Designing Regenerative Cultures
By Daniel Christian Wahl
Paperback, 2016. ISBN 978-1909470774. 6.6 x 0.8 x 9.5 inches. 288 Pages.
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 this remarkable book, Daniel Wahl explores ways in which we can reframe and understand the crises that we currently face, and he 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?
As the author says in the Introduction:
“We need to ask the deeper question of why we are worth sustaining. Our answers will inform how we ask the more operational questions and implement tentative answers and solutions. Such deeper questioning will shape how we might initiate wise actions that help us to transition towards regenerative cultures. Starting with the why will help us to understand our own deeper motivation, purpose and goals. We need to question the beliefs that shape our worldview. Only by starting with the why will we inspire people to change their behaviour and to co-create regenerative cultures.”
“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.
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.
Bill McKibben, author: Earth – Making a Life on a Tough New Planet; co-founder 350.org, and Schumann Distinguished Scholar, Middlebury College
“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).