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The story of the IPC International Permaculture Congress


"Permaculture from the Beginning, A Short History of International Permaculture Conference/Convergences" starting early 1980's 

IPC Australia
          

We made a wonderful discovery when looking at past International Permaculture Conference/Materials materials in our files, 

Included below is an article called "Permaculture from the Beginning, A Short History of Permaculture Conference/Convergences" part of the IPC7 Newsletter that was sent out to those planning on attending IPC7 in Croatia in 2005. It is written by Max Lindegger, who notes how momentous this IPC was, since it was the first one convened in 9 years. 

We thought how valuable it would be to have all past convenors share their experiences of organizing. 

         

We have observed that with usually between 40-50 countries and cultures represented, with all our languages, cultural cues and ways of expressing ourselves, all coming together for one short week (4-5 days) wow, it's a wonder it works at all. But like any human family, it has days of near melt down, that usually rounds itself off to a sweet place of accomplishment, many friends and connections made, projects from around the world shared, and a reality of a very connected world that we have a positive chance of influencing through permaculture.

Margie Bushman
Santa Barbara Permaculture Network 
        
note: 
IPC7 2005Croatia as planned and organized in cooperation with the Croatian, Slovenian & Danish Associations/European Permaculture Institute (strong assist from Tony Andersen)
IPC8 2007 Brasil Ali Sharif Permacultura America Latina 
IPC9 2009 Malawi
IPC10 2011 Jordan 
<<<>>
From IPC7 Newsletter (Croatia, 2005)
Permaculture From the Beginning:
a short history of permaculture conference/convergences by Max Lindegger

I was invitcd by Bill Mollison in 1979 to participate at the first Permaculture course which was held at Bill's home in Tasmania. Australia. The course was an obvious success, and a second course was offered to a largcr group in Buchan (Victoria. Australia). I decided to participate again, and joined that second course. If memory serves me correctly, Bill suggested that this would be it - all done and over. None of us could have predicted at the time that Permaculture would take off worldwide.
Lea Harrison, Tony Gilfedder, the late Rill Peak and myself organised the 3rd ever Permaculture course.
This was held in Nambour in Queensland Australia in 1981. At this time I decided to resign from my civil engineering design work and concentrate on Permaculture design and implementation work - and later on ecovillage design.
       
Over the last 22 years since then, the work has taken me from Argentina to Portuguese Macau, and from Slovenia to Alabama USA - and many cultures in between. 1 have attended all the International Permaculture Conferences, I have seen Permaculture magazines come and go, and I have experienced the highs and lows of Permaculture.

The 1st Permaculture Conference/Convergence was held in the early 1980's, at Rowlands, in New South Wales Australia. 
It was held during a growth period of Permaculture, and when we till all pretty well knew each other. Like all the Conferences which followed, the Rowlands Conference/Covergence was organized by dedicated volunteers. I can remember travelling down to NSW (I was then living at Nambour, north of Brisbane) with Lea Harrison for a pre-planning meeting.

The 2nd Permaculture Conference /Convergence was held at Breitenbush Hot Springs & Olympia in the NW of the USA in 1986. Hundrcds of participants turned up. Was this the peak of Permaculture?
Pernaculture was still new to the USA - was this the reason so many came? I can remember up to 5 presentations being made at the same time, and having to make choices between absolutely top brass presenters. I remember Bill Mollison at his elegant best, Wes Jackson from the Land Institute, and of course Fukuoka-san, who was introduced to us by Larry Korn. Will I ever forget the quiet early morning hour with Fukuoka-san in the hot spring, discussing the potential of natural farming in the West?
       
1988 brought the 3rd Permaculture Conference/Convergence Christchurch (New Zealand),
and an opportunity for me to catch up with the Scandinavian contingent I had met when teaching
Pemaculture courses in Norway, Denmark and Sweden. Permaculture had become quite 'settled' by then, the family grown and a new generation of graduates were making their mark. I think it was around that time that some of us realised that Permaculture had to move into the mainstream, become 'organised', more professional. But many worried that we could lose Permaculture's important grass-roots connection.

