The Nature of Positive

The Nature of Positive


I wanted to share the link to “The Nature of Positive,” a new article by Pamela Mang and Bill Reed appearing in Building Research & Information. The article discusses the concept of net positive design through the lens of regenerative development and an ecological worldview:

“Green building was developed from the sciences of the physical world and a mechanistic worldview. This is the same foundation that most of the thinking and technologies of the building industry rely on. It has produced an industry structure and culture in which the value of a building is still generally defined in terms of human benefit, most often measured in relatively short-term financial returns and human health. From this anthropocentric perspective, ‘ecological systems’ are resources or amenities to be managed and utilized for human purposes, so adding value to an ecological system must perforce mean making it more valuable to sustain human activity. The movement to More



At various times over the last twenty years, we at Regenesis have played with the idea of writing a book. Clearly this is the sort of thing that people can talk about for a long time but never do.

In recent years, as interest in regenerative design and development has become more widespread, the intention has become elevated to running-joke status  (“That goes in the book!”). Then, after launching The Regenerative Practitioner series last year and seeing just how powerful the interest in a regenerative approach truly is, we decided that we couldn’t wait any longer.

We are pleased to announce that we have signed a contract with Wiley to write that book, with a publication date in the fall of 2015. And, ushering the good news in with even more imminent good news, we are also pleased to announce that Designing for Hope: Regenerative Pathways to Sustainability, by Dr. Dominique Hes, More

The Regenerative Practitioner™ series: Enrolling now!


Writing to announce that we are now enrolling our fourth TRP series, which begins in July. Last year, we had over 50 practitioners enrolled. We’ve taken their constructive feedback and made some upgrades, so we’re very excited about this offering.

For more information, visit our website.

The Doomsday Fantasy


When James Lovelock’s remarks hit the news last week, I watched a familiar pattern unfold.

“Enjoy life while you can,” Lovelock told a Guardian reporter, referring to global warming. “Because if you’re lucky it’s going to be 20 years before it hits the fan.”

This sort of potent doomsaying packs up really well into a clickable, shareable headline. I watched the story zip around the world in a day via email lists and Facebook walls, powered not by earnest concern for the state of the world but by something sadder—that special schadenfreude that we reserve for the human race as a whole.

Let me digress briefly to say that I have a great and enduring respect for Lovelock’s work. He is not only a thought leader but a transformer of thought—someone who has inarguably helped the world to better see and understand its own reality. I also respect his contention that most of More

Elizabeth Warren’s USPS Proposal: Stacking functions for community resilience


The internet is abuzz with news of a proposal from the US Postal Service’s Inspector General, thrown into the spotlight by Senator Elizabeth Warren. Under the proposal, the USPS would use its extensive infrastructure to provide banking services in towns and neighborhoods that banks don’t bother with.

By providing banking services access to the 68 million Americans who do not have bank accounts, the USPS could in one fell swoop challenge the highly destructive payday loan / check cashing industry, save people a lot of money (Warren states that non-bank-account-holding American households spend an average of $2400 a year, or 10% of their income, on these services alone), and net a badly needed $9 billion / year.

A proposal like this provides a good illustration of an ecological principle well known to practitioners of permaculture and regenerative design. In ecological systems, resilience occurs when each element in the system both performs multiple functions More

The Regenerative Community


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. Physical human communities, however, are organized by something much larger than just human drives and desires. They are shaped and influenced by the forces, resources, and limitations of an evolving place. As physical human communities work to become regenerative communities, then, they must work to integrate the drivers of human progress with the forces that More

Solving for Pattern

Recently, I sat down to read Nicholas Mang’s case study of Curitiba, Brazil, which is now available on the Regenesis Group website. As I read I was reminded of a powerful 1981 Wendell Berry essay, called Solving for Pattern.  In the essay, Berry describes three kinds of solutions to the “problems of our time.” The first, he writes, is the solution that causes “a ramifying series of new problems.” A modern example can be found in energy-efficient lightbulbs that attempt to solve the problem of carbon emissions, but leach mercury into landfills when disposed of. The second type of solution is “that which immediately worsens the problem it is intended to solve.” Berry gives the example of attempting to fix compacted soil with a tractor whose weight further compacts the soil. Bringing in a bigger tractor only makes the situation worse. The third type of solution, the type that Berry advocates, is what More

Rural Schools, Rural Economies


Recently, Ashley Nielsen at Living Education was asked by George Otero, a friend and colleague, to do some thinking about the connection between rural schools and their communities. George talked to her about Australia’s Schools First program, which created government incentives for schools to work in close collaboration with their surrounding communities. He is now working with a group of people in New Mexico demonstrating an interest in using  American Recovery and Reinvestment Act  funding to revitalize rural schools right here in the state.

In answer to this request, we (Ashley along with a group of us from Regenesis) spent a couple of hours one morning talking about the connection between rural schools and rural economies. It is fairly well recognized, by the proponents of Schools First and by others, that education improves dramatically when schools work to build supportive connections with their surrounding community. Less widely considered, though, is the contribution More

What About Technology?


Given a regenerative perspective on the green design and development field, we frequently find that we need to contextualize the value of technology within a living-systems approach to sustainability. Specifically, when we talk about regenerating living systems, it’s important to clarify that we’re not saying that the use of green technologies is unnecessary—but we are saying (with a lot of conviction) that a technology-based approach alone is insufficient.

One way to think about this is to look at two distinct ways of using technology in a specific place. Each individual place on our planet has a natural system that provides human inhabitants with resources (such as clean water, healthy food, building materials, and energy harvested from the sun or wind) and absorbs their waste (both solid waste and pollution).