The Creative Intelligence of Permaculture

Relative Location

  • SCI Principle: Enjoy greater efficiency and accomplish more

“Relative Location” is a permaculture design principle that has to do with the organization of elements and components in a given environment. Like permaculture in general, this principle applies to all levels and scales. The key to this principle is in designing the components of our environment in a way that enables them to have working relationships with each other. This principle is applied with inputs and outputs in mind; we design so that the inputs needed by one element are fulfilled by the outputs of another. By designing components in relative location to one another based on inputs and outputs we can see that we’re creating greater efficiency. For example, we would ideally put our garden between the house and the chicken coop, so that garden debris is collected on the way to the pen and chicken manure-compost is easily shoveled over to the garden. As elements fulfill needs of other elements while receiving needed inputs from yet other elements (through working relationships), the fruits of our relative locations in design make our jobs easier; with more time to attend to greater needs and plan ahead, we enjoy greater efficiency and accomplish more.


Small-scale bio-intensive

  • SCI Principle: Seek the highest first

From the perspective of permaculture, it is best to start small and develop a fully functioning nucleus of growth and production before expanding the size and scope of our designed environment. This principle could be understood in terms of zone planning; a small-scale bio-intensive focus would focus first on developing zones 1 and 2 and avoid overreaching to further zones before ‘home base’ is established. By adopting a “small-scale bio-intensive” approach to land development and cultivation, we are ensuring efficient, optimal growth from the inside out. In light of the SCI principle, “seek the highest first,” taking a small-scale bio-intensive approach is in line with natural law. The first two zones of use are usually the most intensive and demanding to manage and control, and without control of the first few zones, any long-term investments in outer zones are bound to fail or be limited in their success. Thus, the first zones are our highest priority and first in order of importance and cultivation. “Seek the highest first.”



  • SCI Principle: The field of all possibilities is the source of all solutions

I find both the Attitudinal principle of permaculture and the SCI principle to be wonderfully profound. As permaculturists we understand that nature works best cooperatively; as part of nature, humans are best off solving problems in the flow of nature rather than against nature. The proper attitude of the permaculturist sees the solution in the problem! This attitude naturally shift one’s focus from “fixing problems” to “finding solutions.” This permaculture principle is perfectly aligned with the SCI principle, “the field of all possibilities is the source of all solutions,” because it affirms our knowing that the solution is never absent, but simply requires our engagement in the field of all possibilities. Engaging in the field of all possibilities is a creative endeavor and encourages thoughtful observation with attention to what is present. The human attitude plays a profoundly significant role in the experience of life. Permaculturists who abide by the Additudinal principle should be happy permaculturists because they are playing in the field of all possibilities. Permaculturists are designers and the field of all possibilities is the perfect field for design.


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