Dallas-Fort Worth, North
Permaculture Introduction and Bio – My Permaculture Story – What’s Yours?
Ecovillage buying land near Greenville now
By Dick Pierce
I introduced Permaculture to DFW in 2009 with an introductory course. In spring of 2011, I held my first 11-day Permaculture Design Certification (PDC) class in Dallas. In fall of 2011, Patricia Allison and I have teamed up to bring a 12-day PDC class back to the DFW area.
How did I get from IBM to Permaculture and from New England to Austin?
I am a fairly old-time Permaculture devotee, student, designer, and teacher - about 15 years now, which might put me about in the middle of the pack. I am a New England (US) native - SE-MA through college, working on farms/estates through my teens; then college in W-MA, followed by 12 years in W-NY.
In the early '90's
I had a chance to leave corporate life and join the
American Indian Science & Engineering Society, a national
organization HQ'd. at UC-Boulder - we jumped at it. That is where my
love affair with Permaculture began - I had the good fortune of working
with Vine Deloria, Jr., Standing Rock Sioux, on a series of conferences
on the American Indian Knowledge of the Natural World – Stars,
Animals, Plants, and Origins/Migrations. Out of these came a deep
respect for Indian ways and knowledge, especially in caring for the
earth, living within local
resources, and for developing an amazing store of plants, foods, and
It also led to a
program to encourage Indians to revive their Traditional Agriculture
traditions – for foods, diet/nutrition, disease prevention/cure,
self-confidence/self-reliance, spirituality, and community
identification. This sounds a lot like Permaculture – and it was. Soon
I was a devotee and avid reader - then a student, an Intro speaker,
apprentice teacher, and now a teacher/designer.
I had the fortune
to attend my 2-week Permaculture Course in the Highlands of Guatemala
with friend, Ronnie Lec and his peasant farming project. Geoff Lawton
was the Instructor and Ali Sharif, the Coordinator. I have been back
several times since, to learn more and to help. Back in the US, I was
able to allocate funding from the Natural Science/Traditional Ag.
Program to support the first American Indian Permaculture Course at the
Tesuque Pueblo with [anglo] Thomas Mack, Justin Willy of Black Mtn. PC,
and Clayton Brascoupe, Mohawk – Clayton went on to form TNAFA, the
Traditional Native American Farmers Association. TNAFA now runs one or
more AI-PC courses, each year at a different sponsoring Pueblo. Scott
Pitman taught in these classes several times. Another Indian PC Course
was with Justin Willy and Geoff Lawton at the Pine Ridge Reservation in
SD. This has endured as a small group of AI Farmers/Gardeners operating
out of Sinte Gleska College. Not many have come to Permaculture this way
– from Traditional AI agriculture. I was very fortunate, indeed. I
also had the good fortune to become a CO Master Gardener while in
The same daughter that lured me to Guatemala, and thus to my PC Course, also lured me to Austin, TX, as she moved their in ’98 to attend UT-Austin. I left the AI-Agriculture behind, except for a yearly visit, but Permaculture came right along with me. Knowing I had to “learn my place” all over again, I became a Master Gardener for a 2nd time, took the TX Master Naturalist, Master Composter, and Citizen Forester courses, and got a Landscape Design Certificate from ACC. I was fortunate to run two AmeriCorps programs for a local high school, Casa Verde Builders and Environmental Corps – this launched me into the Austin environmental scene and into Green Building. Our young people built miles of trail, stabilized miles of stream-bank, and over 90 very Green Homes. The latest chapter in my Greening has been taking Solar PV Install and LEED training classes in 2007. Permaculture was at a low ebb in Austin, virtually dormant.
In 1999, I
started spreading PC by giving Permaculture Intro talks in/around
Austin. I met Patricia Allison, former Austinite, Earthaven founding
member, and veteran Permaculture Teacher and began to do a
lecture/project or two in her classes. I apprenticed with her for about
2 years before doing courses on my own in about 2001 - a 2-day Basics to
start, several 7-day Fundamentals, and finally
our 10-day Fundamentals/Design Course for the last 3 plus years. Selwyn
Polit, Jenny Nazak, and Kirby Fry have become essential members of the
teaching team and founding members of the Austin Permaculture Guild. As
a part of the 10-day/8weekend format, we added mid-week talks on
PC-related subjects that were also open to the public – this has grown
into the very popular Winter Series of Talks, attended by hundreds of
people each year. In early
2007, I left my job to semi-retire and to devote my time to Permaculture
and Austin’s environmental issues . This has been very rewarding with
probably thousands of people exposed to Permaculture via the innumerable
Intro talks and course graduates in the hundreds. We were so happy when
our spring 2008 Design Course started with over 30 students.
And delighted to now be bringing Permaculture to Dallas-Fort Worth
and North Central Texas.
And delighted to now be bringing Permaculture to Dallas-Fort Worth and North Central Texas.
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