Permaculture Design Course

Permaculture Design Course
Madeira Island - Portugal
Permaculture is to live in harmony with nature providing for human needs and the needs of everything around us

Bill Mollison stories RIP - Rest in Permaculture

In his autobiography ‘Travels in Dreams’, Bill Mollison traced his realisation that humans could 'copy' natural systems back to 1959, to what he regards as the generative thought behind permaculture. He recalls that, while observing marsupial browsers in the Tasmanian rainforest, he wrote in his diary:
‘I believe that we could build systems that would function as well as this one does’
In hindsight, this ‘casual reflection, not further developed, had broken the barrier between passive observation… and the active creation of any similar systems that we could construct ourselves. The step from passive analysis to active management, or active creation, was critical.’
Much later, in 1972, this entry became the key to the development of permaculture. 

Bill puts it:
‘I... came back to that innocent note in my diary. If we could create living systems, in which we were a part, then we could have a sort of Garden of Eden. It was as though I had unlocked a door opening on to a new world. I could see it all, for miles ahead and years away... all the rest was ways and means”

   with some barracudas 1942

 , Bill Mollison built a house Up in the hills and thats were it all started .

Mr Mollison said he had a “eureka” moment in the bush.
“I started to realise that I knew a lot about physics but wasn’t applying it to how I heated my house. And I was an expert on ecology but wasn’t putting that into practice in my garden,” he said in the interview.
“I knew that I needed to convert the principles of environmental science into directives for planning. And then the idea of permaculture came to me.”
Very early Tagari days in Stanley 1980. 
Wonderful memories of a happy and productive community! By Wendy Russel
Robin francis
I first met Bill in 1977 speaking at an Organic Festival near Sydney promoting the imminent publication of Permaculture One. However it was in Sydney in 1984 that we really connected and he encouraged me to start teaching. Bill had a knack of making you feel confident you could really do things and make a difference. I was fortunate to work closely with Bill through the 1980s and 90s, co-teaching the first permaculture course with him in India in 1987, providing support for the film crew making The Visionaries and Global Gardener documentary series, organising the early Earthbank conferences which brought the concept of Ethical Investments into mainstream media. Bill moved from Tasmania to Tyalgum in the Tweed Valley of northern NSW in 1987 where he lived for the next decade before returning back to Tasmania.
                                    First PDC in India, 1987, taught by Bill Mollison and Robyn Francis
The First Mandala Garden  During the 1st PDC in India, Bill and I were discussing the course practical project and drawing up ideas. Since there was so much interest in banana circles we decided we’d make one and perhaps encircle it with some keyhole beds. As we sketched it out, Gangamma, a participant who was sitting nearby, exclaimed “Oh look, it’s a mandala” Thus the mandala garden was born. If you look at the design in the Designer’s Manual p 274, you’ll see it’s called Gangamma’s Mandala. That’s Gangamma in these photos, being shown by Bill how to use an A-frame, and in the banana circle construction she’s in the background wearing purple. July 1987

