I am probably not the only one who did not know what permaculture was before Joe came to speak to our class. Nonetheless, it did not take much explaining on his part to peak my interest since he said that permaculture was a method of sustainable agriculture that is modeled from natural ecosystems and focuses on being self-maintained. Even better, his view of environmental ethics not only emphasized caring for the earth, but also for people in the community, which is a huge plus in my opinion. Joe stressed that permaculture is all about operating on a small scale that strives to build community and relationships, and that was the aspect that struck me the most because it is pretty much the exact opposite of large-scale industrial farming that we have grown accustomed to. I believe that the rise of large-scale industrial agriculture has lessened the power that food has in bringing people together because so many people consume food so mindlessly and forget where it comes from and who grows it. To me, any system that at least attempts to do better than that in terms of being more sustainable and healthier for people and the environment deserves some attention.
The only point Joe made that I am critical of was when he said a flower has intrinsic value if it is beautiful, but it would actually have instrumental value if he finds it beautiful to look at. Furthermore, he thinks that anything that has intrinsic value also has instrumental value as a result, but in class we learned these two types of values are distinct. Something is said to have intrinsic value if it is good “in and of itself” and something is said to have instrumental value if it is good because it provides the means for acquiring something else of value.
Finally, Joe’s lecture reminds me of some of the eight points in the deep ecology reading because permaculture values nature, strives for diversity, wants to satisfy a human need with less human interference, and favors a change in worldview to be less focused on large-scale consumerism and more on building relationships within a community.