Permaculture Voices 2 – Conference Recap Day 1

By on March 5, 2015

Conference Recap of
Permaculture Voices 2 – Day 1

Permaculture Voices 2 (PV2) is being held at the Sheraton Hotel at the Marina in San Diego, California.

It is a beautiful setting at a very ‘green’ focused hotel (points for skipping housekeeping, farm to table ingredients at the restaurants). This is a beautiful view from my room.


Pre-Conference Workshops

Today is the first day of the conference, with some pre-conference workshops running in the morning and opening sessions and keynotes in the afternoon. The vibe of the conference is very electric. I have been to many conferences in my time, but none like this where everyone is here because of a deep passion they have and a commitment to make change happen for themselves and for the world. It can’t help but become part of your energy as well.

I had a choice between 5 workshops – Soil Intensives, Re-linking the Food Chain (creating local supply chains for food), How To Learn The Most at Your Conference Experience, and How To Start Designing Your Ideal Lifestyle. I chose the lifestyle session because I believe so much in personal development and what it can do for you. And this was specifically about how to integrate Permaculture into your ideal lifestyle so it was a great fit.

The workshop was led by Javan Bernakevitch from Javan was a great speaker, leading with passion, humor, knowledge, and experience.



In a short time, he went through a process he teaches for getting what he calls ‘ruthless clarity of vision’, so you know exactly what you want to do and how you are going to get there. You do this through a series of worksheets and processes that ask you questions, and then figure out from your answers how to get that clarity of vision.

One is exercise was called ‘Zones of Brilliance’, which asks 3 main business questions: “What are my inherent natural gifts?”, “What am I perennially passionate about?” and “What pattern of problem do I see that needs solving in my community”. Just like in Permaculture design, you see where these overlap and patterns that emerge.

He ended the workshop with 5 things you can do to have a better experience at the conference, which was very useful to think about:

  • Planning your schedule and enjoy the conference on autopilot
  • How to network effectively
  • How to extend connections made with proper follow up
  • Know the 3 problems you are here to solve
  • Know you are going to get your ruthless clarity of vision

Great talk by Javan, and I highly suggest you check out his website (above) and You Tube channel ( to learn more from him.

Opening Comments

We then had some opening comments from Diego Footer, founder of Permaculture Voices and the conference organizer last year and this year.


Diego is very passionate and has done a fantastic job pulling all of this together, with close to 700 attendees here. You can learn more about Diego, his vision, and his great podcasts at

He said a couple of things that really resonated with me. He talked about fear, and getting beyond your fears. So many are afraid to step out of their comfort zone. So he said “Don’t let the fear of losing be greater than the excitement of winning”. Also, if you think you can’t do something, remember that “If it has been done before, it CAN be done”.

Mycelium ‘Guild’

Next, we had an interesting group exercise. Not easy to do with almost 700 people, but the team at Mycelium ( are very good at connecting people and accomplishing great group interactions. Mycelium focuses on creating guilds by making connections between people and helping engage those that might not normally participate.


For our first exercise, they broke us into groups of 4 and had us answer the questions with each for 20 minutes: Why are we here at PV2 right now in our lives, and what do we want to get out of it. So we talked amongst the 4, and then several people in the room had the opportunity to discuss what their groups had said. There were definitely patterns in these discussions. A few things said were:

  • Connecting with those here to help them learn and grow
  • Help with transitioning changes in their lives and businesses
  • Find a way to bring their vision and dreams to life
  • Discontent with the world and wanting to change things for the better
  • How to make their passions profitable
  • Learning new things
  • Food – and their love for Food!
  • Going to make a difference
  • Cannot do this on their own – need support and education

Then they broke us up into new groups of 4, where we discussed the 3 things that we were going to learn, do, or shift that were going to propel us forward both personally and professionally. I sat with a couple of the conference speakers, and we had a great conversation. We all wanted to meet others, make connections, and come away with ideas that were going to help us take the next steps forward. Again, a very common outcome with a lot of passion and desire in the room.

Allan Savory Keynote

I was very interested to hear from Allan Savory. Allan has been in the Permaculuture/Agriculture business for over 50 years. He has seen a lot, traveled all over the world, and had some great experiences to share. He thought, which I have to believe a lot of other people thought, what could he say that was new and different than before?


Well, his keynote was an hour so I can’t give you a play by play through the whole hour, but I can summarize my takeaways.

Climate change is not the reason why so much of our globe is turning to desert and can no longer be farmed. Climate change is a result of behaviors and bad practices, and we can slow it down and even reverse it with a holistic approach to how we practice agriculture.

Livestock grazing is also not the reason. It is commonly perceived by the public and by science that this is the reason. It does contribute to the problem though, by the way it is practiced and that a holistic approach to the management of complexity in our environment.

He discussed the topics of what is being used to manage our environment – Tools, Fire, and Resting Environments. These alone will not save our human survival. It is the addition of livestock (more of it and applying pasture grazing), not letting land rest between cycles, and applying a holistic approach using our tools and technology.

So an interesting take on the problem, the solution, and the public perception. So he then posed the question – What Can We As Permaculturists Do About It?

We have to get out of our comfort zones and not let history repeat itself. We have to keep doing what we are doing with Permaculture, but do it holistically. Form clubs and groups that can help spread the word and change public opinion.

He does not believe that we will change government or corporate policies in agriculture by keeping our philosophies to ourselves. Organizations cannot change ahead of public opinions. So we have to get the word out to public opinion and change that perception that livestock and holistic management are essential to regrowth, and until then we are always going to be the little guys affecting change a little at a time.

He recommended a book that I plan to read called ‘The Watchman’s Rattle: A Radical New Theory of Collapse”, by Rebecca Costa. It sounds like a great way to show examples of how agriculture has destroyed more lands over history than armies have.

Allan has a website called where you can learn more about him and his organizations. He also gave a great TED talk that you can watch HERE, very much worth watching!

That is it for Day 1. I’ll be back for a recap of Day 2, I have a great day planned and can’t wait to share it with you!

About The Permaculture Zone

The Permaculture Zone was created and is maintained by a couple of budding permaculturists, business partners Scott and Keith. We want to spread the word of Permaculture, and provide everything you need to know about Permaculture, all in one zone!

One Comment

  1. Alex London

    March 30, 2015 at 6:57 am

    It looks incredible, you’re so lucky to be there and how wonderful that Allan Savory gave the keynote speech. I first heard about Alan in 2012 when Prince Charles talked about his work. His ideas about returning to a more natural livestock management are fascinating and he’s absolutely right about spreading the word and educating the public about permaculture philosophies.

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