On the importance of asking questions
Most of us were raised and educated within the cultural narrative of separation, which engenders scarcity, competition and alienation. We are carrying the habit of seeing the world in this way. Our worldview influences our judgement and behaviour. If we are willing to try on another worldview and perspective for size, we can often see connections and opportunities that we were blind to. All perspectives come with a blind-spot, hence we need to learn to value multiple perspectives as well as to question our own.
Regenerative cultures will facilitate the healthy personal development of a human being from ego-centric, to socio-centric, to species-centric, to bio-centric, and cosmos-centric perspectives of self. This means paying attention to how our culture and education system shape our worldview and value system . Organising principles and ideas are very powerful. Shifting to a new story of ‘interbeing’ requires us to change the organising ideas that shape our perception. Healthy development is based on a process of transcending and including — rather than opposing and entirely dismissing — previous perspectives and the organising ideas they were based on.
The evolutionary trend of increasing integration of diversity is not a path towards increasing homogeneity but a path towards appropriate participation in complexity that values diversity as a source of creativity and innovation. Avoiding ‘monocultures of the mind’, valuing and nurturing diversity and cooperatively integrating this diversity by living the questions together will enable humanity to act wisely in the face of unpredictable change. We need to encourage life-long learning and personal development through supportive community processes and ongoing dialogue, guided by questions much more than seeking permanent answers and solutions.
There are 250 questions in Designing Regenerative Cultures. They invite people everywhere in their communities into a place and culture sensitive process of questioning that will help the redesign of the human impact and presence on Earth from being degenerative and exploitative to being regenerative and healing. Mainstream culture is obsessed with quick fix solution and elevator pitch answers that can be ‘rolled out’ or ‘scaled up’ without regard to cultural or biophysical context. Therein lies the root of much unsustainable practice.
Maybe in a constantly changing world — as conscious participants within transforming nested complexity — we would be better off regarding answers and solutions as transitory means to ask better questions, rather than continuing with our habit of seeing questions as impermanent pathways to supposedly permanent solutions. The history of our species shows clearly that more often than not, yesterday’s solutions are the sources of today’s problems.
Living the questions together is about applying collective intelligence to cultural transformation, co-creating a new story of why humanity is worth sustaining as we embark on regenerating social, ecological and economic health. It is a participatory and inclusive process of co-creating a powerfully infectious vision of a thriving future for all of life. Engaging in this process in a place-sourced way that is informed and patterned by the essence of locality and culture enables a gradual process of re-inhabitation and belonging to — as expressions of — place.
Thriving regenerative economies will be focussed primarily on regeneratively meeting human needs within bioregional contexts. To enable people in place to create these everywhere we need global collaboration and solidarity. By cooperating in the spirit of continuous inquiry — living the questions together — we can learn to see our differences as sources of insight rather than conflict along this collective path into an uncertain future.
One useful set of questions to engage you community in the collective inquiry and co-creation of regenerative economies is based on turning John Fullerton’s eight principles of a regenerative economy (2015) into a set of questions that might guide us along the way:
- How do we create an economy with its operations based on cooperative relationships (between each other and within the ecosphere)?
- How would a regenerative economy nurture the entrepreneurial spirit?
- How would a regenerative economy enable empowered participation?
- How can we ensure that the economy promotes robust circular flows?
- How would we design balancing mechanisms (feedback loops) into the economy?
- How can we enrich the interactions in our economy by mimicking “the edge effect” the point where two ecosystems meet and generate increased diversity?
- How can we nurture regenerative economic activities that honour place by expressing the culture and ecology of place in their relationship?
- What would an economy that views wealth holistically look like?
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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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