Dear other white people involved in permaculture

(pictured above… Lisa and I enjoying our time with┬áJaviera during our final day of the 2014 Permaculture for Ecological and Social Transformation course)

Hey Folks… For us to do the real work of creating an ECO-logical, as apposed to EGO-logical society. We need to be working on our own personal issues regarding our relationship to the Global Majority, particularly people of color. My friend and permaculture colleague Lisa DePiano (co-founder of Permaculture FEAST) had some good thinking in this regard, which she posted on her Facebook page:

“Dear other white people involved in permaculture,

The tricky thing I’m learning about racism is that it exists on more than one level. Just like the ecological principle of nesting, its internalized (racial superiority or inferiority), happens on an interpersonal level and then on an institutional level (police, education, housing, workplace, healthcare etc)

So you can be a well meaning white permaculturist AND still be perpetuating systems of racism. Just like you can not want to support fossil fuels but you drive a car to work or heat your home with oil or buy food from the grocery store. The system is set up to support fossil fuels. Just like the system is set up to benefit whites (not all white folks equally) on the backs of communities of color.

The exciting thing that is happening now is that this movement [Black Lives Matter, and others], led by people of color, is calling out the systemic nature of racism. Its not just about isolated incidences of state sanctioned racial violence but they are exposing the long history of racism that this country has been built on. That is extremely powerful and very aligned with permaculture both in the systems connections and in the ethics & principles.

Frankly its a missed yield (to put it gently) if we are not drawing connections, supporting and building relationships between this and the permaculture movement and then we wonder why there are not more people of color in permaculture.

IMHO It is also because of the process of assimilation or becoming white from Irish, Italian, German etc that many white folks traded in their culture (ways of farming, cooking, language, music, skills) for the perceived benefits of larger white consumer culture.

Permaculture is in a way reclaiming those traditions but often not naming why or how this happened all the while downplaying the significance of contributions of communities of color and the fact that we occupy first nations land. Time to address that.

See you in the streets,

Lisa DePiano”