People & Permaculture: Caring & Designing for Ourselves, Each Other and The Planet

Permaculture magazine | Tuesday, 6th March 2012
People & Permaculture is set to be a groundbreaking book, exploring an overlooked aspect of permaculture. Here's what the experts think!
Author: Looby Macnamara
Publisher: Permanent Publications
Publication year: 2012
RRP: £19.95

This is the first book to explore how to use permaculture design and principles for people – to restore personal, social and planetary well-being. Pioneers including Joanna Macy, David Holmgren and Max Lindegger have been quick to endorse it because People & Permaculture widens the definition of permaculture, taking it right into the heart of our own lives, relationships and society. The book provides a clear framework and guidance for both experienced permaculturists and people completely new to permaculture, and indeed for anyone who wishes to live a more creative, abundant life.

Part 1 contains a detailed introduction to permaculture design and principles as applied to people.

Part 2 looks at the tools and techniques we can use in our own lives; how we can transform our internal landscape, enhance our well-being and be at our best.

Part 3 investigates ways of creating harmony in our relationships and groups, through our communication and decision making

Part 4 explores a wider vision for our social systems, in particular health and education

Part 5 moves on to explore how to expand our feelings of connection across the globe.

Part 6 focuses on how we can manifest a positive future with the use of a new design framework specifically created for people-based designs.

Including over 50 practical activities, People & Permaculture empowers readers with tried and tested tools to initiate positive change. It is a hands-on, powerful guide to creating a sustainable world. 

What reviewers are saying

This book is cause for celebration! Many of us have long hankered for the insights and principles of permaculture to be translated to serve all aspects of our lives. Looby Macnamara has been worth waiting for: she fills the bill with luminous clarity, lean eloquence and an exquisite knowledge of systems. Her opening chapters on ‘Thinking like an Ecosystem’ should be required reading in every classroom from third grade through graduate school. Equally rewarding are her applications of permaculture to health, communication and the life of the mind. It’s part of the genius of the book that all this, once you see it, can seem as natural as breathing.

-— Joanna Macy, author of Coming Back to Life, World as Lover, World as Self and co-author, Active Hope: How to Face the Mess We’re in without Going Crazy


The application of permaculture principles and thinking to peoplecare has long been a vexed issue for permaculture activists, designers and teachers. In this book Looby Macnamara uses her solid grounding in permaculture to show that its principles and thinking can help us all be effective and hopeful in an age of change and challenge. In the process she draws in kindred ideas and influences from the field of peoplecare, making a significant contribution in the ongoing evolution of permaculture as a concept and a movement creating a better world.

-— David Holmgren, co-originator of the Permaculture concept


Looby Macnamara’s inspiring and groundbreaking book is a rich celebration of the interconnectivity of all life and is filled to the brim with the potential of our future growth and happiness. It is the very best of guidebooks: entertaining, instructive, nurturing and profound. It will become a constant companion and is one of those books you will want to give to everyone you know!

-— Glennie Kindred, author of several books on Earth wisdom, our native trees and plants, and celebrating the Earth’s cycles


We all have our dark moments of the soul, when we go deep into our individual beings and ask hard questions and sometimes get unwelcome answers. Are humans a plague on the planet? Can one person, when that one person is me, really make a difference? Can the juggernaut of consumer society be turned? Why should we single out our fellow humans for a special degree of care over, say, salmon, or whales? The answer is in this book. We take care of people because people matter, and because that is our nature as creatures who care. What we care about matters to the fate of the world, now as never before. If permaculture as a design tool is about making connections, this book is about how we reconnect ourselves – to each other, to our inner selves, to our highest aspirations and, finally, to the cycles of life, of which we are just a small, but incredibly important, part.

-— Albert Bates, author and educator, The Farm Ecovillage Training Center, Tennessee USA


Thanks to Looby Macnamara for bringing us a heart-warming book which invites us to step from our comfortable sofa into a world of adventures, explorations and connections – and blesses us to return for a good rest and some quiet when we need it. She offers us the world as our playground – not something we have to set straight, but something we have the honour of engaging with. A roadmap for the joyful expression of our love for each other and this wild, beautiful planet we call our home.

