Here’s an ace new resource to help wrap your head around the principles of permaculture – 12 illustrated designs created by Mirranda Burton, an artist who took part in our online Permaculture Living course this year, and sketched along as she went!
Mirranda lives on Wurundjeri country (Melbourne Australia) and says drawing helps her grasp ideas in a more dimensional way.
Creating graphic study notes while studying Permaculture Living was a method of “doodling my way into a way of being”, Mirranda says, which sounds very good indeed.
She hopes her illustrations will help visual learners understand that meaty question – ‘what is permaculture’, as well as themes within the 12 permaculture principles. And so – she’s kindly allowed us to share all of her designs here. Thanks, Mirranda!
Let’s sit down for a quick chat with Mirranda – and then take a look at each of her 12 weeks of graphic study notes.
So Mirranda! Tell us a bit about your background…
After training in fine arts and multimedia design, I’ve explored the disciplines of printmaking, illustration, independent and commercial animation, and graphic story telling.
In recent years I have been working as an educator and a graphic novelist, with my second book set for release in August 2021.
What about permaculture – has it been much of a theme in your life?
I have had some experience, in the sense that many of the practices within permaculture were introduced to me as a kid. I grew up in a very non-materialistic household with limited resources, and my mother was, (and still is) a grassroots environmental activist.
We never actually used the word ‘permaculture’, so having now studied the system, I see how some of my practical habits and philosophies can become part of a more wholistic way of living.
Signing up to Milkwood’s Permaculture Living course was my partner’s idea. I was wrapping up a long and challenging chapter of my life, and he imagined it to be an ideal catalyst for transition.
As soon as the first Permaculture Living module kicked off, an anchor was cast in my life. I’d never known such a delight in weeds and hawthorn berries before, and as each week brought new discoveries, I realised I was acquiring new tools to adapt to an uncertain and rapidly changing world.
I hadn’t previously realised the depth and breadth of permaculture as a living system, and my journey has far from ended. Inspiring, practical, community building and committed the the realisation of a better world; this course has clearly been made with love.
So, you made these graphic notes during each Permaculture Living class?
While I have been a visual practitioner for a long time, I only became aware of graphic recording in the last three years. Normally a graphic recorder responds spontaneously to a talk or conference with visual notes and text, and the audience can view this in real time.
I wanted to teach myself to synthesise information into simple graphics, and I saw the permaculture course as an opportunity to practise. It also helped me prepare for my first live graphic recording, which I performed at a recent environmental conference.
This series of graphic notes merely scratches the surface of each module, as each class is a veritable portal to new directions for redesigning your life and the world.
What was your process – did you sketch as you were watching the video lessons?
I created my graphic notes by drawing directly on the surface of my iPad with a stylus, and using the drawing software ‘Procreate’. I didn’t sketch while listening to the learning modules, as I was still gaining confidence.
Instead, I drew spontaneously from my more comprehensive text notes, trying to hone my skills in compressing information and coming up with my own pictorial shorthand.
Visualising concepts helps my memory retention, and brings dimensionality to ideas. In turn, these visual notes are helpful to others, as so many people are visual learners.
What’s next for you, now that you’ve finished studying Permaculture Living?
I think the course has helped me create a more three-dimensional long-term vision for my life. I see more clearly how permaculture living elements work together, and the levels of resilience and harmony they can create.
Realising our agency is a powerful thing, and permaculture principles do as much to confront dysfunctional and unsustainable models of living, as they bring joy, love, connection and lasting change.
Alrighty, let’s take a look at each of the 12 graphic study notes Mirranda created during each week of her Permaculture Living course…
Permaculture principle #1 – Observe and Interact
Permaculture principle #2 – Catch and Store Energy
Permaculture principle #3 – Obtain a Yield
Permaculture principle #4 – Apply Self-Regulation and Accept Feedback
Permaculture principle #5 – Use and Value Renewable Resources and Services
Permaculture principle #6 – Produce No Waste
Permaculture principle #7 – Design from Patterns to Details
Permaculture principle #8 – Integrate Rather Than Segregate
Permaculture principle #9 – Use Small and Slow Solutions
Permaculture principle #10 – Use and Value Diversity
Permaculture principle #11 – Use Edges and Value the Marginal
Permaculture principle #12 – Creatively Use and Respond to Change
And if you’re interested in joining us inside the Permaculture Living course – head over here to join our waitlist and we’ll let you know when the next course opens for bookings!
We acknowledge that permaculture owes the roots of its theory and practice to traditional and Indigenous knowledges, from all over the world. We all stand on the shoulders of many ancestors – as we learn, and re-learn, these skills and concepts. We pay our deepest respects and give our heartfelt thanks to these knowledge-keepers, both past and present.