Age of Awareness
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Age of Awareness

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Healthy humans need a healthy planet!

“A hidden connection is stronger than an obvious one.”

— Heraclitus, 500 A.D.

“Our future, along with the rest of life on earth, depends on landscapes that can support ecological functional processes. To survive beyond the next millennium, human culture depends on the services provided by fully functional ecological systems. The challenge into and beyond the next millennium is to halt the biosphere degrading effects of human society across several scales of space and time for a more enduring and harmonious relationship with natural process.”

— David Brunckhorst (2002, p.2)

Salutogenesis aims to facilitate the emergence of health at and across all scales of the whole — in this case the living biosphere we participate in. Salutogenic design, or health-generating design, recognizes the inextricable link between human and planetary health. Salutogenic design aims to create resilient regenerative cultures expressing themselves through thriving communities within thriving and highly bio-productive ecosystems.

Rather than primarily focussing on the relief of symptoms of disease or ill-health, salutogenic design tries to promote positive health and a flourishing of the whole by altering underlying relationships and interactions in such a way that health can emerge as a property of the whole across all scales.

In other words, the aim of salutogenic design is to support healthy individuals in the co-creation of healthy communities that, in turn, act as responsible participants in healthy ecosystems, bioregions, and ultimately a healthy biosphere.

“We rely on healthy functioning landscape ecosystems for our own health, longevity, security and well-being. No species, no matter how dominant, is independent of all the others. The existence of each depends to some extent on the existence of all. Humanity needs to learn to live within ecological laws that govern the capacity of the biosphere. Ecological law embodies the rules and conditions for nature’s services, ecosystem processes and biosphere function across all scales in order to maintain a healthy productive environment. To secure our own future, one of the fundamental goals of society and economics should be to ensure the survival of all forms of life processes within the biosphere. Preserving the roles of assemblages of species in ecosystems and their ability to continue to adapt and change (i.e. evolve) through time is vital to sustaining biodiversity and ecosystems processes. The diversity of the biosphere has provided the fundamental building blocks for tens of thousands of years of human food, shelter and culture. Now, as ever, it underpins ecologically sustainable development for current and future generations. Those aware of the complexity of biodiversity understand that global interdependence is a necessary part of ecological security.”

— David Brunckhorst (2002, p.5)

Human, ecosystems and biospheric health are interdependent and interconnected. In trying to support health and resilience at the these scales we are finally understanding what the ‘sustain’ in ‘sustainability’ is aiming for: increased systemic health, not profits, nor a humanity divorced from the rest of the community of life.

By engaging in salutogenic design we aim to heal the Earth and her people. That intention sets us on the road towards diverse regenerative cultures everywhere. Becoming pilgrims on that path individually and collectively we might begin to co-create regenerative futures for all. Sustainability is an important mile-stone on that path. We have not reached it yet. To get there we have to aim beyond it and deeply engage in regenerative practice.

We are beginning to learn the central lesson of biomimicry: “Life creates conditions conducive to life” (J. Benyus). Health, resilience, and life are closely related concepts, and the more we begin to understand the relationships between these concepts the more we will be successful in our aim to design for human, ecosystems and planetary health — the path towards sustainability and regeneration. In the process we will create community and bioregional resilience for the tumultuous changes ahead.

“Health and the phenomenon of healing have meant different things in different ages. The concept of health, like the concept of life, cannot be defined precisely, and in fact, the two are closely related. What is meant by health depends on one’s view of the living organism and its relation to its environment. As this view changes from one culture to another, and from one era to another, the notion of health also changes. The broad concept of health that will be needed for cultural transformation — a concept that includes individual, social and ecological dimensions — will require a systemic view of living organisms and, correspondingly, a systemic view of health.”

— Fritjof Capra

Recording of a talk in ‘Human and Planetary Health’ I gave at the Findhorn Foundation in October, 2018

More on health as a scale-linking emergent property of complex systems, here.

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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

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Daniel Christian Wahl

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