By Ryan Hvizda
Permaculture is quickly becoming a word that no longer results in blank stares, and now sparks a light in those that believe in sustainable living and being. Typically when one first starts to learn about permaculture, it is through the garden design process. The garden is a great place to implement this design process. However, I want to bring the focus on the three permaculture ethics, people care, fair share and earth care, and how you can design your business model to bring permaculture to life beyond your garden beds.
Strong ethics and values, rooted in the three ethics of permaculture – people care, fair share, earth care – can and do result in abundance. At face value, people think that the ethics of permaculture have no place in business, as they are not compatible with the profit-above-all model traditionally associated with businesses.
In a capitalist economic system, profits take precedence over the well-being of the people working with a particular business. In a business model that embodies people care, the priority of well-being should be a focus for each person involved in the company, the people that the company serves. This starts with the goals-articulation process for each person in your business and for your customers. One of the most important lessons I learned was from Lauren Chase-Rowell, a permaculture educator and practitioner of over 45 years, and that is that permaculture starts with you. When you honor your own goals and those of the people you work for, your ability to create a positive change in the world will be increased.
Giving back or employee-sharing is contrary to how most business models work (e.g., CEOs earning hundreds of times more money than employees). There is a new model in profit-share emerging between employee owned business models and profit sharing. Profit sharing models benefit all levels of a company, ensuring that not one person or select group of people is benefiting from the work of many.
Investing back into people who helped grow your company is an important tenet of fair share. What does it mean to “invest back”? A simple way to implement this is to incorporate wellness programs, service projects, coaching, education, training, and creating enjoyable and sustainable office spaces as a way to reinvest profits back into your company, and the people that work for you.
To incorporate permaculture into your business, it’s not just about caring for people — it’s about taking good care of the earth that sustains us. Making environmentally conscious decisions can be costly, especially when businesses are expanding. Businesses tend to focus on short-term gain, but long-term longevity depends on taking care of the earth. Why aren’t we asking whether this is a benefit to everyone in the future? This should be a fundamental question that any business asks. This attracts the right kind of people who are passionate about helping the company succeed.
Bringing it all together
Looking at the big picture, people don’t work with you because of you, but because of the standard you represent. When your business embraces the permaculture ethics in its mission and model, you will find that your business will start to evolve towards an abundance similar to your perennially designed garden!
Ryan Hvizda, realtor and co-founder, The Hvizda Team LLC, Keller Williams Realty Metropolitan. With experience in farming, permaculture, visual arts, education, and community organizing, Ryan found that her passion for sustainable living and community building was well positioned to the world of real estate. Ryan’s vision is to build new communities that emphasize her values of sustainability, environmentalism, and permaculture design.