What will create the tipping point?

Hi, this is Geoff,

Welcome to another week’s Friday Five! And a a subject that’s dear to my heart…‘tipping points’.

Author of The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference, Malcolm Gladwell, who said one of his reasons for writing the book was to …show people how to start ‘positive’ epidemics of their own…”, found through his research that it’s not 51% that creates a tipping point. Surprisingly, it’s more like 12% to 18% of a population!

So…for people across the globe, in all the different regions and countries, adopting regenerative practices, harmonious designed living…what will create the tipping point?

Is it…

Policy change?: Dotted here and there (and this is bound to increase as time goes on) some local and regional governments, e.g. Los Angeles City Council, are implementing policy changes that make it easier for engineers, individuals and groups to do things like harvest rainwater, set up urban farms, and much more. For examples, such as the 2013 Rainwater Ordinance signed by the Director of Transport in Tucson, Arizona, scroll down the page on Brad Lancaster’s site.

Something out of the blue?: Long-time GMO activist and author Jeffrey Smith relates how in just four weeks in 1999, when a gag order was lifted on formerly pro-GMO scientist Dr Arpad Pusztai’s paper, across the whole of Europe “…Unilver said, ‘No more GMOs!’…the next day Nestlés, the next week everyone else…”. [see @ 3.36 this video]

Subversion?: Roger Doiron has certainly got it right with his subversive garden plot! And River Cottage’s Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall catches up with two women growing community gardens in Todmorden, England, “…and they’ve been doing it all without the council’s permission…guerrilla gardening…”.

Education?: We now have something even more effective than what Bill Mollison dreamed of (permaculture courses 24×7 on television), i.e. the internet…because you can interact! And primary and high schools, and universities are adopting permaculture into their curriculums. And there are more (wonderful) people writing and creating content for schools. Another, is this sort of education: tailored specifically for villagers across the world in tropical climates. And…the number of people taking and teaching PDCs is growing exponentially!

Domino Effect!: Or maybe, it will be the domino effect! 🙂

It’ll be one, or some, or all of the above. Or…it will end up being something we could never have imagined! Here’s my take on it: the realisation that we’re at “peak land use”, and that we need to develop increasingly efficient ways of obtaining our food, on less and less area, creates a permaculture positive tipping point. Smart design that also provides an empowerment of self worth, and a meaningful life connected to true wealth naturally creates a self-moderating population.

So…I tip my hat to all of us and send you much encouragement, as we continue to create the conditions for the tipping point to occur (a world of abundance, health and absolute reconnection with nature the world over).

Some of this week’s new posts! See our sister site, the non-profit Permaculture Research Institute:

These articles are just some of thousands. Several new ones go up every week.

So that’s it for this week’s (tipping point!) Friday Five. For anyone who’s wondering where I am, I’m due back in Australia by the second week of November, in time for some of the upcoming events at Zaytuna Farm.

You’re welcome to forward this email to a friend, anyone can sign up for the next edition. Comments and thoughts are valued!

Until next week,

Best wishes,


2017-10-23T13:07:20+00:00 Blog|9 Comments
  • Richard Welker

    Dear Geoff,
    I believe what will create the tipping point will be and is, the equivalent of a collective shamanic journey into the underworld of our own shadow psychology. In other words, a universal crisis in consciousness. As the old great stories and myths that once informed us of our place in the cosmos break down and decay into tools for tyrants, as science continues to define us as an biological accident with no spiritual purpose whatsoever, as accelerated climate change becomes an increasingly perceived reality, as every institution designed to nurture us moves into a state of collapse, the stress on the collective psyche will become so severe as to actually begin to change consciousness in unprecedented and unpredictable ways towards the birth of a new human and a new human consciousness.

    I believe we are now moving between the first and second stages of an unprecedented initiation and metamorphosis in the development of Man.

    The first stage is the disintegration, disruption, and collapse of the collective belief system. This means the breakdown of everything we take for granted. It’s as if we are being impacted by a psychic tsunami, completely dislocating us all from what was once familiar and secure.

