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Travels in Dreams: An Autobiography Paperback – August 1, 1997
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Bruce Charles 'Bill' Mollison (born 1928 in Stanley, Tasmania, Australia) is a researcher, author, scientist, teacher and Biologist. He is considered to be the 'father of permaculture', however Joseph Russell Smith, was the first to write about a system of Permanent Agriculture in a book entitled Tree Crops, published in 1929. Permaculture is an integrated system of design, Mollison co-developed with David Holmgren, that encompasses not only agriculture, horticulture, architecture and ecology, but also economic systems, land access strategies and legal systems for businesses and communities. In 1978, Mollison collaborated with David Holmgrem, and they wrote a book called Permaculture One. Bill Mollison founded The Permaculture Institute in Tasmania, and created a training system to train others under the umbrella of Permaculture. Teachers such as April Sampson-Kelly who created the first on-line system called, Permaculturevisions Online Institute in 1993, via permaculturevisions.com. Bill Mollison's system of train the trainer has taught thousands of people how to grow food and be sustainable using the Permaculture method. He received the Right Livelihood Award in 1981 with Patrick van Rensburg.
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No index. Somewhat poor illustrations scattered throughout. A dozen good photographs. Divided into nine chapters composed of numerous subsections. Probably the most poorly edited book I have ever read -- certainly not as bad as possible, but then, I don't read bad books! Punctuation errors on every page. Block indenting of all paragraphs. Poorly typeset in general. Very overpriced.
Regardless, this is an exceptional work. An autobiography filled to the brim (nearly 900 pages) with great stories. Mollison is very quick to change subject, but it reflects the enormous number of things this man has done in his life. Not a whole lot of details on specific permaculture designs or any real sustained history on that subject, but a great account of his life as a bushman, fisherman, naturalist, generalist, traveller. Incredible number of near-death experiences. Includes long sections on sex, both scientific and biographical, and of letters from one of Mollison's ladies -- Reny Mia Slay.
No concise accounting of his own family history, names of children or other relations, and no succinct timeline of life works, travels, happenings. It's all laid down in a story-by-story stream of unindented paragraphs.
As the title implies, shows the dreamer side of Mollison, and how he's even more well-rounded than we might gather from his other books and lectures -- big, fat, driven man, big powerful life, great good read. Hadn't laughed out loud so much with a book in ten years, since reading "Fear and Loathing".
Bill Mollison is a very interesting man, with some very insightful views and comments, but most of this specific book deals with depressing scenarios. He leaves home at 15 to escape a hostile mother to become a fisherman in an occupation with a high mortality rate. And then becomes a logger with a high occupational mortality rate, also a snarer [trapper] same level of danger. Eventually he becomes a scientist/teacher, and in the process discovers the principles used in Permaculture.
In the book, there is the "aha" moment when Mollison is cataloguing the inter-related elements of a life system in the Tasmanian forest and he realizes that the pattern is simple enough that he could duplicate it. That is, he could design such a pattern with different life forms, in relation to each other, to make them basically self-supporting. From that we get forest gardens, etc. that don't need all the maintenance of other methods of growing things. The method itself is covered very well in Mollison's PERMACULTURE: A Designers' Manual. I would suggest reading that book before this autobiography.
As Permaculture has grown and morphed some may overlook the mind that conceived the system, and the life that was spent gaining the insights to create the system. This book and the Designers' Manual should help retain the understanding of where and how the system originated.
For those interested, the first part of the book describes the Tasmanian environment, fit to be a science fiction scenario and memorable for its danger to homo sapiens.