ERE has been compared to permaculture, but it is not really derived from permaculture. In fact I have only read two books on permaculture and until recently I had a black thumb and no experience at all with growing things. Of course what the two share is that they’re both based on systems thinking, which is a way of thinking holistically that tends to become popular whenever systems crash. It was last popular in the 1970s and it’s getting popular again. System’s thinking is also usual to increase efficiencies and so it’s useful to deal with resource shortages/extract maximum use of existing resources. While I’ve read quite a bit on operations management and general systems theory (I still think Weinberg is the best, but Meadows is also very good and more aimed towards beginners), and while my career to a large extent was in dealing computationally with coupled systems (radiation,fluid dynamics, and nuclear reactions) I think systems thinking falls naturally to some whereas for others it’s something that must be learned.

Nevertheless, if you’re already engaged in one form of systems thinking, it’s relatively easy to translate your understanding into practically any kind of systems thinking based science.

So without further ado, here’s an introduction to ERE for the permaculturists, thinking of it as permaculture for the personal and socioeconomic level.

In permaculture, a guild is a collection of plants which work especially well together. They support each others needs in a symbiotic sense which means that the farmer does not have to supply those needs. This means that a guild is a more efficient design.

In ERE, a guild is part of the web of goals which is described in the book. The web of goals is essentially a method for designing a lifestyle in which various behaviors and interests support each other to create more efficiency and resilience. One guild, which we can call the transportation guild eliminates the need for a car (saves money) and replaces it with cycling or walking (free exercise) by moving close to work. The financial guild couples saving large amounts of money with frugality (needing less money) and investing (makes it easy to gain financial independence). The small home guild couples easy relocation with having a less but better stuff with saving money. And so on.

Edge effect is the posit that the borderline between eco-systems is the most productive. In ERE terms, this translates into the “the more you know, the less you need” of the diversified knowledge base. Think of a widely skilled person being able to fractally fill all the gaps that a specialized person won’t. From personal experience (only been working on this for 10 years), diversified knowledge is not linear in that if you know twice as much you’ll get twice as many opportunities. It scales with an exponent. Twice as much knowledge may result in four times as many opportunities.

One of the rules of permaculture is always to obtain a yield. I think the ERE equivalent goes without saying. Note how the traditional middleclass in many ways have a negative yield.

Using zones in permaculture means locating plant systems that require less frequent interaction further away. For example, things like spices would be located close to the front door, because they’re needed all the time. Wild growth would be located the furthest away. In ERE, we sort out stuff in a similar way. Things we use all the time (like socks and underwear) is high quality. Same with tour favorite clothes.The tools we use daily are of the highest quality. Things that are further away from our immediate use such as our house (the walls and the roof) and our vehicles rank lower in priority. Things we haven’t used in more than 12 months, we get rid off.

Using layers is a way of checking that the interconnectivity is as high as possible. In the ERE book I describe the web of goals. The idea of that is the same.

Holmgren’s 12 principles can be used to verify nearly every decision you make in terms of whether to engage in an activity or buy an item. For example, integrating rather than segregating goes well with the web of goals strategy. Don’t farm your activities out to specialists. Don’t drive to the gym to run on a treadmill—a segregation—just go for a run, perhaps right past the gym. Responding creatively to change becomes possible with more knowledge, a more generalized approach to life. Seize all opportunities. Using small and slow solutions pertain to your budget footprint. It’s a lot easier to deal with change on a $10,000/year budget that’s funded by a slow diversified and passive money stream than it is to deal wih a $100,000 budget that’s funded by a single comparably large salary. Producing no waste goes without saying. In fact, waste is a sign of unused resources, similar to how work is an indicator of an inefficient system. From that perspective careerism+consumerism are both designed for maximum inefficiency, generating huge amounts of waste and requiring 40+ hour work weeks.

I hope this was helpful.

Originally posted 2011-10-24 04:42:58.