and Answers: Permaculture Design at Allen Avenue
(May 1, 2014)
Avenue Unitarian Universalist Church we are growing a community that transforms
lives through the power of love. As a church we celebrate diversity, encourage spiritual growth and foster social responsibility as we walk with care on this Earth. We
empower our members to share their gifts to build a world of compassion,
equality and freedom.
How will a focus on
permaculture help us carry out our mission as a congregation?
permaculture ethic is summed up as "Earth care, people care, fair shares.” Our
church community has committed to a three-year goal of bringing our building
and grounds into closer alignment with our values using permaculture as a
believe our work together toward this three-year goal will strengthen us as a
community and that the resulting improvements to our building and grounds will
improve both "people care” and "earth care” in our community.
important, aligning our building and grounds with our values will provide a
demonstration to the wider community of who we are, in a way that we expect to
attract more members to the A2U2 community.
the same time we will continue to pursue a range of environmental issues like
the blocking of the Tar Sands and Keystone XL Pipelines, recycling, composting,
trash reduction, and working on issues related to climate change.
How have our members
been involved in working for this goal so far and what are some more ways for
us to become involved?
to 100 church members participated in permaculture educational events over the
winter and 70 members responded to a recent questionnaire ranking their
priorities for improvements in building and grounds. A team of 20 members is
currently developing overall design for our building and grounds based on
are and will continue to be many more opportunities for member participation in
permaculture activities now and over the next three years.
In simple terms, what is
word permaculture originally referred to "permanent agriculture,"
but has come to mean "permanent culture" as understanding grew that
social aspects are integral to a truly sustainable system. Permaculture design
is a way of bringing together our community, our land and our building into a
sensible, resilient and integrated system while meeting our aesthetic, comfort
and spiritual needs.
Can we really include bathroom
updates, foyer expansion and building air quality under the concept of permaculture?
it’s not unusual that a building’s location and energy
needs are included in permaculture design. Internal building elements are not
only part of "people care,” they also interrelate with and need to be integral
to our overall plan.
What kind of expertise
will we need to draw on to successfully meet our goal?
of us in the A2U2 community have experience and expertise that will be critical
in achieving our goal. Many of us have already begun contributing that
expertise in the educational and design phases. We have also called on Lisa
Fernandes, organizer of the 1500+ member Portland Maine Permaculture group and
Director of its non-profit home, The Resilience Hub, who is a trained
facilitator and permaculture designer. Besides her extensive experience at cost
effective and resilient approaches, she and her team bring an independent
perspective and other potential resources to our effort.
What are A2U2 members’
priorities as identified in the educational sessions and the recent survey?
efficiency improvements, improving the parking lot, improving indoor air
quality, updating the bathrooms, renewable energy production and removing
invasive plants are some of the issues identified as high priority by our
design team has begun researching options for addressing these issues and projecting
the associated costs; when the work is complete they will present their findings
to the congregation. The congregation will then decide which priorities we
address and in what order.
For more information please contact Clay Atkinson,
President of the Board of Trustees, or Harold McWilliams, Chair of the Green