Funny how things run in phases. For many years, especially in the 1960s, urban renewal was the buzzword. Though intentions might have been good, the outcome was disastrous for many areas and many downtowns.
Concrete jungles replaced green spaces and modern, streamlined, cookie-cutter buildings replaced historic buildings with their vast varieties of styles. Downtowns suffered, withered and died, especially in smaller towns.
By the mid to late 1970s, a new word began to, well, not quite buzz (that took a few decades) but pop up: permaculture. Credited as the brainchild of Bill Mollison, a native of Tasmania, permaculture, in his words, is “a design system for creating sustainable human environments. The word itself is a contraction, not only of permanent agriculture but also of permanent culture, as cultures cannot survive for long without a sustainable agricultural base and landuse ethic.”
Those are the opening words of the introduction to the 2011 edition of his famous Introduction to Permaculture, based on pamphlets he created in the early 1980s (and first published in book form in the mid 1990s).
The paragraph continues: “On one level, permaculture deals with plants, animals, buildings, and infrastructures (water, energy, communications). However, permaculture is not about these elements themselves, but rather about the relationships we can create between them by the way we place them in the landscape.”
Can you see how The Bernice Garden is a good example of permaculture?
Especially if you consider the opening of Scott Pittman’s Permaculture Institute’s website:
“Permaculture is an ecological design system for sustainability in all aspects of human endeavor. It teaches us how build natural homes, grow our own food, restore diminished landscapes and ecosystems, catch rainwater, build communities and much more.”
(Pittman taught for several years with Bill Mollison, so it’s natural that they share a philosophy.)
That definition also points right to The Bernice Garden on South Main in Little Rock.
A few years ago, some people seemed baffled by the garden.
Now it seems everyone is buzzing about permaculture. The garden was just a bit ahead of the curve in Little Rock.
We’ll have more to say about permaculture, community building and placemaking in posts to come. We just wanted your head to start buzzing a little, in case it hasn’t already.
And here are a couple of international examples of fabulous ecological design, some things to make your head spin from sheer beauty.
We can do this in Little Rock. The Bernice Garden is just a very good start.