Putting Regeneration to Work: the how of regenerative development

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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

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Welcome (back) to Edge::Regenerate

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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.

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What is a regenerative development—really?

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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. Inspirational — Regenerative projects inspire because they play meaningful, contributing roles within the larger human and natural communities in which they’re embedded.  Equally important, they  provide meaningful roles, creating opportunities for all participants

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Sustainability Re-examined

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Most people believe that sustaining the planet is a good idea, given the impacts that human civilization is having. Business has played a big role in creating those impacts, and has been playing a big role in trying to address them. The problem is that sustainability only looks at half of what needs to be taken into account when thinking about whole living systems. Sustainability primarily addresses reducing impacts and increasing efficiencies. Corporate sustainability programs are wrapped almost entirely around these goals. But every experienced businessperson knows you can’t make a healthy business by only reducing inefficiencies. The experience of running a successful business teaches that it’s the ability of a business to generate value that is the real source of its vitality and viability. You can only make a healthy business by figuring out what you want to grow, how to grow it effectively, and then defining inefficiency as

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The Regenerative Community

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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

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Value-Adding as a Concept to Transform the Middle East

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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.

Thinking Like a Mountain

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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

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Place Sense

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For human beings, places are meaningful and meaning creating.  According to urban planner Timothy Beatley, “Meaningful places are essential for meaningful lives.”  Without a sense of place we would live within undifferentiated and thereby meaningless space.  Cultural Geographer Yi-Fu Tuan wrote, “Space is transformed into place as it acquires definition and meaning.”  Our sense of home, of homeland, of our place and role in the world, all help to give us a sense of rootedness and identity in the world.  They help to nurture us and provide us a safe haven when we are in need of it.  When we have a sense of place in the world, we know where we come from and where we are going.  As such, we feel “in-place” in the world. Sense of place is an embodied experience, not an abstract concept.  Our home and the street we live on may feel meaningful and

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Planning for Regenerative Communities Requires New Premises

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While we are hearing more and more about regenerative design, less attention has been paid to how community planning must shift.  Traditionally, community planning efforts have been organized around managing different societal functions—job creation, transportation, housing, habitat protection, etc. as a way of creating economic development, environmental protection or community revitalization. They have largely been conducted as if these facets of life were unrelated to each other.  Where more than one facet has been considered, the goals that were not the primary driver have normally been treated as background constraints, e.g., to advance economic development with minimum harm to the environment. The push to create “sustainable cities” has added goals around carbon emissions and energy efficiency without changing this pattern–a pattern that presents serious barriers to community sustainability, let alone regeneration. There is growing evidence that this fragmented approach to planning is failing. Urban centers are feeling overwhelmed by the

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When a conference is more than a conference

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I spent last week at Gaining Ground’s Resilient Cities conference in Vancouver, BC.  Four years ago, Gene Miller—founder of this remarkable conference series, drew Bill Reed and me into a series of conversations about his new vision for conferences, one that broke away from the talking heads phenomenon to actually foster dialogue and thinking. A radical thought! I’d long before given up on conferences, finding most to be about “thoughting not thinking”—promoting old thoughts vs. developing new thinking. Gene’s vision, and his passion for promoting urban sustainability when it was barely a blip on the horizon overcame my reluctance. So when asked to present at this year’s conference, the 6th in the series, I didn’t hesitate. Once again, the range of subject material was rich and deep.  But while most people will remember the content, it was the process design that really caught and captured my attention and admiration. Gene

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