Dating Nature

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  At a recent conference, I heard David Orr express the need to ‘fall in love with nature.’ His point was that without a relationship of love and kinship, too many of us will continue to see nature as an enemy to be subdued (tornados and tigers), a nuisance (mosquitoes and poison ivy), or provider of a functional service (delivering clean water and food.) He went on to state that we need to focus on helping children experience this connectivity. I thought, what about the adults? Have we given up on the people who can activate the change that we need right away? We might not have time for these children to move into positions of authority. Throughout their lives, people fall in love with one another. Adults marry at all ages, and elders experience profound love for their grandkids. Can this pattern be extended to love for nature? We

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Problem or Solution?

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Current world trends indicate that increasingly the health of our Earth and its inhabitants are inextricably tied to the future of our urban centers.  According to the United Nations, the year 2005 marked the first time in our planet’s history that over half of the entire human population lived in cities.  In western countries, this percentage is even higher, with 80 percent of the population living in urban areas.  In addition, these trends of urbanization are on the rise, particularly in developing countries.  Between 1990 and 1995, 263 million people were added to cities in developing countries.  This is equivalent to the formation of a new Los Angeles or Shanghai every three months. With such growth trends occurring in our urban settlements, it is disconcerting to consider the disproportionate impact that cities now have on our planet.  Cities today take up only two percent of the world’s surface, yet they

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Regenerating Place through Story

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That we are seeing a rapidly expanding focus on sustainable cities is hardly surprising. Cities have become the principal engine of economic growth in a global economy—and they are having a disproportionate effect on the ecosystems of their regions and the biosphere as a whole. Currently, the pressing nature of climate change and peak oil, together with our long love affair with technology, have made efforts to reduce the impact of cities the central focus of the sustainable cities movement. While critical, meeting the challenge of a deteriorating planet requires more.  It demands that our cities become active contributors to the social and ecological regeneration of their regions. Cities at the forefront of sustainability are recognizing that they need to take up both halves of the sustainability challenge—reducing damage while growing connection to and among the living systems of their place. There is a growing understanding that even as we

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Solving for Pattern

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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

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Balancing Needs and Potential

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Many, including the United Nations, have lauded the city of Curitiba, Brazil as being a leading model for ecological urban development and planning.  In addition, a multitude of Curitban civic planning policies are now being replicated in different cities around the world. What has received less attention in Curitiba’s storied success, however, is the unique place‐based visioning process that their civic leaders developed. Every morning, the mayor and his core team of planners would meet in a log cabin retreat in the middle of a forested city park. There, according to one of the planners, they worked only “on what (was) fundamental, on what would affect a large number of people and could create change for the better.” Then, in the afternoons, they would return to city hall to meet with their constituents and to deal with the city’s day‐to‐day needs.

Developmental Economies® Emerge from Story of Place®

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Carol Sanford and Joel Glanzberg on Chautauqua, KVNF, Public Radio. We explore the meaning of Story of Place® in creating Developmental Economies® and regenerating communities. “Developmental Economies®” (DE) involve the Business community in a different and more effective way. DE is a way of improving the vitality and viability of existing business and creating and incubator for new businesses that extend the uniqueness of the region and its “vocation”. Every PLACE has a uniqueness and out of that comes an opportunity to create unique value-adding (rather than value-added) offerings that cannot be copied and as a result become valued in the region and beyond for their uniqueness and distinctiveness that mirrors the PLACE itself. The cities where this has happened, for examples Portland OR, Curitiba, Brazil, have increased greatly the wealth and prosperity of a place and overcome the hazards that traditional economic development causes. It also makes a more

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Developers Advance the Neighborhood

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Developers are defamed and condemned regularly for raping the earth. And it is true that a good number of developers are quite inured to their effects. But there is a whole new breed who not only care, but are intentional about bringing a significant value into the communities and neighborhoods where they design and build. And not just for public relations. They see value coming to everyone when they engage this way, including themselves. One example is the idea of considering every project to be one one where the developer is in investing into a Regenerative Neighborhood InitiativeTM (RNI).

Economics of Sustainability: From Commodity to Value-Adding Industries and Nations

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  Throughout history, countries that have shipped their raw materials to other counties for processing have lost out to the converters. The further along the conversion process a company is, in adding value, the more viable it is through time. Nations, and the businesses in them by and large, become stable and wealthy because they can make and provide goods and services, not because they own a source of basic commodities. Even with soaring international prices, the amount of income generated by mineral resources in a modern advanced economy remains relatively low compared to the converted products into which they are made. The tendency is to seek efficiencies for a competitive advantage, leaving other nations and businesses to make the real wealth off the resource. This is a losing strategy in the long run, and the long run is getting closer every day.

Essence

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“Essence” is the standard English translation of Aristotle’s curious phrase “to ti ên einai,” literally “the what it was to be” for a thing.  This idea of essence is central to regenerative work.  In the context of Regenerative Education essence is active or unfolding.  It is the divine aspect, unfolding from within, that sources a person. Photo Credit: Joe Tordiff Quantum physicist David Bohm discussed the importance of the unfolding of “essence,” which he believed moved physics away from its focus on Cartesian coordinates. Instead, Bohm proposed that physics needed to understand the workings of the implicate order (the underlying patterns from which the manifest or explicate world arises.)

“Place” as the Path to Wholistic Business Certification: Integrating Fair Trade and Sustainable Purchasing and Contracting.

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I love chocolate. My favorite is the seventy percent cocoa kind. I always read the package for source information and buy Fair Trade Certified. Because of that certification, I am trusting that the contract manufacturers’ workers and the indigenous craftspeople and field harvesters are paid fairly. I trust that they work under safe conditions and under global standards of health protection. I am so thankful that someone is doing that checking for me. I also know that I am only achieving part of the goal that I have as a conscious consumer. It is necessary but not….well you know. When I buy household products, I want non-toxic products so when they go down the drain, or into the air, they are not harming the very sources of life (or humans). I want the materials that make it up to not destroy habitats with their by-products. I want raw materials to

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