Declan Kennedy
I am mourning my friend Bill Mollison.
In 1981, my wife Margrit (+) and I got to know one of the most important approaches to networking environmental measures - from the individual house or smaller settlements to the planning of entire regions. A year later, we brought Bill Mollison from Australia to Europe. This approach is called " Permaculture " (put together from the two word “permanent” and Agriculture) and, for me, it transmits the principles of ‘closed’ ecological cycles in nature to the planning of sustainable human settlements. This was the initial spark for us to invite Bill Mollison to Berlin, on the recommendation of the eco-architect Rudolf Doernach. David Holmgren and Bill Mollison had put together this ecological concept in the 1970’s, in Hobart, Australia. Bill then found more and more followers in the world through his lectures, since the early 80’s.
After about ten years 1982-92 of working very closely with Bill together, to spread the concept in Europe, our paths began to separate in 90’s. Every time I got to Australia, he was somewhere else. But, then, the joy was great, when we met once again in June 2005, n the historic town of Montovun of Istria, Croatia - at the 7. International Permaculture Conference. Along with some other participants at the meeting, I had just been to Sepp Hölzer’s permaculture project in Austria and come through Ljubljana to Istria.
Although I had known Bill for almost 24 years - and Sepp Hölzer just one day, I was really surprised to see a resemblance in their attitude to change and, at the same time, the contrast between these two men. Similar : both as "Agrarian-Rebels ", as creative practitioners, in their " gardening with nature ", in their discerning gruffness, their love for story-telling and their charisma – two men in completely different climate zones who were innovative, far-sighted and practically at the same time and dedicated to the problems at hand as long as was necessary for a solution to be found. The contrast was for me was in the concentration on his own project by Hölzer who was just then 64 years old, whereas Mollison despite his old age, with 78, had still the same global openness with which he had gotten involved in new projects (over the decades) no matter where they were or how challenged they might be.
I would like to concentrate now, however, on my friendship with Bill and go back to the beginnings of our intensive collaboration – he was very generous in sharing his experience, he was as six year older man immediately both a friend, and teacher. He was an uncomfortable visionary who, for instance, in 1982 in Canada at one of the largest and most successful ecological meetings in North America of that time, coined  the phrase as a motto: "think globally - act locally".
Born In 1928 in Australia, he lived between his 15th. to 28th. years of age alone in the Australian Bush, and worked as a trapper, lumberjack, fishermen and farmer - often together or in close neighbourly relationship with the Aborigines - the Australian indigenous people. 
From that time he had a wealth of stories, all of which were received by his listeners with great enthusiasm. From the kangaroo-hunting, where the aborigines made contact with the animals and gave them appreciation, explaining why they had to have to kill them, so that virtually the animal would lay itself down at the hunter’s feet. Or from the story of the black swans, that Bill was observing - and how they came to him and sat themselves down in a circle around him. The stories were always about man and nature in deep contact and harmony with each other, something that hardly exists in our western civilization.
After Bill found out that this civilization destroyed the territories of the Aborigines, more and more, he went back to study again in 1955 - in order to stop this development. Already during these studies, he went into research and academic teaching and– as an environmentalist - began to actively participate in the environmental policy of his country. He helped prevent dam projects, fought for the declaration of nature conservation reserves and supported the aboriginal people in their fight for their rights.
As an incorrigible optimist, he wanted to restore the Garden of Eden - for everyone. Furthermore, he tried to create the basics for a concept, which was not only open to new information, but also could integrate the knowledge about sustainable, ecological techniques from all parts of the world.
During the campaign against the dam on the Franklin River in Tasmania in the 1970’s – while he was a lecturer at the University in Hobart - he met his later co-Author David Holmgren, a landscape planning student. They started to discuss why the agriculture of the aborigines had survived the times and why modern agriculture was only good fior a relatively short-term period – a fad. 
Furthermore, he learned what could be learned from the aboriginal people and how their concepts could be brought into harmony with new technologies and new scientific findings.
Mollison and Holmgren began to experiment, to design and to write. With the help of the Japanese-speaking Aussie, Andrew Jeeves they pulled in the ideas of Masanobu Fukuoka (The One-Straw Revolution, 1975), they took over the key line concept from Ken Yeomans (Water for Every Farm, 1954) and F. H. King’s Observations of the highly productive agricultural concepts of Asia (Farmers of Forty Centuries – Permanent Agriculture in China, Korea and Japan, 1911). Out of these, they created a design concept for permancy in human activities with landscapes, water-scapes and forestry, which they called "Permaculture".
As permaculture has no dogmas or fixed boundaries but rather a series of basic principles which are applicable to everything, he found always new and more contenders - like the architects Ian and Lecki Ord in Melbourne, the engineer and farmer Max Lindegger (designer of Crystal Waters Permaculture Village, Queensland), or Sonja Wallman (with her productive lean-to greenhouse near Boston, Massachusetts, USA) and many other people in Australia, Europe and North America. 
The Permaculture-Design System was being defined and integrated into supposedly unrelated subject areas and he began a movement to link these separate sciences and areas of classical university departments.
