Regenerative Cultures are collaborative social environments that achieved a regenerative ecosystem. It is deeply rooted in Systems Thinking, which prefers to think in terms of emergent behavior rather than sticking with pre-determined plans. It also thinks in terms of long-term benefits for connected ecosystems (taking into account planetary boundaries), rather than short-term profits for individual actors.
This topic is extensively covered by Daniel Wahl (2016). He argues that in order to face contemporary global crises we need to change the way we relate with nature; from a narrative of segregation to a narrative of interbeing (with life, as life). He says that "humanity is coming of age and needs a 'new story' that is powerful and meaningful enough to galvanize global collaboration and guide a collective response to the converging crises we are facing" (p. 22). A suitable quote offered by Wahl is one by Einstein:
A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.— Albert Einstein (1950)
The Role of Economy in Regenerative Cultures
Wahl regards the etymologies of ecology and economy. Oikos means house/household; logos is the study of something; nomos is the law (or management of). From this perspective, economy should flow from ecology. Questions are about "how life creates conditions that favour life" (p. 27). Wahl therefore argues for recognition of 'ecosystem services' as value creators.
Uncertainty and ambiguity are part of our complex ecologies. We need to understand and work with these features as "subjective, co-creative agents" (p. 29). Complexity sciences tell us that our goal cannot be to control or predict complexity, only to appropriately participate. This requires us to embrace diversity; to live the questions together.
Asking questions is the most important step, according to Wahl. Then, we need to live them: "questions are invitations to conversations ... to build bridges between different sectors and between the different disciplines that compartmentalize our knowledge" (p. 21). One central question in his argument is: "Why are we worth sustaining?" We need a deeper answer to this question.
Change should happen on local level (p. 62). That allows testing on appropriate scale without too much risk. This with global sharing, using a Glocal approach.
"What if consciousness - rather than matter - is primary" (p. 32), Whal ponders, offering a useful reference: "The human mind is ultimately the organ of the world's own process of self-revelation" (Passion of the Western Mind, Tarnas, 1996, p. 434). It is not enough to just connect ("the opium of cyberspace" (p. 38)), but to deeply empathise and care.
Wahl also briefly touches on the Santiago theory of cognition, which sees living as relating.
Three Horizon Model
Referring to the work of the Futures Forum, Wahl lists three horizons that are ever-present in society: H1 is business-as-usual, H2 is entrepeneurial disruption, H3 is transformation. Regenerative cultures aim for the latter. Some examples offered are on collaborative consumption: sharing our means and time banking.
- Wahl, D. (2016). Designing Regenerative Cultures. Triarchy Press.