I recently went to Crystal Waters eco-village near Brisbane as part of the excursion for the Permaculture Design Certificate at Northey Street City Farm. It was wonderful and inspiring to see a community that is trying to be ecologically sound and productive, however I couldn't help but leave with a certain disillusionment and uncertainty. I have developed my own version of an idyllic lifestyle whereby I would buy a plot of land and build a home and garden that was sustainable and overly-productive with organic food. Having traveled somewhere that has been in the business of sustainable landscaping for 30+ years I did not find what I was looking for. The 'realities' of life seem to outweigh the ideals of permaculture. People seemed to have to focus on making the business side of their endeavour work which left little room for a permanent culture that was a closed system. Everyone drives in order to travel and often commutes very large distances. At two hours of driving a day the largest bill would be for petrol, and working to perpetuate pollution is madness. Only a small percentage of the houses there even engaged in permaculture or gardening. Some viewed it as a hobby or interest: meanwhile their life was defined by their profession, one was polished concrete, another a university professor. What they had was the reality of the economic system that we are one way or another tied into, and they have created a beautiful environment relative to what you normally encounter, however it has not offered me hope as to an alternative system should the world awaken to the realities of a dying economic empire. What confused me was what was not happening in the 'eco-village', there was not a developed food system that provided abundance to the members of the community. Do I see things too simply? So, what is a successful permaculture system? Does it exist already in the world? I have seen many examples of systems that are adapting such as community gardening in Cuba, but what is limiting the creation of a sustainable and preferable society? Why do people still need to be enslaved by the economic limitations rather than live in abundance as was portrayed in geoff lawtons food forest videos? What are the limitations from being self-sustainable in food production? The economic system is an absolute absurdity, but it is the result of our own ignorance and belief that it is the only way. So, is there another way? Is permaculture the way? What is the permanent culture that is espoused? I don't see it in this, the first eco-village in the world, and I don't see it as anything more than an Ideal. It seems the economy will inevitably enslave me as well, even though I see it changing dramatically in the next year or two. What hope have I got of practicing permaculture? The culture we have is not just perpetuating destruction, it is rigid and bureaucratic. I am part of this system, as are the people at Crystal Waters, as are the people teaching permaculture for $15 per student per hour. I cannot get land to start my own permaculture because I have no money, to make money I have to enslave myself and whats worse is I don't even believe in the promised future of this economic path because I see the global economy as volatile and likely to rupture very soon. So rather I am locked in the passenger seat of this stunt car called capitalism. The people I am sharing this course with are just the same as me, probably the same as you. This world is in such depth of crisis, depth of ignorance and perpetual inaction. What does the permaculturist say in answer to this? I guess what I'm really asking is, does permaculture work? All the examples I've seen so far seem to be selling permaculture in order to work, i.e. they are still dependent and subordinate to mother culture, the economy. If building a house can be done very cheaply (and numerous examples show that it is almost negligible cost) and growing food can be done abundantly, then what's missing? Where are the permaculture communities that are thriving and creating ecological, communal and sustainable paradises? Are there urban houses that are sustainable? Can this be more than just a hobby for someone like me, a young, poor, energetic student? I really want to throw all my energy into redefining this culture of convenience and ignorance, but sometimes I'm not sure whether it can gain momentum or just dissipates in the tide of unconsciousness.