[Friday Five] Words and Images: Yes, they do mean something

Hi, this is Geoff.

We’ve been getting some interesting weather here the past couple of weeks, so much so that we had our internet knocked out for a couple of days last week (!)

Lots here in this week’s Friday Five, so let’s jump right in.

Urban: Two thoughtful pieces on urban permaculture. The first is an overview and roundup of approaches to solving world hunger that center on “thinking small,” a series of actions and steps done at the personal and community level. The second is a trailer for The Nature of Cities, a film that follows the University of Virginia’s Professor Timothy Beatley as he gives a tour of various urban projects around the world. Though its from 2010, there are some real gems here; if you have time for the full film (about 40 minutes), you can see it here.

Gorgeous: Every year, the Natural History Museum holds its Wildlife Photographer of the Year People’s Choice Award. They’re now on the 52nd such event, and the images that they have shortlisted are breathtaking. See them here, and feel free to vote on your favorite by 10 January 2017. Which one moves you the most?

Pattern: Whenever I teach the PDC course, the “Understanding Pattern” presentation consistently gets some of the most impassioned, interested reactions from students. We explore patterns that are often subtle, and once you learn to look for these, it becomes very difficult to “not see” them everywhere you look. Here is one that is not-so-subtle, and visually compelling. It never ceases to amaze me how nature leaves us so many messages in patterns.

Words matter: I shared in an earlier Friday Five news that “post-truth” was the “word of the year.” Here is a take in the opposite direction, namely, that words DO have meaning, and that they certainly do matter. The context here is the “lexicon of sustainability,” the idea that understanding simple terms and principles related to sustainability and permaculture will actually help us live in way consistent with those approaches. Sounds too basic to be of value? Check out there well-done set of resources here.

In case you missed it: Lots of great pieces this week from our sister site, the non-profit Permaculture Research Institute. The first is another great piece by Angelo Eliades titled, “Science, Technology and Permaculture – How Much Do You Really Need to Know?” The second is a short piece on swales and soil health, two topics that consistently get a great deal of interest. The third takes us back to words and language again, namely, “Why We Need to Focus on Terminology to Take Permaculture to the Next Level.” If you enjoy these posts, be sure to bookmark the site as several new articles go up weekly, or check out thousands of other past articles, here.  

That’s it for the Friday Five – short and sweet as promised.

Feel free to forward to a friend. Anyone can sign up for the next batch.

Cheers, and have a great weekend

Your friend,


PS: As always, please feel free to jump over to the comments section of this Friday Five (and all past FFs), and sharing your insights in the discussion / comments section below. I look forward to reading your thoughts.

2016-12-17T04:55:12+00:00 Blog|8 Comments
  • rooibos

    Thanks Geoff… love your Friday Five and everything else! BTW, the ‘Urban’ section seemed to indicate two pieces, but are there links to only the second one? Or I”m overlooking something, as usual 🙂

  • Lexicon is a curious development. Ideally, the outcome is regenerative culture, -beyond organic, as they say! Conceptually, my open-source/ rural destination-production hub-eatery “Cafe Chez Kiva” contains all of these things, with no ‘index’ or reading list required. ..Just get out of your car and say: “Holly f***, THIS is cool!” (The alternative here is still MickyD’s, or Waffle House.)

    Of course, I’ll be dead and gone before some capitalist runs with the idea. Interestingly, the embryo of my thinking about a revised look at farmsteads occurred in 2009 when I took a bogus course in organic soil amendments in hopes of becoming the company’s national salesman. As a designer, it never occurred to me to take a PDC until I realized how much of the American heartland has been hollowed-out through commodity price-controls and globalization.

  • Hi Geoff my two bits of worth on the “Words do Matter”. Words have acoustic vibrations, resonance, and some of us are particularly “wired” to sense the importance of the Words. When it gets globalized, homogenized, institutionalized, these are reduced to yet another impotent tools in the army of development.

    Globalized world of linearity, impatient to achieve “outcomes, strips off real meanings. The resonance and resilience of a word in a given local-context is attuned to the diversity and uniqueness of that context, how it is articulated, the subtle nuances, including the sanctity of the meaning is thus eroded in the jungle of “log frames”, “best practices” and “outcomes oriented indicators for success to replicate and scale up..

    Once in my workshops on zero waste I had participants who spoke Xhosa and Zulu, two of the South African languages. None of us including myself were “Native” English speakers. As we grappled with the concept of waste, and the usual boring tenets of recycling, i hit upon an idea – looking for translation of the word “Waste” in our respective mother tongues. What came out was fascinating – a narrative of – globalized, homogenized worldview –driven by meaningless monocultures of concepts and lexicons.

    None of our languages had a short one word translation for ‘Waste”. Waste is primarily a product of postindustrial societies. Plastic definitely is the prime symbol of the ruling world of petroleum insidiously morphed into the core of Life.

    Fast- forward fifty years – Development, modernization steam rolling into remote corners of non-industrial communities. Forcing “supermarket syndrome” of modernized consumerist development. And viola- we have “waste” as major problem- waste is here to stay. Billions of resources are diverted to deal with waste, pollution, and problem of “development-gone-wrong”

    Did we ask for this kind of development or sustainability ? I don’t think so… but here we are – the masses moping up the “; mistakes” of development games that Big Boys play in the corridors of corporations and hi-jacking amongst other things our lexicons, our words, our meanings– that dont any more matter to our everyday lives as we become pawns and barefoot soldiers in the new army… feeding the Sustainable Development Goals

    Here is an excerpt from a poem that I wrote long time ago, the link for the full poem is below if anyone is interested.

    First they told my people
    They were backward and primitive
    They made my generation sick and lost
    Then they stole the wisdom from my elders
    Now they sell it back to my people
    For a price, a big price
    And they call it
    Sustainable development


    • My sentiments, exactly. Your points being LEED-certified ‘Platinum’ entries, mate!

  • Chris Searles

    Hello everyone — just wanted to share this 2 minute video https://youtu.be/TmhPNQxBVYE. I’ve been doing a series for 10 weeks on the rationale for protecting and restoring tropical forests as our primary solution to climate change and the extinction crisis. These videos are an orientation of sorts. I also believe we should protect and restore all of Earth’s most biodiverse ecosystems; 2) use permaculture to solve our poverty and future food challenges, and 3) (via permaculture) install biodiversity resilience buffers in and around the places people live.

    Hope you enjoy the vid. Thanks–CS

  • George Fulton

    I too enjoy the Friday five. I couldn’t help but think, while watching “The Nature of Cities” that there are many buildings that could do with a wrap of green living stuff. As Frank Lloyd Wright said, “Doctors bury their mistakes, Architects plant vines.”

    I couldn’t agree more that words do matter. Our incoming President needs to learn that. I am terrified at what is coming. I just read that Dick Cheney is also helping out. That guy is a lying, deceitful, war mongering butcher who has become wealthy pushing wars and I fear he’ll be instrumental in another. Add to that a cabinet populated with billionaires, extreme conservatives, oil men, and a wrestling executive? Pray for us.

  • claudio esberard

    After many interesting Friday Five, is my time to return. I send a pic from our home. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/6911ec5a6b50af12a52da66e3cff395120f6cf6524000fb754ee000b402a7482.jpg