Permaculture Planning

Discussion in 'Permaculture consultants, businesses, resources' started by ecodharmamark, Jan 15, 2013.

  1. ecodharmamark

    ecodharmamark Junior Member

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    G'day All

    This thread responds to the ever-increasing number of inquiries I have been receiving concerning planning and its relationship with permaculture.

    It is envisioned that over the coming months and years this thread will evolve into a valuable resource for a wide range of people - from those just starting out on their permaculture journey, through to those that are well seasoned travellers.

    Of course, permaculture is a social activity. As such I invite everyone to add to the process, and together we will make this thread come alive.

    Cheerio All, Markos

    PS: Stay tuned for the next exciting post: 'What is Permaculture Planning'? In the meantime, if you have any questions/comments, please feel free to post them here.
     
  2. ecodharmamark

    ecodharmamark Junior Member

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    What is Permaculture Planning?

    G'day

    So, what is permaculture planning?

    Here's a couple of examples:

    Allyn River Permaculture - permaculture planning

    Eco-Architecture & Permacultural Planning - planning services

    You'll note in both examples, each entity offers a service that operates at the interface between permaculture and planning.

    Over the coming months/years, I'll post to this thread articles that I think will be of interest to permaculture people. In particular, these articles will have a focus on the relationship between permaculture and planning.

    For example, during the past couple of years I have been involved in various cases where people have been trying to develop their respective pieces of land, but in each case have come up against one particular piece of planning regulation as it applies to whole 'potable water' catchments across state of Victoria (Australia).

    Very recently, this particular piece of planning legislation was 'tested' at the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT). As a result, a 'red dot' decision was handed down, and one that could set a precedent. If this does turn out to be the case, and a precedent is set, it could have the ability to affect the plans of hundreds - and maybe within this cohort, the dreams of quite a few permaculture people.

    The above is just one example of where permaculture meets planning, and why it is important early on in your permaculture journey - i.e. before you purchase property/land for your intended project - that you seek the advice of a qualified planner.

    Questions/comments? Please feel free to add them, and I will endeavour to respond just as soon as I can.

    Cheerio, Markos
     
  3. ecodharmamark

    ecodharmamark Junior Member

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    Permaculture Planning and the role of Research and Development

    G'day All

    Permaculture planning does not just occur at the interface between permaculture projects and planning authorities. Permaculture planning also extends into the realm of academic research, and eventually into NGO policy development. Take this case for example:

    UN-HABITAT’s Cities and Climate Change Initiative (Esmeraldas, Ecuador)

    Indeed, one of the greatest 'NGOs' is the permaculture movement itself. And one of the best 'plans' within movement is the Permaculture Master Plan.

    Over the coming months/years, I will be investigating (as time permits) the connection between permaculture planning and academic research, because I am (just like many others are) of the opinion that in order for the permaculture movement to continue its advance into 'mainstream' society, we need to continue to find new ways of presenting (for example, see: 13.30) solid evidence of its efficacy to a much wider audience.

    Thoughts/questions/comments?

    Cheerio, Markos
     
  4. ecodharmamark

    ecodharmamark Junior Member

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    PIA (Planning Institute of Australia) Weekly News Bulletin

    G'day All

    Some of the information contained here will be of interest to permaculture people, and particularly those with an interest in securing more sustainable modes of transport:

    PIA (Planning Institute of Australia) Weekly News Bulletin

    Cheerio, Markos
     
  5. matto

    matto Junior Member

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    One of the most exciting aspects of permaculture property planning, especially in a commercial environment, is the long term outlook. Finding niches within the scope of the grand plan, as other parts become into productive. And seeing the possibility for the farm ecosystem to evolve and not become a static thing with no room for adaption to outside forces.

    Listening to Eric Toensmeier's webinar on Commercial Food Forestry is one great example to convey permaculture principles into forward planning. Its something im hoping the financial permaculture mob can put together and distribute business models to take this ship into the mainstream.

    Look forward to more of you thoughts and findings, Markos.
     
