Designing Regenerative Cultures
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Designing Regenerative Cultures

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This is a 'Whole Earth Catalog' for the 21st century: an impressive and wide-ranging analysis of what's wrong with our societies, organizations, ideologies, worldviews and cultures - and how to put them right. The book covers the finance system, agriculture, design, ecology, economy, sustainability, organizations and society at large. In it, Daniel Wahl explores ways in which we can reframe and understand the crises that we currently face and explores how we can live our way into the future. Moving from patterns of thinking and believing to our practice of education, design and community living, he systematically shows how we can stop chasing the mirage of certainty and control in a complex and unpredictable world. The book asks how can we collaborate in the creation of diverse regenerative cultures adapted to the unique biocultural conditions of place? How can we create conditions conducive to life?
"This book is a valuable contribution to the important discussion of the worldview and value system we need to redesign our businesses, economies, and technologies - in fact, our entire culture - so as to make them regenerative rather than destructive."
Fritjof Capra, author of The Web of Life, coauthor of The Systems View of Life: A Unifying Vision.
"This is an excellent addition to the literature on ecological design and it will certainly form a keystone in the foundations of the new MA in Ecological Design Thinking at Schumacher College, Devon. It not only contains a wealth of ideas on what Dr Wahl has termed 'Designing Regenerative Cultures' but what is probably more important, it provides some stimulating new ways of looking at persistent problems in our contemporary culture and hence opens up new ways of thinking and acting in the future." Seaton Baxter OBE, Professor in Ecological Design Thinking, Schumacher College, UK
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Product details

  • Paperback | 288 pages
  • 170 x 244 x 20.32mm | 368g
  • Bridport, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 30 colour illustrations
  • 1909470775
  • 9781909470774
  • 35,387

Table of contents

FOREWORD ~ David Orr FOREWORD ~ Graham Leicester INTRODUCTION CHAPTER 1 - Living the Questions: Why change the narrative now? Questioning dangerous ideologies Facing complexity means befriending uncertainty and ambiguity Caring for Earth is caring for ourselves and our community Wake up to find out that you are the eyes of the world The 'why' will guide the 'what' and the 'how'Spirituality, soul and solitude in nature Sustainability as a learning journey: pilgrims and apprentices Sustainability is not enough; we need regenerative cultures!
CHAPTER 2 - Why choose transformative over sustaining innovation? The Three Horizons of innovation and culture change Evaluating disruptive innovation in the age of transition Transformative innovation is about deep questioning Sensitivity to scale, uniqueness of place and local culture The transformative power of social innovation Collaborative consumption and peer-to-peer collaboration Facilitating systems innovation and culture change CHAPTER 3 - Why do we need to think and act more systemically? Believing is seeing and seeing is believing The whole is more than the sum of its parts From the 'crisis of perception' to the 'systems view of life' Interbeing How can we participate appropriately in complex systems? The IFF World System Model Learning to see nature everywhere Being a process, and seeing in relationships CHAPTER 4 - Why nurture resilience and whole-systems health? Rolling back Earth Overshoot Day Learning to live within planetary boundaries What exactly are resilience and transformative resilience? The adaptive cycle as a dynamic map for resilience thinking Panarchy: a scale-linking perspective of systemic transformation Local and regional community resilience building is going global How can we nurture transformative resilience? From control and prediction to conscious participation, foresight and anticipation
CHAPTER 5 - Why take a design-based approach? Design education enables cultural transformation Design is where theory and practice meet Design follows worldview and worldview follows design Ethics and design for regenerative cultures Aesthetics and design Emergence and design Designing for positive emergence (a case study) Scale-linking, salutogenic design for resilience The resurgence of a culture of makers: re-localizing production Collective visioning and design conversations change culture CHAPTER 6 - How can we learn to better design as nature? Ecoliteracy: Learning from living systems Valuing traditional ecological knowledge and indigenous wisdom How does life create conditions conducive to life? Biologically Inspired Innovation Green chemistry and material science Biologically inspired product design Biomimetic architecture Nature's whole system optimization informs community design Living the questions together creates community Industrial ecology and symbiosis are closing the loops Ecologically informed urban and regional planning CHAPTER 7 - Why are regenerative cultures rooted in cooperation? Redesigning agriculture for food sovereignty and subsidiarity Regenerative agriculture: effective responses to climate change Learning from and mimicking healthy ecosystems Redesigning economics based on ecology Creating circular economies Towards a regenerative economy Thriving communities and the solidarity economy Shifting from quantitative to qualitative growth Valuing the commons by cooperatively sharing the gifts of life Earth Law: the enabling constraints of collective living Life's collaborative lessons transform business Co-creating regenerative enterprises Collaboration and empathy as evolutionary success stories Activism revisited: conscious participation and collective intelligence We are coming back to life and this changes everything Learning to listen deeply Inner and outer resilience CONCLUSION - Regenerative cultures are about thriving together
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Review quote

