It is almost becoming a cliché when discussing regenerative or living systems design that we need to stop seeing the world as discrete objects and start seeing, and working with it as dynamic and moving. A central focus of the Regenerative Practitioner® series is learning how to make that mental shift. Dynamic systems frameworks are one instrument utilized by Regenesis to that end. Another powerful instrument is story or narrative. Shifting how we see a project we’re working on from a cluster of objects to a dynamic living process moving through time is a powerful source of insight and creative energy. Shifting our way of seeing is just the first step however. The next big challenge comes in engaging others in a way that they can see, and be equally energized by, what you are seeing.
You want to integrate regenerative design into your practice. You know, from all you’ve read and heard, that it requires a “different way of thinking,” a new world-view, and you’ve read the lists of attributes for both. So now what? At Regenesis, we’ve spent a lot of time helping people shift the way they think, and we fully appreciate the challenges that involves.
The way we think is shaped by patterns that we’ve been taught or picked up over the course of our lives, patterns that are deeply embedded in our culture and institutions. Over time, these patterns have become increasingly interdependent and self-reinforcing and, most problematic, increasingly habitual because they are invisible to us. If we want to change how we think, the first step must be to make visible the patterns that currently shape our thinking. Only then can we decide which are useful when, and which condemn us to degenerative outcomes. More
In an era of decreased budgets at every level of government the disasters caused by storms like Super Storm Sandy present us real problems. They also are causing us to be creative and to form unique partnerships. While building hard infrastructure is expensive and time consuming, partnering with nature and allowing the re-establishment of buffering wetlands may be more cost and outcome effective. Our choices may have more to do with habit than rationality.
In his November article on the Sustainable Cities Collective website Colin Cafferty discusses the value of buffering wetlands. Filling in wetlands and building close to the water has made us vulnerable to sea level rise and storms. “New York’s wetlands … are actually a key difference for the protection of the city’s citizens against future flooding disasters. Wetlands provide natural flood control by temporarily holding and absorbing floodwater, reducing the energy of storm surges and helping to control erosion of the shoreline.” Similar arguments were made following Hurricane Katrina about the impacts of the loss of gulf wetland communities.
Cafferty argues that the lack of planning and development guidance to protect these important “green or soft” infrastructures has boxed us into a difficult position. “President Obama has pledged to rebuild storm-torn neighborhoods in Queens and Staten Island – but is this really the best way forward?” The question seems to be, do we want to rebuild in ways that we know are prone to flooding and so be forced to spend more money protecting vulnerable communities or to give some of the land back to the wetlands that can absorb the storm surges and protect remaining communities? “…the cost of building storm surge gates … could cost a staggering $23 billion. Building new wetlands and restoring existing ones, which are allowed to flood and cushion residential areas and offices, is potentially a far more affordable approach.”
As Colin points out our reaction to events like this illuminate how our minds work. It reminded me of an exercise used by Harvard Business School professor Max Bazerman. In his classes he auctions off a twenty dollar bill with four rules:
1. Everyone is free to bid
2. Bids are to be made in one dollar increments
3. The winner of the auction wins the bill
4. The runner up must honor his/her bid, while receiving nothing in return
There’s a lot of buzz about regeneration in the design, building and planning world these days. A special issue of the prestigious Building Research and Information journal (Regenerative Design and Development) is adding to that buzz, along with the 2013 Living Future unConference (Resilience & Regeneration). But in all that’s being written, talked about and presented, there’s a lot about the what of regeneration, but very little about the how. For working practitioners interested in the how, finding comprehensive, integrated learning opportunities designed to fit their work constraints is a major challenge.
To address this growing void, Regenesis is launching a regenerative learning community for people who are passionate about pioneering the evolution of how we create and inhabit our built environment. The first offering is an invitational, hands-on, live distance-learning series—The Regenerative PractitionerTM.
Ready to go beyond just talking about regeneration to putting it to work?
You can find out more about this regenerative learning community and whether it is right for you in a free distance-learning seminar being offered this winter. For information on the introductory seminar and how to sign up, go to The Regenerative PractitionerTM Introductory Seminar.
New beginnings are such hopeful times, filled with the belief that somehow all those behaviors that defined the past have been transformed or, at minimum, will slink off into the shadows and leave space for the better self we promise to be. So, with all the requisite hopes, this post marks a new beginning for Edge::Regenerate. Our first run lasted 12 months, and we came away with a healthy respect for the discipline required to post fresh new thinking week after week.