Now (2016) - more than 40 years later - over thousands of independent permaculture associations and learning institutions have - in almost all languages - all over the world, serve people who are working on sustainable agriculture, reforestation, Bio-Architecture, environmental education and regional economics - and also those who are in search for a holistic concept of loving and life. Bill's commitment and enthusiasm continuously helped to advance the multidisciplinary quality of the concept and made it to a permaculture system. For me, his most beautiful definition is: "Permaculture is a dance with nature - in which nature leads."
The first book of Mollison and Holmgren Permaculture One (1978) was soon followed by Bill's Permaculture Two (1979) and both made a circulation of over 100 000 copies by 1985. The two books have been translated into German, Portuguese and Italian, at my request, in the mid-1980’s. 
They are based very heavily on the experiences in Tasmania and they had to be transposed too for other climates as some methods were only partially transferable. Spanish and French translations followed later under the collaboration of Emilia Hazelip, soon to be a most well-known permaculture practitioner and teacher on both sides of the Pyennées - as she spoke all three languages.
However, the principles are so good and transferable and innovative, that they are turning established concepts in schools of agriculture and forestry, of rural, water, urban planning and architecture upside down. They are building on the experience in design of holistic ways of life - in different cultures and countries - and take little or no consideration of modern recipés or conventions. For me, and many other world-change messengers, they offered many new pathways and a new lifestyle.
Bill’s first visit to Germany, at the invitation of the students of the Faculty of Architecture and the British council in Berlin - both of which helped support his travel and lecture fee – happened at the beginning of May 1981. He was supposed to do 7 other lectures in West Germany organised by Rudolf Dörnach. Due to exceptional circumstances (Persching-Deployment-protests all over Germany) the rest of the lectures were cancelled. So Bill stayed a whole week - yes 10 days – in our house in Berlin-Schlachtensee. He talked continuously - every day from morning to evening - about his theories, his plans and projects in Australia. 
And since we were both working within the broad theme "Urban Ecology" – I was in the Technical University as a professor of urban infrastructure - and Margrit in ecological construction as part of the preparation for the International Exhibition (IBA) Berlin 1987, we look off time to listen with full attention to this brilliant man. Our questions showed Bill that, in 1981, we in Europe had very similar problems to his in Australia. From the forests to the climate change, from the poisoning of food; to the wasting of water, etc. etc. - everything was covered. His analysis was brilliant too. Everything that is still going on to-day but maybe even on a larger and/or worse scale. But the most important to us was that we were able to discuss solutions with him, as that was behind ors and his design orientation.
The 5 days were not only fun but also terrifying – especially when Bill’s cited facts and details about the global ecological situation we presented. Until then, these insights were known only by very few decision-makers and mainly being ignored by politicians. But his unusual solutions convinced us both. He started with his statements at 9 o’clock in the morning and pontificated until midnight. We had a concentrated private Permaculture Designer Course (PDC) which usually takes 14 days - with many practical examples, drawings and graphics. 
The costs were modest: 2 packs of cigarettes and a bottle of Irish whiskey per day.
We started planting our 6 by 12 metres row-house garden with him, gathering plants in the woods around the Schlachtensee, and bringing them back as Bill kept saying that “life starts in your garden”. Margrit was a vegetarian and loved the idea of self-sufficiency in veggies and herbs. He agreed. In the evenings, however, we ate out as Bill was an avid meat-eaters – we would go to a restaurant for lamb or to order a decent steak for him. Once, in the " Paris Bar " in the Kantstrasse in Berlin-Charlottenburg, he ordered - as always - a German wine – he was interested in trying out local products. The waiter, slightly embarrassed, said that as we were in a restaurant called Paris Bar, they only served French wine. Quickly Bill replied: “I’ll have a Hardy Wallbanger " (orange juice with vodka). Then, even the waiter had to laugh. Such cultural contrast-situations Bill loved - and somehow he produced them everywhere.
We went several times with him to Kreuzberg to the rehabilitation areas of the International Building Exhibition, where we both worked with different groups in the squatter scene. Even though he didn’t generally like cities and saw no good reason for their survival, he had immediately creative solutions for the people, who were poor and ill-treated by the authorities: a city-farm; or you can build your herbs and vegetables on balconies; he even wanted to draw up the solutions for them (this was 1981). He loved the energy saving devices that the squatters has thought up and implemented on a shoestring - and their grey-water systems with urban plants. Other interesting models were also good for him to see - and so it was the beginning of years of intense exchange of ecological knowledge across national borders and continents.
In the early 80’s, Mollison tried to write a kind of "Permaculture-Bible". About half of his Designer s' Manual (1988) is brilliant, especially the chapter on patterns and design. There is hardly any other book of which I know that is a " multidisciplinary design manual for Life”. Other chapters in this manual leave a lot to be desired. It was only in 2009 that Margaret Hölzer and Dr. Marlis Ortner in Austria translated and published it into German.
Another book: Introduction to Permaculture, that Bill together wrote with Reny Slay, illustrated by Andrew Jeeves, was published in 1991 and explains permaculture for the first time in a generally understandable and systematic approach. It also offers practical experience of many permaculture-activists in Australia and other countries. But above all, it is the result of the research carried out by Bill and Reny, in the 1980’s with the Australian Permaculture Institute in northern New South Wales, where Bill and Reny had moved for their work with Marilyn Wade. Also other numerous helpers there experimented with plants, buildings and technical infrastructure, while Bill was often on lecture-travel around the world.