    As collapse proceeds we move to the second stage which is called, the ordeal. That is to say, we collectively experience being torn apart, disassembled, undone and stressed to the breaking point. We are immersed in a dark night of the soul in which we experience suffering, anguish, grief and loss, a feeling that we may not survive this, and that God himself has abandoned us in our hour of need. It is the experience of never being able to return to what we thought as normal and the calling into question of everything we thought we knew. All this happens not just on an individual level but on a collective level probably for the first time in the history of man. We may experience this as divine punishment but in fact it is the opposite, a profound collective healing crisis that will cause a paradigm shift in who we think we are, why we are here and what is our relationship to the cosmic intelligence.

    All of this is designed to unleash a creative potential, a gift if you will, that is unprecedented in the development of our species.

    It is this experience, all together, that will create a knowing of the unity of all life, of the reality of our nature as love, and the certainty there is a profound order in the chaos. Our collective spiritual emergency IS by definition, a tipping point from which there will be no return to the madness and insanity of the present.

    Richard Welker
    Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA

  • A HUGE issue often swept under the rug are the many environmental and health harms of animal agriculture. The movies “Cowspiracy” and “What the Health” should be required viewing for everyone. Using our precious land and resources to grow real food to directly feed people instead of as food for captive animals is the single largest cause of global climate impact, but we never hear about it. We do not need to eat animals for food at all, I didn’t just do the research, but proved this to myself and reversed many long standing diseases and health issues. The science is very clear but the power of the industry billions override the legitimacy of the science. Unless you look like a wolf or cat, salivate over road kill, or get a thrill from killing and eating your animals raw, this should be evident. Nature provides all it’s creations with the innate, native, apparatus to procure it’s appropriate food, tools are just a learned trick in times of desperation. Even bunnies can learn to enjoy cooked meat, but they get the same diseases we do, and where do you thinks cows, pigs and sheep get their nutrients and “protein”? All foods that grow contain sufficient protein, and in a healthier form than the recycled flesh we choose to consume that stores it. Whatever you want to believe or how you justify it,, even obligate carnivores eat less flesh than we now eat. Meat at most should be a treat, not a staple. Neither our bodies or our planet can support our indulgence, not to mention the suffering of sentient creatures who are born to die, needlessly.

    • Geoff Lawton

      Hi Char

      yes its all about balance and being appropriate.

  • max

    The tipping point is likley much smaller than most people think it to be. The thing is permaculture is by its very nature subversive to government/commerce/legal as it implicitly and explicitly gets people to look at themselves from inside themselves and work together.
    The tipping point will arrive when it arrives but will likely arrive much faster once the current model of teaching an able minority via the PDC designer status is sat alongside a permaculture teaching method which is essentially free of financial burden and doesn’t come with a designer certifcate at the end of it but crucially gives those who seek the information they need to make the shift. Only then will the numbers be sufficient to make the existing governance/commerce/legal models obsolete.
    Of course it is essentially free now as one doesn’t need to become a permaculture designer to ‘do’ permaculture and permaculture is an action not a lesson, I do understand that but there is a dearth of free courses out there and only one online thatI have been able to find.

    • Bill Crandall-TA

      I agree about the need for free education, Max, and I rejoice that there is more free material out there nearly all the time. One can start at any scale, and often a small start is the best way to a big finish, but it is an unreserved blessing to be able to access good information.

      There have been some inroads into institutional education, but most of these institutions are very conservative in that they are quite slow to change, inflexible about methodology, and often even more concerned with proselytizing than with informing.

      Not everyone can work or produce his or her best work for free. But when one can, it is a wonderful opportunity, and one is awarded with an audience.

      • max

        Those whose best work can only be produced when there is the promise of financial recompense are well catered for by the current setup of cerificated designer status. Not really the issue here.
        Free of financial burden means being able to participate in a course of permaculture without charge. If an online course then there is the internet access cost and the device cost, as with travelling to an ‘in the flesh’ course there is travel costs. There is always some cost in this world owned by commerce.
        Institutional education is the last place to be going for permaculture know how as it is by its very nature even more limiting than the current system of waking people up.

