Mural attributed to Banksy.
Article created in collaboration with the podcast participants, AcornOak Tribe and Alyssa Carrow, Junior Marketer and Copywriter Intern.
Pass the Mic Podcast Series is an unscripted group discussion born out of AcornOak’s belief in the power of many voices.
Each episode begins with one expert - an open-minded and passionate individual who has spent a great deal of time investigating and researching a certain topic. During our hour, a small group of 4 to 6 people explores complex and difficult concepts with curiosity, uncertain beliefs and the willingness to objectively listen and learn from the shared insights of others.
Our twelfth episode discusses the topic of Regenerative Practices with an attempt to discuss how we move our collective narrative from separation to a ReGenerative culture.
Starting the Conversation
As the podcast host, Virginie Glaenzer paved the way for this conversation, led by Daniel Christian Wahl, author of 'Designing Regenerative Cultures', to explore how we can shift away from our focus on an economic growth imperative to better serve and empower communities and humans in our next societal evolution.
Welcoming Our Guests
We were honored to welcome our panel of special guests, eager to discuss regenerative practices.
Daniel Christian Wahl is an educator, advisor and activist working on bioregional regeneration, who has worked as the co-director of Findhorn College, researcher with the International Futures Forum and Head of Innovation at Gaia Education. Trained as a biologist with a Masters in Holistic Science and a PhD in Natural Design, he is a member of H3Uni, an advocation partner of r3.0, and on the advisory councils of Ecosystems Restoration Camps, Commonland, the Ojai Foundation, Future Planet Europe, the Centre for the Future and the Overview Institute of Australia, as well as a Findhorn Foundation Fellow. As a consultant, Daniel helps organizations through catalyzing transformative innovation in the face of converging crises, and advises on regenerative bioregional strategy. He is the author of Designing Regenerative Cultures.
Nora Bateson is an award-winning filmmaker, writer, and educator, as well as President of the International Bateson Institute, based in Sweden. Her work asks the question: “How can we improve our perception of the complexity we live within, so we may improve our interaction with the world?” An international lecturer, researcher, and writer, Nora wrote, directed, and produced the award-winning documentary, An Ecology of Mind, a portrait of her father, Gregory Bateson. Her work brings the fields of biology, cognition, art, anthropology, psychology, and information technology together into a study of the patterns in ecology of living systems. Her book, Small Arcs of Larger Circles, released by Triarchy Press, UK, 2016 is a revolutionary personal approach to the study of systems and complexity.
May East is the CEO at Gaia Education. As a sustainability educator, spatial planner, and social innovator, her work spans the fields of cultural geography, urban ecology, and women’s studies. Designated one of the 100 Global SustainAbility Leaders three years in row, she leads a whole generation of regenerative designers and educators in 54 countries working with community-based organisations and intergovernmental agencies in the development of policy guidance and projects strengthening climate resilience, food security, and livelihood action. A UNITAR Fellow, she has an MSc in Spatial Planning with specialisation in the rehabilitation of abandoned villages. As CEO of Gaia Education, her passion is to co-develop Project-Based Learning trajectories supporting indigenous and migrant communities and their traditions to survive in rapidly changing environments while enhancing their opportunities to become the designers of their desired future.
Gregory Landua is the Chief Regeneration Officer at Regen Network and co-author of the pioneering book, Regenerative Enterprise, and the co-creator of the 8-forms of capital framework. A Regenerative Agriculture Practitioner and farmer, he dwells hubly at the intersection of ecology, economics and technology. Gregory was the co-founder and former CEO of Terra Genesis International, a firm working to support leading companies to transform their negative impact into regenerative effects and leading cutting edge agro-forestry business planning around the world.
Listen to the tour de table introduction of our participants.
Key Shared Insights & Perspectives
What Are Regenerative Practices?
Before we dived into the topic, host Virginie Glaenzer kicked off our unscripted discussion with her own understanding of regenerative practices and what they mean for our society.
A Threshold Is Required
Across all cultures, the ancient ones remind us of the importance of slowing down to embrace life’s lessons.
When we rush through the thresholds of rites of passage in life we risk having to repeat them because we fail to learn valuable lessons as we move from one stage of development in our human journey to the next.
It is also during this threshold time that we need to question the frameworks emerging in our new context. As May explains, “Discourses create frameworks that structure social life to which power is exercised. So, in this threshold time, it is important that we spend time to develop a critical analysis on the current frameworks that can either structure or hinder the systemic capabilities for us to come to the next phase.”
Listen to May East sharing her perspectives on questioning the frameworks that will design our society.
Building Relationships That Build Relationships
The trends and contextual changes taking place are making us reevaluate our relationships. When we pause, we are able to recognize that our old scripts are no longer serving us well.
The way in which we have engaged in business caused cascading system failures that devitalized relationships with KPI nonsense and holding back from the relationships.
It appears that building a new way of living, sourced through generosity and integrity, leads to a human-to-human loyalty and commitment. When we give ourselves permission to make choices based on a new script, it is clear that the relationships we want to create now are based on a commitment to people and not to impersonal systems anymore.
“What I want to build right now are relationships with other complex living systems. I want to build relationships that build relationships.” says Nora.
Listen to Nora Bateson sharing a recent revealing experience.
Life Is Fundamentally Collaborative
Daniel is witnessing the dramatic effects of unemployment due to COVID-19 on his home island, Majorca, Spain, that depended entirely on the tourism industry. When the old script is changed, a collective effort creates a world with less competition by putting people above the economy.
In any crisis, there are fertile opportunities for transformation because life is fundamentally collaborative.
Social innovation happens when we connect unmet needs with spare capacity.
Listen to Daniel Christian Wahl share his experience living on an Island where tourism is the main source of income for most habitants.
As we came to the end of the hour, our group concluded the discussion in the same way we started, with a tour de table. Each participant had the opportunity to reflect on what they heard and share their take-aways from the conversation.
Listen to the last 10 minutes of the episode.
Final Thoughts to Consider
Over a century of progress, we’ve designed systems and structures with efficiency in mind and a constant focus on the economic growth imperative. Blind progress and technology achievements have led us to believe it is our right to profit and use unlimited natural resources.
However, today we are living in perilous times. The climate is changing, the gap between the rich and poor is widening, the world is becoming increasingly complex, and our demands on the environment are outstripping planetary carrying capacity.
Our current social systems have been influenced by the past and their structures and purposes no longer apply the way they were intended.
But, how do we replace our systems without removing the positive that previous generations achieved through ordered society?
Some thought leaders consider regenerative cultures the foundation of our society’s adaptation and survival. They recognize that there are seeds of regeneration within disruption, like new life sprouting up.
Grassroots change is coming to regional systems, led by grasstops influencers and supported by larger frameworks with shared values and purpose.
As individuals, we can activate society’s regenerative potential by finding our own voices and awakening our desire to step off the treadmill of our current economic system and redesign it to incentivize collaborative advantage rather than competitive advantage.
As designers of regenerative systems, we must resist the temptation to jump to “solutioning.” Our challenge is to trust that we are part of life’s immune response to the crisis.
By allowing ourselves to sit in the mess long enough and hold that tension, new approaches, like paths in the forest, will be revealed.
Finally, by recognizing creativity, adaptive capacity, and a readiness to transform in response to change and disruption, we can co-create collaborative networks of relationships that nurture the conditions needed to meet uncertainty.