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Sustainability 2019, 11(5), 1241; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11051241

The German Permaculture Community from a Community of Practice Perspective

Institute of Environmental Systems Research, Osnabrück University, Barbarastr. 12, 49069 Osnabrück, Germany
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Received: 28 January 2019 / Revised: 13 February 2019 / Accepted: 21 February 2019 / Published: 26 February 2019
(This article belongs to the Section Human Geography and Social Sustainability)
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Abstract

The permaculture community is a grassroots initiative that challenges current mainstream practices. Such grassroots initiatives are seen as promising incubators of learning processes that can guide transformations. However, there is ambivalence between the wish of grassroots initiatives to reach people and reoccurring claims of insularity. We use the concept of Communities of Practice to answer important questions concerning community dynamics and learning processes: How are individual perspectives turned into a joint endeavour? How do the community and its respective relation to its members affect the interactions with external actors? Drawing on qualitative data from twelve semi-structured interviews with teachers from Germany’s biggest education body on permaculture, the Permakultur Akademie, our goal was to gain insights into the community’s self-organisation and learning interfaces. Findings suggest that the German permaculture community displays key characteristics of a Community of Practice with developed shared values as well as education and organisational structures, while being embedded in an international community. At the time of the research, internal challenges were the absence of a common strategy that effectively linked individuals to coordinated activities. The results led to implications for a more diverse use of the concept to inform actions and several questions for future research. View Full-Text
Keywords: boundary processes; community of practice; grassroots initiatives; permaculture; qualitative methods; social learning; sustainability transitions; transformation boundary processes; community of practice; grassroots initiatives; permaculture; qualitative methods; social learning; sustainability transitions; transformation
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Ulbrich, R.; Pahl-Wostl, C. The German Permaculture Community from a Community of Practice Perspective. Sustainability 2019, 11, 1241.

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