Pattern Design “out of time and space” — with Joel Glanzberg & Daniel Wahl

reGeneration Rising: Conversations about regenerative practice (Episode 2)

Daniel Christian Wahl
Regenerate The Future
6 min readJan 31, 2020


I am still finding my way — a pattern and a rhythm — with the new video-blog series. I started with some conversations in autumn and did my first recording for the series with Jason Twill and Dominique Hes in December 2019. Since then I have recorded conversations with Marilyn Hamilton, Heiner Benking, Bill Reed and Pamela Mang, which I will share soon.

Yesterday I spoke with Joel Glanzberg. Joel really helped me see my own habits of thought and framing in a new way, while also confirming much of my current understanding of the mystery we participate in and co-create. Somehow I want to let this recording jump the cue. It follows on and deepens much of what Jason, Dominque and I explored in the first episode.

Personal development — questioning our own mental models, organizing ideas and habits of mind — is an ongoing commitment on the path of a regenerative practitioner. This is why I started by inviting Joel to speak about his own personal story of learning.

Reading ‘Black Elk Speaks’ when he was 10, Joel was gifted a new perspective on the world — a connection to a living and constantly transforming world of entangled living patterns.

Joel has lived in indigenous communities and worked on seed saving helping to establish a seed bank that eventually became Seeds of Change. 30 years ago he worked with Ben Haggard in his permaculture landscaping firm in New Mexico. In the late 80s he did a permaculture course at New Alchemy with John Todd and Bill McLarney and friends. Meeting Bill Molison shortly after and doing another drylands permaculture course with him.

Joel shared about how he developed his first demonstration permaculture site and little oasis in the desert and when he was done he looked at this land and the land surrounding it and relaized he should have focussed on the underlying pattern rather than the specific site design. He had transformed a small piece of land but not affected the patterns around it.

“My point was not to just demonstrate that these things worked, it was to change how we see the land how we relate to the land. And, if I had done it correctly that little oasis would have spread everywhere. It would be like the first blades of grass in a meadow. … I was not intelligent enough at the time to know how to design a process to engage engage the community to change how we saw the land and treated the land differently.” — Joel Glanzberg

Joel highlighted that the change is not in the physical material world but in the way we think and in our minds. That is where the most effective intervention takes place. Having learned how to ‘track’ both from Aboriginal elders and Nativer Americans in New Mexico and elsewhere, Joel describes:

“Everything we see is a track and we think it is reality. It is a physical track of a biological reality. My body, your body, the cup, the building, the books, the food forests [are all tracks]. If I take a stick and turn those deer tracks into an elk track, it does not make the deer into an elk. Right? The underlying pattern that left the track must be changed to change the tracks. It doesn’t go backwards.” — J.G.

Joel also reflected on how he started working win Ben Haggard and other friends who had been important permaculture teachers and practitioners to form a collaborative that was trying to influence and change the building/development industry. They chose the industry because it has very destructive impacts. They all shared an important insight:

“Permaculture design is not about designing. It is not about the physical design of where things go in relationship to one another. That is a level that we all enter at. But, it is redesigning — as you are saying — the design process. We design both things and the processes that put them into being, and it is often these processes that have the greatest effects in the world.” — J.G.

Many of these processes are habitual and we might not be aware of them. Together this group that evolved into Regenesis Group have worked for over 20 years to get the development industry to appreciate place and the potential that lies in sourcing design from place. Their approach is not focussed on getting better at convincing clients to do a certain thing but to truly engage them and invite them to engage the community to go on a journey together.

A journey that invited everyone to participate in trying to understand the potential of what a place could be, and to understand themselves “as organs within that larger being”. Asking the question:

“How do we help regenerate the innate potential of each of us — in this place — as a socio-ecological whole?” — J.G.

As many of you know, I am very fond of questions and that is one powerful question to ask a group of people who care about their place and their role in it.

Joel and I went on to explore participation in nested wholeness, Gaian cycles, life as a planetary process, seeing nature everywhere, living systems thinking. Joel told a story of how he learned while living on a reservation that our job is to remember our ‘original instructions’ and that human beings are not necessarily a bad influence on the land. We can be healers of the land.

The habit of only seeing problems and then trying to fix them is very wide spread. We need to regenerate our way of seeing and working. What we call problems can be rediscovered as the potential seeds for the positive transformation we aim to bring about. Working with the old permaculture attitude that in the problem is the solution.

“How do we shifts our hearts, our minds, our being, our worldview, our souls so that we take on this responsibility and opportunity of being human beings to play this cocreative, regenerative role within the living world?” — J.G.

… we explored scale-linking design, pattern ways of looking at the world …

“What is out of time and space? What is behind it? Because it is there that we can work that makes the mechanical world, the physical world different. Where as if we don’t do that, what we do will make the physical world different but it will revert.” — J.G.

… we talked about some of the short falls in how we think of and use the idea of resilience … I asked Joel about the Tracking Project that he has been involved in for years … re-indiginsation … re-inhabitation … Joel’s take on ‘pattern mind’ … how most of our ancestors were salves (not just in the colonies) … the story of the great peace maker of the Iroquois Nation … the books ‘The White Roots of Peace’ and ‘Tending the Wild’ … the many ancient examples of people being healers and stewards of landscapes making them more abundant and healthy … the ecology of mind … is nature everywhere? … is mind and consciousness primary and the material world arises within that dimension? … the dynamic phenomenological worldview of ‘bringing forth a world’ … helping Joel get the work on his forthcoming book funded … making tacid knowledge expicit … a teachers role being to ensure her/his students go beyond and carry on the lineage excelling beyond the abilities of their teachers … the Regenerative Practitioner Training of Regenesis Group and the nodes around the world that are springing up as the numbers of graduates are building … “building the field around regenerative development”

More about Joel’s forthcoming book and how to support it:

90 second video about the book

The Regenesis Institute is collecting the donations to support Joel’s work on the book:

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Daniel Christian Wahl — Catalyzing transformative innovation in the face of converging crises, advising on regenerative whole systems design, regenerative leadership, and education for regenerative development and bioregional regeneration.

Author of the internationally acclaimed book Designing Regenerative Cultures



Daniel Christian Wahl
Regenerate The Future

Catalysing transformative innovation, cultural co-creation, whole systems design, and bioregional regeneration. Author of Designing Regenerative Cultures