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Andrew Millison: “Geomorphology, Permaculture, and The Good Work”

April 3, 2023

(Conversation recorded on March 13th, 2022)

Show Summary

On this episode, permaculture expert and educator Andrew Millison joins us to unpack how we can better design our societal infrastructure and agriculture to be more attuned with the water, solar, and “geomorphic” conditions of our surroundings. When critical resources become scarce, it is more important than ever that communities learn to do more with less. By focusing on resiliency and stability through systems thinking, permaculture is a design system which does just that. In a world that often feels beyond our control, how can we use permaculture design to work with the land rather than against it, and regain agency in our local food, water, and social systems?

About Andrew Millison

Andrew Millison is an innovative educator, storyteller and designer. He founded the Permaculture Design education program at Oregon State University (OSU) in 2009. At OSU Andrew serves as an Education Director and Senior Instructor who offers over 25 years of experience, and a playful approach to regenerative design. Andrew is also a documentary videographer who travels the world documenting epic permaculture projects in places such as India, Egypt, Mexico, Cuba, and throughout the US. You can view his videos and series on his YouTube channel.

To watch this video episode on Youtubehttps://youtu.be/52L4Ncs0jLk

Show Notes and Links to learn more:

00:53 – Andrew Millison works + info + youtube channel

03:36Vandana Shiva + TGS Episode

04:41India on track to become most populous country in 2023

05:30What is Permaculture?

06:40Bill Mollison

06:52David Holmgren

08:24Destructiveness of conventional agriculture 

09:15Regenerative Agriculture 

11:35Silicon Valley Bank

13:09Overton Window

14:07Barbara Rose and Brad Lancaster

14:10Tim Murphy

15:10Liebig’s Law

15:42Desalination grid linking the Gulf States

15:59Energy intensity of desalination grid

16:15The roots of many conflicts between nations is in water

16:35Climate change effects on rainfall levels

17:13Permaculture Designer’s Manual

18:54The Tropical Permaculture Guide

21:04Permaculture GlobalPermaculture Research Institute

22:01Permaculture one of the largest collective aid and relief initiative

22:50India’s Water Revolution Series on Andrew’s Channel

24:45How Watersheds divide the landscape



26:10Banyan Tree

27:02Land management based on watershed

27:55 US grid based system for dividing land

28:34Watershed democracy

28:59America’s Big Mistake

29:09 John Kitzhaber

29:29John Wesley Powell

30:11 Geomorphology

31:50Humans have divided landscape by watershed for millenia

31:58 Did Native Americans divide land by watershed?

33:13 Hopi Land, Rio Grande River Valley

33:25Tradition of Nomadism in some Native American Cultures


38:41 Coimbatore ancient Water System


39:24Tamil Nadu

42:30The U.S.’s lack of cooperation and community wide effort

43:40 Mahatma Gandhi, Salt March

44:20Cultural Memory

44:58Jason Bradford + TGS Episode

45:1810-14 to 1 energy input of the entire modern food system, used to be a energy source rather than an energy sink

47:43 Well done regenerative agriculture can out-produce conventional agriculture

47:50Paani Foundation

47:51Aamir Khan

49:35Bio-organic Agriculture best practices


51:42Isha Foundation


52:15Reduction in labor hours with organic, regenerative agriculture

53:45 Biofertilizers

54:01 Nitrate pollution from factory farming

54:33 Small scale animal husbandry

55:31Trees as boundary markers 

55:45Benefits of trees to the landscape and to agriculture

57:37Peter Zeihan – The End of the World is Just the Beginning

59:17Oregon State Agriculture

1:00:05The Organics Growers Club – James Cassidy

1:07:59 NextDoor

1:22:28Oregon State Permaculture


Teaser photo credit: Traditional Hopi village of Walpi, 1941, photo by Ansel Adams. By Ansel Adams – https://www.archives.gov/research/ansel-adams/, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3487509

Nate Hagens

Nate Hagens

Nate Hagens is the Director of The Institute for the Study of Energy & Our Future (ISEOF) an organization focused on educating and preparing society for the coming cultural transition. Allied with leading ecologists, energy experts, politicians and systems thinkers ISEOF assembles road-maps and off-ramps for how human societies can adapt to lower throughput lifestyles. Nate holds a Masters Degree in Finance with Honors from the University of Chicago and a Ph.D. in Natural Resources from the University of Vermont. He teaches an Honors course, Reality 101, at the University of Minnesota.

Tags: building resilient food and water systems, permaculture