Inclusive Leadership Sought at the North American Permaculture Convergence

The Finger Lakes Permaculture Institute (FLPCI), is proud to be a sponsor of the inaugural North American Permaculture Convergence (NAPC) that will take place August 29 – 31, 2014, in Clarks Grove, Minnesota. Some aims of the convergence are to  “help to connect and advance North American networks of permaculture practitioners” and  “defining the structure, function and organization of our collective groups moving forward.” We are happy that two of our instructors Rafter Sass Ferguson and Karryn Olson-Ramanujan will attend.

FLPCI Co-founder, board member, and instructor, Karryn Olson-Ramanujan seeks to advance the conversations around women’s leadership in permaculture. While researching for her recent article in the Permaculture Activist magazine (“A Pattern Language for Women’s Leadership in Permaculture.”), Karryn interviewed women working in permaculture worldwide who voiced the desire to create structures that help more women move into high-level, visible leadership positions within the movement. Karryn’s article outlined patterns of best practices towards this goal. She plans to get input from other women at the convergence and consult together on next steps.

Karryn emphasizes that this conversation around women’s leadership is a key leverage point to help the permaculture movement become more inclusive.

“Learning about the systemic and often invisible dynamics of privilege is foundational for effective social permaculture.”

In 2014, women are not at 50% of all levels of leadership in the United States or in the permaculture movement.  Karryn asks “Why does this happen when surely most people in permaculture would self-identify as strongly in support of women’s leadership?” Her short answer is: “It’s the system.” Even today, myriad subtle social dynamics culminate in barriers to women’s leadership.  Men and women need to understand how these dynamics work. Permaculture designers need to design equitable, win-win solutions. To do this process-oriented work, we have to roll up our sleeves and enter the workshop of relationship. This means building trust and creating safety for people on the historical side of oppression to speak their truth, to determine their own emancipation, and to be heard and supported in their leadership. By supporting women’s success in permaculture, we learn some of the skills needed to support leadership of historically oppressed populations.

It is not about being politically correct. As permaculture practioners, we know whole systems thrive when their parts function optimally, manifesting their highest potential.

To read the Pattern Language for Women in Permaculture, or to read more about Karryn’s Olson-Ramanujan’s work at the NAPC, click here.