[article snipped from PermacultureNews]
Probably one of Bill Mollison’s most often-quoted phrases is: Though the problems of the world are increasingly complex, the solutions remain embarrassingly simple.
This view is woven throughout the permaculture principles, however people interpret them, especially in Mollison’s original design principle, “Turn Problems Into Solutions”
A problem is usually defined as the opposite of a solution, so how can it change so drastically?
Firstly, it seems important to understand than in order to ‘turn a problem into a solution’, we do not have to physically change the problem. The change can be achieved through our use of language and through our widening of perspective. Unless we can take away the power of the problem by changing how we talk about it, and transcend the problem by accepting it as part of a wider picture, then it may well be difficult to solve it. Once we do these two things, however, it can open our imaginations and ability to create effective solutions.
When we describe something as a problem we are giving it the power to be a problem with our words and intentions, a phenomenon which is increasingly recognized in the world of psychotherapy (see for example 3). However, if we can expand our perspective and look at the problem another way, it is usually possible to see how the thing – whatever it is – can in fact be in some way beneficial for us. Even if something feels like a powerfully negative event or situation, it can be seen, from a purely psychological point of view, as an invitation. This has been being explored across many disciplines in a number of ways, for example in the fields of transpersonal psychology and psychosynthesis (3, 4). This widening of perception can be applied to any problem, large or small, from purely internal psychological crises to conflicts between people, or between humans and nature, or between entire countries or states. As examples of the latter we can look at the work being done by people such as John-Paul Lederach (see for example 5) and Johan Galtung (see for example 6), who work to help people who are supposedly fighting to create imaginative solutions to their problem, as well as in Marshall Rosenberg’s work with Non-Violent Communication (7). Many traditional cultures and ancient philosophies also advocate this way of looking at the world, and it has been written about by many Western thinkers such as Taoism-inspired Ursula K. LeGuin:
“Only in silence, the word:
Only in darkness, light
Only in dying, life…” (8)
We cannot have one without the other and once we accept this, it can become much easier to accept any problem which comes our way as merely the counterpart to a beautiful solution.
(snipped from TropicalPermaculture website)
Permaculture Principles IV: Turn Problems into Solutions
"You don't have a snail problem, you have a duck deficiency!"That is this permaculture principle in a nutshell, summed up in one of Bill Mollison's most popular quotes.
If you see yourself confronted with a perceived problem, why not try and look at the situation from a different angle? Is there any way to use it to your advantage?
A common example for this permaculture principle, one that you will find cited in many permaculture books, is that low lying spot at the bottom end of your garden. You know, the spot that's always muddy, where the water just won't drain away and you just can't get the lawn grass to grow...
You have the perfect location for a pond, or a bog garden with swamp plants. Thought about growing watercress, water chestnuts, or kangkong (a tropical water spinach)? How about iris, primulas and lilies? Many flowers are suited to boggy spots. The ducks you are getting for eggs and to clean up your snails will love it, too.