The Remarkable History (and Possible Future) Of Permaculture Disaster Relief
Yesterday the island of Hispanola was hit with a devastating 7.3 magnitude earthquake near Port-Au-Prince the capital of Haiti . Many multiple story buildings have completely collapsed including the major Hospital in the region. Thousands may be killed or trapped in the rubble and aid is being mobilized from around the world. With little to no backup power, sewage, water, housing, or food aid systems in place, Haiti, which is currently the poorest nation in the western hemisphere, is in a VERY DIRE SITUATION. Without a doubt resources and expertise are moving en mass to Haiti, but beyond this temporary relief, what will sustain this nation of 10 million people when it’s left in an even poorer position than ever before? This is where permaculture design comes in, with an adaptable and ever evolving tool kit that can be of vital assistance in disaster relief and the long recovery period to follow.
During the war in Kozovo back in 1999 when displaced refugees flooded into Macedonia Geoff Lawton and a crack team of eager permaculturalists secured international aid to design and implement the master plan for the Cegrane Camp Permaculture Rehabilitation Project, a large refugee camp that provided relief for over 43,000 people.
Geoff created the design around water capture and storage. The final design called for 7.2 km of swales, with an estimated water holding capacity of 30 million liters, greatly reducing the flood potential. Many passive solar strawbale buildings were constructed by trained locals who quickly grasped the simplicity and efficiency of this natural building technique. Large gardens, composting toliets, and chicken tractors all came together in a very short time span. The skills and systems thinking acquired during this process may help secure sustainable employment and economic development for the entire region for years to come.
Another successful implementation of permaculture relief took place in Cuba during the early 90’s when Cuba was suffering from a crippling petroleum embargo. Working with a grant from the Cuban government Austrailian permaculturalists, including Robyn Francis, traveled to Cuba to work with hundreds of Cubans on sustainable food systems design. Robyn, a well traveled expert in permaculture education in the 2/3rds (developing) world, helped local organizers use permaculture design prinicpals and techniques in their urban agriculture efforts. During this time, worker cooperatives were set up, market gardens and public transportation flourished, little to no pesticides or fertilizers were employed, and catastrophic famine was avoided. This partnership has continued to be highly successful and now some of the most experienced urban permaculture experts in the world come from Cuba because of the courageous spirit of the Cuban citizenry. Currently, the Cuba-Australia Permaculture Exchange (CAPE) is working on sustainable housing developments using natural building to compliment the work they began together with urban agriculture
There are numerous ways in which a full-time Permaculture Relief Corps could operate in Haiti in short and long-term time frames.
Building sewage systems, composting toilets, compost and recyclying centers, rocket and solar stoves, temporary shelters (perma-yurts), water catchment, and plant nurseries.
Permanent natural buildings, water storage, earth works, renewable energy, permaculture food forests, broad-scale reforestation, farms, aquaculture systems, health centers and schools.
In 2003 following a intense hurricane, a team including Eric Davenport, an American architect, and David Doherty, a Peace Corps Volunteer, worked for several months with the local community to rebuild a rural village after severe flooding. This team was then joined by Frederique Mangones, a renowned Haitian architect, and engineer Frantz Severe of ORE draw to the challenge of designing low-cost housing adapted to Haitian rural family activities. In the fall of 2003, a team of permiculturalists also offered their expertise to the village project.
|Today their team in collaboration with the local community and the Organization for the Rehabilitation of the Environment ORE is working on:|
– Low cost relief from floods
– Waste management & recycling to protect the environment
– Hygienic toilets to improve family health
– A community center to bring people together
– Privacy to reduce stress within families
– Green spaces to enhance quality of life
– Fruit trees to generate income
– Utilizing daily wind patterns, heat and cooling cycles
– Covenants to protect their community
Haiti is in desperate need of our assistance which can not come soon enough. 8 out of 10 Haitians live in abject poverty and need the long term commitment of folks working for a sustainable and abundant future. Please check out the links below of organizations doing great work in this field.
If you are interested in the formation of a Permaculture Relief Corps like the one I’m proposing please email thejulianeffect(at)gmail.com and I will keep you up to date on the latest developments. [tweetmeme]
My heart goes out to all those working and living in Haiti right now,
Evan Schoepke (@gaiapunk) *CORRECTION*: I had previously mixed up David Doherty (peace core volunteer with Darren Doherty (broad scale permaculture designer), sorry about the confusion.
Principal of Gaia Punk Designs
I’m really excited to see this film and debute it in my community. It has a great cast of main characters:
Jamie Lee Curtis | Bill Logan | Andy Lipkis | Vandana Shiva | Wangari Maathai | Wes Jackson | Sebastiao Salgado | Lelia Deluiz Wanick Salgado | Paul Stamets | Miguel Altieri| Pierre Rabhi | David Orr | Majora Carter | James Jiler | Fritjof Capra | Peter Girguis |Alice Waters | Gary Vaynerchuk | Janine Benyus | John Todd
but it also stars my most favorite environmental super-celebrity DIRT! [tweetmeme]
Wow a whole year!
Yep, it has been roughly about a year now since PRP e-zine swung into full gear and we’re pretty happy with what has been accomplished thus far. This e-zine was conceived as a place to highlight inspiring radical permaculture and eco-city projects and the many incredible folks behind them. Part of the impetus behind this project was to attract more radicals towards permaculture and more permaculturalist towards radicalism if that makes any sense? Radicalism in terms of the fix shit up variety as opposed to the fuck shit up (not discounting the validity of the latter it’s just there is plenty of that on net already). Punk is a representation of the culture we carry and recreate along the journey. What is next for PRP-e zine?
- A new upgraded worpress.org site that is easier to read is in the works in the next few months!
- We are always recruiting more writers of diverse backgrounds for the zine so if you’ve been camping on something you would like to put out there we welcome you to submit just email thejulianeffect(at)gmail.com with the subject “gaia punks”.
- I am currently hashing out the framework for a permaculture media co-op with the editor of Permaculture.tv if your interested in affiliating your site or work and would like to discuss more about that project also just email me with subject “media co-op”.
- Once the site is revamped I will set about crafting a up to the second permaculture job /worktrade board and course listing that could be automatically updated via twitter for convenience.
- More design tools, more technical knowhow, more eco street art and music!
- Thank you all for coming and if you could please leave a bit about who you are, where your from, and suggestions for what you would like to see on this site in the future or anything else in the comments of this post. We do this for you folks and for the health of the planet thank you again for all the great support.
- This is just the beginning!
The water pod project is a retrofitted sustainable education barge full of art and enthusiasm for appropriate technology. This collaborative and nomadic project traveled down the Hudson river doing education demos at stops along the way. A new kind of out of box imaginative and artistic thinking related to permaculture, appropriate technology, new ways of living, is exactly what is need to get people inspired about transforming our civilization and the Waterpod fits the bill. Check out the design and technology employed below.
Waterpod project image galleries: here
You can fix all the worlds problems in a garden…..
Part three of my ten part inspiring permaculture video series is Greening the Desest with Geoff Lawton from the Australian Permaculture Research Institute