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Episode 075: The Four Permaculture Epiphanies with Greg Peterson

Feb 09, 2021

Woohoo! Another great episode of the Seeds of Tao podcast and an amazing personal story of a key influencer in regeneration and permaculture. Greg Peterson is here today to share some epiphanies with us on how he got started into permaculture, his journey into creating a livelihood around it, and some golden nuggets on turning a profit with our regenerative livelihood. 

Make sure to check out Greg's podcast and website at There are some wonderful educational resources there, great content, and if you are in the Arizona area or stopping by you can grab some fruit in season. 

The First Epiphany: The Banner You Wave

I've heard it said by many passionate and powerful individuals in many different ways. Greg describes it as his banner, but it is your true belief that gets you up in the morning and keeps moving through the day, week, month, year, decade, and beyond. If you don't have it, life is so... so difficult.

So what is this "banner" Greg speaks of in the podcast? Why is it so important and how can you nail down one of your own? These may be too big of questions to answer all at once in this post, but I think it's important we begin to start the conversation. What Greg calls his banner is what I call my personal WHY or purpose. It is something you personally stand for and it is something that at the very least you can rally behind.  

The unfortunate thing is many of us can recognize the importance of having a strong purpose in our work and life, but we don't take the time to properly define and articulate it. Here's what happens when we don't take the time to develop our personal banner and purpose especially when we are involved in the work of planetary and people regeneration. 

  1. Our superpower is lost: In the day-to-day whirlwind that is life there are so many messages out there. There are stories we tell ourselves and stories that others tell us and they all add up to be a loud compilation of noise unless we have an anchor that keeps us focused on what makes us powerful. Purpose is powerful and when you have explicitly defined what that purpose is for you and have the strength to persist in meaningful work. 

  2. We get less fulfillment in our work: Without our personal banner, even the most fun and rewarding work can feel arduous and worthless if you don't have a strong WHY that drives your work. Likewise, taking the time to define your WHY will give meaning to even the most mundane and repetitive work out there. Have you ever witnessed that sandwich artist or call-center customer service rep that absolutely felt fulfilled in what they were doing? You might have looked at them with suspicion, like "How can this guy/gal be enjoying this work?" Well, you can get through any labor with a smile on your face if you know and live your WHY. This is especially important when you are on the journey to becoming what most desire and let's face it, there is always something more to desire within ourselves. 

  3. We lose focus and become uninspiring: In the business of regeneration, it is important to be focused and inspiring. When you wave a banner of purpose that brilliantly inspires others to do their work it becomes easy to focus yourself and others to accomplish what is needful and important to you. Many people find that this has a compounding effect. As your purpose gives you clarity and focus, you become more inspired in your work, this then inspires others, and they, in turn, find their own personal banner and link it up with yours. Oh, it is powerful and that's all I have to say about that. 

The Second Epiphany: Leavers vs. Takers 

Greg mentions that right around the same time that he was creating his personal banner and defining what his purpose was he read the book, Ishmael, by Daniel Quinn. I haven't read this book, but after Greg's explanation of what impacted him about having read it, I think it's a wise decision to add it to the book list. 

Daniel Quinn defines two types of people in his book, Leavers and Takers. My understanding is this - when modern society adopts the idea that humans are above the natural world they become takers and develop a vision that sees the world as something to be conquered and controlled. In contrast, leavers are very much connected to the natural world and, because of this, have developed a vision that communes between nature is needed and ideal. 

I think in one form or another many of us come to the realization of these two conflicting world views along our regenerative journey. We see the need to learn and be in communion with nature, but we often live in a world where the other world view holds a greater presence. What I find hard and I assume that many others find it difficult as well is living in the world-view that nature is to be controlled while believing that nature is to be communed with. How do we do it? I believe it's a personal journey we all have to figure out for ourselves, but the philosophy I have taken from my faith is that we must be in the world, but not of the world. 

The Third Epiphany: Having Something to Say About Regeneration

Permaculture, regeneration, holistic restoration, indigenous wisdom, biomimicry and whatever other words you have to describe this immense collage of work are not as well understood in our modern taker world-view. We have to live in it still and continue to show up as we live our purpose and inspire others to maybe adopt a different world-view. How does that look? 

I really enjoyed this part of Greg's story as he expressed how he found out about permaculture and then was able to attach a word and vocabulary around something he deeply believed in but didn't know how to explain. He had been "mucking up stuff" and learning from his real-world experiments, but until he was actually able to put some words behind what he was doing and share it with others he was isolated to only a few friends and colleagues. 

If we can put forth a reasonable amount of effort in learning and gaining a vocabulary for what we are doing to care for the earth, people, and the future it becomes so much easier for the work that we are doing to pass on to others. Even more than that, if we can learn to develop a language that is easy and simple to understand when we describe what we are doing to make the world more regenerative we are able to meet people where they are and truly move a counter-culture movement into the mainstream and beyond. What happens when even the laggards and disbelievers begin to understand and adopt the principles of permaculture because it suddenly makes sense to them? 

The Fourth Epiphany: Food is Free!

And somehow the regenerative journey begins and ends in the same place. Our food, our soil, and the realization that nature and the creator of life gives all that we need as a gift. Greg also points out on the podcast that our food system has seriously veered off track from what it is supposed to be. We truly do live and breathe the takers world-view. It doesn't have to be that way of course. It only takes a bit of action and understanding on our part, but we all know it's possible to obtain a yield, share our surplus, and apply slow and simple solutions that come from practicing the permaculture principles. 

Let's get to work!

Alright, enough talk, enough reading, and enough listening. Let's put our food where our mouth is. No really, I'm hungry and need to go eat =) 

All kidding aside, there are some wonderful resources to help you create and grow your regenerative livelihood. Come join us at the Commons. Take part in our free Dreamcatcher mini-course which helps you uncover your personal banner and purpose, and get involved in a community of regenepreneurs living their purpose. Here's the link to get started, what are you waiting for it's free! 

Keep on growing my friends =)