The 4th Permaculture Conference/Convergence1991, held in Nepal, was the first time the gathering moved to the global South. When we arrived in Biratnagar, our luggage was picked up at the airport and we walked to the newly developed site - where we dug the holes for the latrines. While a number of us had already been working in countries of the global South, for others the food, the sounds, the basic amenities, were all new, exciting and exotic. The strong English delegation spoke convincingly of the need for self-education, organisation. and the founding of a Guild. As we now know, it all turned out differently. I still believe the time was right, but maybe the ideas were not communicated well enough. This was before the internet revolution- in today's email world, could it have worked?

By 1993 and the 5th Permaculture Conference/Convergence, Scandinavia had become a
strong focus for Permaculture. The Conference/Convergence was held in Copenhagen, Denmark and Gerlesborg, Sweden, and the preconference courses and tours were a great success. The Danes - fantastic organizers and fundraisers - were able to collect enough money to sponsor participants from poorer countries. It did give the conference very International and all-inclusive atmosphere. Bill Mollison was, back on deck - convincing full of urgency and anger. Many, many old and new friendships were strengthened and connections made. The Conference was professional and held in comfortable surroundings, was very businesslike. The question was, could we carry the momentum out into the world?

The 6th Permaculture Conference/Convergence in Perth, Australia in I996 felt like a village, and indeed the team from the Global Ecovillage Network were present in full force. 'To me it was this conference, more than any before it, which illustrated the important part Permaculture could play in so many of the planning disciplines. David Holmgren was there and Bill Mollison seemed slowly to be becoming comfortable at being the Permaculture Elder. But Permaculture also showed some 'cracks'.
Permaculture, at least in Australia, had its detractors. There was a growing demand for Permaculture to become more scientific, produce the facts, the proof.

         

There must be a reason why there hasn't been an International Permaculture Conference for so many years. Is it because just about every organizational team suffered from post-conference burnout? Because the organizational load and financial responsibility for each conference fell on too few shoulders?

I have attended smaller, regional conferences in Australia, Scandinavia and the Balkan,, and I have seen energy and interest in Permaculture ebb and flow. I am excited to we that Tony Andersen and his team are making the effort to bring us together again.
 I detect new drive and energy. 
David Holmgren's recent book has been inspiring. Permaculturalists around the world are working on impressive and important projects. Let's network and learn from each other again.
Let the Pernaculture History continue...
Max Lindegger , is a mechanical and civil engineering designer by training a qualified Permaculture designer since 1981, have worked on the design and/or implementation of over 750 ecological properties, including the UN Habitat Award winning Crystal Waters Permaculture Village and works as consultant on the development of ecological town subdivisions and villages throughout the world He is the Regional Co-ordinator of Global Eco-village Network (Oceania/Asia) Inc and teaches courses on ecological sustainability, eco-village design and Permaculture. To date he has provided his expertise in over 35 countries around the world. Max holds a Permaculture Diploma (first issue) and was awarded the first Permaculture Community Service Award in 1985. He has recently been awarded the Prime Minister's Centenary Medal for distinguished Achievement in the field of developing sustainable communities.


Background Info:

The history of the International Permaculture Convergence (IPC) Support Group:

The Support Group was formed at the end of IPC7 in Croatia in 2005 with ten founding members, that included three past IPC conveners. The intention was to help future IPC conveners (after being selected), with the very large task of hosting an IPC. It had been observed that past IPC's had exhausted their organizers and support organizations, financially and otherwise. The intention was to design and implement a few simple structures that would ensure the continuity of IPC's into the future. Below is a list of some implemented and some in process. 

registered IPC domain names in trust into the future (IPC11, 12, 13, 14, etc) 
developed a website that was easily transferable from one IPC convener to the next (currently offline, but backed up with archives on a DVD, needs financial support & a host server:
develop archives of past and future IPC's (available on the ipcon.org website) 
work on scholarship strategies 
encourage members to serve as a collective memory of past IPC's 
media and outreach to PC world community 
livestream broadcasting proposed & researched (attempted first at IPC9 Africa; livestream for conference only at IPC10 in Jordan) 
blog for reporting during Conference and Convergence (first time IPC9) 
protocols developed for Support Group listserve so we can all stay friendly! many viewpoints, many opinions (initiated after IPC10) 
members brought books and laptops to share with delegates 

In Brazil at IPC8 in 2007, the IPC Support Group was officially recognized by the IPC General Assembly (participants in attendance at the IPC convergence). At the end of IPC8 the Support Group was given the responsibility for interviewing and recommending a choice for future IPC's. The recommendation would then be voted on by the General Assembly in attendance at the IPC.

