Senate Honors Volunteer-oriented Permablitz

Representing Permablitz on the Senate floor were (from left) Matt Lynch, Hunter Heaivilin, Allen Fanning, Sen. Mike Gabbard, Matt Davis and Rafael Bergstrom. Photo from Sen. Gabbard's office.

Representing Permablitz on the Senate floor were (from left) Matt Lynch, Rafael Bergstrom, Allen Fanning, Sen. Mike Gabbard, Matt Davis and Hunter Heaivilin. Photo from Sen. Gabbard’s office.

Talking Story…Mike Gabbard

Recently, the state Senate honored Permablitz Hawaii. Blitz, from the German word for lightning, means a focused application of energy.

A permablitz is when that energy is focused on installing a garden that’s based on permaculture design principles for sustainable living and land use. Permablitz Hawaii is a volunteer network akin to the old-fashioned barn raisings common in the early days of our country. But instead of folks coming together to build barns, it’s an informal daylong gathering, where a group of people come together to create or add to edible gardens at a home, school or other public space, while sharing skills related to permaculture and sustainable living. At the same time, the participants build community networks and have a lot of fun. On Oahu, they’ve been happening on average about once a month since Permablitz arrived in 2011.

Permablitz is a reciprocal volunteer network; if you help in three blitzes, you have an opportunity to get your own space or a space of your choosing blitzed. Pretty cool! In a typical backyard blitz, one of the Permablitz designers collaborates with the residents of the home to create a plan for an edible landscape. Twenty or so volunteers will come to help, as they learn by doing, under the direction of experienced designers and practitioners.

They’ll do things like dig new garden beds, mulch, put in a pond or taro patch, terrace a sloped landscape, make swales or graft fruit trees. Everyone’s enthusiasm is focused on whatever tasks are needed, leading to a finished product in just one day! An amazing thing about Permablitz is the amount of work that can be done in a short period of time, as volunteers cheerfully chat as they work.

Permablitzes began in 2006 Australia as a collaboration between a Permaculture designer and a community group. Since then, there have been hundreds organized throughout the world. As of 2014, more than 150 Permablitzes have been held throughout Australia, California, Canada, Istanbul, Uganda, and Hawaii.

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