Permaculture is relatively simple, simple concepts, simple ideas, simple applications, until you look at your first design application. Your mind goes blank, what do I do first, what do I do second, what if I make a mistake. After the initial panic set's in, you calm down and start to work through the principles one by one and the design starts to solidify. Because of those first time jitters, I was deeply interested in obtaining a copy of the book, "Permaculture Design: A Step-by-Step Guide" to see what others have accomplished and how they organized the design process. I was intrigued by a new book on design that would provide step by step instructions by an author that has obtained a very prestigious background in permaculture design and research. The book can be ordered by itself, or for a few dollars more you can receive and accompanying CD with actual the designs and background information on the work that Aranya has completed. With that, I preordered the book and waited patiently for it to arrive and finally that day came. Okay, maybe not so patiently...
I understand the importance of the permaculture design class and the impact it has on your thinking and your way of life. So I take the information gained during that designer class very seriously, no book will ever replace the designer class but it can serve as a preparation tool or to fill in gaps that might not have been covered in as much detail as you would like in the 72 hour designer class. For me, I wanted to look at the organization tools and the way that Aranya organized the flow of the mass amount of information to be gathered, evaluated, and organized to create a final permaculture design. And this book did not disappoint me. The book was full of information to assist you in the creation of your design from start to finish using simple tools, freely available software, and professional advice.
The book is organized in three major sections, the first covers the preparations which include observation skills and a brief description of the concepts of permaculture along with working with groups and conflict resolution. The second section covered the design process with details on the site survey and an excellent section on basic map types, map making using basic tools such as compass and measurements, and how to create your own maps, flowcharts, sector and solar maps, and soil type. Additional discussion on the client interview process, goal setting, choosing your systems and elements, and finally starting to create a design proposal of your thoughts and client wishes. The next information provided are details of how to organize the project using time lines, Pert and Gantt charts, the creation of a maintenance plan, resource list and finally how to create your formal presentation to the client. The third section provides information on organizational tools labeled incremental design that include additional flowcharts, mind mapping, the use of a diary, social structures and interaction between various networking groups for social stability and sustainability. Appendices, a resource list and glossary are also provided. The book is heavily illustrated with color images of every phase of the design process, and descriptions of computer based software are also provided as a guide to making professional presentations and reports using open source software, freely available to everyone at no charge.
The book was a pleasure to read, well thought out and presented with a desire to educate but also inspire us to make changes, changes in our own lives and for the good of the ones around us, changes of future generations to come by showing us just how easy it is to make those changes.