Bill Morrison and Permaculture

Paradigm Shift 4zzz fm 102.1 broadcast on Friday 14 Oct 2016.

Andy speaks about the legacy of Bill Morrison who passed away recently.
[Listen on demand at

Interviews with David Spicer (Permaculture Research Institute of Australia) and Dick Copeland (Northey Street City Farm).

Permaculture is the harmonious integration of plants and people; it includes all species is not just human centric.

Interview with David Spicer … spoke of permaculture design and how Bill Morrison was both a teacher and a person who practiced his ideas in a down-to-earth manner.

Australia – the biggest estate on Earth

Permaculture promotes sustainable systems and the idea is to work with nature and it’s systems and to mimic natural systems to combine or produce a marriage of disciplines like ecology, hydrology & zoology i.e it is multidisciplinary.

Housing and growing food under broader principles of working with nature.

It is an example of ‘positivism’ not getting bogged down in negatives full stop Northern New South Wales is a hob and has influenced around the world. There are many people involved in permaculture on-the-ground in Africa, Asia, and  South America than Australia. The idea is to provide good drinking water and fresh food.

Bill Morrison is not talked about as an influential thinker in Australia but should be recognised as such. Bill Morrison didn’t like to talk too much but liked to go out and do it.

David Spicer said that Bill saved me, grounded me when I was a very angry young man.

Andy: Bill Morrison was born in Stanley in Tasmania, he left school at 15 but worked at the CSIRO and then went on to uni and developed an interdisciplinary approach introducing permaculture where there was need for better food.

He was involved in the campaign against the Franklin Dam and against the hydro (-electricity) and he evangelized his ideas which were full of ideology and almost religious.

His work and ideas have spread across six continents and he is confronted communal farming with an anti GMO critique of the economy and agriculture. He died at 88 years.

His autobiography is called travel in dreams.

Interview with Dick Copeland from the Northey Street City Farm.

Dick is involved in permaculture and got no history going about 22 years ago it is a 4 acre Community Garden in the centre of Brisbane and follows on the permaculture ideas in the inner Northern Suburbs full stop new line the Brisbane City Council found a land in 1994 and it involved people in growing food.

The idea of permaculture is not to create problems for other species. Bill Mollison said and wrote a lot, he was a man of action and used the power of example he is not often spoken about but leaves an incredible legacy of research and Theory.

Out of permaculture came the transition movement. This has had a big impact on sustainability and continues to expand at the grassroots.  Bill Morrison worked with David Holmgren on permaculture, it was their joint idea.

Even though permaculture is a hip term and it is a sort of a nice idea with the hippie ring to it.

Andy: Bill Morrison could be a grumpy old bastard and an incorrigible optimist … there is an interview here with him in 2005.

Interview with Bill Morrison
Bill talks about his anger and fury about what is happening and his dislike for the global monetary system and spiritualism  often embodied in the term ‘community’.  He describes how he grew up in a village and the idea is to follow the rules. Even though grandmothers say they’re practicing permaculture when they grow something in their backyard this is not true because what they’re doing is one dimensional. We need to look at the designer agriculture and genetic engineering which is a grave danger. We eat too much and have heart attacks.

Henry Kissinger argued that the US should move food onto (global) commodity markets and that way they could control anyone through food.

The response was that people involved in permaculture setup enormous seed libraries moving away from monoculture food production.

End: If people are interested they can go to Northey Street and Enoggera Creek and in volunteer one day a week and attend PermaBliss events.

Formidable Vegetable Sound System – You are what you eat
Tin Tree Factory – From ferris wheels
Spindles – Dream
Formidable Vegetable Sound System – No such thing as waste
The Lurkers – When time

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