What is the purpose of Advocacy in Permaculture Sydney North?
The following points are an extract from the role statement of the Advocacy Team Leader:
· To inform and educate PSN members with regard to issues of government policy that impede the adoption of permaculture or undermine the sustainability of our society.
· To make written representations, on behalf of Permaculture Sydney North, to all 3 tiers of government with regard to issues relating to permaculture and sustainability that are of concern to PSN members
· To prepare submissions to Parliamentary Commissions of Inquiry, which have been established to examine matters of interest to PSN
· To promote permaculture ethics and the practical solutions that permaculture offers to deal with sustainability problems
· To meet with Members of Parliament or their staff and with Councillors to pursue matters of concern/interest to PSN members
· To assist PSN Members with representations regarding permaculture related issues to their local councils
Is Advocacy the same as Politics?
Advocacy in any form is 'politicking'. Human beings are political animals. We make decisions in complex ways and are influenced by many things. Politics is, unfortunately, often not about making decisions based on logic, on noble principles or on ethics. Too often politics is about the pursuit of power for its own sake and about staying in office. If we want to have decisions that are principled, ethical and which advance society in positive ways we have to have a voice. Advocacy is about trying to influence the decision makers in society. Most often these are our elected representatives whether they be local Councillors, State MPs, Federal Local Members or State or Federal Ministers.
However, our advocacy activity is quite different from setting ourselves up as a political party. If we were to do that we would be attempting not to influence the decision makers but rather to replace them.
PSN has adopted an apolitical approach. We have not said that we support or oppose any particular political party. This is different from saying that we support or oppose a specific policy. Being apolitical means that we can criticise policies from any party or praise policies from any party.
There are mixed feelings in Permaculture about whether or not we should form our own political party. Bill Mollison has argued that the existing political parties have failed us and we should form a Permaculture Peoples Party. He has written a manifesto for such a party. (See PPP Manifesto Draft.pdf )
Some time ago I wrote a short essay on this subject considering Bill's manifesto and the pros and cons of forming a political party and concluded that we should, for the time being at least, remain apolitical. (See Permaculture and Political Action.pdf )
PSN has made submissions across a range of topics. Some of these topics relate directly or indirectly to food production, some relate to sustainability in general, some relate to the natural and built environments and some relate to the social aspects of permaculture. While we don't talk as much as we should about social permaculture it is an essential element of building a sustainable society.