Why the new beginning now? Edge::Regenerate is taking on new purpose with the new initiative we’ve just launched at Regenesis. We’re stepping into the distance-learning world–our first offering an invitational series titled The Regenerative PractitionerTM, with the ultimate aim of growing a regenerative learning community. We’ll be writing more about that soon. In the meantime, our original welcome seems still relevant so we’ve re-posted it below.
Welcome to Edge : : Regenerate. Who are we? More details can be found on the Authors page, but basically we are professionals from business, community and economic development, education, architecture, Permaculture, and land development. We share a passionate belief that learning how to regenerate living systems—all living systems, human and otherwise—is the core imperative for the 21st Century. This imperative threads through, and gives direction to, the collaborations and dialogue that nourish our work within and across our individual disciplines.
Edge is “the outer or farthest point of something”; it’s to “have an advantage,” but it’s also “the point or moment just before a marked change or event.” For Ilya Prigogine, it was the place from which whole-system change was sourced. In ecology, it’s the area where different ecosystems or communities meet. This is where the “edge effect” takes place—a much greater abundance, diversity and fecundity of life than in any of the flanking communities.
Edge : : Regenerate is a dialogue in that edge where human and natural living systems meet. Questions and ideas we’ll be exploring there include: regeneration—what it really means, what it looks like in communities, business, development, etc., and why it’s essential. Living systems—what kind of mind is required to understand how they work and to design ways to partner with them in co-evolution? The role of humans on the planet, and the role of Place in helping us live it out. And many more.
Edge : : Regenerate is also an invitation to join our growing band of regenerates in this dialogue, deepening understanding and designing more intelligent manifestations of that understanding.
The idea of regeneration has clearly caught hold in the building and community development world. It’s starting to show up everywhere. But how can we tell whether a project is or will be regenerative? In embracing the term, are we in danger of demeaning its power if we don’t fully understand it? Is it just green building at its best—carbon neutrality; 100% renewable energy, all recycled materials? Or is it more, and if so what?
At Regenesis, we see it as not just “more”, but actually a different order of working, one that strives for a different order of effect. For example, a regenerative project, or community must, at minimum, manifest all four of these qualitative attributes. More
Via Pamela, here is an interesting post over at Lynda Gratton’s Future of Work blog about the power of community. Gratton points to three networks and communities that she believes we all as individuals will need to tap into and be sourced from in the future.
Gratton’s post reminds me of a frequent conversation that surfaces over here at Regenesis–namely, what it is that organizes or bounds a community. Virtual communities may organize themselves by an idea, a trend, or an exchange of services. In other words, virtual communties are driven and bounded by human forces. More
Value-adding has gotten a bad rap. Mostly because we are used to hearing the term “value-added,” which has come to mean a financial reward for our step of the chain on the way to consumers.
I spoke in Beirut in November to the ministers of energy, environment and other arenas, plus 120 CEOs of corporations in related industries. The video is above. Value-adding is the subject of the talk. Value-adding means to change positively the lives of the stakeholders every time you engage them. The ‘ing” is indicative of a never-ended commitment to increase the value to the system of stakeholders.
More than half a century ago Aldo Leopold wrote of learning to think like a mountain. He claimed that this was essential to behaving ecologically. But how does a mountain think? Leopold provides one significant clue. He relates the story of seeing the dying “green fire” in the eyes of a wolf mother he shot. He tells us that a mountain must live in fear of its deer herd, for without predators the deer will eat her bare and the rains will strip her of soil.
Let’s follow Leopold’s trail and see where it takes us. His wolf story reminds me of another my friend tells about Yellowstone National Park: when wolves were reintroduced, they lowered the temperature of the water in many of the streams and rivers. How could this be? More
I sit and listen to the speakers at the Energy conference in Beirut, Lebanon present their papers and reports. One after another they describe what it will take to become a low carbon society. I wonder, do they really not understand that carbon is the basis of all life? A low carbon world is one where little or no life is happening! “Low carbon society” points to the biggest problem we have with reversing global warming, and creating healthy watersheds, cities and even our planet: not the carbon itself, but our way of thinking about it.
If we stood in the shoes of Life, we would hear her call us to increase our connection to the natural cycling of carbon as it regenerates life again and again. Life isn’t looking for carbon neutrality or carbon negative solutions. She wants carbon active, carbon engaged in life-generating processes. She wants us to be educated about carbon and how it works. She wants us as partners in the cycling processes that engage carbon with water and oxygen—molecules in motion that evolve the expression of a living planet. She wants us carbon positive, doing positive things with carbon. More