"Daniel's book Designing Regenerative Cultures is a wonderful and well-referenced primer for a new paradigm." Satish Kumar

"Clearly our ways of thinking have gotten us in some trouble--here are concrete suggestions for some new habits of mind that could help us climb out of our hole!";Bill McKibben, author: Eaarth - Making a Life on a Tough New Planet; co-founder 350.org, and Schumann Distinguished Scholar, Middlebury College

"This is an impressive, broad and forward looking book that integrates design thinking with a diverse range of contemporary and innovative ideas around sustainability, ecology and transformation. Its attention to not just the problems, but also to how address them is timely and much needed. As such the book is now one of the main core programme texts for our MSc Sustainability at the University of Dundee." Professor Ioan Fazey, Centre for Environmental Change and Human Resilience, University of Dundee.

"Daniel Wahl... has the capacity to explain complex and subtle subjects such as systems theory, regenerative design, holistic management, biomimicry, the circular economy, quantum theory ... and much more, succinctly. There are so many paragraphs in this book that I highlighted to return to and savour later on. He is also well versed in the integral, holistic worldview and the processes which support the birth of a new consciousness that will enable these regenerative shifts. His book is not only a collection of well articulated ideas, it is a litany of so many of the world's best projects that are already in existence, balancing theory with practice. There is an unstoppable optimism implicit in this book, however care-worn and cynical the reader may feel." Maddy Harland in Permaculture Magazine.

"Designing Regenerative Cultures has gained international acknowledgement for its pragmatic approach to the subject, reframing and questioning the current approaches to the challenges that humankind is currently facing with deeper understanding of the possible solutions surfacing with regenerative design." UNESCO Global Action Programme on ESD Aug 2016

"Daniel Wahl has had an important insight that makes this book an essential read for anyone trying to change the world. The necessary catalyst is in the title of this book: "regenerative systems."

To quote Wahl, "Sustainability is not a fixed state to reach and then maintain, it is a community-based learning process aimed at increasing the health and resilience of our communities, our bioregional economies, ecosystems, and of the planetary life-support system as a whole."

This is the core realization of Rob Hopkins (Transition Handbook) and David Fleming (Lean Logic) as well, but Wahl's book gets to the assembly language programming, explaining how ecological literacy and the social, technological, and entrepreneurial skills required for the transition are the entry point that leads to everything else. Arguably ecological literacy is already the foundation of much that is new in the world of industrial design - it is called biomimicry.

Biological and ecological design intelligence is starting to reinvent the way we design communities, businesses, cities, and industries. This book gets out in front of that with the larger picture. We need to do these things, now, or we may not be here in another century.

Wahl says, "We need to dare to envision a sustainable world, by re-designing our food systems, transport systems, energy systems, economic systems, and education systems, but most of all, we need to re-envision how we collaborate and how we relate to each other and the natural world."

Whether we have time to make this unprecedented change in our social contract is still in doubt. Set your doubts aside for the moment and let this book give you a sense of "... but what if?"

If we are going to get this right, it will begin here."

Reviewed by Albert Bates, Ecovillage and Permaculture Pioneer, Right Livelihood Award Winner, and author of Climate in Crisis.

