This page describes a proposal to create a wiki. Part of the discussion is about the problems with starting a new wiki, and the suggestion to build this on Appropedia. See Permaculture wiki for more on existing wikis, and a proposal to come together with the existing work and community at Appropedia.

ABSTRACT[edit | edit source]

Permacultural designs are about changing the relative position of elements to create self-sustained systems where humans have a place. In a dynamically stable system, each element gives and takes from the others. Being humans, we may arbitrarily start with humans at the center, and grow from there. Wikis being wikis, we can also start at any other page. This project is to create a prototype for a People Centered Permaculture Wiki, which will let designers look at different elements in relationship to the other elements. We'll then look at ways to grow from a prototype to a fully useful, evolving wiki, if and when that's possible.

Introduction[edit | edit source]

Andrew Jensen wrote in about his understanding of permaculture:

"Think of a human being: think of all the things a human needs to live and all the byproducts they create. Things like food, water, shelter, oxygen, things like poop and carbon dioxide. Now, we're going to think of all the things that provide for those needs. What do they need, what do they produce? Each part is a piece of a puzzle, with inputs and outputs, and permaculture is about putting those puzzle peices together, so that the needs of one part of your system is produced by other parts of your system, as much as possible, to provide for the person in the center."

Start a Wiki, where the front page is a Human, and we list all the things a Human needs and All it's byproducts. Those are all links, and we follow those to pages set up about those needs. A page like, say, heat, or food. A "product" page. On a Product page, we generally describe the product, and then list what things need that, and what other things provide that. Those links go to "Component" pages, which describes a part of a system, like a chicken or a compost toilet, and what it's inputs and outputs are. Those of course link out to more product pages...

The goal here would be to have a constantly expanding design tool. When designing a permaculture system, you could use this wiki to look up what various components of your system require, and choose from lists of things that provide those needs or use the byproducts.

Like any wiki, this needs a large base of knowledgeable users to get working. My instinct says to start with the Human page and work outward. Does this tool interest anybody? Would anyone be willing to help me on this project?

It's cool and reminds me of Vinay's 6 Ways to die, with people at the center. I don't know if there might be some interaction here, as a way to map stuff. The main menu would be "People" and the sublists in that page would at least include "protection from the six ways to die": hunger, thirst, etc. Of course there would be other items that are not in Vinay's "extremely basic" list: "fun", "music", "respect for one's ideas" or whatever. I don't know that there's any undisputable categorisation of these items, but there could be several categorisation lists all in one page, for people with different tastes, from the "show me the infrastructure" guys to the "it's all about warm feelings inside" guys (all of which have a point, of course, 'cos at the end of the day we all go for endorphines, oops, I had to stick my own world-view here).

I've even thought about prototyping it as a wiki that links to wikipedia. There would be a page called Chicken, with a list of inputs and outputs, and maybe a list of designs it's used in. Each item in the list would be a link to the appropriate place in wikipedia. So "our" wiki would be a "meta" place, piggybacking on top of wikipedia and, while we're at it, on top of appropedia or whatever. The following would be a quick-draft example, with fake links:

Now, the question of how to design such an tool as an ecosystem, with enough different people wanting to contribute and use it, and as you say with a few people at first and then more and more, would need different thinking.

- Here we'd have people who enjoy contributing to a wiki, or at least don't hate it, either because they are good at it or because they feel passionate about it or because they are paid big bucks to do it, or even better a combination of the three. Chris of Appropedia may have done some pretty good thinking on that one, that's my guess.

- And we'd have people who benefit from the wiki, using it for their own projects, or using it as a place to show the world the many good things they have done or are doing, or as a place to ask for help or whatever. If the two populations are one and the same, so much better.

- And, as in every permacultural project, there's the element of design, redesign and learning from the experience. Which is why I mention making a fast prototype that can be wired in a rush, using already available resources like Wikipedia. Maybe such a prototype could be started at appropedia? Just a bunch of pages with a pre-name, like PCPWchicken, PCPWcarrots etc? PCPW would be People Centered Permaculture Wiki.

Does this make sense?

you look up the elements used in designs. That's great language and I'm going to adopt it as a better descriptor. I also like People Centered Permaculture Wiki as an acting name.

I'll search through appropedia and the permaculture institute's wikis for a while to see what they have and digest it. It had never occured to me to bootstrap this by using existing wikis, because I'm new to the whole open authorship thing.

Thank you, you've single handedly moved this from a pie in the sky idea to something I can put together over a weekend in Proof of concept form.

I was thinking last night, that though this is person centered, there's still a very real question. Do I focus on an individual human as our starting page, or a community? The individual person would be more akin to how permaculture is currently in use, as you usually are making designs for a single household. However, there are human needs that only really come forth collectively, and I think ideally we really want to scale up from just permaculture homesteads in the future. Should the front page list the inputs/outputs of a single human being, or the inputs/outputs of a community?

And what's "community" anyway? Household level (aggregation of individuals), town level (aggregation of households), region level (aggregation of towns and the rich space between them), world level (we stop here, for the time being)?

I really recommend that you look at Vinay's "rings of infrastructure" video, somewhere around here. In my mind, plants and other animals are part of infrastructure. I may have stretched the concept a bit too much, but to me "infrastructure" is "what stands between the sun and the cold space to reduce or delay the six ways to die for me personally".

But that's what prototypes are for!

Hope this helps!

I was thinking community on the municipal level. It's going to have a page, since humans require community, It's just that part of me though maybe we should start there. I'm really big on the idea that it's not people who survive, it's communities. Well, the word I usually use is Tribe. I'm pretty big on the Dunbar Number concept too.

I too use the word "tribe". In the "we're in this together, both when we have fun and when we don't". And also in the Daniel Quinn sense of people who shape the tribe through their contributions, such that a tribe made of fishermen is a fishermen tribe.

"I mean, appropedia seems to be more centered around technologies."

More so, yes, but not entirely, and not by design.

I've created a number of pages on the soft or human side of these issues, on top of the many Community-related pages that others have created (and i'm sure others that don't spring to mind right now). A few that spring to mind are:

And if you follow those categories you'll find a lot of pages such as Resilient communities.

I'm sure they'll pick up in time, and I'd love to see more happen in this area (and others feel the same, I know).

Note I haven't tried to cover permaculture content here - just wanted highlight the "soft", less technical areas of Appropedia.

Andrew: have you had a chance to explore Appropedia? How can the Appropedia community support what you want to do?

Project Requirements[edit | edit source]

The aim is to create a prototype, and later see how to grow it.

Examples[edit | edit source]

(I wasn't sure if this was in the right place when I cleaned up, so I labeled it "Examples". --Chriswaterguy 01:35, 29 November 2008 (UTC))


Needs: - Grains, preferably this kind of grain and that kind of grain.

- Heat, as in a range of temperature from 17ºC to 27ºC (or whatever it is), which is usually provided from this source and that other source.


- Poop, about X grams per animal per day when they are young, and twice as much or whatever when they are older and bigger. It has lots of nitrogen etc.

Sample permacultural designs it's used in or is a part of:

- Chicken Truck.

FA info icon.svg Angle down icon.svg Page data
Authors LucasG
License CC-BY-SA-3.0
Language English (en)
Related 0 subpages, 2 pages link here
Aliases Human Needs Centered Wiki
Impact 321 page views
Created November 16, 2008 by LucasG
Modified May 1, 2022 by Felipe Schenone
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