Permaculture Principle #1. Observe and Interact

Principle Number One: Observe and Interact
Ethics and PrinciplesHave you ever gone on a walk with a young child? They are the epitome of modeling the principle of observing and interacting. They see something that attracts their attention. They stop. They gaze at it, touch it, smell it, hold it. They seek only to engage and understand.
As we move into adulthood, we lose this curiosity, this ability to slow down and be in the moment. However, this is probably the most important principle to accomplish within permaculture.

In permaculture there are designations entitled zones. Those zones outline the various areas surrounding the home. It starts with Zone One. However, the most important place to start is Ground Zero—you! Before you can create a haven in your home or in your yard, the most important need is to observe yourself. You can interact by journaling your thoughts and spending time in creating achievable goals. You can do this at a new year, month, day or minute.


Take some time to Observe:
In Your Home: What room are you drawn to? Why? What about an area that continually bothers you or gives you a nagging sense of unease? Go to the room you love and conversely, one you dislike. Take a notepad and look around. Write down what you see, any feelings that occur, any insights. Other than writing if there is a way to interact: touch a fabric, get down on the floor and look at the room from an entirely different angle, close your eyes and describe the room out loud. Are you surprised by your words, your feelings, your thoughts?
At Your Work: What do you sense is hindering you, helping you? Are there things on your desk or within your work area that make you smile or frown? Observe your environment, your co-workers; anything that comes to mind. Write it down. And set it aside. Far too often, the point of such exercises is to quickly observe to get to an action step. The point of this principle is to simply observe, interact with your senses but then go no further and let it work its magic. In the hours, days or even months ahead, you may receive great insights as your brain reveals truths it has worked on from your observations.
In Your Yard: Creating a havenstead is a huge undertaking. You don’t want to put in garden beds only to realize the area is too shady or too sunny. Observation is key. It is best to observe at all times of the day and throughout the seasons. Where does the east sun hit in the morning? Where is the hottest southern exposure on your property? Do you see animal tracks? Where does snow or water cause a run-off issue? What do you see, feel, hear, smell? Touch the earth. Is the soil good or does it need to be nurtured? Keep these observations in your garden folder. Later, as you create a plan for your homestead, these impressions will assist you to make the best decisions.

Observe and Interact.

Be child-like.

Don’t think beyond observing and interacting.

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