Return to the lost paradise - about ecoCULTURE and Permaculture.  

By Feliciano Pla

I am a friend of Gaudí -a friend from the times there were no Friends of Gaudí yet- who has lived during 50 years in front of the east façade of the Sagrada Familia Temple, saying: “Every day I was looking for something new on it and I always found it ”.

I am a Company Organising Engineer and in 1983 I decided to organize WITH Nature and to demonstrate in a simple way that Nature has always had and still has the solution; the ecoSoluction. So I founded an experimentation and demonstration centre which I called Univerd-ecoCentre and tried to make it work thanks to the participation of related though groups. I organized a number of Aulas Verdes 1, which are presentations and seminaries about each one of the essential themes I thought that could guide us people. In April 84, I happened to read the first books of Bill Mollison “Permaculture I and II” , who realised the first book in collaboration with David Holmgren . I was filled with enthusiasm when I read about the way to restore our earth which is degraded by so many people without ecoconscience and the way to return to paradise from the desert in which we were living. So I organised in Barcelona the I st Journeys of Presentation of Permaculture in Spain in June 84. From then until today I have organised many other uncountable activities. I have written more than ten books and more than 200 instalments about the subject, about energetic and alimentary self-sufficiency, for the first time in Spanish.

From then on I thoroughly studied the entire existing bibliography and just like Bill and David, I thought of a database which I called “ecoCULTURE, Science of the self-sufficiency” and I defined twelve of its essential elements: the Sun, the Moon, the Fire, the Wind, the Water, the Ground, the Plants, the Animals, the People, their Structures, their Waste and their Information . It are all elements that are generated from a questionnaire with questions that every ecoDesigner - who wants to design in an ecologic, economic, ethic, durable and ingenious way- has to ask himself when he intends to do something functional and useful and especially when he wants to imagine a human durable landscape.

In Permaculture, as a design system which I think is based on information compiled by ecoCULTURE -the wisdom of all the people, of all times and of all thinking countries that take advantage of the above mentioned twelve costless elements- the ecoDesigner has to ask himself the questions of this questionnaire, in order to obtain the most appropriate functional and useful design. To do this right he should make a thoughtful analyse of the element which is the object of design and in case this is a landscape, he should consider that . . .

  1. Each element of the system has different functions at the same time,
  2. Each element necessary in the system is assisted by several elements at the same,
  3. All the elements of the system are Interconnected,
  4. The system meets all the necessities of the people that are living in it and,
  5. The system produces a surplus in order to realise the interchange with people from other systems;

He should do all this in order to reach a satisfying full and happy, individual and communitarian life.

In fact, without being a utopia, the goal of Permaculture is the model of “Paradise on Earth (Garden of Eden)”. In 1998 I published my first book “Your Paradise -Ideology of an ecoDesigner-“, in which I proposed 99 themes that resolve a big part of the doubts of the people that read this article.

Aspiring to self-sufficiency is possible everywhere if we want to live a healthy, realised and happy life on the ground we are walking on. Everybody is an animal of the ground under his feet and therefore he has to nourish himself from it. It is obvious that this demands that we develop our own ethnic natural ethic genius -more than an artificial system of total dependence-. A model of people of all times, are the nomadic tribes that hardly possess what they wear or carry on their shoulder because they don't need anything else. These people do not need “to work” -let's say; “to move”- more than 2 hours a day in order to reach the necessary nutrients to survive in a happy way. They don't store anything for the day after; they have nature at their disposition; they have everything they needs. The other 14 active hours they pass them together in a circle enjoying the ideas of everybody, their own ideas as well as those from the others.

It is obvious that this model is a possible border -a culture that is getting lost, because it doesn't leave tracks where it goes through; it doesn't leave almost anything to investigate-. The happiness of everybody doesn't lie in making history or in leaving something, but in living happily each moment of our existence. In order to reach this border, we people from the Occident must prepare our mind and body and while doing so, we will acquire the wisdom that leads us to happiness.

Looking from my window at the east façade of the Sagrada Familia, I discovered how Gaudí made himself questions that suggested him the 12 elements I propose. Those elements and another 333 more that I have compiled up until today, take advantage of the resources they offer themselves.

On day the reader will also discover that

“….on earth everything is free at the disposition of those people who want to be happy, you'll see”.

1 - “Green Lecture Halls”,

Thanks a lot , Feliciano!

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