Hi, this is Geoff,
Last year I was in Jordan working on the Greening The Desert site when I heard the news about Bill Mollison’s passing and now, again, I’m here in Jordan at the same time of the year. This site was visited by Bill and Lisa (the last country he visited in his life) during the 10th Permaculture International Convergence in 2011.
I can’t mention Bill without speaking of Lisa Mollison…
I have the greatest respect for Lisa as a personality of strength and integrity, with incredible dogged persistence, a quality Bill consistently insisted we (all) need to develop. Lisa was alway there for Bill in support in every way, as a great organizer, business manager, and passionate organic health carer. Anyone who knew Bill well would understand what a difficult, complicated and constant task Lisa had, keeping things together for such a radical and wild personality. All of this she achieved at the backstage of someone who was always a performer in the spotlight (Bill). I consider Lisa my closest Permaculture sister, who has also shown me great kindness.
So, in the second week of the one month practical Internship, I bring you this Friday Five anniversary, commemoration, remembrance, celebration of Bill’s passing or, as they say in India, his Barsy.
There’s so much out there of, by and about Bill and his work that I’ll let Bill, his admirers, and students (of whom I’m one) do the talking.
In honour of ‘breaking the rules’ there are more than five items in this Friday Five…
Bill’s PDCs: For background into how the PDCs came about, “Yes…it was an epiphany…and as I was an academic at the time, I sat down and wrote out a curriculum…and it became the Permaculture Designers’ Manual.” “…in 1972…in Toronto…we knew there was a lot wrong, but we didn’t have the army that would be needed to change it…[so] one job, to train the army…and I felt that very keenly, so…I’ve done that for [well over] 20 to 30 years…I asked all my students to teach, in their own language, their own culture…”. Here’s Part II of that interview by Frank Aragona (2007), Agricultural Innovations podcast.
As well as one of his 1983 PDCs, there’s some free audio of Bill from a 1980 workshop on designing for ‘fire’ (bottom of page), “…put a sign up, ‘When fire comes, you can escape here, $10 a head…”
The famous ‘Pamphlet Series’ contains gems of gold, an edited transcript of the Permaculture Design Course run by Bill at The Rural Education Center, 1981 transcribed and edited by Barking Frogs Permaculture.
Videos from two PDCs taught by Bill in Texas, 1994 and 1995
At 82 years of age, Bill co-taught a PDC in Melbourne, Australia and then another one in Istanbul, Turkey, both in 2010. Then, in Amman, Jordan, 2011, Bill was guest speaker for this wonderful pre-IPC PDC.
Bill’s Books: The legacy that Bill has left us is ultimately expressed as diamonds in his great books…
- Permaculture One: A Perennial Agriculture for Human Settlements, by Bill and David Holmgren (1978)
- Permaculture 2: Practical Design for Town and Country in Permanent Agriculture (1979)
- Permaculture – A Designers’ Manual (1988)
- Introduction to Permaculture, with Reny Mia Slay (1991)
- The Permaculture Book of Ferment and Human Nutrition (1993)
- Travels in Dreams: An Autobiography (1996)
- And a book he had a hand in producing (written by someone he admired greatly), The Power of Duck, by Takao Furuno (2000)
Bill on television (Bill’s documentaries): Don’t know if these were aired overseas but they were very popular on Australian television:
And the inspiring Global Gardener (1991) series [These are a bit scratchy, but better ones available at bullfrogfilms]:
- Global Gardener 1 – In the Tropics; Global Gardener 2 – Arid Lands;
- Global Gardener 3 – Cool Climates;
- and Global Gardener 4 – Urban – including the ever thriving ‘Village Homes’ in Davis, California, USA, designed by Michael Corbett.
Interviews with Bill: There are too many to list but…there are some special ones here.
- The Plowboy interview (1980) click ‘Read More’ (this is where Joel Salatin first came across the word ‘Permaculture’!). This by the very active Alan AtKisson (1991). “I’m certain I don’t know what permaculture is. That’s what I like about it – it’s not dogmatic. But you’ve got to say it’s about the only organized system of design that ever was.”
- Permaculture: A Quiet Revolution — An Interview with Bill Mollison (approximately 1996), by Scott London
- Australian Biography: Bill Mollison by Robin Hughes, filmed 2002, and aired on Australia’s multi-cultural SBS TV, Feb 2009.
- A Couple of Rough Types Bill ‘n me, 2010, a lovely, funny interview. “Nature presents accidental things…and you think, ‘Oh!…why didn’t I plan that?’ I did it the other day…”.
Hats off to Bill! This tribute Bill Mollison, Time Scout so eloquently says what many of us think and feel. For those who don’t know the story, you’ll be keen to read, co-founder of Permaculture, David Holmgren’s How I Met Bill Mollison. A song for Bill, Trees Eat Us All, by Formidable Vegetable Sound System’s Charlie Mgee. Graham Bell who’s grown, tends and teaches from the oldest Permaculture-inspired Food Forest in the UK, says of Bill, “Though often outwardly gruff and challenging there was real heart to everything he did.”
From UK’s vegan-Permaculture teacher Graham Burnett of Spiralseed.
Gardening Australia’s beloved, Manchester-accented Peter Cundall talks of early days in Tasmania before ‘Permaculture’, “…a lot of people don’t realise he was also an initiator of…organic farming and gardening movement here…”.
From urban Permaculture pioneer Angelo Eliades of Deep Green Permaculture, “He was truly a peaceful warrior who had no qualms about questioning, challenging and shaking up the stupidity of the status quo.”
ABC Rural (radio) by Merian Ellis , “In many countries, permaculture has been accepted as a viable alternative to chemical-based agriculture…The Vietnamese government was so impressed by the concept, they adopted it as their agricultural policy. Bill’s permaculture handbook was translated into Vietnamese and 130,000 copies printed and distributed to every farmer in the country.” (Approximately 2001)
ABC Radio National’s Blueprint For Living’, with a grab of Bill speaking in 1983, “But I think we have skilled bankers, investment brokers, we possibly even have skilled politicians. If they made a personal decision for life, for the life of the world…then I think we could do it in three years.”
The Guardian, He held that “although the problems of the world are increasingly complex, the solutions remain embarrassingly simple”, by Matt Dunwell.
Last but not least!: Bill Mollison’s Whale Story, a true story from his childhood.
And in case you missed these: Here are a few interesting pieces by, or about Bill published in our sister site, the non-profit Permaculture Research Institute:
- Desert Ways
- The One Duck Revolution
- Phases of Abundance
- Interview: Bill Mollison on Permaculture and Ecosystems For The Future (1986)
These posts are just some of thousands, catalogued by subject matter with several new articles going up weekly.
That’s it for this special ‘Bill’s Barsy’ Friday Five.
You’re welcome, of course, to forward it to a friend, anyone can sign up for the next edition. Even though I rarely get a chance to reply, your comments and thoughts are valued, positive or negative!
So, until next week,