The problem with radical new ideas for making cities more livable is that they are radical and new. So as soon as you say something like "meeting all human needs" or "generating and healing ecosystems," everyone starts looking at you like you're the addled woman in Santa Cruz who wants to invent a "perfect pesticide."
That having been said, this "Permaculture" scheme might not be entirely bonkers. It's basically just being REALLY REALLY SERIOUS about gardening. How serious? Well, it all depends. You could just get a tomato plant and put it near a window in the kitchen; or, if you want to be a bit more dedicated, you could live entirely off the land, composting your feces whilst inhabiting a cave and occasionally hunting small game with your teeth. Most permaculturalists operate somewhere between those two extremes, in that they wear clothing but also have beards.
There's a number of local permaculture projects going on right now that are not at all wacko, and are in fact really nice: an empty lot turned into a garden at 18th and Rhode Island; a garden in the Presidio; and a team of harvesters that patrols the city to collect fruit and nuts from trees based on a centralized database.
Okay, that last one seems super-inefficient to us. And in fact all of the projects seem like a shit-ton of work. But gardening is super-satisfying, and plants are pretty, so maybe it all evens out in the end.
- 18th and Rhode Island [Permaculture SF]
- Chronicle Garden: Teas help soil [SF Gate]