Permaculture Plus Houskeeping Manifesto Fundamental: Cultivate Synergy

A critical part of the Permaculture Plus Houskeeping Design Process is to observe what happens when two objects/processes are proximate to each other.

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Permaculture Plus Houskeeping Design Tip: We Can Divide our House Cleaning Components into Objects and Processes

When it comes to your house cleaning design system, there are two basic categories: (1. your stuff - the physical objects in your home - and (2. processes/behaviors. An object is just that - an inanimate object that sits in your home. A process or behavior is an animated mechanism, such as weekly garbage pickup, a habit of kicking off shoes once one arrives home, or making a cup of coffee in the morning.

For example, a statuette of a kicking pony is an object. Falling dust, a habit of clipping nails in front of the television, and mail deliveries are all processes. Behaviors are a subset of processes. Processes can be driven by insentient devices, such as automatic sprinklers. Behaviors are driven by sentience, although not necessarily human ones. For example, dogs and cats are sentient (although some would argue that they aren’t sapient.)

Permaculture Plus Houskeeping Design Tip: What Happens When Objects/Processes Relate?

Your job as a permaculture/housekeeping designer is to do some detective work. In fact, the periods of laziness that I advocate are exactly that: periods during which you fail to disrupt the status quo and instead investigate how the status quo happens. Use your journal (that’s the hard copy - here’s a free printable) to make note of any interesting relationships that you see among processes, behaviors, and objects.

Here’s an example of a process plus a behavior plus an object: A postal carrier delivers a package to your doorstep. Process! You unwrap the package and toss the wrapping near (but directly into) a nearby recycling bin. Behavior! Upon revealing the package’s content’s - a hundred-pack of artisanal sugar-free gum - you toss the hulking packet of gum onto the kitchen table where it languishes for several weeks. Object!

It should be noticed that subconscious behaviors are processes and that conscious behaviors are… um… behaviors. That’s because subconscious behaviors have an automaticity to them that makes them behave mechanically. So, even though they’re human-driven, they’re not so much a behavior as a human mechanism.

Pro tip: when it comes to house cleaning, automaticity is the name of the game.

Permaculture Plus Houskeeping Design Tip: Conduct Tiny Little Experiments to Change the Relationship Between Objects/Processes - and See What Happens!

Once you have zillions and zillions of notes in your journal, you can cross-reference them to discover relationships. You might enjoy mind-mapping your results to find links between unexpected processes, behaviors, and objects. I like to use a VR app for the HTC Vive called Noda for this.

Once you’ve done, look at an interactions between a behavior/process/object and ask a few questions, such as the following:

  • How do these interact?
  • When do they interact?
  • Under what circumstances do they interact?
  • What would this interact beautifully with?
  • What would this interact catastrophically with?
  • Does this item/process/behavior deserve a place in my system?

Write down your answers in your journal in the notes section. Then make a tweak to your system. One simple change. Something tiny. This is an experiment. Mark the date and time in your Experiments Diary. Then revert to being lazy. (Being lazy is a good thing!) Watch how the experiment unfolds. If you like the results, let it stand and move on to the next experiment. If you don’t like the results, consult your notes, jot down any new discoveries, and make a different tweak to that system.

Permaculture Plus Houskeeping Design Tip: Cultivate the Art of Placement Based on Your Results

Just do it. With every tweak, you’ll be figuring out where the most opportune places are for each object with regard to processes and behaviors. For example, you might discover that the potholders belong next to the dishwasher to help you move hot dishes out of the dishwasher to put them away daily. As you spot where objects meet behaviors/processes most usefully or delightfully, place them with great intention.

Label the spot where the potholders go. You might figure out that the prisms catch the morning light beautifully if you hang them in front of the hallway mirror, so, yes, label the spot on the wall where the prisms go. Label spots for your keys, wallet, jacket, etc. Keep the labels up until everyone in the dwelling knows where everything belongs.

Who knew that shopping could get so interesting - in a philosophical sense?

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Permaculture Plus Houskeeping Footnotes!

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So no pouncing. Got it.

*pounces*