RetroSuburbia is an extraordinary and magnificently crafted guide on living abundantly in uncertain times. Part manifesto, part manual, this is the book you and I did not realise we were waiting for!
David Holmgren asks “Aren’t we all craving real world ways to make an impact, and make our lives feel significant in the face of the global challenges we face?”
This timely important book creatively and unreservedly helps us realise the prime directive of permaculture – that is to take responsibility for our own existence and that of our children. It guides us optimistically into what could be very hard times ahead with the permacultural vision that you and I can support all of life and live abundantly and healthily. Using alternating scales, this book seems to cover everything from disaster planning, to retrofitting your home, to caring for your teeth.
Whether you rent or own your home, this is a practical, bottom-up guide for your own personal permaculture revolution whatever your situation. It’s packed full of real life practical solutions for downshifting and eco-retrofitting yourself, your life, your home and your communities. Every time I open the book I glean fascinating insights which once put into practice have already impacted positively on my own life and family. Do not be put off by the Australian references, as we are encouraged to translate the ideas into our own context.
About the book. It is beautifully laid out in an accessible pattern language of multiple layers with bright colours, accessible text, and relevant pictures. The guide’s opening section outlines the big picture concepts and thinking tools. The bulk of the book is in 3 sections exploring the “Three B's” - Built, Biological and Behavioural patterning (detailed below). Interwoven is the story of Aussie Street which depicts the journey of a 'typical' suburban household which we will all recognise. It ends with a 3 page vision putting it all together.
The 3 Bs
Built Field: Patterns of Human Habitats. This looks at the built environment and includes retrofitting your home.
Biological Field: Patterns of life and growth. This explores effective land and resource use and includes growing food.
The Behavioural Field: Patterns of Decision and Action. This is the peoplecare section. Arguably the key to change is how we behave.
In Chapter 25 Changing habits for self-reliance and resilience he states, 'We need to do this all with a sense of adventure and fun, rather than guilt or desperation...' This solutions focused attitude that we love about permaculture is imbued on every page.
Conclusion. I am personally very excited and moved by this handbook. In my experience, this is the most important book since Bill Mollison's epic Permaculture Designer's Manual. I predict that it will redefine Permaculture in the mainstream world and that Downshifting Permaculturalists and Transitioners everywhere will love this resource!
RetroSuburbia has a companion website and forum where you can read many case studies and find many other useful resources.
Jo Barker, Canterbury, Kent. Passionate Permaculture Practitioner
Want to know more about permculture? Check out: What is permaculture