"6 Star Handbook for Saving Civilization & Earth. This book makes the jump from 5 stars (generally I don't bother to review a book if it is not a four or five star read) to 6 stars - my top ten percent - because of the combination of Questions Asked, glorious color graphics, and the total holistic nature of the book - this is easily a PhD thesis in holistic analytics, true cost economics, and open source everything engineering. Indeed, this book could be used as a first-year reference across any humanities and science domain, they would be the better for it.

It is of value to ministers of government, managers of corporations, administrators of non-profit and educational organizations, labor union and religious stewards, and every single citizen planning to be alive in five years and beyond."

Reviewed by Robert David Steele on the Public Intelligence Blog and Amazon

"Daniel Wahl has compiled a great deal of useful information in a masterful synthesis. That alone is a significant accomplishment, but he's given us more than that. Designing Regenerative Cultures describes the doorway to a possible, indeed, necessary future. We are not fated to the dystopia in prospect. We have, as he writes, the capacity to design and to organize our societies to protect, enhance, and celebrate life. The blueprint was there all along. The awareness of our possibilities is growing. The art and sciences of ecological design are flourishing. The choice, as always, is ours and that of those who will follow."

From the Foreword by David Orr (environmentalist and Paul Sears Professor of Environmental Studies and Politics at Oberlin College and a James Marsh Professor at the University of Vermont).

"This book is a treasure for everyone who is looking for a guide to more sustainable living and a roadmap for re-designing our societies , regenerating our communities , cities and societies in harmony with natural systems and our home planet. Author Daniel Wahl has deep experience to share and his knowledge in this beautiful book will help all those aspiring to be responsible global citizens working for our common future."

Hazel Henderson, author and President, Ethical Markets Media , Certified B. Corporation, USA & Brazil

"Daniel Wahl's Designing Regenerative Cultures provides an exhaustive review of current thinking on our global challenges as well as a refreshing approach to how we can "live into the questions" that will help us create a beautiful future. Anyone working in sustainability or social innovation will find this book to be a tremendously useful reference and provocative guide for framing regenerative solutions. It is a wonderful blend of passionate vision and practical insight."

Denise K. DeLuca, Co-Founder & Director, BCI (Biomimicry for Creative Innovation)

"The world is converging on integration and systems thinking, and regeneration of the world is the battle cry of any sentient being in the 21st century. Daniel Wahl provides good insights and inspirations on the index of possibilities -in mass scale regeneration of nature and society."

Marcin Jakubowski, PhD, Founder & Executive Director of Open Source Ecology.

Designing Regenerative Cultures is a wide ranging synthesis of key knowledge to take us into a more resourceful 21st Century. The book brings forth multiple perspectives on the ultimate challenge of our time. This living material will help one get beyond the bread and circus approach that the mainstream media is foisting upon us, and thereby subtlety turning us into bloated modern Romans without a clue on what really matters, let alone the power to create what matters.

Shifting from a narrative of separation and scarcity, to interbeing and abundance opens the conceptual door to the next phase of the human enterprise.

Read and absorb this powerful treatise, and learn from the dynamic context Daniel Wahl has created with the publication of his new book.

Christopher Zelov conceived and produced the award winning film 'Ecological Design: Inventing the Future'. Recent projects include: A Visit With Magnus, City 21, and Design Outlaws.

"To me as a life-long activist nourished on systems thinking and Buddhist teachings, this is one of the most intellectually exciting and soul stirring books I've read in years. I had the sense of drinking it, with pleasure and surprise, not having known what I'd so thirsted for. br>
By starting with questions and keeping to questions throughout, Daniel engages the reader, and by example frees her from striving for, or pretending to know, any final answers. This approach -- in itself a rare lesson in systems epistemology - invites trust, openness, and a restructuring of the mind.

Among the gifts for which I am especially grateful are these: Conceptual tools for perceiving and experiencing our mutual belonging , and especially what I've come to call the great reciprocity at the heart of the universe. The ways Goethe, Bortoft, Bateson, Maturana, and Varela are brought in, and key insights mediated with economy and clarity. The abundant evidence of the Great Turning, the manifold transition underway to a life-sustaining culture. And, especially valuable to those of an apocalyptic bent like myself, the 'adaptive cycle' of resilient systems, showing that at 'the edge of chaos' comes opportunity for the emergence of greater complexity and intelligence.

