Forests are the perfect example of layers and layers of integration, with each species benefiting from or supporting a number of others. In Permaculture we have seen that an integration of plants and species is much more effective than rows and rows of single crops. A forest is self managing because of its integration. A farm needs managing to maintain its segregation.
We can learn from this in a number of ways:
Finances - Look at where your income stream comes from. Is it all from one source i.e. one full time job? What would happen if you were made redundant tomorrow? Would you have an additional income stream? Imagine a monoculture farm, that only grows corn, if it were attacked by a virus or pest that thrives on corn, the corn would be decimated and you would be left with nothing to eat. If we had an integrated mix of crops, greens, grains, legumes, fruits, root crops, and corn, we would not be as affected by the damage done to that one crop. We can take this approach to our finances by working towards multiple income streams to create a more secure and sustainable lifestyle.
Hobbies and Work - If you commute every day to work by car, then get home and exercise you are segregating these two parts of your life. If instead you cycled/walked/ran to work, you would be integrating the exercise and work together meaning you would free up more time in the evenings and also save money on travel expenses! Look at other ways you can integrate your work with other elements of your lifestyle. If you spend all of your free time playing music why not try to make this an income stream too? If you can incorporate how you spend your free time into income streams, you will create integrated systems that make use of your free time. A passionate man is a motivated man.
Collaboration and Skill Sharing - Work on projects with other people rather than solo. A project where the risks are shared, the skills are more diverse and more solutions are offered, has a much higher chance of success then one with only one mind. Look at areas in your life you can bring in other people to help. This could be a personal work project, a garden, or even finding a group of people to exercise with.
Community - Reach out to your neighbours, and people in your community. If you don’t know them already reach out and introduce yourself. The larger our network is within our community the more we can rely on friends rather than strangers in times of need. It can also lead to more opportunities through exposure to different ideas, connections and skills.
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Josh Davis is an outdoor educator and facilitator exploring ways we can learn from the natural world. He offers one on one coaching and consulting to help design your life from permaculture.
You can find out more at www.thechangeiwanttosee.com
For more ideas about designing your life with permaculture
Zen in the Art of Permaculture Design by Stephan Geyer