My Quick Permie Chat with Geoff Lawton, Permaculture Educator and Businessman by Willi Paul, Magazine

Geoff is Managing Director of The Permaculture Research Institute, Permaculture Sustainability Consulting, and

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I recently sent Mr. Lawton some questions via LinkedIn. Here is the Q & A. -

WP: The classic landfill on the outskirt of town. Rising higher and higher. Leaching chemicals. How can permaculture values revitalize this mess?

GL: We can harvest some gas from these site and we can lock them up into forest planting.

WP: What do you mean: “lock them up into forest planting?“

GL: Yes just that.

WP: What is your experience with fracking? Have you repaired toxic aquifers?

GL: We have helped protest fracking. If we installed enough water harvesting aquifer re-charge earthworks at the surface we can add continuous downward pressure on the aquifers.

WP: Cool. Please give us a URL to a fracking protest that you participated in.

GL: You look it up on

WP: One of my interests is new community rituals that re-connect community with the sacred. Two such rituals are sharing expos and fall harvests. How do you see old and new rituals?

GL: We work with traditional tribal people on permaculture aid work projects where processes and protocol give people the ability to manage the inevitable dramas of life in a unified and predictable way.

WP: OK. So, in general, you believe that traditional tribal people do not practice rituals?

GL: I said what I said - please read it.

WP: After the “swales and cob benches” are done, driven by low-tech design principles, permaculture comes down to love to me. How do you express love for the land and your clients?

GL: Appreciation of natural abundance in beautiful form.

WP: Is there any news on permaculture-driven alternative medicines that you know of?

GL: Yes we have a large plant data base on alternative medicines through our long-term working partnership with the late Isabel Shipard.

WP: Since my PDC, I find myself integrating other ideas and values with permaculture, like mythology and alchemy. Do you incorporate other things into your practice that are outside of permaculture? If so, why?

GL: We stick to proven science and not included meta-physics.

WP: That seems to be the standard permaculture line. But do you see a place for a personal spiritual connection to land design?

GL: Only if you keep it personal and do not teach it.

WP: Can permaculturists run and win local governmental offices? What is your political commitment(s) to date?

GL: No and none.

WP: That is a short answer, Mr. Lawton! Why can’t permies run and win local governmental offices?

GL: I have no political commitments. Sorry I am very busy with many things and may have read your question too quickly. So yes they can but I believe it is a waste of time to enter into a corrupt system and expect to be able to change it from within.

WP: Permaculture doesn’t advocate storing food and weapons in a bomb shelter! But what are the main differences between permaculture and survivalists? Have you taught students from the survivalist camp?

GL: Yes we consult and design for survivalists.

WP: Please name a specific project and explain how your consultations differ?

GL: Jack Spirko is my biggest connection in recent years, I have (worked with the) Y2K crowd …, they are really just precise designs with survival oriented design elements.

WP: Can you share any permaculture inspired games, songs, and myths?

GL: We do haste great participation parties at the end of PDC's.

WP: California is in a long-term drought. How would your firm go about producing a sustainable solution?

GL: Good permaculture design solutions.

WP: Please offer up one specific solution to the CA drought and give us details.


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Other permaculture interviews by Willi -

Interview with Koreen Brennan, Co-Organizer: 2014 North American Permaculture Convergence. Harmony Park, Clarks Grove, MN, 8/29 – 31, 2014.

Seeds & Ladders. A Conversation with Permaculture Designer Jenny Pell, Pacific Northwest.

“THE MOTHER WHO PLANTS TREES.” An Indiegogo Agroforestry Project in India by Permaculturist Charlotte Anthony. Plus an Interview with Charlotte.

“Alley Allies Project” : Interview with Katie Hughes, Mill Street Community Planning, Portland,


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