Margrit and I (with the help of many other professionals), translated und edited Permaculture One and Permaculture Two e.g. in the second edition in German. A very good successful article with coloured images was published in 1984 in a Basel Newspaper (no.40, p. 10-15) and contained what we ourselves had developed in environmental planning and building and what we had learned from Bill and David and the movement. I heartily thank both individuals for their ideas, their perseverance and commitment.
It was Bill and Reny, who taught the first European Permaculture Design course in Jagdschloss Glienicke in Berlin (with me as an assistant teacher and co-ordinator) in the summer of 1982. Because it was held in English, there were 24 participants from 7 countries of Europe and 2 interested participants from Brazil who at the time were studying landscape planning in the then still divided city. It wasn't easy for these people with English as their second language to understand Bill’s Tasmanian, particularly because half the time he had a pipe in the left corner of his mouth. 
Antja - our then 21-Year-old daughter - not only did the course as a participant but also did a repetition in the evening in German - 2 hours, for the German, Swiss, Belgian and Austrian participants who hadn’t understood everything.
Over three-quarters of a year immediately after the course, 7 participants met all day, every Saturday to prepare the first 72 hour Permaculture Design Course (PDC) in German which was subsequently held on a farm in Wetzhausen, Bavaria.
After that, I started my new career as a " Mr. Permaculture Europe "
(East and West) with Bill’s full support. Except for the one course in Germany and another Brazil in 1983, I held the first and / or two permaculture design courses (from 1983 to 1995) in Denmark, France, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Croatia, the Netherlands, Norway, Austria, Poland, Russia, Scotland, Switzerland, Slovakia and Slovenia. Each of these courses was partly financed by the Gaia Trust, Denmark (run by Hildur & Ross Jackson, also PDC students of Bill and Margrit).
1993 the book of Bill Mollison about Ferments and 1996 another entitled Travel in Dreams were published but could not attain the success of the first 3 books. But the international permaculture movement had now grown- on the basis of the first books and because of the numerous two and three-week designer courses, held all over the globe. 
In Europe, the widening of the concept to suit the northern climate was in full swing. This met - in part – the sharp criticism of the scientific community (partly who felt threatened) and from the conventional farmers because of the unusual ideas and methods, propagated by this growing movement.
I have learned so much from Bill and David. 1985, I was so enthusiastic about the permaculture-vision that I dropped my academic career and decided to go for it – for real, as a practitioner and multiplier of the design system. Many other men and women did the same on many continents. We sold our home in Berlin, I quit my professorship at the Technical University and Margrit her job at the International Building Exhibition, and we moved to Steyerberg in Lower Saxony in order to build up a permaculture experimental plot on 2.6 hectares (10 acres) of poor quality land but near the ecological community of Lebensgarten. There, in this settlement that had been built in 1939, we renovated two houses according to permaculture principles and got a planning office and a whole series of permaculture experiments going. For a while, I headed the Permaculture Institute for Europe in this budding ecovillage. Bill was so enthusiastic about my work and the development of Lebensgarten that he came each year for more than 11 years - and once brought with him the Community Award of the Permaculture Institute of Australia which he bestowed on me like mediaeval warrior being knighted.
On the whole, the thinking in permaculture-categories has spread wide and bright. I am glad and grateful that I copped on to it relatively early – already in 1981. I was perfect that I came into contact with Bill, and that I had the chance to spread this design concept and to try it out in our climate zones.
Margrit’s work shifted (in the late 80’s) more and more towards the introduction of sustainable money systems, and with her book "Interest and Inflation Free Money" she became a galeonfigure of the complementary currency movement. These ideas were taken up by me and Bill - and integrated into the permaculture concept. She was asking: “How can we create a permanent culture, if we do not have a permanent money system?” These last few years with the crash on the international financial markets and in the global economy, and the CO2 crisis and other even more pressing environmental problems - show how strong economy and ecology are interwoven. In the permaculture "Bible", Bill has devoted a chapter on the monetary system, which is built upon and filled to a large extent on Margrit’s theories and writings.
Bill still smoked and drank a bit too much and, a couple of times, he got so sick that he had to break off his lecture tours - and yet he lived to 88 years old. Strong genes, I quess! He was a positive thinker – yet - It hit him more and more to see how the general ecological situation in the world was getting worse and worse, and in spite of the ever-increasing permaculture and organic movement, nothing seemed to change this general negative trend . That is why Bill has been depressed for quite a while, a situation he himself pretty well ignored. In the last 10 years he also felt abandoned by many former allies, because they were ready to make compromises that he felt he couldn’t. In between times, however, he recovered, and found again his sharp critical attitude (which sometimes threatened to turn into cynicism). 
This brought him back to his original joie de vivre. In Istria in June 2005 with his sarcastic jokes he often lost the younger people in the permaculture movement, who didn't know him yet. He not very good at diplomacy – but soon with his many stories, jokes and lively contributions, he found his rightful place as a co-Founder, a multiplier and the grandfather of the permaculture movement - then for the final days of the Convergence – the last time I saw him in person - he was celebrated by all those present.
He will be missed by all of us.

