History of PINA
A Brief History of PINA & North American Permaculture
Table of Contents
PINA 1983 & Permaculture Education
The Permaculture Design Course (PDC)
The Diploma of Permaculture Design
PINA Renewed — Early History By Peter Bane, Executive Director
PINA BOARD PICS (see below)
PINA BOARD PICS
L-R: Jude, Koreen, Penny, Peter, Wes, Melanie, Bob at Commonweal Garden August 2016
PINA 1983 & Permaculture Education
Compiled by Sandy Cruz, Peter Bane, and Bob Randall
In the early 1980s, Bill Mollison asked Bev Reed, Guy Baldwin, and Sego Jackson to structure American permaculture efforts: they created the Permaculture Institute of North America in Seattle. PINA successfully hosted the 2nd Intl. Permaculture Conference and Convergence (IPC) in 1986, and launched the Permaculture Activist as its newsletter. Rich in visionary ideas but lacking the human power to sustain itself, PINA-1983 disbanded in 1989. Through the stewardship of Peter Bane, however, the quarterly Permaculture Activist magazine lived on, continuing to link thousands of permaculturists through leading-edge articles and calendars of upcoming events.
In 2009, several long-time permaculture practitioners, led by Jude Hobbs, began to discuss the relaunch of the Permaculture Institute of North America as a network of largely autonomous regional membership organizations spanning the continent.
Bill Mollison first articulated an educational structure for the international permaculture movement. In an effort to shift the world’s course of development from runaway growth to a regenerative model, he proposed a community-based system of teaching and learning. Out of this grew various forms of credentialing so that permaculture and its practitioners could gain the respect of civic, business, and mainstream educational institutions.
The Permaculture Design Course (PDC)
The first phase of this educational system was the Permaculture Design Course (PDC), a curriculum Bill assembled from his work with David Holmgren while authoring Permaculture I and Permaculture II. At the 1st IPC in 1984, the curriculum was formalized as a 72-hour course. Those completing the PDC were granted certificates by their teachers on behalf of the International Permaculture Institute (IPI), which was maintained by Mollison in Tyalgum, Australia with the aid of a secretary. Bill encouraged his students to teach and also to establish local institutes.
To this day, the Permaculture Design Course remains the foundation of permaculture education around the world. The PDC encompasses a well-established core curriculum, with space to adapt the course to local needs and conditions. Taught now in numerous residential and local formats, the PDC is often a life-altering experience for participants, who are encouraged towards new insight and activism, hands-on design skills, increased personal resilience, and a greater capacity for community.
Graduates of the PDC are ready to take permaculture into their lives, deepening their understanding and practicing their skills—and at the same time, to take permaculture out to the world.
Advanced Permaculture Coursework
Lea Harrison and Max Lindegger brought two advanced courses — Advanced Permaculture Design and Permaculture Teacher Training — from Australia to North America in 1989-1991, with PDC certification as the prerequisite. Taught on consecutive weeks for efficient travel, the 5-day, 40-hour courses were independent of each other, and offered IPI certification, although they were not required in order to earn the IPI’s Diploma of Permaculture Design.
The Advanced Permaculture Design Course built on design skills from the PDC, and offered more comprehensive subjects, insights into professional practice, and larger-scale team design projects.
The Permaculture Teacher Training Course combined lectures and demonstrations of pedagogy with student presentations and critique. It also addressed practical aspects of event organizing. The course actively enhanced student skills and conveyed the essence of teaching the PDC.
The Diploma of Permaculture Design
The second phase of the permaculture educational system was designed to be self-directed and to culminate in the diploma, which was granted to PDC graduates practicing professionally for at least two years in any of these specialized disciplines:
- Site Design
- Site Development
- Community Services
- Finance and Business
- Technical Development
- Resource Development
- Architecture and Building
These disciplines were envisioned by Mollison as the broad areas of professional competence required for permaculture to operate effectively in the world. He went on to charter the Permaculture Academy to grant academic degrees.