  6. eco4560

    eco4560 New Member

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    You're a bloody legend Markos - making this stuff available to the average land owner out there...
     
  7. ecodharmamark

    ecodharmamark Junior Member

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    Permaculture Planning and the 'Visioning' Process

    G'day All

    Cheers, matto, always great to get your input.

    In terms of the 'grand plan', and how individual permaculture projects may fit within this framework, it think it is always a good idea to return to the 'vision' of the project. Of course, if a project has not yet formed its 'vision', perhaps now might be a good time for it members to ask of themselves: "What the f*** are we trying to achieve here?"

    In terms of land use, there are two types of planning: Firstly, there is 'strategic' planning, and then there is 'statutory' planning. I've talked a little about the latter, and no doubt we will return to this concept time-and-time again, because this is where a lot of permaculture projects come up against the proverbial 'bureaucratic brick wall'. But more about stat planning in later posts.

    Local government areas in practically every 'developed' (for want of a better word) nation state on Earth undertake some form of strategic planning, and depending on the particular governance structures operating within these states, local people have an opportunity to participate in these planning processes to a greater or lesser degree. However, taking our discussion away from 'government-led' planning processes for a moment, and instead focussing on the truly democratic process of 'permaculture-led' planning, I'd like to now direct our attention to the work of Holmgren. In particular, he's concept of scenario planning.

    In Future Scenarios, Holmgren presents as with 'Four Energy Descent and Climate Scenarios'. In doing so, he challenges us to think about what sort of future it is that we want for ourselves, our families, our wider neighbourhoods, our bioregions, our continental land masses and ultimately, the biosphere we share with all other species. In doing so, he also provides us with a pretty good 'vision' of what each of these scenarios might look like with his Meta-scenarios of Permaculture.

    So, using Holmgren's excellent tool, we can begin to think a little more about what is that we want for our individual permaculture projects, and how our 'vision' for the future might fit with the 'vision' of all others.

    To this end, there a dozens of 'visioning' frameworks - everything from the very practical, through to the more esoterical - available to help people on their respective journeys. Whatever ideology it is that your tribe ascribes to, setting and maintaining a 'vision' and then tackling and ticking off the infinitely variable objectives that crop up along the way, remains an immensely important part of the permaculture process.

    As Winston Churchill is alleged to have once said (and as a consequence has subsequently had it mangled by me): "Plans are of little importance [because they are always subject to change], but planning [setting a 'vision'] is essential"

    Cheerio, Markos
     
  8. ecodharmamark

    ecodharmamark Junior Member

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    G'day All

    On the contrary, eco, all of the people that have contributed over the years and made the PRI Forum what it is today are the 'bloody legends'. I'm just returning (as time permits) a little bit of the surplus.

    Cheerio, Markos
     
  9. ecodharmamark

    ecodharmamark Junior Member

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    'Traumatic Landscapes - Flooding: Building for the Future'

    In 2011 unprecedented floodwaters hit Victoria with thousands evacuated in northern Victoria including the whole town of Carisbrook. With climate change the risk of these flood events are predicted to increase.

    Stormwater Victoria and the AILA invite you to an insightful evening where we will explore the impact of flooding on communities and the role of designers and engineers in responding to these extreme events.


    More information available here
     
  10. ecodharmamark

    ecodharmamark Junior Member

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    'Smart planning for urban growth can minimise flood risks'

    Inappropriate coastal urban development continues along the eastern seaboard despite the costs to coastal communities and ultimately national government as the 'insurer of last resort'.

    This means as taxpayers we all pay. Managing coastal urban growth continues to be one of our greatest challenges. So why do we keep building on coastal lands subject to flooding?


    Read the full opinion piece here.
     
  11. ecodharmamark

    ecodharmamark Junior Member

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    Permaculture planning and the prevention of and/or adaptation to 'natural disasters'

    There are vast tracts of developed land situated throughout various regions of Australia, each of which is home to communities of people ranging in population from a handful to millions, and each of which are right now in the middle of a 'natural disaster'.

