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

Geoff is Managing Director of The Permaculture Research InstitutePermaculture 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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