In the early days, the IPI accepted diploma applications from around the world, reviewed them for a small fee, and issued diploma documents. It is not known how many took advantage of this system, though in the late 1990s, research suggested that US diploma holders numbered fewer than 30. The need to recognize professional competence within the ranks of the movement grew steadily, so upon his retirement in 1997, Mollison passed the torch of authorizing diplomas and other administrative tasks to a small number of senior associates in Australia, Europe, Latin America, and the USA.
Though each in their own way sincere, the top-down direction of these few successors, chosen for their affinity with Bill, posed a suite of limitations that sometimes inhibited action or pushed it in ways that hindered rather than aided permaculture. Nor were they able to achieve effective administration with remits that reached around the globe.
Speaking from a place of collective wisdom and broad representation, the permaculture movement committed to a regional framework for organization in 1993, at the 5th IPC in Scandinavia. Various national institutes and associations began issuing credentials, registering graduates, and working towards higher levels of recognition.
In keeping with the avowed regional focus of the permaculture movement, the British Permaculture Association launched the Permaculture Academy Worknet in 1993 and articulated a sophisticated design for a diploma system. Serving many practitioners, their protocol has persisted and evolved successfully to this day. Despite initially open boundaries, though, the BPA eventually developed a tight focus on British work. Other regional institutes created their own variations on the diploma program.
In contrast, North Americans during this period lacked support for a national or continental agency to issue diplomas. However, the dramatic expansion of permaculture activity more recently, along with controversies about legitimate and ethical practices, created the impetus to clarify standards and credentials, and to celebrate achievement within the field.
Peter Bane, Executive Director
Below is a short history of PINA -2012 from its founders to recent times. At the end of this document, a series of tables holds the rosters of Hubs, Board Members, Officers, Staff, and Advisory Board members by their periods of service.
Bob Randall, Secretary PINA, 2020
PINA Renewed— Early History By Peter Bane, Executive Director
Permaculture Institute of North America 2020
Board: Jude Hobbs and Wayne Weiseman came together out of extensive 2009 email discussions with veteran Pc activists about diploma standards to form the nucleus of a possible organization. Jude began recruiting board members. Darrell Frey and Peter Bane joined Jude and Wayne in late 2012.
Activities: Jude hired Melanie Mindlin as an Administrator, who incorporated PINA as a mutual benefit corporation (not-for-profit) in Oregon in August 2012. Early meetings discussed professional standards, board expansion, and core items such as mission and vision. The mission centered on the need to pass the torch to newer permaculture advocates and to create pathways for professional development among the cadre of graduates. PINA chose to become a mutual benefit organization because it foresaw providing many services to its members. The later decision to organize as a “business league” 501c6 organization was similarly influenced by the decision to set standards for curriculum and professional practice.
Funding came from prepaid dues and loans advanced by board members, plus a few small donations.
Staff: Melanie Mindlin was hired as part-time Administrator in 2012, averaging 6 hrs/month. In addition to setting up administrative systems, she did an analysis of permaculture diploma programs worldwide.
Board: Sandy Cruz was invited to the board in January 2013, Penny Livingston in Jan. 2014, Wesley Roe in Oct. 2014, and Fred Meyer in Feb. 2015. Board meetings were held monthly and sometimes twice monthly during much of this period. After several years of diligent work, founding director Wayne Weiseman resigned from the board in 2015. Board members averaged 100+ hours per year each while funding the organization with loans and prepaid dues.
Activities: Peter Bane drafted, and the board approved Bylaws in 2014. Working with Jude, Sandy wrote and the board approved diploma standards in Education and Site Design, while an authoritative statement of the PDC curriculum was published drawing on the long and diverse teaching experience of Jude, Penny, and Peter. Sandy was the primary author of the Design for PINA, a blueprint for the organization’s structure and a plan for implementation, to which Peter added the pattern language of permaculture elements, approved by the Board in early 2015. Sandy also drafted the Appendix: Descriptions of PINA Master Plan Design Elements which laid out details of PINA’s administration, regional hubs, and educational program.
