My terminology on the subject of community development has evolved a little since my first post on the topic. Since beginning at BGI and increasingly so, I’ve had the sense that “sustainable” is not a high enough ambition for our individual and collective pursuits. For example, in the relationship or marital realm, do you feel inspired to aim for “sustainable”. I don’t.
So what lies beyond sustainable? If sustainable is doing things in a way that will allow you to carry on doing what you are doing into the indefinite future; then what lies beyond that is the ability to experience and create more than you currently do. Considering the enormous environmental and social deficit human civilization has dug itself into, we better start designing systems that do just that, improve our collective social and natural capital, while producing whatever goods or services humanity needs.
Where does this happen that we could get some clues from? Look outside! Nature is autopoietic. All the abundance in the living world is created such that the process does not deplete the world in any way. Since autopoietic is not a very common (or sexy) word, I wondered what other words are like it? Self-healing, not quite… regenerative. Regenerative stuck out as a good word to describe what our civilization must become. In the Oxford English dictionary, regenerate is defined as:
1 bring or come into renewed existence. 2 improve moral condition. 3 impart new and more vigorous life. 4 reform oneself. 5 invest with a new and higher spiritual nature. 6 regrow. 7 restore.
Outstanding! A civilization based on regenerative principles is a completely different paradigm than we currently exist in. Businesses in the current/passing paradigm have generally thrived when they were able to externalize/socialize the costs of their business onto society and the environment while internalizing/privatizing the benefits to owners. The result of which has been the growth of a consumptive civilization.
So what are our next collective steps? How do we shift from consumption to regeneration? I think it has to start at the community level. We have to redesign our lives from the ground up. Nature’s patterns can inform where, when and how we should design our lives. After a brief Google on the subject, it seems others are all ready well ahead of me in coming to this realization, including, I should have guessed the permaculture crowd.
I’m not sure what form my community develop ambitions will take yet but I’m certain it will have something to do with designing and building a new, regenerative civilization. A civilization that heals the mistakes of the past and supports everyone in realizing their full potential.