Project 6: Permaculture Scotland Policy Working Group
Permaculture Scotland is the Permaculture Association's strategic network in Scotland. Our goal is to grow the network in Scotland to be self sustaining and contribute to national health, wealth and happiness, whilst sharing what we have and what we seek with the worldwide permaculture community. Permaculture Scotland has a Policy Working Group that advises other bodies and organisations on topics where we are qualified to do so. This includes participating in governmental, local and council policy consultations and feeding in recommendations from a Permaculture perspective.
- Encourage governing bodies, communities and organisations to adopt permaculture tools and practices by responding to public consultations and advising on them on practices most relevant to their requirements.
- Helping the Permaculture Scotland Policy Working group to prioritise where to spend their efforts in order to optimise their impact and time.
What was in place at the start of this design: When I joined the PS Policy Working Group (PSPWG) we were a group of 5 volunteers, each having a lot of other external commitments, who were tasked with responding to consultations and media enquiries. There were several issues in that each individual had different levels of experience and knowledge in different areas and most of us did not feel knowledgeable enough about some topics to be able to discuss the matter confidently and represent the view of PS. There was also an issue in that often we would only find out about consultations at the last minute which would result in a scramble to put together a quality response. There was no formal PS position on any topic.
One of the reasons I joined the PSPWG was that, as a member of Nourish, I was very interested in how our food is grown and distributed. I attended a workshop held by Nourish on the subject of the Scottish Governments consultation on the Future of Scottish Agriculture. It was immediately clear to me, and some others in the room, that Permaculture held a lot of solutions to the current crisis. I had the opportunity to talk with the relevant government minister for Agriculture at the event and found him to be dismissive of Permaculture and most progressive practices as he was unable to relate them to large scale farming.
Following this event I contacted PS and asked if we planned to respond to the consultation on the Future of Scottish Agriculture and was invited to join the team and respond on behalf of PS. The details of my design for this consultation response, which is a sub design of this overall project, can be found here. With no guidance or template to follow, I expended a lot of time and energy applying Permaculture ethics to the consultation paper, analysing every detail and wrote a 15 page document of all that was wrong with present day agriculture. When I sent it to the PSPWG for comment I received the very relevant feedback that the document was very large and detailed and it was unlikely that anyone would read it all, far less a government minister or civil servant. With a redefined brief I was able to quickly pull together a more relevant and positive document which can be found here.
The experience of preparing the consultation response for the Future of Scottish Agriculture highlighted the need for a guidance document for preparing consultation responses as well as policy documents stating what the PS policy is for key issues.
A SWOC analysis identified useful resources within the PSPWG team and where they could best be applied and captured.
|Diverse team||No formal policy on anything||Clean slate to develop policies||All team members have a lot of other commitments and limited time to spend on policy development|
|Team members have a range of experience||Personalities (e.g. Graham Bell) well known but the organisation not well known||Scottish Government and other agencies more open to consultation feedback||Short notice to respond to consultations|
|Use of google Drive to share documents||Actions rarely get completed due to time constraints of individuals so feels ineffective||Capture knowledge of members (obtain a yield) to provide resilience in case of members leaving the team (succession)||Finding a time when everyone is free for meetings|
|Skype calls - can take 30 minutes to get everyone there|
|No standard format or guidance for consultation responses and policies|
The key principles driving this design were:
- Produce no waste & Efficient energy planning
- an easily accessible, well researched policy document on a specific topic would allow anyone to refer to that document when preparing a consultation response and avoid each person repeating the research stage whenever a consultation arose (only handle it once).
- Catch and store energy & obtain a yield
- harvest the knowledge of the participants and capture the information in a document that others can then refer to as the need arises. This also supports a plan for succession should the team members need to leave the team.
- Use the edges & value diversity
- anyone in the team can contribute to each policy document, harnessing a range of information and experience rather than that of only one individual who is preparing a consultation response.
- Use small slow solutions
- Permaculture covers a vast range of subjects and it would be impossible to prepare policy documents covering them all in a short space of time, especially by a small team of people working in their limited spare time. It is therefore necessary to develop a process to help prioritise the workload and tackle one or two topics and policy documents at a time.
- Design from pattern to detail
- A proforma or template (pattern) should be designed for ease in drawing up policy documents. This could then be filled in with content (detail) relevant to the topic.
A survey was designed as a priority setting tool to identify which topics should be addressed first. This survey also acted as a recruitment tool to involve more interested parties in writing the policies. The survey is a sub-design of this project and more information on the design, implementation and analysis of the survey can be found on the Priority Setting Tool Page.
The results of the survey consistently indicated that the priorities for the PSPWG team should be Land Reform, Food Sovereignty, climate resilience, community empowerment and nature stewardship.
Process for developing policies
I designed a process for developing policies based on a revised version of SADIMET (SADIETM).