An essential base for any good permaculture design is Observation, observation, OBSERVATION! It is one of our fundamental principles and we have developed many tools and methods in order to get over some very common human failings in this regard.
We say "long protracted observation rather than rushed and badly designedaction", because in essence all bad design comes down to partial observation, not looking deeply enough, not understanding quite what we were seeing, seeing only what we wanted to see, etc. And when we miss crucial data, to that extent we're travelling blindly: we're bound to make mistakes, and they can be very costly, vital mistakes.
So a very important part of the observation of any territory is to understand its history. Many a project has floundered because, as civilized humans, we take the colonialist patterns we've all been deeply programmed by into everything we do. Typically, on a permaculture design, people tend to start with an attitude of "now I've arrived, the designing starts". But that is actually never true ... even if there weren't any humans doing any designing before you (which is very unlikely), in fact Nature has been designing there for eons, an long before humans even appeared.
Permaculture design is very much about learning of our rightful place in Nature, and our place in History (and Herstory) is an important part of that too.
We're compiling this history together, so if you know of a milestone that isn't here please let us know!
The reason Integral Permaculture was developed (and is what is taught on the iPDC course behind this design) is because -
“Most permaculturists are expert at understanding the relationships between landforms and water harvesting or between soil microorganisms and plant health.
But when it comes to our human relationships, we often founder.
Nurturing the vegetables in the garden is a lot easier than nurturing our connections to the people who decide where to plant the vegetables and who will water them.”
― Juliana Birnbaum Fox, Sustainable Revolution: Permaculture in Ecovillages, Urban Farms, and Communities Worldwide
Valuing and observing the months, years or centuries of hopes and dreams that have coalesced before you even arrived on a territory ...
... is a very important, basic way of valuing and nurture our human relationships.