Steve cran
The Bill Mollison I knew was a cheeky old bastard. Being a cheeky bastard myself, we got on like a house on fire. We became good friends.
The first time I met Bill was on a field trip as a student at the end on my first Permaculture Design Certificate course in 1990 at his permaculture farm in Tyalgum in northern New South Wales. It’s the farm you see him planting potatoes on in his film “Global Gardener.” He smoked a lot and swore a lot; I liked him immediately. Touring around his gardens with him for just a few hours, instantly doubled my understanding of permaculture that day.
The second time I met him, a couple of years later, he rang me up and invited me down to his farm. I hung up on him, thinking it was a mate playing a joke on me. It was Bill. He wanted to see me. Me?
I had started a permaculture business in Brisbane called New Planet Permaculture specializing in edible landscapes in urban areas. The local newspaper had printed an article about an edible park I’d designed and built with the Lions Club of Redcliffe. Somehow Bill had read the article 200 kilometers away and wanted to offer me a project.
I drove down to Tyalgum for the weekend and stayed at Bills place for a few days. We began talking at 5 in the afternoon and by the time we had finished I realized it was dawn the next day. Holy shit! His amazing practical intelligence just drew me in. Being surrounded by morons most of the time dulls you down, but sitting with Bill for me was like a cold man being warmed by a hot fire.
Bill wanted me to run an Aboriginal project in Australia’s highest crime town somewhere out in the outback. What? I said to him, “Mate, I haven’t much experience in permaculture. I’ve only been doing back yard stuff for 3 years.” He looked into me, with his pale blue eyes. “You’re the one that can do it, Steve. Don’t worry.” I’d never even talked to a Black Fella before that, but somehow, Bill’s words gave me enough confidence to take the job on. Sure enough, he was right. The permaculture project in Wilcannia I led dropped the crime rate by 90% over 2 years. It changed those people and that downtrodden town forever.
During that 2-year project, Bill came to visit my job site on his way to Broken Hill. He walked through the permaculture park I’d co-opted the community into building, and named all the trees and plants including the bush tucker plants we’d brought in from the desert. The Black Fellas I was with took off and went out hunting. They came back with a kangaroo and a couple of emus and we all had a BBQ and listened to Bill tell his famous stories. The Black Fellas loved him.
The next day, we all headed off to Broken Hill to help Brett Pritchard peg out the swales for his Living Desert Project. We had a government bulldozer lined up to do the earthworks. Bill, with his friend and bulldozer driver Doug Durragh, set up the laser level, and Brett Pritchard and I pegged out the site, swale by swale. Brett’s project was to demonstrate how permaculture could green up a desert and restore a dry land ecosystem.
Once we had finished, it was time for the Department of Conservation and Land Management (CALM) to doze the site with their D4 bulldozer they had sitting on site. Brett went off and rang them to come and start work. A while later, he returned and said that CALM had gotten cold feet, because all these swales and things weren’t in their technical manual. WTF? I began hissing and spitting about fucking bureaucrats, threatening to give that CALM bastard a pineapple suppository, but Bill just had a quiet word in Doug’s ear. Doug walked off towards the dozer and a few minutes later returned driving the government’s dozer! He’d hotwired it. It had a full tank of fuel too, enough to cut the many swales on the project site that day.
That night, Bill gave a public lecture at the Broken Hill Civic centre. He got a warm welcome. A whole bunch of Broken Hill society types showed up, as well as a heap of us scruffy earth-lover types. The mayor arrived in a limousine and stepped out into the limelight absolutely pissed out of his skull. Good old Broken Hill!
I laughed as Bill told the fine people of Broken Hill the real history of their town, and how the previous generations had destroyed the environment and the Aboriginal people out there with their “cowboy mentality.” A few of the locals tried to counter Bills point of view, but Bill chopped them into small pieces with his intelligence and wit. Classic Bill!
One time I’d just hopped off my bike and Bill came out to greet me carrying a sickle. “Come and drive the Mango Pram for me, mate” he said. The Mango Pram was an old Toyota Land Cruiser stripped down and turned into a farm beast.
A few minutes later, I was grinding my way up the steep slopes of the back paddocks of Tagari farm chatting away with Bill. He reckoned he’d planted around 1000 mango trees on the farm and he wanted to chop and drop the lab-lab bean that was growing rampantly and choking his trees. I offered to help, but he just wanted me to drive the beast. While Bill was hacking and chopping, I was admiring the green-ridged cliffs of the caldera that ran around the skyline from where I was standing. After the deserts of western New South Wales, the green hills seemed to fill me with energy.
 After a while, Bill returned looking pale and sweating. He climbed into the passenger seat and said, “You better take me back, mate.” He didn’t sound too good. I looked down and there was blood all over the floor of the beast. Bill had cut the top of his foot open with his razor sharp sickle. I wrapped his foot up in an old t-shirt and drove him back to the house where a few of the volunteers helped me carry him to his kitchen.
 “I’ll take you to the doctors, mate,” I told him. “You’ll need stitches on that wound for sure.” He took a few more puffs on his cigarette and said gruffly, “Fuck the doctor, I’m not going to any fucking doctor. You can sew me up.” I had never sewed up a human before, but for some reason I agreed to do it. The wound was deep and needed a good cleaning. It must have hurt, but Bill just smoked one ciggy after the other, no complaints, while I sewed his foot up using a needle and thread dipped in tea tree oil. I couldn’t believe how tough it was to get the needle through the flesh of his foot. My needle was straight out of his sewing kit. Once I had finished the 8 or 9 stitches, I tied off the end like you do when sewing on a button. Bill told me a few weeks later, when he went to get the stitches out at the local clinic; the doctor asked him who sewed up his foot. Bill told him, “Doctor Cran did the job.” According to Bill, the doctor was impressed with the neatness of the sewing job. Maybe Bill was bullshitting me, but whenever we got together after that, I’d ask him if he needed any further surgery and we would have a laugh.
 Another time at Tagari, I got sucked into going hiking with a young Slovenian lady up on the pinnacle, a ridge that overlooks Tagari. To cut a long story short, the girl got stranded hanging off the edge of a cliff, after the ground she was walking on slipped away and fell hundreds of meters into the valley below. I had to play the hero and run several kilometers in the middle of the day in summer to get her a rescue chopper. After I finally got to the Permaculture Institute office and organized the rescue chopper, I passed out from heat exhaustion. When I awoke a while later, Bill was spooning salty porridge into my mouth saying, “This is what we used to feed the refugees in Ethiopia when they came in from the desert.” It brought me back to life sure enough.
 In 1998, Geoff Lawton, a team of volunteers and I, took over Tagari Farm for Bill, as he was having health issues. One day, Bill wandered down from his house next door while we were running a PDC. We all got into a discussion about hands-on training verses classroom theory. My view was that hands-on was the best way to drive home the theory in our students. Bill reckoned you didn’t need hands-on work, just good theory and classroom work. I said, “Bullshit Bill! What about Black Fellas? You’ll never get them into a classroom for 2 weeks.” I knew I had him, because we have both worked with Aboriginal people before. He stared off into the distance, and took a few puffs of his cigarette. He then turned to me and said, “When it comes to teaching, if it works, do it! You’ll know how good of a teacher you are by how much permaculture your students do after the course.” With that, he ambled off. Just then, a whole new plan downloaded into my brain. From that moment on, I have always included 50% hands-on training on any of my courses.
When I went to East Timor in 1999, Bill rang me and told me, “Work with the women mate. The men are mostly useless, but give them a project so they don’t get jealous and wreck the women’s work.” It was good advice.