Prior to and during the IPC9 in Malawi Africa (2009) the IPC Support Group began working on and adopting a criteria for making the choice for the next IPC host country. The adopted criteria was posted on the IPC9 website blog. It is an evolving document, and will be re-examined at each IPC, as conditions and technology change. 

IPC11 Cuba Draft Meeting Agenda
for IPC Support Committee

The Support Group committee contacted the Permaculture Association of Britain in the UK, and they agreed to host IPC12, in 2015. Attached is event planning and Update from the Permaculture Association in Britain for Support Group committee members review, to be discussed in depth at the IPC in Cuba. 

IPC11 Cuba Proposed Support Group committee Agenda:

Please send or bring additional agenda items in advance to be included.

1. Past Conveners Reports and Present Convener Report 
2. Discuss IPC Host Selection Criteria and changes(see below IPC10 Criteria approved by Support Group)
3. Discuss the Developing Sponsorship Process, presented by Andy Goldring from the Permaculture Association of Britain
4. Discuss the Developing the IPC Support Group document, presented by Andy Goldring from the Permaculture Association of Britain
5. Discuss Applying Permaculture Design to the IPC Process, presented by Andy Goldring from the Permaculture Association of Britain 
6. Discuss IPC12 and future hosts for IPC 13
7. Report on Scholarship Funding for IPC11/Cuba, Margarethe Holzer
8. Language Translations for future IPC's
9. IPC website and Archives, future funding, transference steps, who updates archives (responsibility & how to fund) 
10. Live Streaming /Archives into the future 
11. Future of IPC Support Group and Membership, is it accomplishing its intention, helpful to organizers? 
12. Setting up Friends of IPC groups around the world 

IPC Convener/Host Selection Criteria As Used at IPC10 (an evolving document) 

Below are the criteria used in the selection process: 

1. Potential technological restrictions. This is key because live interactive broadcast facility as a livestream TV channel is now possible. It was to be a big feature of IPC9 but turned out too difficult because of the upload speed in Malawi. This would allow any person anywhere in the world with web access to participate in IPCs and also achieve maximum global coverage. 

2. Travel challenges for attendees - difficulties around visas, ease of access, safety of country and site. 

3. Reducing the total expenses of attending IPCs, which can siphon funds from scholarships as it did this time, and effort will be made to avoid it next time. 

4. Having a lead organizing group already established and ready to start almost immediately after the last IPC finishes is critical. 

5. Ease of payment - this was very difficult in Malawi and - so this drains organizer upfront funds for deposits on venues etc. 

6. Likely stability of the country and regions political climate - in two year's time. 

7. Time of year - eg. Africans planned their timing to avoid the malaria season 

8. Time line - able to do the IPC in two years? Africans found two years rather difficult. 

9. Preparedness at the time of the bid 

10. History of region catchment - can it draw in the whole region? - eg. has there been past regional convergences? 

11. Recommendation for affordable and less formal conference (left to discretion of the convener)

Here is the list of previous IPC meetings.
  • IPC1 Rowlands, New South Wales, Australia, 1984
  • IPC2 Breitenbush Hot Springs & Olympia in the NW of the USA in 1986
  • IPC3 Kaiwaka, New Zealand, 1988
  • IPC4 Nepal 1991
  • IPC5 Copenhagen, Denmark and Gerlesborg, Sweden, 1993
  • IPC6 Perth, Australia, 1996
  • IPC7 Croatia organized in cooperation with Danish Association/European Permaculture Institute, 2005
  • IPC8 Brasil, Permacultura America Latina, 2007
  • IPC9 Malawi, 2009
  • IPC10 Jordan, 2011
  • IPC11 Cuba, 2013
  • IPC12 UK, 2015
  • IPC13 India in November 2017
  • IPC14 Argentina 2020
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