Image from ‘Communities of Hope’ Documentary

Living a Life of Meaning

A Conversation between Prof. Declan Kennedy and Daniel Wahl

Daniel Christian Wahl
Feb 16 · 4 min read

On January 20th, 2021 I spend a delightful hour and a half with one of the people I would call a real role model or better someone who I feel has served me as a role model. From the very first time we met, I felt that Declan and I could be related. The ginger haired Irishman and I could easily pass as father and son. What’s more we clicked in a way that this feeling was and is mutual. So even after not speaking for what might have been 4 or 5 years, there was a warmth and familiarity in this conversation that is a pleasure to be able to share.

Declan was born in Ireland 86 years ago. Trained as an architect he was co-editor of the Ekistics Journal in Athens in the late 60s studying with Dinos Doxiadis, the founding father of a science for the study of human settlements as an interdisciplinary integration of knowledge. Declan got to help with the annual summer school on a sailing yacht in the Aegis with guest like Bucky Fuller.

Being a dancer since he was 5 and a teacher of Circle Dance since his teenage years, Declan still leads his community’s circle dancing gathering every morning. Declan was Prof. for Urban Design at TU Berlin in the 70s and 80s. During which time, at 48, he took a research leave to study, learn and work with Bill Mollison and Dave Holmgren in Australia. Funded by Gaia Trust Declan was able to offer subsidised Permaculture Design courses all over Europe and after the wall came down all over the recently opened Eastern European countries.He has introduced permaculture to 17 European countries!

In the 90s he became the first Secretary General (European Secretariat) of the recently created Global Ecovillage Network, which he has been centrally involved in creating. Together with his late wife, the late Margrit Kennedy, Declan was part of the founders of the Ecovillage Lebensgarten in Germany.

Margrit and him had an architectural practice together for a while, and she also had an academic career in architectural technology, before she started to apply permaculture whole systems design to economics and in particular money systems. Margrit Kennedy became a widely recognised new economist through her work on Money without Interest, and local and regional complementary currencies. She also worked in collaboration with the late Bernard Lietaer.

Declan and I cover so much ground in this conversation:

— the roots of permaculture in Indigenous wisdom

— the early days of Bill Molison and David Holmgren collaborating to take permaculture to the world

— the link between healthy food, health and medicine

— the way that Lebensgarten got founded

— the developments leading up to the creation of the Global Ecovillage Network

— Ross and Hildur Jackson’s work with Robert and Diane Gilman from the In Context Institute on the study of intentional communities around the world

— Gaia University and Andy Langford and Declan’s role in helping the development of the new action learning centred university

— Sir Patrick Geddes and Dundee University (where Declan also taught and I did my PhD years later)

— and many touching, funny and surprising moments in Declan’s rich and wonderful life of deep meaning. Enjoy!

Here is the conversation on YouTube:

More about Declan:

More about Lebensgarten Steyerberg:

The Kennedy Library:

If you like the post, please clap AND remember that you can clap up to 50 times if you like it a lot ;-)!

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

Please consider supporting my ongoing work by becoming a patron:

Age of Awareness

Medium’s largest publication dedicated to education reform | Listen to our podcast at

Sign up for Age of Awareness - Rethinking the ways we learn

By Age of Awareness

Sign up to receive updates on our publication and podcast | Listen to our podcast at Take a look.

By signing up, you will create a Medium account if you don’t already have one. Review our Privacy Policy for more information about our privacy practices.

Check your inbox
Medium sent you an email at to complete your subscription.

Age of Awareness

Stories providing creative, innovative, and sustainable changes to the ways we learn

Daniel Christian Wahl

Written by

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

Age of Awareness

Stories providing creative, innovative, and sustainable changes to the ways we learn

Medium is an open platform where 170 million readers come to find insightful and dynamic thinking. Here, expert and undiscovered voices alike dive into the heart of any topic and bring new ideas to the surface. Learn more

Follow the writers, publications, and topics that matter to you, and you’ll see them on your homepage and in your inbox. Explore

If you have a story to tell, knowledge to share, or a perspective to offer — welcome home. It’s easy and free to post your thinking on any topic. Write on Medium

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store