    Fires and floods form a natural part of the ecological landscape and climate of Australia. They have been so for millions of years, and will most likely remain so for millions more to come. However, there is a growing body of evidence to suggest that the severity and the frequency of the fires and floods we are currently experiencing - and those we are yet to experience - have been exacerbated by human-induced climate change. Things are only going to get worse, before they get better.

    Exactly where we decide construct our residential dwelling is a critical component of any permaculture plan. We know this because permaculture is a designed based science, the first principal of which is to observe and interact: Observe where the flood and fire risks are, and interact with these risk elements/sectors by positioning the dwelling accordingly within the overall design.

    But, what to do when we have bought our 'dream property/dwelling', only to find that it is situated within a fire and/or flood zone? In this case it's too late to prevent (observe), therefore we have to adapt (interact). Permaculture people are not alone in this challenge. Government figures, academia, members of the general public, all have been talking about this situation for years. Only now, in the wake of (indeed, in the middle of) unprecedented - in terms of severity and frequency - fire and flood events, their cries appear to be just that little bit louder. Isn't it about time we started to listen to them?

    Right now seems like a perfect opportunity for permaculture people - both within 'natural disaster' affected communities and without - to turn to our yet-to-be permaculture sisters and brothers (i.e. people in 'mainstream' society) and gently remind them of the value of including permaculture planning in the process of designing the places where we live. We must 'design with nature', not against it, as some continually suggest. We must remind them not to rely solely on the advice of the local real estate agent, the local volume housing developer, the local (state, or even federal) politician, etc. when the time comes to adapt - i.e. relocate and rebuild. Rather, we should tell them to seek the advice of a qualified and experienced landscape design specialist - a PDC holder, perhaps. More importantly, we should tell them to avoid the advice of people who have a vested interest in telling them to rebuild in the middle of a 'natural disaster' zone.

    If we fail to plan, we plan to fail. The best way to avoid being washed or burnt out, is not to be in the path of a flood or a fire in the first place. Caveat emptor.

    Further reading:

    Bird et al (2011) Impact of the 2010/11 floods and the factors that inhibit and enable household adaptation strategies

    Climate Commission (2013) Off the charts: Extreme Australian summer heat

    Corbett (no date) Gondwana Timeline: Geological history and Australian flora

    Deep Green Permaculture (2012) Zones and Sectors – Efficient Energy Planning

    Guest (2013) Flood-hit Queenslanders may be moved to higher ground

    Kolenaty (2013) The fight against nature is common to all races

    McHarg (1969) Design with Nature

    Williams (2010) Where the buyback proposal meets the firewall
     
  12. matto

    matto Junior Member

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    I just returned from the Gold Coast and have seen sand and debris on the boulevard stretching from Burleigh Heads to Surfers Paradise after Cuclone Oswald. The beaches are heavily eroded and the last line of defense between the sea multi million dollar houses is becoming a very narrow margin. Will be interesting to see what its like up there after the Easter king tides, apparently we are due for another 4 cyclones this season.

    Although there is a little part of me that is sniggering at the folks living along this thin wedges of the pie. Would they consider selling now, seeing forecasted sea level rises, or hang on for dear life and expect Council to be responsible for them.
     
  13. ecodharmamark

    ecodharmamark Junior Member

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    G'day matto/All

    Thank you very much for sharing your observations. A few points in response:

    Last year the Australian Government released a series of 'sea level rise maps'. Viewing these maps may (for 85% of Australia's population, should) raise many questions. As such some answers have been provided.

    Concerning the Gold Coast City Council (GCCC), and in particular its response to the risks of flooding:

    It would appear that the GCCC is plagued by 'uncertainty'. There is very little in the GCCC (2010) Sustainable Flood Management Strategy to suggest otherwise, including (p. 8):

    Traditionally, future floods are predicted based on the recorded historical flood information in a region. The historical flood data for the Gold Coast is available for the past few decades (during a period of relatively stable climate). Faced with predicted change in global temperature, such extrapolation of historical data can no longer produce an accurate estimate of future flood frequency, intensity, extent and duration. Depending on climate change scenarios that might occur, future floods are likely to be different from the ones in the past.