-— Kosha Anja Joubert, president of the Global Ecovillage Network


People & Permaculture is a book of practical wisdom that can improve our lives, our relationships and our ability to act for our world.

-— Chris Johnstone, author of Find Your Power and co-author of Active Hope: How to Face the Mess We’re in without Going Crazy

Land design is complex, but trees don’t answer back! In my experience the most challenging aspect of any design is not which plants or elements to include, but how to work with my fellow humans, and create situations where each person feels valued and able to make their best contribution. Looby has done the permaculture community a great service with this book. It has helped me explore my own potential and think in new ways. I’ve gained insight into how I can work more effectively with others and, in turn, move towards a more harmonious and abundant relationship with our amazing Earth. Looby’s book is an important step towards our goal of personal, social and ecological well-being, and I urge you to read it.

-— Andy Goldring, CEO, The Permaculture Association (Britain)


Living in today’s global climate can be fraught with fear, overwhelm and despair. Looby Macnamara effortlessly eases you out of that predicament and on to an upwardly-spiralling path of practical exercises, solutions and earth-based wisdom. People & Permaculture offers a pragmatic and holistic approach to transforming our relationships, not only with each other, but with nature as a whole. Its timing couldn’t be more fortuitous; this book holds enough insight and inspiration to help us thrive throughout these changing times and create a brighter future for all. Essential reading for anyone who wishes to reclaim their most intimate connection to people, place and planet. 

-— Natalie Fee, author of The Everyday Alchemist’s Happiness Handbook and The Everyday Alchemist’s Book of Poems.


Peoplecare is as important to permaculture as earthcare – unless we learn to live in harmony with each other, we’ll never get anything done. Looby’s book fills a gap that has long been there in permaculture literature. I heartily congratulate her.

-— Patrick Whitefield, permaculture teacher and author


The future of culture and agriculture is in permaculture. This book is perhaps the first to give readers the big picture and a comprehensive understanding of permaculture and how it can underpin our ecological, social and spiritual paradigm. The book is an outstanding contribution to an ever evolving vision which is creative, imaginative, sustainable and joyful.
–— Satish Kumar, editor of Resurgence 


I do believe that we all love this Earth, everyone of us. Yet finding the way to express the joy of this life has become so complicated, our very actions in celebrating often causing the destruction we so desperately don’t need. Permaculture offers a glimpse to a kinder future, where our expression meets the right actions. This book is a manual in how to get there – grounded, practical and brimming with joy for the good stuff. What I like most about this book, is that we are not banished from nature, but centred in it, which I believe is our rightful place.

-— Alys Fowler, gardener, writer and presenter (who deeply loves soil)


This is a work of significant courage – for years now considerations of the peoplecare aspect of permaculture have been so conflicting that no-one has dared publish a volume like this. Bravo to Looby for breaking through the wall of silence and producing this book. I found it to be of startling breadth, timely relevance and it contains a handsome blend of insights drawn from Looby’s own experience integrated with the wisdom of others. The agile extension of the design approach that is, along with the principles, at the core of permaculture into the field of humans relations is particularly useful to me. I recommend this encyclopedic book to you.

-— Andrew Langford, co-president, Gaia University,

Looby Macnamara presents an exciting and inspiring vision for humanity in People & Permaculture. Most importantly she also equips readers with the tools and techniques needed to make this vision a reality. An enlightening handbook for those who want to change the world.

-— Melissa Corkhill, editor of The Green Parent magazine,


I’m inspired by the scope and depth of People & Permaculture – it captures the current trend focusing on how permaculture really is an emerging culture – and how it can inform our lives and community, helping us navigate through the maze of building a sustainable future.

-— Stefan Geyer, chair-person of the Permaculture Association (Britain)


All too often, promising environmental projects are thwarted by burnout or conflict. People & Permaculture sounds a clarion of hope, empowering us with practical solutions that make people central to permaculture design. This book is a treasure trove of wise observations and a manual for how to put the peoplecare ethic into practice.

