Permaculture and Community: Manifestations of Subculture, Ecology, and Objectives in Comunidade Campina

Home Institution

Rollings College

Publication Date

Fall 2011

Program Name

Brazil: Social Justice and Sustainable Development


Social justice and sustainable development are not mutually exclusive and must be given equal importance, as their success is dependent upon the realization of the other. The foundation of permaculture embodies this concept in its ethics, and although the theory was developed in the 1970s and has grown into a global grassroots movement, scholarly articles evaluating its applications and effectiveness are limited. One of the greatest causes for this is the difficulty in extrapolating observation to a theoretical realm, in addition to the complexity in evaluating how all-encompassing the philosophy extends and determining the cause-effect scenario of systems. This study hopes to highlight how permaculture application has influenced the ecological values, ethics, and subculture manifested through daily activities within the Comunidade Campina located in the Vale do Capao in Bahia, Brazil, and the role permaculture played in the development of these factors; what relationships have been created within and among systems and to what extent are they close-looped; and to what extent the sustainability of permaculture is contingent upon the sustainability of the community. It is also necessary to consider not only how permaculture has influenced the community, but also how the community has played a role in the implementation of permaculture. Through participatory-observation, interviews, dialogues, and background research during my stay on-site for three weeks in November and December, 2011, the following results were found: although it was impossible to determine whether permaculture principles were the origin of communal values present, they served in a reinforcing, cyclical relationship; the systems currently employed strove to close energy and waste loops while fulfilling objectives and sub-goals of systems that placed nearly equal value on both human and environmental components; and a fluctuating identity and member composition had not yet derailed permaculture implementation but did play a limiting factor. Permaculture principles and ethics can serve as a framework in which to create holistic, close-looped systems compounded with counter culture development that can assist in developing sustainable production outputs and sustainable, lower consumption practices. Potential permaculture applications can address manifestations of poverty and environmental damage, and serve as an alternative lifestyle during a time of environmental and financial volatility, not only in this specific region, but also throughout the world.


Politics and Social Change | Social and Cultural Anthropology | Sociology of Culture

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