all have a role to play in the solution process.

A new terminology is infiltrating the media and people’s consciousness, like Foodmiles, Footprint, Peak Oil, Energy Descent, Relocalisation, Water Security, Post-carbon Age, Transition Society…

What the global situation demands, for any form of sustainable future for humans and most other species inhabiting planet earth, is a major shift in lifestyle, thinking and expectations particularly in the affluent populations of the world.

The recently released WWF Living Planet Report 2007 is a humbling reminder that we cannot afford to continue consuming resources at current levels. If the earth’s 3.6 billion people lived like the average American, we’d need more than 5 (five) plant earths to sustain ourselves. If everyone lived like the average Australian we’d require almost 4 planets.

Our lifestyle is literally costing the earth. In the past 50 years more resources have been consumed than in the entire history of the human race-that is, over the preceding 200,000 years.  Consumerism, economic rationalism and trade for trade’s sake have run riot in a world environment conceding and acquiescing to corporate aspirations and global market manipulations, particularly over this past decade since the mid-nineties.

The paradigm shift requires us to radically contract into a conserver society, get over our ‘Affluenza’ quick smart, and embrace frugality as a moral obligation. If we don’t get tough on ourselves, the world will get even tougher on us as the consequences of inaction or insufficient action take their toll.

Empowerment for Shaping a Sustainable Future

The future is most certainly in our hands in a more profound way than ever before in history.  The most critical thinking to direct our actions today, tomorrow and every day thereafter is to make a commitment to being an effective earth-steward and support others in the changes to an earth-friendly lifestyle-we all need to learn to live within our footprint.

This calls for us to effectively re-invent ourselves, and our relationship to the world around us; in our daily living, in our work, and the myriad interactions we constantly engage in-within our community and society at large.

While there are many small things we can do immediately through behavioural adjustments and becoming more aware consumers, the paradigm shift to become an effective agent of change demands a degree of knowledge, skills, and practical ecological savvy that has been seriously neglected in our education systems.  There is so much to learn, and little time to waste.

Permaculture Solutions

This is where permaculture has the most to offer the world at present, in empowering people with the knowledge and tools to make informed decisions, solve problems and develop creative responses in their home, through their work, in business, in their community and beyond.

Permaculture provides 3 decades of global experience at the cutting edge of sustainable living, development and design. Drawing on the lessons of history, the best of sustainable traditional and indigenous wisdoms, it weaves a fresh approach to eco-literacy, environmental science and social justice as a practical and realistic design system for a sustainable future.

At the heart of permaculture’s success lies empowerment through education. This has largely been through the intensive 2-week or 72+hour program known as the Permaculture Design Course or PDC. This course covers the A-Z of permaculture design principles and applications for rural and urban environments and lifestyles, and is recognised internationally as the minimum training requirement for permaculture designers and teachers.

It is estimated that over 500,000 people have completed the PDC around the world–in all climates and continents–and are effecting profound changes on the local level and through national and international organisations. Inspiring and empowering, this is a crash course in practical eco-literacy and practical strategies to reduce your footprint, design and establish productive environments, develop systems for survival, and be a catalyst for change through individual and community action.

Since 2003 permaculture education has taken the next step in preparing people as shapers and makers of a sustainable future with the introduction of nationally accredited vocational training in sustainable systems design and community development. The Accredited Permaculture TrainingTM (APT)  aims to train the new generation of earth-stewards and custodians of the future, the tradespeople and professionals of a post-carbon society.

As a society in transition to a new and uncertain future, we need to pro-actively harness the opportunities this crisis presents to respond in a creative way by embracing change and taking personal and collective responsibility for the kind of world we bequeath to our children and future generations.

Do Yourself a Favour – be the change you wish to see

This is the time of the Great Turning, of transitioning into a completely different way of living. This requires a mass re-skilling in sustainable living and working within our community.  The most important investment you can make to your personal future, your career, family well-being, to your community, society and the earth that sustains you, is to gain the knowledge, skills and tools to participate intelligently in shaping a future that has a future, and become an effective agent and catalyst for change.

Robyn Francis has been teaching permaculture around the world since 1983, one of permaculture’s most experienced educators she has designed and conducted over 70 specialist courses in sustainable professional development, 100 PDCs (January 2008 celebrates her 100th PDC), plus countless workshops, seminars, conference and public presentations. Over the past 15 years she has developed a world-class sustainability training centre, Djanbung Gardens, in northern NSW, Australia, and is one of the key architects and providers of the Accredited Permaculture Training.  For further information visit

CC (Creative Commons) Robyn Francis 2007  This article can be freely republished with due acknowledgement – please notify Permaculture Education of republishing details


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