        Unless a way can be found to make permaculture more accessible (maybe the wrong word) to as many people as possible the trickle of change will remain a trickle of change. We are beyond the point where the preserving of market share holds sway in permaculture circles and to expand exponentially as it must if it is to make the culture of abundance render the culture of commerce obsolete it has to copy nature by embracing abundance.

        • Bill Crandall-TA

          Max, “free of financial burden” can also mean free to participate as an instructor because one owns one’s hands and the hours of one’s life. Many would devote more time to instruction were we free of other claims, and that goes for staff and crews as well as people visibly involved in instruction.

          An instructor who is free in that sense can offer free instruction, though that may or may not include covering access, transport, or living expenses for learners. It also may not include providing expensive high-end services, including 24-hour Web sites with technical support, advanced film crews and film editing, and extensive written and graphical information. But you know, permaculture is taught and has been taught well with a blackboard and a piece of chalk, and teachers and students who walk to class, and notebooks and pencils and pens.

          Returning to that sort of class may allow some instructors to be free or freer to participate and to charge less or not at all, because in this way they do not have to invest much more than their time–assuming, of course, that they are in a position to give their own time away without charging. It does make permaculture accessible to some people who could not take an online course or a pay for a professional course.

          At the same time, having online courses does make permaculture accessible to many people who cannot walk down the street to a classroom and hear the likes of a Geoff Lawton or some other experienced expert. It also makes the class accessible to many people whose schedule does not allow them to attend at some certain hour or some certain day. Having exceptional materials makes the concepts accessible to those who might not understand them or might understand less with a less effective presentation.

          Viewed from another point of view, these media make students accessible to an instructor who may not have them otherwise, or whose efforts to find them may not be trivial. But I agree with you, Max: offering the class for free makes some students accessible to an instructor as well, so we do need free courses and free materials. We just also need to charge for others.

          In both cases, these things have to be done in order to make information accessible.

          You may also be correct about institutions being the last place to look for permaculture instruction. In any event, they are not and have not been the first. However, during my years of working with both state and private educational institutions, I saw advantages as well as disadvantages in working with them. They did provide me a fresh set of heads to play with each semester, for all their cackling and cawing about grades and paperwork and authority. Nothing about my walking down and writing “Care of Earth | Care of People | Return of Surplus” on whiteboard at the local school or senior center guarantees me an audience for seventy-two hours. And while I was at the school and receiving money from the school, I was happy to not have to charge students for services, though during certain years the school itself did certain students, and there were other problems as well, as you appear to understand well enough.

          I think that the way to do this is multiple. We need more free classes. We need more for-hire classes. We need more online classes. We need more on-site and on-the-farm classes. We need more brick-and-mortar, marker and whiteboard classes as well.

          Here’s to your freedom from financial burden, Max. I hope to see you teaching that course: you appear to have a good start. And in the meanwhile, you might want to contact schools and teachers and see what can be arranged with finance.

          • max

            As a paid for teaching practitioner your opinions on various comments on here now make much more sense, to me at least. My comment is not about attacking paid for information sharing.
            As I said right at the top there is the established permaculture design certificate route and more recently the permaculture teacher route has also been created so for those who seek financial recompense for their knowledge the pathways are there.
            This system is unable to effectively make the shift that is required to get more ‘permaculturists permaculturing’ (and in the process making the distinction of permaculture obsolete) as the way of life, thus ending the stranglehold government/commerce/legal has on this planet.
            This freedom of information sharing is fundamental to change, rapid effective change, of the kind that shows abundance is the true nature of life on this planet and only placing information into the hands and minds of those who can financially afford it runs counter to what nature shows us wherever we look.

          • Bill Crandall-TA

            I think it’s a great comment, Max. Freeing information from financially imposed restriction is a big part of all this.