By Nic Tuff
            As permaculture continues to permeate the agricultural and ecological landscape – in backyards, farms and eco-villages – some forward-thinking practitioners are seeing the potential of this revolutionary design philosophy to be utilized at a more far-reaching macro scale.
            In this vanguard are Yestermorrow instructors Andrew Faust and Lisa DePiano, and the recently completed first offering of their Permaculture for Regional Planning: Ecological Models for Economic Development course could be considered a landmark moment in the evolution of this innovative design practice.
The crux of the course focused on how to create resilient, self-reliant communities which maximize the potential of the respective eco-region. In an age when extreme weather and petroleum dependence are increasingly threatening the fragile fabric on which our socio-economic systems are based, this class explored how this holistic practice can offer a solution-based response to even the direst issues threatening the health and wealth of our social, economic and ecological systems.
Focusing on a bioregional approach, Faust and DePiano emphasized that every backyard, every watershed and every bioregion has within it a potential – some hidden, some realized, some unrealized (much in our current land economy that remains unrealized).  Solar gain, soil fertility, existing infrastructure and so many other factors contribute to the potential of a respective land, region or city.  Through this lens, permaculture offers an expansive means to understand the potential in applying socially and ecologically sound techniques to help communities reclaim the means of production and to catalyze microenterprise to help make their place more resilient and sustainable. 
This class cultivated the insight and offered the tools to make our communities more healthy, self-reliant, and resilient; by diversifying their economic and ecological foundation in a way that is both efficient and capitalizes on their potential.  Through case studies, field trips and hands-on learning, students were offered a paradigm for professionals and citizens alike to apply the design methodology and principles of permaculture to retrofitting infrastructure at a regional scale.