PINA began accepting diploma applications after Board members gave a panel at NAPC-1 in Minnesota in Aug. 2014. Fred as Treasurer and tech advisor implemented better bookkeeping, task management, and helped build the website. Membership grew, especially after the NAPC, broadening the source of revenues; veteran teachers and designers were vetted privately, leading to invitations sent in late 2015. Diploma program activity began the same year with a handful of new candidates and many Fast Track applicants reviewed and accepted. Late in 2015, a fortunate encounter brought PINA a significant donation from NatureWise Corporation and its CEO Davidpaul Doyle, a gift that continued for three years.
Staff: Melanie Mindlin continued as part-time Administrator, her time edging up to 10 hrs/month, as she implemented the creation of the website, and the diploma and outreach programs
Board: Bob Randall and Koreen Brennan joined the board in 2016 as Fred Meyer and Sandy Cruz cycled off. Liora Adler and Monica Ibacache joined in 2017, bringing Spanish language fluency, familiarity with the Latin and Hispanic communities, while expanding the board’s range of educational experience to include programs for children (Monica, Beyond Organic Design in NYC schools), and the administration of accredited university degree programs (Liora, Gaia University). Jude Hobbs stepped down as President and board member at the end of that year and was replaced in office by Peter Bane. Bob Randall took Peter’s place as Secretary, bringing valuable NGO and community-based experience to the board. Penny Livingston-Stark left the board in 2017. The first face-to-face board retreat was held at Commonweal Garden in Bolinas, CA immediately prior to NAPC-2 in August 2016. Most of the board and Melanie attended, staffing a PINA booth and addressing convergence circles to wide approval, while also recruiting new members and diplomates (see pics).
Activities: A Hubs Committee began meetings in October 2017 to foster the growth of regional affiliates. The NatureWise donations enabled PINA’s 2016-18 stabilization and expansion and the gradual repayment of loans from directors. Field Advisor meetings began, and initial efforts were made to create and fill an Advisory Board. An Experienced Track was added to the diploma program, supplementing Regular and Fast Track pathways, and invitations were sent to scores of potential candidates. Fee applications for Fast Track candidates were waived until October 2016, but a few veterans have continued to apply since then.
Staff: Melanie Mindlin continued as part-time Administrator, doubling her work to 20 hrs/month. During this time a major outreach effort resulted in close to 40 of the best known permaculturists in North America becoming PINA diplomates.
Board: In mid-2018, Paula Westmoreland and Andrew Millison joined the board. Marco Chung-Shu Lam joined in 2019. Wes Roe left the board in mid-2019, moving to the Advisory Board, where he joined Jude, Penny, and Albert Bates. In Sept. 2018, the board met face-to-face at Blue Sky Farm in Michigan to plan and design PINA’s next steps. It hired Peter Bane as Coordinator. This position was later redefined as part-time Exec. Director. Monica Ibacache was elected President and Paula Westmoreland VP to join Bob (Secy.) and Darrell (Treas.) on the Executive Committee.
Activities: After months of struggle in 2017, led by Melanie, and supported by Peter, Bob, and Darrell, PINA became a 501(c)6 non-profit corporation April 6, 2018, further defining its path not only as a mutual benefit organization, but as a business league or trade organization in support of permaculture as a profession.
The major outreach effort arising from the retreat was a Design Contest, proposed by Andrew, and adopted enthusiastically, while the board also endorsed language defining its mission as “providing pathways for professional development.”
Just after the retreat, NatureWise donations ended suddenly because of a corporate merger. PINA funding nevertheless increased in 2019, in part from a generous donation by a former PDC student of Peter’s willing and able to help. A Development Committee focused on fundraising began regular meetings in 2018 as did Membership and Outreach. The latter is asked to “Launch and coordinate outreach, including social media, website, brochures, the Contest, conferences/events at which to be represented, plus member services, including the Newsletter, and to do strategic thinking about building our brand and our community.”
