frog catching bug

Bungala Ridge Permaculture Gardens


dividing line

What's New?
Our Design
About Us
Year Planner

Pretty and Grandma the guinea pigs enjoy a lettuce lunch
Like us on

click here to visit Beverley's favourite homeschooling links
Link to this site



A Green Resort Lifestyle... Motivating the Dream
Copyright © Beverley Paine 24th March, 2007

It would be easy to feel like a hypocrite writing about global footprints, permaculture, carbon dioxide emissions and sustainability and creating a resort lifestyle for our family on our four and a half acre property. It's our 19th year living here and I often feel that we are as far away from our permaculture dream as we were when we started. The amount of work that needs to be done can be disheartening and I often ask myself "why isn't it happening?"

Our homeschooling experience taught me that when something isn't happening it often isn't because it's not what we need but what what we want. Motivation is a tricky business. Alfie Kohn, in his ground-breaking book, Punished by Rewards, helped me to see that aligning our wants with our needs, bringing them into tune with one another, is one way to create motivation to achieve our goals.

There are many things we don't want to do in life but have to: learning to recognise and honour the underlying need of those things can kick-start motivation. This worked exceptionally well with homeschooling where our actions were based on perceived needs rather than actual, personal needs. Understanding learning styles, honouring temperament and personality, were the tools we used to identify individual needs. Learning to understand ourselves by doing an 'intrinsic characteristic' audit which takes into account who we are (personality, temperament, habits), our basic needs, our desires and dreams, offers vital information to help create appropriate motivation.

Turning our property into a permaculture paradise wasn't happening because the driving motivation behind our desire was fear. It was fear that pointed us in the direction of permaculture in the first place: we came across the concept while at a People For Peace meeting where the main focus of the group was working toward a nuclear free future. The basis for our participation in permaculture - the thinking that underpinned our permaculture learning - was therefore negative. As I slowly discovered homeschooling my children, it's hard to achieve positive outcomes when the process is based on reward and punishment. Focusing on the outcome takes the mind off the process. Focusing on the process can distract one from the purpose. Our reasons for doing anything are critical to successfully achieving them.

Achieving our permaculture dream was based on the fear that one day world order would collapse – Holmgren attributes this to energy decline, whereas two decades ago we were terrified of nuclear devastation; Al Gore paints an equally bleak and compelling motivator in his An Inconvenient Truth slideshow on climate change. The process of transforming this property into a food forest and environmental haven for all the critters that live here, was tainted by negative motivation. No wonder our efforts felt like “one step forward, two steps back” most of the time!

At the root of our reluctance to fully embrace the permaculture lifestyle was this fear of the future. How can we confidently move forward when our vision of the future is clothed in fear? The urge - a primal urge - to remain in the comfort zone was huge. Without naming the problem it was impossible to solve it. Our actions spiralled back on themselves and we found that we were covering the same ground year after year, redoing what didn't work in different ways with the same result.

It's often difficult to see why reward doesn't work, but in this case the reward we sought was survival driven by a fear of armageddon (punishment). To work reward must be intrinsic. It must be felt in the moment. Success is built gradually, moment by moment, action by action. Each moment and every action needs to be celebrated as success. In that way long term goals gradually materialise. Fear can be a powerful motivator but as a negative force it generates unwanted negative consequences that will need equally powerful action to mediate later. Or it can cause chronic problems that slowly erode away any hope of achieving our goals.

Reworking our reasons for achieving our permaculture dream provided the motivation needed to get back on track. The goal hasn't changed: we still desire to develop our property in a sustainable way according to permaculture principles. What we're no longer doing is working toward creating a haven where our family can survive whatever the future throws at us... We're creating a haven where we can enjoy living right now.

We're looking carefully at what each of us need to feel okay about ourselves and the world and instead of trying to change ourselves to fit what we thought was the permaculture mold. We're starting from the center - Zone 0 - and creating our permaculture haven to suit our intrinsic characteristics. In effect, we've stopped looking at ourselves as something outside of the permaculture design: we've stopped doing something to our land and our lives and started doing something for our land and our lives. It may not look like much of a difference, but it feels amazingly different.

Over the next few weeks I'll outline our plans to turn Bungala Ridge Permaculture Gardens into our own personal resort, as well as a property that will sustain us in every way into the future.



photos of the ever changing view of the coast from our living room window
Our ever-changing view!
Moonset ~ Roll Cloud ~ Sunset

permaculture ethics
care for earth,
care for people,
return surplus,
reduce consumption

Recently Added Pages

Hot Links!

Bookworm is currently reading...

This site is sponsored by
Publishers of Australian
books on Home Education.


The Educating Parent
Beverley's other websites

animated smiling face
Thank you
for visiting!


Copyright © Beverley Paine 2002-14. Article from this website may be downloaded, reproduced, and distributed without permission as long as each copy includes this entire notice along with citation information (i.e., name of the periodical in which it originally appeared, date of publication, and author's name). Permission must be obtained from the author in order to reprint this article in a published work or to offer it for sale in any form. Please visit Bungala Ridge Permaculture Gardens for more original content by Beverley Paine.