Gringo permies, stay home?

I always feel heartsick when fellow USA Americans in the permie movement make posts in permie groups along these lines: “Hi! We are buying land and building a house in <tropical paradise country xyz>. We are from <some city in the USA with a totally different climate> and we don’t know what grows here. It’s so overwhelming, please advise!”

I always wonder what it is that makes people (mainly my fellow USA Americans) want to go build some site and do some land-based thing in a place where they have no knowledge of the land, plants, or any people. It seems really stark and daunting to me, not to mention possibly intrusive.

I want to respond “Noooooo!!! Dont go there! Stay home! Stop colonizing other countries!”

Most of the people’s comments in response to these kinds of posts tend to focus purely on the physical land and what plants will grow there. Grrrrr. All too often we act as if this is all of permaculture or even the main part of permaculture.

Recently I was relieved to see one person reponding to such a post advise that they find an indigenous helper; offer them the land; build relationships. “Social permaculture is where you start if you dont know where you are or what grows there.” AMEN!!

There are so many of us infesting other countries/territories tho … Costa Rica, Hawaii, Puerto Rico … are some of the favorite locations where we are moving to, making life even more difficult for locals than it is already.

On a related note – Mike Hoag is going to be on the radio on Dan Wahpepah’s show at 2pm US PST 5pm US EST today — I think they’ll be sharing some observations & insights that will be helpful & relevant to this discussion. See the post Mike just made.” Very timely timing! I hope lots of people will tune in.

In a private convo recently, a fellow permie commented “It’s weird. They want to move here and we want to move there.” (“They” being citizens of various tropical countries.)

I replied that the people from these other countries want to move here bc they are starving [or not earning enough to survive, or being threatened daily with drug gang violence, etc. — added later], bc our consumerist/globalist system has messed up their ecosystems and cultures [and their homegrown economies]. We want to move there because we are indoctrinated in colonizer culture, that is what colonizers do. We jacked up our own economy, and created a soulless culture, by feeding capitalism, so then we want to move on to the next frontier where the land is cheap and the people are smiling.

Also: People who just have a food forest on their own private land are not really doing permaculture; they are just “homesteading” (which is problematic in itself). Clarification: It’s not that a person with a private food forest is necessarily NOT doing permaculture. It’s not that a person can’t be doing any stuff that’s only on their own land or only for themselves/their family.

You know what I think the difference is, I think it has to do with being a part of a community. The people I think of as really doing permaculture might be doing things on the piece of land where they live, but they are also very much woven into / giving to their local community (and also in many cases the wider communities including online communities). There are a lot of people “homesteading” and calling it permaculture. It’s not the same.

I get it about the price of land being a motivating factor for some people to move to places with lower costs of living, but the way to deal w that is build community in our own regions/country. The social aspect of permaculture is something that a lot of us USA Americans have been conditioned to ignore or neglect. I think it must be a legacy of pioneer/frontier mentality which is part of our hyper-individualistic white supremacy culture.

Further exploration:

• TikTok for one is a vast fountain of learning on this topic. Type indigenoustok, hawaiiantok, Puerto Rico, Costa Rica + colonizer, colonization, decolonize etc.

• And I just found this article: How To Decolonize The Permaculture Movement (Tobias Roberts; Huffington Post). “If you are interested in permaculture and are looking for land to create a vision of your own, why not look at land in rural Kentucky instead of Costa Rica? … After a good deal of reflection, I want to focus now on how to rescue the permaculture movement; how to save it from some of its most disturbing and troubling tendencies. … Stop Buying Land in Shangri-La Areas Around the World … While there can be positive effects through bringing new knowledge and ideas into a community, there can (and often are) unseen and ignored negative effects. When wealthy foreigners buy up land in rural, agrarian areas, this inevitably leads to gentrification.” He makes a lot of other really good points too. Don’t move to another country without making an effort to truly belong there; don’t make permaculture courses your primary source of income; stop appropriating indigenous knowledge and monetizing it on permie rah-rah YouTube channels etc.

“Decolonizing Permaculture” — Mike Hoag with Dan Wahpepah on Dan’s radio show First Nations Radio.