My life led me into Permaculture!



I was born in Oslo in 1949, and moved with my family to London, England in 1956, where I went to school and grew up. I soon became fascinated by geography, especially maps, and the that year I finished Grammar School, I planned and carried out an expedition to Svartisen in Arctic Norway to draw maps of moraines and interpret ice movements over the past three to four hundred years.


I studied geography, archaeology and philosophy at the University of Nottingham in England, took a year off to stay in Telemark, Norway, where I worked on a farm and in the forest. I went back to Nottingham to complete the one year Post Graduate Certificate of Education, and became a teacher. I specialized in environmental sciences and wilderness activities. During my first two years as a teacher, I led the school's outdoor pursuits club, and took many trips with a tent, map and compass. At this time, I moved to the country with Ruth, my partner and later my wife, and one other couple. We cultivated our own vegetables; I studied organic agriculture on my own, and founded a local group who ran experiments with alternative technology, "The East Midlands Alternative Technology Group". After a few years Ruth and I travelled to Israel and stayed eighteen months at Kibbutz, and came back to England very much inspired by the collective lifestyle.


We moved even further into the country, to Lincolnshire in eastern England, where we rented a smallholding, grew most of the vegetables we ate, kept chickens, and led a fairly self sufficient life. I studied agriculture and got my certificate from "Lincolnshire College of Agriculture", while Ruth worked with alternative health. I was actively engaged in the development of alternative forms of housing, and organized a series of conferences entitled "Cooperative Communities Conference". We founded a wholefood shop, the first in our county, "The Louth Wholefood Cooperative", to sell organic and otherwise healthy food. The business continues doing well, nearly 40 years later!


In early 1980 we took another free year, this time we travelled to Northern Troms in Norway where we work in a sawmill, and I learned to build log houses. When we came back we had our first child, and decided to move back to Israel and become members of a kibbutz. But first we worked one more year in England, and I did research for "The Social Building and Housing Foundation," writing a long report on communes in the United Kingdom.


From 1984 to 2000 we lived on Kibbutz Gezer in Israel. The first seven years I worked in agriculture, to mixing cow feed for up to 1 000 cows daily, which was sold in the district. In 1991 my family and I took a year off to work on communes in England and Norway. Most of the time we were on Vidaråsen Camphill village in Norway, where I worked with Flow Forms and sewage treatment. This gave me renewed interest in environmental issues, and when we returned to Israel, I moved over to work on environmental projects and education. In 1992 I created a farm for children on the kibbutz, and began teaching environmental seminars at the study centre that we established in the village. The following year I was one of the founders of the Green Room, the kibbutz movement's first office to coordinate environmental projects, where I was general manager. In 1994 I was elected as the planning coordinator of kibbutz Gezer.


It was in 1995 that I first came into contact with Permaculture. I had read a little about it earlier, but did not know anyone who used it actively, or who could explain what it was. In 1995, I worked with an international conference at the kibbutz movement's seminar centre, where I met Albert Bates, who had come to Israel to find someone in the kibbutz movement who worked with environmental issues. We quickly became friends, and the result was that I was invited to The Farm in Tennessee to attend a Permaculture Design Course with Peter Bane, Chuck Marsh, Goodheart, Albert Bates and Patricia Allen as teachers. I took the course with the goal that I should teach Permaculture in Israel. After the course, I went to Findhorn to attend the international conference that founded "The Global Ecovillage Network", in which I was involved as a representative of Israel and the kibbutz movement.


In 1996 we founded the "The Green Kibbutz Group", a collection of kibbutz villages that had environmental projects. I was general manager; I edited a newsletter, and travelled to give lectures and short seminars at the different villages. That same year we held the first Permaculture Design Course in Israel with Graham Bell as a teacher. I coordinated the course, and helped with some teaching, and this marked the foundation of the Israeli Permaculture Association. We had regular reunions over the next year, and coordinated the second Design Course in 1997, also with Graham Bell as a teacher. This year, I taught a two-week course in Ecovillage Design, based on projects in various kibbutz villages. I also took over the cultivation of 1 000 organic olive trees on kibbutz Gezer.


In 1998, I taught the first Permaculture Design Course in Hebrew in Israel, and a short course in English in Ankara in Turkey for the Turkish Ecovillage Group, Hocamkoy, which later became "The Harman Institute", where I was teaching again in the year 2000.


In 1999 I worked as a consultant for Kibbutz Lotan, where we laid the foundations for a Permaculture School with courses and trainee activities. Here I taught another Permaculture Design Course in Hebrew. During this time, the Israeli Permaculture Association established an alternative currency system based on LETS. This created interest in the media, with articles in the press and interviews on television. I continued with short courses in various aspects of Permaculture and finished building the first straw bale house in Israel.


In 2000 I moved with my family to Solborg Camphill village outside Oslo, where I worked at the Bridge Builder Academy and taught Permaculture. In 2001 I gave a Permaculture Design Course to Norwegian students at the Bridge Builder Academy and the following year the same basic course to a core group of the Kilden Økosamfunns Forening (The Source Ecovillage Association). Several of the participants were to establish the Hurdal Ecovillag at this time, and we used Hurdal as a starting point for many of our designs. This course inspired me to write a book in Permaculture ecovillage planning that was published in English by Floris Books in April 2005.


During the first decade of this century I have worked with education for special needs people organized by the Bridge Builder School at Solborg, and founded the Village School, a department that developed this further. During this time I organized and taught at numerous seminars and courses with different themes; environment, storytelling, biography and cooking. We also initiated collaboration with a Steiner School for special needs children in Oslo, opening a branch of this school at Solborg. In June 2004, I completed a three-year course in Health Education and Social Therapy, writing an 80-page report on the structure and leadership within the 6 Camphill villages in Norway. This was presented at the ICSA (International Communal Studies Association) conference in Iowa in the US in June 2004 and gave rise to articles that came in various periodicals afterwards.


In 2001 I was asked to sit on the board of the Kilden Økosamfunns Forening, and in 2003 I became General Manager of the Foundation when the Association was abolished.


In 2002 I participated in Nordic Permaculture Meeting at Koster in Sweden, and agreed to organize the next meeting in Hurdal Ecological Village in Norway for 2003. During this meeting in Hurdal the Norwegian Permaculture Association was revived after a few years of no activity, and I was elected general manager. This association has now (in 2016) over 200 members, a website and regular newsletters.


In the summer of 2003, I began work with other co-workers in the Camphill movement in Norway, and we published a journal, LandsByLiv (Village Life), the journal for anthroposophic care in Norway.


Why I am applying for a Diploma in Permaculture Design


The Permaculture movement is now moving into new forms. The pioneer phase is in many ways over and we need to anchor the idea deeper. I feel that the initial enthusiasm, with many introductory courses and seminars, has changed, and I feel that now it is important to develop the philosophical and scientific foundations that will carry Permaculture into the future. Basically I am talking here about building a future that will be characterized by a holistic approach and an awareness of our relationship to the ecology and environment. I think that Permaculture has much to contribute to this and it is why I am now seeking Diploma.


This is the text of my Permaculture Diploma presentation that I gave at the Nordic Permaculture Institute in 2006. The text is edited. I received my Diploma in the categories Education and Community Development.