-— Rebecca Laughton, author of Surviving & Thriving On The Land


In People & Permaculture Looby Macnamara displays an uncanny knack for laying a safe path of stepping stones into new territories of personal abundance. This handbook is so full of golden keys: explanations, illustrations, adventurous exercises and powerful quotations, each unlocking a forgotten limiting belief, freeing more love to come out and play. Looby is a masterful hand-holder, redesigning our inner landscape with raw distinctions and organic intelligence. With so many new options to choose from it is easy to change the ways we live on Earth. If the universe is made of consciousness, and we are in fact the Earth talking to herself, what a shame it would be to continue living isolated confusing lives when a book such as People & Permaculture can so thoroughly weave a thrilling resonance between ourselves, each other, and the Earth herself. This is a book of learning – learning from other cultures, from ancestors, from nature, learning from our own pain. Looby helps us remember that out of deep rich compost grows the best fruits, herbs, flowers and vegetables.

-— Clinton Callahan, originator of Possibility Management and author of Conscious Feelings,


What a great idea – to explore how permaculture principles can be applied to designing healthy human culture at all levels of scale, from individual, to group, to global. This book is rich with ideas, real life examples and tried and tested tools for creating happy, effective and resilient people and projects. 

-— Sophy Banks, Transition Town Totnes and Transition Network


The first half of the book was invaluable to me and transformed my view of permaculture. As a former leadership development person and independent consultant, I am familiar with many of the processes later in the book. But that does not diminish its value for readers – particularly those in our Berkhamsted Transition Town and others trying to facilitate change and personal development. The text is not only in the form of the written word but also beautifully drawn pictures and models. It is all excellent.

-— Bruce Nixon, author of A Better World is Possible,


A lovely, refreshing way to look at permaculture. Full of common sense for a world where common sense is so often lacking. Well structured, full of enthusiasm, bringing simplicity into a complex theme with appeal well beyond permaculture – put down the remote control, pour yourself a homebrew and enjoy!

-— Max O Lindegger, permaculture pioneer, peasant farmer and beekeeper


This is a very timely and important book. Our world is calling for people to stand together in heart-centred, creative and powerful ways for a healthy future, a future where humans naturally love and care about our beautiful Planet Earth, all creatures and also themselves. Permaculture principles provide common sense design strategies, not only for redesigning our physical environments for a sustainable world, but also for creating supportive, dynamic, caring and restorative systems that care for people. This is a must read book for all who care for themselves and our world.

-— Robin Clayfield, author of The Manual For Teaching Permaculture Creatively and You Can Have Your Permaculture and Eat It Too


This long-overdue book allows the peoplecare and fair share ethics of permaculture to find their place in the sun. To sustain ourselves, and all life on Planet Earth, we need to redesign the way we do things. Not all of us manage land, but all of us have responsibility for what we consume each day and how we relate to others. By taking small steps we can achieve great things. This book is packed with practical suggestions as well as underlying concepts to help us live in harmony with each other and with the Earth.

-— Ian Lillington, permaculture teacher and author of The Holistic Life


Drawing upon experiences of people around the world, this is a book full of wisdom. Looby pulls together the principles of permaculture in an inspiring and personal way to help us improve our own lives and the lives of others.

-— Naomi Saville, International community development specialist and researcher


This is indeed a timely and very important book. Now, more than ever, we need to find ways of working together if we are to create a world in which our grandchildren can and want to live in. I am confident that we already have the tools to practically build a future in harmony with the Earth, but our greatest challenge is how to live in harmony with each other to enable us to do so. Looby’s book provides the very tools we need to undertake this vital work.

-— Tim Harland, founder of Permaculture magazine


Reading this book is like taking a shower under a fresh flowing waterfall: stimulating and revitalising. It contains not only passion and vision but a compendium of tools and ideas to turn our collective fear of scarcity into trust in abundance. Looby places personal and interpersonal work within the context of world-work and earthcare, no idle navel-gazing but a revolution in understanding which is as critical to our survival as a species as the tools to regenerate land. The writing is clear and engaging, and the book includes quotations, images and activities to keep the reader involved, reflecting Looby’s experience as a skilled teacher. People & Permaculture is a pioneering book, opening the way for much more thinking in this area. I am excited to think of what riches may flow from it.

-— Jackie Singer, celebrant and author of Birthrites

Special Offer!

People & Permaculture is on special offer at £14.95 (RRP £19.95). For more details please see our Green Shopping site here 

Looby Macnamara has launched her new book 7 Ways to Think Differently, on special offer at £4.46 on our Green Shopping site.


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