Farewell to Bill Mollison

On September 24, 2016, the world lost a true maverick and legend, Bill Mollison. He was larger than life, rough around the edges, and full of deep insight. While compiling the quotes for our tribute to him, it re-emphasized just what an enormous effect he had on this world. He will be missed by countless people around the world whose lives were forever changed by him.

When he helped develop the systematic approach of permaculture, the social aspect was key, the ethic of caring for the people is one thing that sets permaculture apart from other agriculture practices. Bill spent much of his life working with people in disadvantaged situations, using permaculture to help raise them out of oppression. Let us learn from him in this regard, especially while we mourn his death. This magazine is just one example of something that would not exist without the work of Bill in developing the system called permaculture. So much good has happened around the world in the name of permaculture. People from different backgrounds, races, and cultures have found ways to work together because of it. Environments and landscapes have been rejuvenated from its application, and social webs woven tighter because of it. We aren’t saying that permaculture can solve all of the world’s problems overnight. But, it can and will solve many of them if we put in the effort. We thank Bill for helping create the roadmap to a better future, and we plan to use this publication to continue his social, spiritual, environmental, and economic regeneration.

We don’t have to look very far to learn about tragedies that could be avoided through a wider adoption of permaculture ethics. Currently, the struggles at Standing Rock Reservation and Baltimore, Maryland are both examples. These are two instances in which people are calling for the right to safety within their own communities.

As we write this, over 300 Tribes have gathered in North Dakota in solidarity with the Sioux Standing Rock Tribe. They are gathering to protect their land and water supply from the dangers of the proposed Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL).

Meanwhile in Baltimore, and other cities across North America, a large percentage of the population doesn’t feel safe due to the discrimination facing them because of their skin color. Like everyone, both of these groups deserve environmental and social justice.

We could spend a lot of time thinking about how to prevent these problems in the future, and admittedly we probably will, but right now we want to talk about what we can do about them in this moment. We are very aware that these issues are a result of deeply embedded cultural norms that are not going to change overnight. However, if we take a good hard look at both of these issues, we can see one thing is very clear: there is a blatant lack of respect for minority communities. This is relevant to permaculture because much of the environmental and social degradation that we are trying to heal has a much more drastic effect on these communities, as exemplified at both Standing Rock and in Baltimore. Also, minorities are often the ones to take the brunt of health consequences from extractive energy industries. It’s further relevant because many of the permaculture techniques we practice today were practiced by Indigenous people, long before the term permaculture was coined.

Bill Mollison was well aware of this, so we should honor him by giving these issues our attention. So, what can be done to show respect and offer a sense of safety to these communities? We give it space. We give it thought. We bear witness to our fellow human struggles. Most importantly, for us as allies, listen, and lift up the unheard voices that have been silenced for so long.

Additionally, we can put our boots on the ground and go in person to stand in solidarity with these movements. We can show support through social media and with financial contributions to efforts working on these issues. We can do so much! In a society filled with apathy, we have to remind ourselves that we can really, truly make a difference together.

So here’s to the people fighting the Goliaths of the world for their simple right to a safe and healthy life. Here’s to Bill Mollison and the many solutions he offered to the world through permaculture. Here’s to standing in solidarity with the planet, all its inhabitants, and to protecting the future for all.

Cassie Langstraat & Hannah Apricot Eckberg