Announcing: The Transformative Landscapes Recognition Program COMPETITION.

Are you transforming your landscape to be productive and ecologically sound? Do you write, paint, take photographs, or express yourself in other ways? 

We would like to learn about your adventure, potentially publish your story, and perhaps reward you with fabulous prizes, including auditing the upcoming PDC module for free!

Transformative Landscapes are landscapes that have the explicitly stated goals and plans to:

  • Help feed and care for people
  • Protect water
  • Sustain global forests
  • Protect native biodiversity
  • Provide insect and pollinator sanctuary
  • Fight climate change by sequestering carbon
  • Use Energy efficiently
  • Build soil
  • Use materials responsibly and sustainably

The Transformative Landscapes Recognition Program exists to recognize, advocate for and protect such landscapes, with signage you can post about your project, local advocacy materials, letters, and information so you can communicate your Transformative goals to you neighbors and community.

Because they can address so many different problems in one landscape, this way of land management may be an important leverage point we can all take action on, while improving our own food and lives. 

Program Goals:

  • Provide signs for recognition of projects.
  • Protect landscape managers with recognition and advocacy materials.
  • Help us communicate our goals and methods to a broader community.
  • Help drive interest in regenerative landscape uses beyond simple gardening and native plants.
  • Help grow the economy for local professionals in this kind of landscaping.

The Competition

To help promote the launch of the program, we are holding a competition for essays, photoessays, art, songs, videos, or anything that communicates the value of transforming our landscapes in this way. 

We suspect the best submissions will tell a personal story of your landscape transformation. You don’t need to have a completed project, just an aspiration and a beginning. These guiding questions may help:

How did you feel before transforming your landscape? 

Why did you decide to do it? 

How did you do it? Where are you at in the process? 

How do you feel now? What does the landscape mean to you? How does it “feed” you? 

Winners will be published at All submissions must be original unpublished work, though personal blog posts may be submitted, so long as they are removed from the original blog upon acceptance.    

To apply, submit your materials via email to TransformativeMike at gmail

Due April 20th, 2021. 

Special consideration for submissions by April 10th. 

Grand Prizes: Audit the next PDC for free, $300 in Transformative Adventures classes or online materials.

Additional prizes, to be awarded by the contest committee: Transformative Adventures T shirts, perennial vegetable seed packages, copies of Deep Green by Jenny Nazak, etc.

(If you would like to donate prizes for the competition, you are welcome to do so!) 

Why we are Launching this Program

“If you disguise your “revolution” as gardening for too long and too well, you may, in fact, just be gardening.” Rafter Sass Fergusson.

When I first learned about Permaculture, I had been a professional environmental activist for nearly a decade. I was about 25, but that was long enough to feel burned out, discouraged and cynical about political activism. 

Permaculture offered a tool to take direct action to transform some of the most destructive and exploitive industries that were known to be the leading cause of climate change, ocean dead zones, global wealth inequality, soil loss, and the ongoing mass extinction event. 

But the more I got involved with the movement, the more I became exposed to critiques that it was just meaningless “lifestyle activism,” changing light bulbs and playing with plants while the world burned. 

As a movement, there was a sense that we had to water down Permaculture to be accessible, encouraging people to plant native flower gardens and home vegetable gardens, and supporting local farming. But were these things actually transforming the systems we said we were addressing? 

The usual response from the movement is to be dismissive and go back to our gardens. “Accepting feedback,” I was forced to admit, most of the new vegetable gardens I was seeing were based on heavy tilling, chemical fertilizers, and fossil fuels, and probably increased water run off compared to a lawn. And they didn’t seem to do much for the humans involved, either. And while I love native plants, most of the native plant gardens going in required repeated tilling and spraying or solarizing to maintain, and did little to truly provide meaningful habitat for wildlife, steward water, and gardeners I talked to were frustrated because they had no way to interact with the landscape other than weeding and fighting off nature. And while these small plant gardens in the middle of human settlements were a poor leverage point for stewarding native wildlife, they did nothing to fight the strong leverage point of ever expanding global industrial agriculture, the leading cause of mass extinctions. 

And all the while, ever more studies were coming out demonstrating that under pressure to hyper intensify, the local small agriculture I had been advocating for had begun to use more fossil fuels, exploit more labor, cause more erosion, and more fertilizers than the industrial agriculture system we were trying to replace. And, it has become the fastest growing global cause of plastics pollution and phthalates contamination of our food. 

Of course, home gardens, native plant gardens, and small local farming absolutely can have positive measurable impacts on all of these systems. These absolutely can be designed to sequester carbon, shrink industrial agriculture, catch and infiltrate water, provide ample excess calories to feed non human beings, reduce consumption of fossil fuels, fertilizers and plastics, reduce corporate consumption, stop soil loss, fight ocean dead zones, provide local food sovereignty, and steward rare native biodiversity. 

But they only do that if we design them to actually do that. Otherwise, I have to admit that having a veggie garden or native plant garden has no reliable positive impact, and may have negative impacts. 

So, it’s time to take ourselves seriously and hold ourselves accountable for the goals we say we are addressing, by setting real, measurable objectives. 

At the same time, I have seen a repeated problem of people who are actually doing this stuff, really creating landscapes that practically take meaningful action on all these areas getting fined by local municipalities who’d rather have green washed “sustainable gardens” that don’t sustain anything but corporate profits. 

So, we designed the Transformative Landscapes Recognition Program as a way to address both of these common problems with one efficient program that can also help fuel the transformative economy. 

We will have a community sourced, research based set of criteria backed by practical steps anyone can use to transform their own landscape. 

We will have a sign to communicate our goals and accomplishments to our communities. 

We’ll have a way of holding ourselves and our movement accountable. 

We’ll have real data and numbers to show what we have accomplished together. 

And we’ll have a way to drive interest in this important kind of home landscape.

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