Ian Lillington
I missed Bill Mollison when he ran a workshop on Permaculture in Bristol, England in 1982. Although it was my home town, and at a community garden, I was committed to running another community garden elsewhere. But it put permaculture on my radar, all those years ago.
I missed him in 1988 when he helped set up permaculture projects in Botswana and Zimbabwe; including the still-running Fambidzanai, but I helped on those projects when I volunteered there in 1989.
I missed him again when he visited Scotland in 1989, but he helped inspire the Coldstream permaculture project - where I took my PDC in 1990.
I didn’t miss him - finally - in England in 1991 and 92, when he did a series of evening workshops and a 4 day advanced course. By then I had seen the documentary “In Grave Danger of Falling Food” and the series “Global Gardener”, and I felt that I knew him quite well. I imagined then I’d see him and learn from him many more times, but I didn’t.
I missed Bill Mollison in 2010 when he spoke at the Australian P’c Convergence in Carins, probably his last appearance at a big permaculture event.
Missed and missed in both senses of the word … lesson? ... seize the day!!

Larry Korn Yes, I took this photo at the 2nd International PC Conference at The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington USA in 1986.

Scott Pittman
I was a friend and traveled with Bill from 1984 until 1997; from Kathmandu to the Former Soviet Union (where Bill was inducted into the Russian Academy, and was awarded the Vavilov metal, both singular honors that Bill met with the comment "more honor no cash".) We traveled from Indonesia to southern Brazil where we gave the first permaculture class in that country in protest of the "sham" U.N. Environmental Summit of 1991. We covered most of Latin America and the U.S.A. in a kind of barnstorming approach to healing the Earth. I can't remember how many august Statesmen, bureaucrats, 1%ers, famous personalities that Bill insulted along our route but he didn't miss many. His reputation preceded him and soon the big names no longer showed up but sent their lower assistants to take the heat for their ridiculous responses to a world in disarray.
I can't imagine having a better teacher in this life, Bill was the ultimate pedagogue. He was so damed articulate, and never forgot a name and function of anything. I always worried when he walked into the lecture hall when I was a teaching, knowing that, somehow, I would stumble over my words, but he never once corrected me in a way that I felt shamed or diminished. He was a true mentor. He was also sharp tongued and lashing if the mood struck him.
For all the miles we traveled I am thankful to this legendary figure and know he is holding forth on high, bereft of his aura and his chakras as he always claimed were missing at his birth. I can imagine him leading the heavenly choir in a chorus of "my father was the keeper of the Edison (or was it Addison) light, played with mermaids every night ...."
Good bye old friend,
A very emotional Bill at the launch of the Designers Manual, APC-3, Yarrahapini, 1988

