“What Would Bill Say?” RIP Bill Mollison, 1928 – 2016
“If you hear that I am dead tell them they lie“
– Bill Mollison
“Sitting at our back doorsteps, all we need to live a good life lies about us. Sun, wind, people, buildings, stones, sea, birds and plants surround us. Cooperation with all these things brings harmony, opposition to them brings disaster and chaos.”
– Bill Mollison
“Each… cycle is a unique event; diet, choice, selection, season, weather, digestion, decomposition and regeneration differ each time it happens. Thus, it is the number of such cycles, great and small, that decide the potential for diversity. We should feel ourselves privileged to be part of such eternal renewal. Just by living we have achieved immortality – as grass, grasshoppers, gulls, geese and other people. We are of the diversity we experience in every real sense.
If, as physical scientists assure us, we all contain a few molecules of Einstein, and if the atomic particles of our physical body reach to the outermost bounds of the universe, then we are all de facto components of all things. There is nowhere left for us to go if we are already everywhere, and this is, in truth, all we will ever have or need. If we love ourselves at all, we should respect all things equally, and not claim any superiority over what are, in effect, our other parts. Is the hand superior to the eye? The bishop to the goose? The son to the mother?”
– Bill Mollison, Permaculture: A Designers’ Manual, (1988)
Bill Mollison, co-founder of the permaculture concept, passed away peacefully last night at his home in Hobart, Tasmania. Below is an appreciation written by James Taylor, chair of the UK Permaculture Association and co-tutor on the Design 4 ACTION Permaculture Design Course;
During our permaculture courses we have an exercise thinking about the process of design in which we get participants to place cards listing various activities into where they might occur in the process. Recently Graham Burnett added a card to our pile, with a question on it ‘What Would Bill Say?’. It was partly a joke – we had noticed in internet fora how many commentators were turning to the “word of Mollison” and/or assumptions about Bill Mollison’s beliefs as a way of defining what permaculture was or was not. Permaculture was sometimes taking on a religious tone, Bill Mollison was being made its guru, the ‘Designer’s Manual’ its Bible. We didn’t and don’t think this is useful way of considering or practicing Permaculture.
Which is not to say that we dismiss the work of Bill Mollison – far from it, it remains a bedrock, an inspiration and a provocation toward action. Without Mollison’s drive and enthusiasm there would be no permaculture movement.
So it was sad this morning to wake and hear of Mollison’s death, but what a life! What an achievement! What legacies! Pioneer species are hardy individuals which are the first to colonize previously disrupted or damaged ecosystems, beginning a chain of ecological succession that ultimately leads to a more biodiverse steady-state ecosystem – all permaculturalists find more nutritious ground to work in because of those who came before.
– James Taylor
Posted on the Facebook memorial page set up for Bill Mollison: “Word has come through as a message from Bill’s family that “He wanted everyone to plant a tree when he passed.” If you decide to do that, please spread this hashtag to accompany any photos of you or your friends planting your tree #PlantedforBill”