Permaculture, as the design of sustainable human systems, does not only hel1_Observ&interactuatep
or to design and manage the physical environment, but also the interpersonal, group and community environment (relationships, human processes, the organization of groups…).

According to David Holmgren, the first design principle in permaculture is:

Observe and interact.

Observing and interacting is:

  1. GATHER the precise information of the environment (over a period of time according to the type of intervention that is proposed), that allows us to know the holistic (global, integrated) dynamics of the system in which…
  2. LET’S ACT (design and manage).

We need to know the processes, the flows and cycles that are already developed, the agents (protagonists)… to integrate our proposal into this system, and not cause dysfunctions or irreversible impacts that break the sustainable-natural processes that may be taking place.

For example:

  • Where would you place a pond or lagoon to collect rainwater on your farm? I’m sure not in the highest area, but in the area where the water naturally reaches by runoff or infiltration.
  • Would you sow seeds or seedlings out of season, when atmospheric conditions are adverse to the particular species?
  • Would you cook any mushroom without first knowing if it can be toxic to your health?
  • Would you catch all the fish in the lake to eat them without shaving to think sooner what fish you’ll eat after – because the population will no longer be replenished-? (Would you exhaust a renewable resource?).


This principle, applied to human relationships, is one of Stephen Covey‘s SEVEN FirstUnderstandThenBeenUnderstoodHIGHLY EFFECTIVE PEOPLE HABITS:

Seek first to understand, then be understood.

Getting new to a site (or a person, or a group!) pretending to know everything without knowing it is a designer error, which can lead to design and interaction errors.

😉 We are always “designers” and “interactants”… For example as group facilitators, companions, parents, consultants, pedagogical guides…

This principle leads us to assume an apprentice mind, an attitude of humility, a spirit of openness and surprise, a vocation to be guided by what Nature and the Universe can teach us and offer to design and manage our permacultural projects and solutions.

One thing that fascinates me about this principle is that it applies the same in other areas that I know and that I practice in my day to day (this synergy in my life should not be casual):

  • Non-directive active pedagogy (Rebeca and Mauricio Wild): we let the child guide learning, as adults we try to identify authentic needs and offer an environment prepared for personal development (learning).
  • The facilitation of groups: “art and science” of making ourselves available to groups, accompanying their processes and operating dynamics to help them balance the triangle results-procedures-people.
  • Empathetic accompaniment: to the people with whom I relate, especially in the day to day at home (family).
  • Dragon Dreaming: holistic design culture of projects for sustainability.


Every day a short and direct Facebook Live, on key topics to improve individually and grouply (teams, companies, associations, communities…).

A gift in times of crisis, that is, in times of reflection and opportunity for improvement.

#loveintimesofcrisis #groups #teams #sustainability



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