Craig Worsley
I was blessed in life to work out at Pumpenbil for Bill while he was writing his autobiography, Travels in Dreams. In the mornings I would go into a dark room we built in one of the sheds, and print the B&W photos that appear in the book. I printed these from a box of old negatives - 120s from his childhood to even a few undeveloped B&W films from the 60's, content unknown. (Imagine waiting for 30 years to see your photos) I would print out about 15 new photos each day, dry and ready for perusal by lunch.
At lunch I would take these new prints to Bill. I remember his reaction the day I took him the photos of the monster on the beach in Tasmania, photos he took 30 odd years ago but had never seen. He was immediately back there, and he described to me everything about the day - the people, the find, the smells, the weather, all of the environment around him. His memory was amazing, his perception acute, and his story telling to me of that day, had me transfixed. As always.
After 2 hours of stories, Bill would then lead me traipsing around all the new swales and dams that had just been built by his mate Doug on the new farm next door. They had put in kms of swales and dams of all sizes, to canals, duck ponds and a whole aquaculture system for breeding Silver Perch. And it rained that year, so everything was filling. A special memory is the day the Y-Front dam finally filled, and Bill, Doug and I opened the taps for the overflow, and then followed the surge of water around a km of swale around the hillsides till it flowed into the White Fig dam, a crows nest dam by any measure. We were so excited to see this wonderful water harvesting in action, and vindication of its design. (The overflow from the White Fig would flow back the way it came, but lower, to the next dam, then into rice paddies, and then back to the stream below the Y-Front - diverted for 2kms and 3 months.)
My fave memory of Bill though, is the day that my daughter and his, the 2 3yo E & E's, absconded from the childcare area. The call went up, and panicked we set off searching, around all the dams, canals etc.
I went to Bill's house to tell him, and there they were. Sitting at his table, eating the boiled eggs on toast he just made them, and listening to him intently as he told them stories of plants, animals and life.
Thanks for the education Bill.

We first met Bill when Darren did his 2nd PDC at Bill’s Tyalgum (NSW) farm in 1995 with 75 others — Darren was also awarded his Diploma of Permaculture Design by Bill that year. 
Darren followed this up with a weeklong Earthworks practicum at the same farm in 1996 with Bill and Doug Dorrough. Bill was single at the time and the handful of attendees had full access to Bill day and night — together, we all did Earthworks all day and ’til the very early hours Bill indefatigably held stage telling story after story, all whilst smoking cigarettes continuously and co-cooking great food with all of us, with his mate and nurseryman Paul ‘Speedy’ Ward

