Founders' Vision & ARC History
Founding board members Lee Barnes, Peter Bane, and Pamela Corcoran created Association for Regenerative Culture (ARC) in mid-2005 in the North Carolina mountains in response to a recognized need for regional permaculture education, networking, and demonstration sites. From its center of diversity in the southern mountains, their initial focus encompassed the Eastern Woodland of North America, which stretches from Florida north to Ontario and Quebec, and westward into savanna country across the Mississippi River. They wanted to advance the bioregional organization of society and stimulate the regeneration of landscapes and cultures using permaculture ethics and design to achieve practical regional solutions for resource, energy, and social needs.
With a doctorate in horticulture and a background in environmental preservation of the southern Appalachians, Lee Barnes combined a passion for the natural world with design training in permaculture from 1992. Peter Bane, long-time publisher of Permaculture Activist magazine (now Permaculture Design), and one of the most prolific teachers of permaculture in North America, had co-founded Earthaven Ecovillage at Black Mountain, NC. Like Lee, he had been active in the bioregional movement, experiencing and co-creating its cultures of place. They were joined in the ARC project by Pamela Corcoran, a visionary non-profit consultant based in Roanoke, VA.
The founders were joined in following years by experienced bioregional activists and permaculture leaders Ann Kreilkamp (IN), Kirsten Griffiths (VA), Andrew Goodheart Brown (NC), and Rhonda Baird (IN).
The founders understood that their purposes could be achieved by marshaling support for Permaculture teachers, increasing the range of courses, connecting PDC (Permaculture Design Course) graduates through local guilds, regional hubs, and other network structures, and by developing publicly accessible demonstration and teaching sites in many places. This work strengthened vital relationships between the human and natural worlds by promoting the bioregional organization of society; the development of resourceful and self-reliant communities; and the empowerment of individuals with appropriate tools, skills, and practices.
After organizational meetings and the chartering of ARC as a NC non-profit corporation, it sponsored a series of PDCs in central Virginia in 2006. By the next year, ARC was recognized by the IRS as a 501c3 educational charity. It helped organize the Blue Ridge Permaculture Network along with a local permaculture guild in Roanoke, VA, and offered PDCs in Ohio at Rutland near Athens in the SE, and Loveland, near Cincinnati. A total of 165 persons from across the broader eastern US were graduated through six courses. Later in 2007, the Bloomington (IN) Permaculture Guild was formed. It remains active online ([email protected]).
ARC went online in 2008 at ARCulture.org, and Ann Kreilkamp, Ph.D., PDC ’06, joined the board. She brought experience as the publisher of Crone magazine and began promoting the development of an incremental urban ecovillage called Green Acres in Bloomington, Indiana.
In 2009, ARC established a Technology Lending Library to accept donations of used computer equipment, to be lent out to qualified permaculture teachers and developing guilds. The same year ARC sponsored Permaculture and Local Food workshops in Floyd Co., and nearby Roanoke, VA.
In 2009-10, Corcoran and Bane left the board for other pursuits, while Rhonda Baird, an experienced Pc teacher in southern Indiana, joined Kreilkamp and founder Barnes. The emphasis shifted to nurturing the Green Acres Neighborhood Garden (GANG) as a local demonstration of community and permaculture action. Green Acres continues to grow and attract members. Current activities can be followed at its Facebook page, “Green Acres Permaculture Village.”
In 2014, the 1st North American Permaculture Convergence was held in southern Minnesota. ARC became a sponsor and its board members participated. There, ARC forged a partnership with the Permaculture Institute of North America (pina.in), just then announcing its program in support of diplomas. That collaboration continues to bear fruit to this day, as ARC serves as PINA's fiscal sponsor and manages incoming grants and gifts.
In 2015, ARC formalized fiscal sponsorship with PINA, and the following year, ARC board members attended the 2nd North American Permaculture Convergence at Hopland, CA. ARC Secretary Rhonda Baird supported NAPC-2 as a member of the organizing committee. Due to PINA’s visionary and diligent work in education and regeneration, donated funds began to flow through ARC to support expansion of a continental permaculture network and projects in land regeneration.
By mid-2021, as the last members of ARC’s caretaker board, excepting founder Lee Barnes, resigned, ARC had passed through to PINA and other permaculture projects more than a quarter-million dollars, and a new crew of directors from across the U.S. are working to reinvigorate and re-envision the organization on a continental scale.