My name is Tom Ellis and I am an inherently unlikely person to have any interest in permaculture--a 66-year old English professor (with one more year to go before I retire) at a local urban community college in Norfolk, VA, USA. What then, does permaculture have to do with teaching English composition and rhetoric and a few elective literature classes to urban, mostly African American students at a community college? Most would say "nothing;" the common understanding of permaculture, for those who have even heard of it, is that it is a rural, agrarian hippie movement started in Australia back in the Seventies. And to be sure, as a former college hippie myself, I am in part revisiting my youthful passion for things like "Mother Earth News," the Whole Earth Catalog, and so forth--before I got "serious"and enrolled in a Ph.D. program so that I could become an English professor. Still, throughout my 30-odd years of college teaching, what I like to call Gaian consciousness--the unacknowledged "other side" of me--was never entirely suppressed, thought it took a more cerebral form, as a fascination with general systems theory, the Gaia theory of James Lovelock, and thinkers like Gregory Bateson, Ken Wilber, and so forth--ideas which found their way into my teaching, while, in my extracurricular life, I became an environmental activist, a life-member of the Sierra Club... Recently, however, my interest in permaculture, of which I was only marginally aware, was reactivated, or perhaps I should say, ignited into an all-consuming passion--when I stumbled upon Geoff Lawton's marvelous, contagiously enthusiastic video clips--in particular, the "Greening the Desert" clip about his miraculous project in Jordan. At the same time, it was kindled by my vicarious (and in some ways actual) encounters with brilliant practicing ecovisionaries such as Wangari Maathai, Will Allen of Growing Power in Milwaukee, and Joel Salatin in western Virginia. Then this past spring, I heard a wonderful presentation by a local permaculture farmer, over on Virginia's Eastern Shore (the DelMarVa peninsula, east of the Chesapeake Bay), at the Norfolk Public Library. I was hooked--so I have now started, at that same library, a monthly "Earthrise Reading Club" focusing, each month, on one chapter at a time of David Holmgren's masterful book on the 12 Principles of Permaculture, while sandwiching in other related books. I am also planning to redesign my basic composition course at my community college around the Twelve Principles, because I quickly came to realize that they can be applied to anything and everything. I have come, in fact, to see Permaculture as a theoretically rigorous crystalization of the intellectual ferment triggered by (1) the emergence of systems theory; (2) the global environmental crisis; and (3) the counter-cultural ferment initiated by the likes of Stewart Brand (Whole Earth Catalog), Stephen Gaskin (The Farm), Wangari Maathai, Joel Salatin, and myriad other Gaian visionaries. I see it, therefore, as the next essential phase of human evolution--a fundamental cultural shift of humanity's role, from a destructive parasite on Gaia to a realization of our true potential as a symbiotic agent in the healing of our sacred living planet. In other words, count me in!