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Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Remember A Pattern Language?

Remember A Pattern Language? 1977! It's still out there. 

I remember the review in Coevolution Quarterly. I instinctively felt that, while the author was limiting himself to articulating home, neighborhood and city construction onto observable natural patterns and cycles, the underlying principle (observe, then imitate) would be applicable to any human endeavor. I immediately became interested in Margaret Mead, Gregory Bateson and other scientists who were investigating positive feedbacks in loop systems (Cybernetics, Systems Theory).

Take the illustration above. Remembering that a species that discovers and adapts itself to a reservoir of food or water (as opposed to an income stream from an offsite source) will exploit that reservoir, explode in population, and then die off, I created it as an activist statement arguing that we should move from fossil fuels to renewables.

Or die.

The "poster" does say "leave it there" but doesn't get into what happens (by way of temperature regime) to the oceans, the soils, the atmosphere, the biosphere, and us, if we don't (the stuff being absolute poison). I really only argue the danger of living off principal rather than income, which should be sufficient information right there. And the income sources imitate nature: the solar panels, for example, are at least partly an analog of chlorophyll.

Systems Theory is very clear on how all this works, but you don't have to be a scientist to follow the argument. If you have a checking account, try living on principal without income. 

One day a check bounces. Welcome to the scintillating world of dumpster diving and dying under a bridge.

In Permaculture, one captures revenue streams by imitating nature: all twelve principles speak to this, so you know Permaculture is, in its disarmingly homespun way, a return of the somewhat disenfranchised (the Reagan Administration moved purposively to defund the entire field) science of Systems Theory. 

For a particularly comprehensive application of pattern languages (Permaculture Principles, Right Work (alla same) see this remarkable series of little videos. They are also available in Japanese. Here is his channel


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