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

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

Thinking Like a Mountain


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?

In the absence of large predators, ungulates (elk, moose, deer etc.) were unafraid and spent most of their days lolling More