5. Good Intentions vs. The Culture of No-Place

This past week, I’ve been giving a lot of thought to the underlying “intentions” found in the works of Bill Mollison, David Holmgren and Masanobu Fukuoka, particularly after reading some of Mollison’s more philosophical writings.

Following permaculture’s pragmatic “top-down thinking, bottom-up action” line of thought, we can observe how an individual’s intentions inform their thoughts, actions, and behaviors, and how this, in turn, shapes our culture.

But what is a culture anyway, and how do cultures relate to their environments? What does the environment of the industrial world look like, and how does it inform the dominant civilized culture?

No-environment, no-place.

No-environment, no-place.

In order to design the world we wish to live in, it is crucial that we use mindfulness practice to set positive intentions for how we approach our environment and our culture.

When we make the effort to realign our values and actions toward a more natural way of interacting with our environments, then we are able to come together in good faith as communities with shared ethics in order to put in the group effort required to repair the earth.

Listen in the player up top (or via iTunes), and be sure to leave a comment with your thoughts in the section below the show notes. 

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Show Notes

Books referenced:

  • Fukuoka, Masanobu. The One-Straw Revolution.
  • Holmgren, David. Permaculture Principles & Pathways Beyond Sustainability.
  • Mollison, Bill. Permaculture Two.
  • Tzu, Lao. Tao Te Ching. 


Zen Buddhist teaching on intentions:

  • Intentions form our thoughts and words.
  • Our thoughts and words lead to our actions.
  • Our actions define our behavior.
  • Our behavior shapes our personality.
  • Our personality hardens into what we look like.


Three core “intentions” of permaculture:

  1. Trust that nature knows better than humans do.

  2. Leave every place better than we found it.

  3. Reconnect what has been disconnected.


A culture is a response to an environment (see also: Developing Your Own Myths, Rituals, and Culture). The environment is the ultimate source of myths and rituals, beliefs and behavioral patterns.

A culture’s appearance is shaped by its environment and the intentions of its individual constituents.

We can take control of our intentions as individuals through mindfulness practice (see also: Meditation Simplified: Calm Your Mind, Body, and Spirit), and in so doing, we can begin to reshape our culture through the sharing of ethics and values which unite rather than divide us.