    The knowledge of the extent of climate change and its likely impacts on the city is evolving. Existing climate change studies for SEQ by Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) suggest that extreme rainfall on the Gold Coast may become more severe in the future. However, there is a substantial degree of uncertainty associated with these predictions. It is important to note that floods can be highly variable, depending on how each catchment responds to different rainfall events. Likely changes in catchment response to rainfall due to climate change is unknown at present. It is, therefore, important to realise that there is a fundamental degree of uncertainty in any prediction of future changes in flood frequency.


    This does not bode well for anyone trying to make a decision about the long term prospects of living sustainably on the Gold Coast. However, the Insurance Council of Australia has no such qualms about stating its position:

    The coastal risks of storm surge, coastal erosion and gradual sea level rise are excluded by many general insurance policies in Australia.

    This firm position held by the insurance industry in turn prompted other councils, such as the Gosford City Council to adopt a warning position, but then under increasing pressure from 'concerned residents', retract this position:

    Gosford City Council last night moved to withdraw a message on planning certificates saying: "This land has been identified as being potentially affected by sea level rise of up to 0.9m by the year 2100''.

    The message triggered more than 500 phone calls and letters from residents concerned about the "lack of consultation, doubt regarding the credibility of the science that supports the sea level rise projections, the effect the encoding may have on property prices and, more recently, the effect on insurance premiums'', council documents said.


    Concerning the 'credibility of the science', a recent (and I think fascinating) study conducted by colleagues (including one old friend) on the subject of a 'managed retreat of coastal communities' found, among other things (p. 7):

    Only a small number of respondents rejecting SLR [sea level rise] risks discussed science or economic criteria in isolation. This group are more likely to be concerned with moral or honesty issues. While the “rejectionists” group demonstrated an ability to draw upon sophisticated scientific evidence to counter claims of SRL, they were not open to the possibility that SLR risk is a policy relevant issue. Many respondents insisted that SLR be dropped from the policy and funding agenda. The “rejectionists” group was extremely selective in what they considered to be science and were not willing to acknowledge the legitimacy of any scientific evidence that indicated accelerated SLR. Policymakers on the other hand are required to respond to available scientific analysis and cannot easily dismiss the risks of SLR. Any SLR policy such as managed retreat will possibly bring policymakers into direct conflict with this “rejectionists” group. If SLR does not occur, people who invest in a managed retreat scheme should benefit over the long-term, as they will have purchased a discounted property to which the threatened SLR did not eventuate. Interestingly, few “rejectionists” were willing to even contemplate a managed retreat scheme. Engagement with people over SLR requires understanding and respect for sacred norms and taboos. We suggest that acknowledgement is due to “rejectionists” respondents who may be protecting their sacredly held values and their angry responses cannot necessarily be interpreted as crazy, deluded or ill-informed.

    People 'believe' different things for different reasons. But when it comes to the risk of flooding associated with living on the coast, 'intuitive economists and scientists' (from a social functionalist theoretical perspective) prove to be the most 'concerned' and at the same time more open to solution focussed outcomes, as my colleagues found (p. 27):

    Most of the respondents “concerned about the risk of SLR” were interested in talking science and/or economics. These respondents could be classified as having a “solution orientation” to the SLR issue. When engaging with the “concerned” group the key position would be to discuss the different risks posed by SLR, potential solutions and options for different SLR scenarios.

    Therefore, when responding to the risks of coastal flooding from a permaculture perspective, it is to people who are prepared to both accept the science and make rational decisions based on solid economic modelling that we should be directing the bulk of our consciousness raising efforts towards.

    Cheerio, Markos
     
  14. ecodharmamark

    ecodharmamark Junior Member

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    Planning Legislative Reform Roundup - Victoria

    As promised (somewhere, but I can't quite remember exactly where), the following begins a 'roundup' of reforms currently underway to the planning legislation of the various states and territories of Australia, and my brief understanding of how these reforms may effect permie projects/people. As time permits, I'll get to each jurisdiction. But for the present, I'll begin the process with a look at Victoria.