The work of four committees became regular, while PINA moved much of its shared work online via Slack. Video conferencing of meetings became the norm in 2019. PINA’s newsletter, edited by Koreen Brennan and copyedited, laid out, and dispatched by three staff members reached quarterly publication with a well-articulated production process. In addition, a Zoom-enabled webinar on Mutual Aid was held in fall of 2019 and recorded for future access.
PINA helped to sponsor and sent staff to attend the Global Earth Repair Summit in Pt. Townsend in May, 2019, where it laid claim to the Million Tree Challenge, a project it was still working to implement in 2020.
Four new diploma specializations were introduced in 2018 and 2019, in Permaculture Site Development and Implementation, Community Development, Media and Communications, and Regenerative Land Management. The Website was improved and expanded with the help of professional consultants to include a Calendar of Events, and a Job Kiosk. Organizational membership was added. A Directory of Business Goods and Services was under construction, along with provisions for Professional Membership.
After the first Design Contest was launched, membership surged due both to the Contest and to online recruiting efforts by Melanie and Peter. A complimentary subscription to Permaculture Design magazine was offered to each first-time member, and this continued for about nine months. The contest deadline was extended, and 42 submissions were ultimately received. Board-assigned judges identified 12 semi-finalists, and after month-long voting by members from a list of 5 finalists chosen by the board, the winner was announced April 1, 2019. The winning project at Aprovecho Institute was funded and completed by fall of 2019, and a film about their Integrated Earthworks is under production. A second design contest in Community Development and Media/Communications launched Sept. 2019 and concluded March 1, 2020, with prize money divided between four projects submitted by two contestants in Guatemala and New York.
Staff: Melanie Mindlin continued as Administrator but her workload increased to quarter-time from late 2018 onward. She became extensively involved in upgrading the website, interfacing with diploma candidates, and implementing PINA’s Design Contest and outreach campaigns.
In October 2018, Peter Bane became half-time PINA Coordinator for a limited contract of three months. His contract was extended and the hours adjusted to quarter-time beginning in 2019 as he was named Exec. Director. During this period, he introduced Organizational Membership, and pushed for the Calendar, Kiosk, and Professional Membership/Business Directory capacities to be added to the website. He secured better web technical support for the organization, resulting in superior performance of the website. He recruited Paula, Andrew, and Marco to the board over the course of 9 months, and encouraged Wes to join the Advisory Board to adjust his workload. Peter supported the judging of both Contests, and oversaw the awarding of the prizes. His private efforts led to the affiliation of Colorado Pc Guild as a hub. In late 2019, he privately lent major support to Great Rivers and Lakes Pc Institute, PINA’s Midwestern hub, to help it recover from a significant loss of personnel.
In April 2019, Allegra Hillburger was hired to assist with records management.
|2016||Great Rivers and Lakes Pc Institute||MI, IL, IN, OH, KY, WI|
|2019||Permaculture Assn. of the Northeast||New England + New York|
|2019||Colorado Permaculture Guild||Colorado and Rocky Mts.|
|Year||PINA Directors History||Year Re-Elected||Left Board||Term Ends|
|2012||Jude Hobbs||2013, 2016||2017|
|2012||Darrell Frey||2013, 2016, 2018||2020|
|2012||Peter Bane||2013, 2016||2018|
|2014||Wes Roe||2016, 2018||2019|
|2019||Marco Chung-Shu Lam||2021|
|Year||Position||Name||Left Position||Full Time Equivalent|
|2019||Executive Director||Peter Bane||0.25|
|2019||Membership Specialist||Allegra Hilburger||0.05|
|2020||Outreach Coordinator||Melanie Mindlin||0.1|
|Years||Name||Left Advisory Board|
PINA booth at NAPC-2 in California