Permaculturists talk about the concept of “zones” as part of a pattern language that helps in the placement of objects. The closest zones are the ones that we tend to visit most often. Think of widening concentric circles: zone 1, might be the herb garden just outside the door; zone 2, the vegetable garden just beyond; zone 3, the chickens; zone 4, the fruit trees, and so on.
When I think about exopermaculture, I am immediately reminded of “zone zero,” which, when defined in a certain way, interests me more than any other zone. This zone is usually thought to refer to the household itself; but sometimes it’s thought to refer to the inside of a person. The state of one’s bodily health, for example. Or even better, the state of one’s mind, emotions, and spirit!
Let’s face it, whatever “exopermaculture” is, it resonates somehow with these inner states, especially the state of our consciousness. Exopermaculture: opening up our awareness to what lies beyond and within, and how this exploration may affect how permaculture is both seen and practiced here on Earth.
Sometimes the inside of the person is thought of as “zone zero zero,” to distinguish it from the household as zone zero. Of course, that notion, that there could be two zeros in a row, both of which are meaningful as concepts — I mean, two nothings make a bigger nothing? — and not just placeholders, got me into thinking about “zero” as a concept and where it came from.
Zero sticks out from the other integers. It’s mysterious; even the shape of its notation is evocative: oval, like an egg, something not yet born; or empty . . . or paradoxically, full — like the (rabbit) hole, sucking Alice in to Wonderland.
The more I researched the notion of “zero,” the more confused I got — as if floating through infinite space. As a historian of mathematics says, “Zero makes shadowy appearances only to vanish again almost as if mathematicians were searching for it yet did not recognize its fundamental significance even when they see it.” (1)
I have a feeling that may be the case here, both with permaculturists, and certainly with me, a self-styled exopermaculturist. Zero is where we must begin — eventually.
Meanwhile, I’ve decided to delve straight into an initial exploration of permaculture principles, one after another, from an exopermaculture point of view. Hopefully, this focus will land me back on Earth. In this exploration, I will utilize permaculture co-founder David Holmgrem’s version of the principles as elucidated on www. permacultureprinciples.com. See next post.