These are but a few of the ways in which this remarkable book will enrich my thought, my teaching, and my life in this turbulent world of ours."

Joanna Macy, environmental activist, scholar of Buddhism, general systems theory, and deep ecology and author of World as Lover, World as Self and numerous other books.

"This is a seriously rich source of perspective on the nature of whole system design. The future is already here and Daniel Wahl has synthesized the wide ranging progress in the emerging field of `regenerating wholeness'. There is a lot of positive and effective activity happening around the planet! Of particular note, the title addresses "us" as a significant and often missing leverage point in our work towards regenerative relationships: our cultural ability to become collaborative weavers, integral to evolving a condition of long-lasting health. This book shows the powerful potential of how all these dimensions of wholeness are coming together."

Bill Reed, Regenesis Group

"Life on the Planet has sustained itself for billions of years by continually regenerating itself. Our modern industrial culture has interfered with these natural processes to the point of causing massive extinctions of species and threatening our very survival. This book is a valuable contribution to the important discussion of the worldview and value system we need to redesign our businesses, economies, and technologies - in fact, our entire culture - so as to make them regenerative rather than destructive."

Fritjof Capra, author of The Web of Life, coauthor of The Systems View of Life: A Unifying Vision.
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About Daniel Christian Wahl

Daniel Christian Wahl was born in Munich in 1971 and grew up in Germany. By the time he was 28 he had travelled in 35 different countries on six continents. His early career was as a marine biologist and scuba diving instructor, before he decided to focus on sustainability and sustainable communities in 1998. Originally trained as a biologist and zoologist at the University of Edinburgh and the University of California, Santa Cruz, Daniel also holds an MSc in Holistic Science (Schumacher College, 2002) and a PhD in Natural Design (University of Dundee, 2006).



Daniel has taught capacity building workshops on a wide range of sustainability issues to local authorities and businesses through the UN-affiliated training centre CIFAL Scotland. Among his consultancy clients have been the United Nations Institute of Training and Research (UNITAR), the British Government's UK Foresight (with Decision Integrity Ltd.), LEAD International, CLEAR Village, and companies like Camper, Ecover (with Forum for the Future), Lush and the tourism innovation cluster Balears.t, as well as, various universities and charities.



He was the director of Findhorn College between 2007 and 2010, during which time he helped to create the MSc in Sustainable Community Design (Heriott-Watt University), co-founded the `Learning Partnership for Creative Sustainability' and co-organized two international Bioneers conferences in Holland and Findhorn. Daniel has been a member of Gaia Education (since 2007) and the International Futures Forum (since 2009). He is also a fellow of the RSA (Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce) and the Findhorn Foundation Fellowship.



Daniel has worked closely with Gaia Education since 2006 when he participated in the first training of trainers for the `Ecovillage Design Education' (EDE) programme. He has taught EDE courses in Scotland, Thailand, and Spain. He is a co-author of all four dimensions (social, ecological, economic, worldview) of the curriculum for Gaia Education's online course in `Design for Sustainability' (GEDS), and is co-developing a new programme in `Bioregional Design Education' (BDE) for Gaia Education. He also collaborates with the research working-group of the Global Ecovillage Network (GEN).



Daniel lives on Majorca, and works locally and internationally as a consultant, educator and activist. In 2012, he co-founded `Biomimicry Iberia' and in 2015 co-organized the first practitioners camp of the `European Biomimicry Alliance' (EBA) on Majorca. He collaborates with the Masters of Design and Innovation at the IED (European Institute of Design) in Madrid, has taught at Elisava Design School in Barcelona, and co-developed the S.M.A.R.T. UIB project of the Universidad de las Islas Baleares (Sustainable, Multi-stakeholder, Applied, Regenerative, Transformative) where he is helping to develop a series of programmes in transformative innovation. Daniel has published numerous articles and academic papers and collaborated with a number of documentary film projects. Designing Regenerative Cultures is his first book.
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39 ratings
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