Permaculture on the edge of Scotland - IPCUK participant story

From the wild west coast of Scotland

I'm Ed Tyler from the wild west coast of Scotland due west of Glasgow at the “breakwater” that is Kintyre. I describe it as a breakwater as it is a long headland that almost reaches Northern Ireland, protecting the outer firth of Clyde from the worst of the storms that blow in off the Atlantic.

I live overlooking the Atlantic ocean with views of Northern Ireland stretching all the way to Malin Head. I also look out to several of the 800 islands off the Scottish coast. Did you know that if you stretched out our Scottish coast it would reach all the way from Scotland to Australia?

Whilst it is a wild and beautiful place, Kintyre is classed as “remote rural” and this means that we suffer from depopulation, poor infrastructure, lack of post-16 education, training and skills development, and lack of local autonomy and self-determination.

Some interesting challenges, not all of which are actually challenges if we look through the lens of a localised, self-sufficient, resilient economy.

It is a very different situation to Newcastle, where I lived before moving here in 2001. After doing my PDC, I set up a permaculture project that is now celebrating its 20th anniversary as Scotswood Natural Community Garden, a member of the LAND scheme.

Kintyre Bioregion

I have set up a ScotLAND project here on the promontory of Kintyre, calling it Kintyre Bioregion. I have called it this because I think that bioregions are going to have a massive part to play in the future of ‘World Permaculture’. I see them as one of the missing links that will enable us to keep connected globally through the setting up of our own parallel systems. I maintain a blog on my efforts to get folk thinking about bioregions here in my particular area of West Argyll and the Isles – look at bioregioning.com.

 

Bioregions and IPCUK

We have a long way to go on this. Some parts of the world – the western seaboard states of the USA for example - “get” bioregions and are using them in their structures and organisations. That's one of the reasons I'm going to IPCUK: to connect with those who are already using bioregional thinking in their designs.

The other reason I'm going is to get bioregional thinking into permaculture. I'm interested to find out how far it is included in Permaculture Design Courses (a brief mention in the British curriculum currently – correct me if I'm wrong fellow teachers)!

Scaling up my work

I have based my Kintyre Bioregion design on pattern language using dendritic, nest and network patterns. However all this seems somewhat obscure and intellectual in the real world of community activism.

I have sowed some seeds in our (former) market town of Campbeltown by running a 2-day introduction in the community garden there. We also ran an “Exploring Transition” event a few years back and I was much involved in Transition Scotland Support, as long as it was running as a funded project. A small group of us recently started “Transition Kintyre” with a website and email group of about 50 members.

Transition is a tentative scaling up of my work, which has always concentrated on the neighbourhood and village scales. I have helped set up and run a range of community initiatives including local produce, carbon reduction, household energy advice, community gardens, community development trust, school tree nursery, conservation initiative, nature area and, most recently, community woodlands.

Permaculture gives me the foundations to be strategic about my community activism. Through design I know to start small, seek out “edge” and build capacity in various locations and then start using the power of networks to connect people up and build capacity at regional level.

Inspired

I'm also a Quaker and am excited about meeting you all in the newly refurbished conference centre “The Light” in Friends House, which is the HQ of British Quakers. Being a Quaker reminds me of our commitment to social justice so I'm contributing to the the fund.

I know I'm going to be inspired by IPCUK – that's what I'm looking forward to the most. I'm going to soak up all the amazing work that's going on around the world. I'm looking forward to co-designing the world we want to live in!

 

Quotables:

“That's one of the reasons I'm going to IPCUK: to connect with those who are already using bioregional thinking in their designs.”

“I live overlooking the Atlantic ocean with views of Northern Ireland stretching all the way to Malin Head. I also look out to several of the 800 islands off the Scottish coast. Did you know that if you stretched out our coast it would reach all the way from Scotland to Australia?”

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