Regenerative development and design explained


An explanation of regenerative development and design by Bill Reed of Regenesis.

As one article put it a few of years ago, “Regeneration is the next big thing you’ve yet to hear about.” This type of holistic and living system practice, is the logical and evolutionary next step towards what has always been implied in the concept of sustainability.

What are we sustaining with sustainability?

This is a question rarely asked by practitioners. If this answer is not seen as important then the concept of regeneration will seem meaningless.

Sustainability is simply about what its required of us to sustain “life.”

Without the intricate and colossal dance of living system interrelationships, humans will be left with unhealthy and infertile soil, foul water, un-breathable air, and no hope.

Regeneration Development and Design is about the practice of developing a renewed and evolving (hence the “re” in regeneration) relationship between humans and the life in each unique ecosystem; humans supporting ‘nature’ and ‘natural’ systems supporting humans.

In order to understand regeneration in the context of the sustainability movement, it is necessary to understand that the practice of targeting of conservation, zero, or neutral conditions—while worthy and necessary aims—will not address what is required for a sustainable condition (even if it is possible to reach this level of perfection). Zero damage is not the same as understanding how we interact with the complexities of life and how to avoid the inevitable, unintended consequences of our actions. Nor does zero damage address how to continually participate in the dance of evolution—the entry-level condition to join the game of life.

This thinking may seem far-fetched and ‘impractical’.  Yet, is it practical to divide or reduce life to bits and pieces of activity and think we can effectively work with it?  Just like the human body, life in each place is a whole system of interrelated activity. As with the human body, if we take a person’s liver and lungs and work with them, will we understand and know and be able to address the health of that person?

There are dozens of major projects and communities that have reversed social and ecological degradation and developed a whole new interrelationship between humans and nature. With this understanding, projects and master planning processes have been brought to market with positive support by the people in these places because this way of ‘being with life’ seems right and meaningful.

Bio: Bill Reed has been involved in energy efficiency as an early passive solar design architect; green building – as one of the co-founders of LEED and founding Board of the US Green Building Council; and involved in the deep ecology movement since the mid-1970’s.  Regenesis Group, his practice the last 20 years has been in integrative and living systems thinking – how human and ‘natural’ systems best function as a living and whole organism; in other words, the practice of regenerative development and design.

For further comments from Bill Reed see the earthworks magazine profile of local regenerative practitioner Chrisna du Plessis, in issue 32 June-July 2016.