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Episode 014: Hope as a Permaculture Principle with Levi Gardner

Dec 10, 2019


This week on the Seeds of Tao Podcast Episode 014, we interviewed the amazing Levi Gardner, an environmental educator, Non-Profit Executive, father, musician, and aspiring writer. Levi has an amazing knowledge of the mindset side of permaculture, and especially maintaining hope when things get dark - and really that’s what permaculture is all about, creating regeneration in the face of destruction. In fact, we here at Seeds of Tao would argue that Hope is the 13th Permaculture Principle, and we’ve found that those permies who do not apply this principle, are greatly handicapped in terms of creating the change they wish to see in the world.

Hope vs. Fear

When it comes to environmentalism, there are really two camps, the fear-mongering camp, and the hopeful, enhancing camp.  You will find both in just about every community of sustainability, and even within the permaculture movement. 


Why is hope so important?


For one, people aren’t going to want to join the movement if it’s associated with negative feelings and intentions. Or they will join, then fall off because they don’t like dwelling in a space of negativity. Fear is definitely a negative thought, and it’s an amygdala triggering emotion, that will send people into fight or flight mode, or keep them paralyzed in the “in-between.” 


Oftentimes when you talk to the fear-mongering environmentalist, they have actually been holding on to negative experiences from their past, and rather than processing that negativity, they hold onto it and they channel that into whatever is around them. It’s a  poisonous habit, and definitely in juxtaposition to, at the very least, the “People Care” aspect of permaculture.


 On the other hand, those who dwell in a hopeful space, magnetically draw people to them to aid them in their efforts. These people have moved past negative experiences in their past and choose to see the good. In truth, permaculture is a hopeful strategy for healing the planet and the organisms of that planet.


At the end of the day, how you choose to carry your mindset will determine which of the two camps you dwell in, so be conscious of what’s going on in your head in case you start to sway an unfavorable direction.

Vulnerability vs. Shame

Along with the fear-mongering environmentalism culture comes a culture of shame. If you haven’t read her books, Brene Brown does an amazing job of explaining and uncovering the science behind shame, in the end, it serves NO ONE. As Levi mentioned in the episode, “Shaming anyone including ourselves doesn’t do ANYTHING.”


However, to move away from that shame culture and mindset, we must be vulnerable. Which is really scary to those who are out of practice with vulnerability. In fact in the beginning, when starting a habit of vulnerability your limbic system will FREAK OUT because it’s scared that being vulnerable will insight pain. But the more you practice being upfront and vulnerable, the greater power you will find within yourself. It’s an amazingly powerful experience.


When we are able to become vulnerable, we allow our minds to dwell in the present, rather than holding on to shameful experiences from the past, or foretelling possible shameful experiences in the future.

Staying Present

These days, “mindfulness” is a buzzword. Google “mindfulness” and you will be avalanched with different exercises and meditation strategies to help keep you present and, you guessed it, mindful. 


But what is it really to be mindful?


Being mindful boils down to staying in the present. Not lingering in the past, or dwelling in the future, but rather being completely conscious of the current moment you are in, inside and outside of your body.


It’s not being triggered by emotional tidal waves that show scars of past experiences, nor allowing our amygdala to overwhelm us with the fear of uncertainty because of an unknown future.


It is acknowledging everything that is happening, and remaining in a state of peace the entire time.


Is anyone perfect at staying present at all times? Well, I’ve heard a few people claim it, but in our experience, it’s just as Levi says in the podcast episode, “It’s a practice, it’s something we simply have to practice.”


The interesting thing is that people around the world are facing anxiety and depression like never before, which is exactly the OPPOSITE of being present.


In The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle, he mentions that depression comes from lingering in the past, and anxiety is dwelling in the future, but staying in the present there is only peace.


Peaceful soil grows Hope.


Maintaining Hope When It Hits the Fan

We can talk all day about staying hopeful when things get hard, and being completely present when emotions threaten to overtake us, but what does that look like in the day to day?


What it really boils down to is maintaining a positive mindset. A positive mindset is where Hope dwells.


We must clearly see our purpose, understand our obstacles, and have an active empowerment plan to overcome those discouraging thoughts and experiences. When we have a solid routine for handling the negativity, getting it out, and replacing it with the good and empowering, we become untouchable, and are able to maintain Hope NO MATTER WHAT HAPPENS AROUND US!


I hope you all enjoyed this week’s episode, we greatly enjoy talking with all these amazing permies and look forward to continuing to inspire you to truly create the change you wish to see in the world.


Keep Growing!


Also, learn about or reach out to Levi on his website at

Previous Episode: Understanding Your Personal "Why" Within the Permaculture Movement with Robin Suggs