    This state is currently undergoing moderate reform of its planning laws. Mostly this reform is occurring at the level of the Victoria Planning Provisions (VPPs). The VPPs are subordinate to the state's primary planning legislative tool, the Planning and Environment Act 1987, but they are nonetheless, Law. The VPPs are acted upon via the respective Planning Schemes of each local government area/authority (LGA). In a nutshell, various devices (ordinances) within the VPPs have been, or are in the process of being, 'amended'. These amended ordinances affect pretty well much affect each and everyone of the developable 'planning zones' that operate in Victoria. Some by merely being altered (i.e. changing the various 'use and/or development' requirements), others by being rewritten in their entirety.

    So, what does all the above mean for permie projects/people? For some, the answer will be very little. For others, the answer may well be a hell of a lot. For example, for permies that have land in the Farming Zone (FZ), and let's say wish develop and operate upon that land an 'eco-village' (defined in the VPPs as a 'residential village'), the current FZ provisions 'prohibit' this kind of use and/or development. In some individual cases (remembering that each proposal should be judged upon it own merits), this blanket ban may be a good thing. But in others (where the development can be justified as having a 'net community gain'), it could just as easily be considered as prohibitive to a good planning outcome. Either way, however, in the newly proposed provisions, any proposed development and use of a residential village on FZ land will at least be able to be considered.

    There are many, many other examples of where the proposed (and in some cases, very nearly enacted) reforms to Victorian planning legislation may affect (positively and/or negatively) the plans of many permie projects, and obviously the dreams and hope of the people that are driving them. I'd be happy to discuss individual projects and how the proposed changes might affect them here, in this thread, as time allows, and as people should care to put them forward.

    Next time: We'll take a look at what's happening in New South Wales. As permies living there will already now, there are some major reforms currently underway regarding your state-based planning laws.

    Looking ahead: Permies living in Queensland need not feel left out of the equation, for as you will likewise know, there is much reform happing in your planning legislation, too!
     
  15. purplepear

    purplepear Junior Member

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    looking forward to the NSW page Mark - thank you for the input.
     
  16. ecodharmamark

    ecodharmamark Junior Member

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    Reform Roundup - NSW

    Following on from the VIC Roundup, planning legislation reform in the state of NSW is the intended focus of this post:

    Around the middle of 2011, the NSW Government Department of Planning and Infrastructure initiated a legislative reform process with the aim of 'creating Australia's best planning system'. To this end, and toward the end of 2011, an issues paper titled The Way Ahead for Planning in NSW was released. Later, in May and June of 2012, two subsequent 'recommendation' papers were released: Volume One - Major Issues, and Volume Two - Other Issues. Soon after the release of these papers, a Green Paper was published: A New Planning System for NSW. Feedback on this paper was sought, over 1200 submissions were received and finally, toward the end of 2012, a Feedback Summary to the green paper was published. Currently, it is expected that the exhibition of a White Paper (a parliamentary Bill proposing future legislation) will occur 'early in 2013'. Much information about the White Paper process can be found here.

    So, what does all the above mean for permies in NSW?

    Unfortunately, it's still too early to (exactly) tell. However, and from all that has preceded thus far to date, we can be reasonably sure there are three things that the new legislation is (supposedly) designed to do:

    * cut red tape
    * give more autonomy to local government decision makers
    * include local people more often in decision making process

    Once again, what does this mean? In some cases, it could very well mean that well-planned and designed permaculture projects find it easier to obtain development approval. Equally though, it could also mean that the opposite holds true. This is because in some local government areas (LGAs), and often because of NIMBYism, Councillors (the ultimate planning decision makers at local government level) are reluctant to approve anything that could be 'politically unpalatable' (e.g. medium-density, mixed-use, urban eco-villages in swanky, 'leafy-green', inner-urban locations, or rural-based eco-villages in 'culturally conservative' areas).

    Where to from here?

