While dreaming about sheep and processing fibers in a permaculture system, and gaining lots of valuable insight from a woman doing just that on the aforementioned forums, I suddenly was struck by how practically all of the big names in the permaculture movement are white middle-class men. I know I've encountered off-comments that rubbed me the wrong way in the past, but did my best to ignore them so I could glean as much useful information as possible. This is a basic survival skill for many of my interests and pursuits. But something really struck me and I started to ask why there were so few women and people of color in the permaculture movement.
The permies.com forum was founded with the idea that it would be a-political. The owner since opened up a place for people to talk about things that aren't just the science of permaculture. It has this flaw that I see all over the place of believing that if the founders simply claim a place to be open to everyone it will be, as well as the problem of believing that science can be divorced from everything not science. I suppose I'm just worn out and not ignoring things well enough to glean at the moment. So I asked google for some help at finding permaculture that better integrated human diversity and found a couple of promising things that have concrete ideas on improving access.
Hierarchical, colonial, patriarchal, racist, heterosexist, able-ist, capitalistic mindsets are all linked, all part of the same ability to “other” things that appear different from you and treat them as less valuable. Permaculture is an incredible experiment in creating the alternatives that we want to see, so it is an essential arena for creating social alternatives. If we can be self-sufficient together then we don’t have to rely on the systems of domination that have generated these unbalances in the first place. We can grow a balanced, inclusive culture from the inside.
Pandora Thomas, a rising permaculture leader in the San Francisco Bay Area says, “There hasn’t been enough work done around permaculture principles translating them for the people care ethic, so now there’s this misconception that permaculture is about farming and gardening, which it isn’t–it’s mostly about relationships. It’s about looking at systemic problems and finding relationship-based whole system solutions?and one of most vital systemic issues, along with the status of women, is cultural and racial inequity.”
Edit: I don't think there's exactly anyone to blame for this. It's pretty default to follow cultural norms even when consciously going against others. It is a miss opportunity. Permaculture and social justice ideologically integrate well together.