Have you ever thought about quitting your career to pursue a more sustainable path?
This is the story of what happened when two ordinary people took that plunge.
In Permaculture Made Me Do It!, David Anthony Pittaway traces a journey that starts with his time in the Occupy Movement in the UK in 2011, and ends in 2020 with him and his partner living in a sweet-and-simple, off-the-grid tiny-home on an acre of their own land on the southern coast of Africa.
The journey is inspired by deep-seated dissatisfaction with an ecocidal status quo, disillusionment with mass protest action, and an epiphany involving a basic compost toilet system. While completing a Permaculture Design Certificate, David and his partner felt compelled and inspired to pursue a more sustainable path of some kind, and they resigned from their lecturing positions. After David took a tour of several eco-villages in the south of England, he and his partner moved to South Africa with nothing more than the courage of their ecocentric convictions and a plan to erect and inhabit two small tents on friends’ land.
Their arrival to South Africa was immediately met with drought-breaking floods, and thereafter the practical challenges of starting a permaculture-esque homestead from scratch on a very tight budget. The couple had stepped into the unknown and the unplanned, with David attempting to make sense of their project, and ultimately having to re-frame it conceptually. The descriptive and reflective narrative and commentary offer a comprehensive illustration of what the process of setting up a rustic low-tech lifestyle really entails for ordinary people, rather than the neat-and-tidy end-products that tend to feature in Youtube videos and Instagram posts.
The benefits of being in nature, bare-foot on the ground, with one’s hands in the soil, is a prominent theme in the book. The theme is evident in the context of hiking and other outdoor activities too, a context that David takes some time to explore in his story. This also gives the book a travel-writing feeling to it, and readers are offered descriptions of some of South Africa’s geological gems and the powerful effects that they can have on people. Vipassana meditation and polyphasic sleeping are among the other surprising subjects to feature in David’s diverse story.
This book is important for anyone who knows that a different way of living is necessary, but who does not know if it is possible – you are sure to gain insights that will help you consider your options for how to change your life. It is also important in light of various ecological problems that are fast coalescing into what is often referred to as the global ecological crisis. David’s view is that a collective change towards sustainability is unlikely, and in Permaculture Made Me Do It! he frames responsible ecological action at the level of the individual as a realistic and important goal.