    Well, we'll just have to wait and see what the White Paper holds (i.e. watch this space).

    On another note, and on top of all the above, many (particularly smaller, and predominantly rural) LGAs across NSW are currently undergoing a process whereby their often very dated Local Environmental Plans (LEPs - a statutory planning tool employed at local government level) are being redrafted in order to bring them into line with a statewide-consistent, 'common-format' LEP template. As some of my NSW clients will be well aware, this means that until this process is complete, permie planning within some NSW LGAs effectively remains on hold. Of course, we can still forward plan based on any proposed changes (where they are present) to the LEPs of individual LGAs.

    What else is happening in the state of NSW concerning planning legislation reform?

    As an aside, and less of a reform more of just a BAU occurrence, was the recent announcement made by the NSW Premier and the Planning Minister on the topic of 'cutting red tape' via an unprecedented-in-scale 'land release' on Sydney's north-west and south-west fringes. According to the spin doctors, enough land to house (in no doubt predominately low-density, mini-McMansion-style dwellings) a further half-a-million people! And what exactly is this land currently being used for prior to it being rezoned and 'released' for these new, concrete and asphalt urban enclaves? A quick squiz via Google Maps of the areas in question shows that it is mostly arable land. Great stuff, hey? And what about the promise of delivering increased infrastructure (public transport, etc.) to service these vast new tracts of urban aspiration? For an answer to this question, try asking the people already living in outer suburban Sydney (or Melbourne for that matter) about how long they have been waiting for a train line to come to their local precinct ... as the saying goes, pigs might fly!
     
  17. ecodharmamark

    ecodharmamark Junior Member

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    Planning Legislation Reform - QLD

    In this post, we will explore the proposed changes to planning legislation in Queensland (QLD).

    The recent QLD experience is pretty well much a carbon copy of what occurred in NSW, and is reasonably consistent with what happens in most states when a conservative government wins office after years of sitting in opposition:

    The Queensland Government is reforming the current planning and development system to ensure the state's continued growth and prosperity. This reform has been driven from extensive consultation. These changes will assist in delivering a contemporary planning and development system that can provide sustainable development outcomes for all Queenslanders.

    This comprehensive reform aims to:

    • streamline assessment and approval processes
    • remove unnecessary red tape
    • re-empower local governments to plan for their communities.
    You can read more about planning reform from the QLD Government perspective here, or you can skip straight to their 'fact sheet', here.

    However, if you want to understand a little better what these proposed reforms might mean from a permaculture perspective, hang around and we'll try to shed some light on the situation.

    In essence, the QLD Government is proposing to amend the planning legislation in order to provide a single State Planning Policy, and further amend existing legislation as it applies to the assessment of state-significant developments - i.e. large-scale subdivisions, mining operations, etc. As such, not a lot is going to change from a permaculture perspective. The Queensland Planning Provisions (QPPs), the main tool used for planning at a local level (and the statutory instrument of most interest to permies), will in effect remain the same.

    The QPPs were introduced around 2009, and in their current (third draft incarnation) format, provide a single template for all QLD local government area (LGA) Planning Schemes. To date, most LGAs within QLD have adopted the QPP format. However, some LGAs (particularly those that are smaller and/or rural in composition) are yet to make the transition.

    In sum, the proposed changes to planning legislation within QLD should have little effect on the plans and operations of most permie projects. Unless of course you are proposing to develop a 500-dwelling eco-village, incorporating a 1000-ha food forest. Maybe then the proposed state-level planning reforms could apply in your case. Of course, if ever you are in doubt about what you can or cannot (legally) do in terms of a permie project within your local/state planning law framework, feel free to get in touch with us, and we will do our best to steer you in the right direction.
     
  18. purplepear

    purplepear Junior Member

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    I am looking foward to seeing those pigs going over head - or perhaps the MCC (Maitland City Council) do responsible development.
     
  19. annette

    annette Junior Member

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  20. eco4560

    eco4560 New Member

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    Centralization is of course the enemy of social ecology..... As uniformity is the death of evolution.
     

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