In 1999 Bill called us on the phone one day and said, “…Darren it’s about time you started to teach...”.
With that we organised to teach 2 PDC’s with Bill and Janet Millington in northern Tasmania. 
We’ve been involved with well over 200 trainings ever since, including 42 PDC’s. For that, we have to thank Bill for his instigation and early support.
At the first PDC at Rocky Cape (TAS 2001), Bill was visited by Howard Yana Shapiro Ph.D, and introduced us. Howard was the Director of Plant Science and External Research for Mars Inc. and co-founder of Seeds of Change (USA), which Mars Inc. had recently purchased. He was visiting Bill to get his counse on an upcoming project in Viet Nam — Darren did some design work for Bill during this time to assist with that job — and then from 2004 – 2007, we lived and worked on this same project with Dr. Yana Shapiro in Viet Nam — and have Bill to thank for that introduction.
At the 2nd Rocky Cape PDC (TAS 2001) we turned up and Bill was at his back doorstep with his suitcase by his side. He was off to Viet Nam to work on this Mars Inc. consult and would be back for the 2nd week of the PDC. Imagine our angst at the thought that 30 people had come from all over the world expecting the great man the following day, only to find the relatively unknown Darren on his 2nd PDC as a trainer — thank goodness the vastly experienced Janet Millington was there! Bill returned the next week and all went well — it did show us some of Bill’s style in having faith in people and throwing them into the deep end though — luckily he knew full well that we could swim!

I took photos at that Convergence and I attach one here. It is of Bill and David. When APC9 was still in planning the organisers asked me to lunch and over someone's hapless chook and veges I was asked about the wisdom of bringing Bill and David to the same convergence. What if they clash? I said if that happened we would deal with it at the time.
Lets do a ‘Favourite Bill’ story.

Mine happened while I and about 50 or so others were having both the pleasure and privilege of enjoying one of Bills infamous lectures and Tales (chortle).
Anyway, midway through his jolly banter ,mother nature decided she would call upon him saying that he was urgently needed in the Water Closet to make a liquid deposit.
Now Bill as you know always wore no self conscious imagine, so he proceeded to journey to the ‘relief office’, ............................... wireless microphone and all !!!!!!!!!!! Meanwhile without missing a beat in his banter, he wandered out of the classroom (we were at the Tyalgum Permaculture Institute and it was August 1995 – are there anybody else reading this that were there to experience this?)
So after exiting the room and still nattering away, over the microphone we also heard the tell tale sound of somebody taking a leak. Of course we all been natural types simultaneously began to ‘piss’ ourselves as well ......................... the Australian laughing kind of pissing ourselves of course.
Anyways, Bill gave himself a short number of shakes so to speak (anymore could possibly be termed masturbation in the good ol’ land of OZ) and waltzed back into the room without even the tiniest hint of pause in his lecture.
Of course we were pretty much in both total amazement and amusement by this stage and I might add, impressed that Bill could achieve such a multi tasking feet! ................For as many of you may know, us guys are not renowned for doing more than one task at a time but Bill dissolved this so called theory with the ease that only he is capable of.
I still in quiet moments, go into involuntary fits of laugher at this most precious memory and stand (or sit) proud in knowing that I and a group of others have had the pleasure of Bills presence while he took a piss hahahahaha ..............well almost in his presence as he did leave the room........................ but our ears did indeed witness the event as it unfolded.

--Michael Pilarski, September 25, 2016
Bill was a friend from the first time we met in 1982, when he guest taught at the first permaculture design course I graduated from (led by Andrew Jeeves). In 1986 I helped arrange (and took) Mollison’s first Dryland Permaculture Design Course (in the upper Kittitas valley in eastern Washington). Bill was in his prime then. A very charismatic person, brilliant thinker and one of the top people on how to live sustainably in the dryer parts of the globe. Not everyone liked Bill. He liked to stir the pot, particularly with feminists, vegetarians and western liberals and he became more of a curmudgeon in his latter years. In his heyday, Bill traveled the world widely teaching permaculture wherever he went. His brilliance and charisma are the reason that permaculture became the global movement it is today. Of course Bill was just the spark that ignited the larger fire that is composed of the tens of thousands of permaculture teachers and groups that exist today. We must also give great credit to David Holmgren for the big role he continues to play in permaculture. One last kudo to Bill is that he was a big hit with indigenous people wherever he went. His humor, openness, iconoclastic attitude and opposition to the powers-that-be gave him a place in their hearts. Not everyone may miss Bill Mollison, but many of us will.

david holmgreen
“Bill’s brilliance was in gathering together the ecological insights, principles, strategies and techniques that could be applied to create the world we do want rather than fighting against the world we reject,” he said.
“His personal life was as tumultuous as his public persona, at times tragic but always full of the passion and contradiction that the term ‘ecological warrior’ represents.”

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