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Regeneration: Evolving Sustainability

“To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; to know that even one life has breathed easier because you have lived — that is to have succeeded.”

- Ralph Waldo Emerson, Poet, Abolitionist, Philosopher, Cool Human

What is regeneration, really? How can regenerative principles evolve the way we design solutions for ourselves and the planet? When people talk about sustainability, they are usually talking about doing less harm. The truth is, a lot of harm has already been done to the place we all call home. So, what can we do, if sustainability isn’t enough? What if we could heal some of the damage? What if we could leave our earth home better than how we found it? This is exactly what we mean by regeneration.

Regeneration

As passionate humans and innate creators, it is difficult to lean into the idea of progress through the lens of doing less. But instead of thinking of it in terms of doing “less” we can flip the script and focus on creating more positive change for the people in our communities and for the environment we all live in and share. 

How do we do this? That’s a great question. From our own wellness to the natural ecosystem we all are a part of, regeneration can play an important role in living healthier, happier lives. 

Below we list the regenerative principles inspired from indigenous cultures and adapted from the principles laid forth by Regenesis who has pioneered regenerative development. Here, we focus on how this regenerative theory can translate into regenerative wellness. A framework for an individual to help guide them through living regeneratively. It can help one think in terms of systems that bring heightened awareness to the moment and your immediate environment. Through this awareness, one can start to make sense of their relationship with the system they live within. Here, they can see the magic that flows through everything and brings sacredness to life.

Regenerative Principles

1. Design for evolution

Every living system has inherent within it the possibility to move to new levels of order, differentiation, and organization.

2. Partner with place

Co-evolution among human communities and the natural systems they live within is specific to each place, using approaches that are locally fitted to them.

3. Call forth a collective vocation

The sustainability of a living system is tied directly to its beneficial integration into a larger system. How do you and your community connect to the larger system? What is your community’s collective vocation?

4. Actualize interconnected communities (stakeholder systems) toward co-evolving together

How can communities or groups collaborate or cohabitate to elevate the systems they live within? Facilitate the co-evolution of their relationships?

5. Instead of solving problems, how do we design for potential?

Every singular problem is connected to a larger system. If you only solve for a single problem, you may not take into account what it’s connected to, thus causing unintended consequences. If you instead design for potential, you can examine “problems” systemically and how they are integrated into a larger whole. From here you can ask, what potential can we design for instead of how can we solve this problem. Designing for potential facilitates evolution.

6. Find your distinctive, value-adding roles

The continuing health of living systems depends on each member living out its distinctive role. How can you regenerate yourself to then be your best self for the system you rely on. How can you think of yourself and the community/system you live-in as a positive feedback loop?

7. Leverage systemic regeneration by making nodal interventions

Small conscious and conscientious interventions in the right place can create beneficial, system-wide effects. A system is connected through nodes. In a human community, that can be a community center, a park, a square, a group of friends, etc. How can you see through the lens of interconnected nodes in your system? How can you make interventions at the right nodes to elevate the health of that system?

8. Design the design process to be developmental

A project can only create systemic benefit within a field of caring, co-creativity, and co-responsibility. How can we co-create this field?

9. Become a systems actualizer

The actualization of a self requires the simultaneous development of the systems of which it is a part. How can you think of yourself as a catalyst for the community you love?

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