To XR with gratitude — why the plural in ‘Regenerative Cultures’ matters
Celebrating XR, Fridays for Future, Deep Adaptation as the rise of the reGeneration
Over the last few month I have been contacted regularly by activists in the XR movement regarding the ‘regenerative culture’ principle of the Extinction Rebellion. There is a massive groundswell of regenerative projects all around the world offering both deep adaptation and long term amelioration pathways to the climate and extinction (biodiversity loss) crises. The regeneration movement is going beyond the focus on symptoms to addressing the root causes: our worldview, the stories we tell about who we are, and the structurally dysfunctional economic and monetary system that drives people to exploit other people and the planet.
We are witnessing the rise of the reGeneration! Join a global intergeneration, intercultural, interbeing movement aiming to regenerate the Earth and her people — community by community, bioregion by bioregion!
Many people seem to notice that despite being in the middle of a regenerative (r)evolution, somehow the framing of ‘regenerative culture’ used by the main spokes people for this principle within XR is mainly focussing on one (very important) aspect of regenerative cultures. The most common framing positions ‘regenerative culture’ more internally towards building a healthy movement rather than as the way of ‘building new systems that make the old system obsolete’.
When you look at the XR website the framing is actually broader and also speaks about regenerating “indivdiuals, communities, soil, water and air” (see below). Yes to “regenerative culture might footstep us towards a new way of looking after each other” and yes to “regenerative culture will not end when the actions have met their goals” (quote from the video below).
I wholeheartedly agree with the statement below (some of which seems to be inspired by this excerpt from ‘Designing Regenerative Cultures’).
“We need a regenerative culture
Creating a culture which is healthy, resilient and adaptable.
A regenerative human culture is healthy, resilient and adaptable; it cares for the planet and it cares for life in the awareness that this is the most effective way to create a thriving future for all of humanity. Regenerative culture means improvements year on year, taking small steps to heal and improve, and on all levels, including individuals, communities, our soil, water and air. More than being a network of “activists”, we seek to find ways of being and doing that support positive change. This can include ceremony and prayer (in ways that are neither dogmatic nor expected) as formats to find inspiration from things bigger than ourselves. We need to reconnect with our love for ourselves, our country and our people alongside wider neighbours; people and the natural world.
Regenerative culture includes a healthy focus on mutually supporting categories of:
self care — how we take care of our own needs and personal recovery from this toxic system
action care — how we take care of each other whilst we undertake direct actions and civil disobedience together
interpersonal care — how we take care of the relationships we have, being mindful of how we affect each other, taking charge of our side of relationships
community care — how we take care of our development as a network and community, strengthening our connections and adherence to these principles and values
People and Planet care — how we look after our wider communities and the earth that sustains us all
It’s about relationships. Our relationships with ourselves and personal histories, our relationships with what we struggle against, our relationships with other individuals day to day, and our relationships as a group — these are completely interdependent. Self care is also about taking care of the animal parts of the self that respond instinctively to stressful situations with fight or flight or faint.”
It is all there! So why is the discourse about ‘regenerative culture’ in XR often still predominantly inward looking? Let’s keep the conversation about those deeper transformative aspects of co-creating regenerative cultures everywhere alive!
Let us remind ourselves every day that — for many more millennia, even millions of years to come — extinction is not inevitable. We have the choice to heal the Earth and in the process we will heal ourselves and our communities.
Regenerative practice starts with personal development, moves out to building indivdiual and collective capacity to work regeneratively and then creates regenerative processes that enable personal development and capacity building as they do the work of healing and adding value to nested wholeness — glocally!
As life, we can create conditions conducive to life! We can become healers of planet and people. We can begin to undo much of the damage of the past and restore ecosystems everywhere — ecosystems restoration camps are spreading rapidly and there are thousands of inspiring examples of social, ecological and economic regeneration all around the world.
Truly regenerative cultures are expressions of the uniqueness of local/bioregional cultural diversity and local/bioregional ecological diversity. They are place-sourced and express the unique potential of each place — unveiling its essence within the nested wholeness that connects the local to the bioregional to the global.
Regenerative Communities Network
Regenerative communities are emerging in both urban and rural areas across every continent. The global Regenerative…
The ‘s’ of regenerative cultures reminds us of this pattern of interbeing in diversity. It invites people and communities everywhere to share their unique expressions of the whole — life as a planetary process. It is life itself that unites us inevitably.
Speaking about regenerative cultures contributes to decolonialising the process of building a global movement that got started in the UK. It also honours the fact that for many thousands of years indigenous people around the world have lived in place in a regenerative way, considering themselves as belonging to the land rather than the land belonging to them.
We can co-create diverse regenerative cultures everywhere and through that humanity will seize to have a degenerative and exploitative impact on the Earth and start to have a regenerative and healing impact. The path of the reGeneration rising leads to re-regionalisation and re-indigenisation through a process of re-inhabiting the bioregions we belong to — combining the best of appropriate technology with indigenous wisdom about living in place regeneratively. Wisdom we have ignored for far too long!
We can engage in deep adaptation and community resilience building while also working on moving from rebellion to regeneration: reducing extinction rates of species, restoring ecosystems everywhere, reversing global warming trends over the coming decades, and avoiding the current trajectory towards hothouse Earth, cataclysmic climate change and possible mid-term extinctions of humanity.
The short (4 minute) video below is a celebration of XR and their excellent 10 principles, a statement of gratitude for including ‘regenerative culture’ as one of them, and a plea to consider adding the ‘s’ and speaking of ‘regenerative cultures’ in the plural more often.
To me XR, deep adaptation, Fridays for Future, the P2P movement, the transition movement, indigenous rights and social justice movements, ecosystems restoration camps, the regenerative communities network, the ecovillage networks … are all budding regenerative cultures and expressions of the reGeneration rising!
Thank you again to the XR teams who so positively responded to this post!
More on ‘regenerative cultures’ (I have opted out of the Medium paywall scheme so this material remains easily accessible):
XR: Regenerative Culture, Joanna Macy
In this episode, the Extinction Rebellion Podcast explores regenerative culture. What is it, and how can it be of use…
Creating a regenerative culture
There is nothing less at stake than the future of our species, much of the diversity of life, and the continued…
Regenerative cultures are about thriving together
You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the…
Designing Regenerative Cultures — Introduction
I don’t know about you, but I was disappointed with the way humanity entered the new millennium. I don’t mean the last…
Joanna Macy reviews Designing Regenerative Cultures
To me as a life-long activist nourished on systems thinking and Buddhist teachings, this is one of the most…
Regenerative cultures are rooted in cooperation
We are beginning to learn from the way resource, information and energy flows are organized in ecosystems. We are…
David W. Orr introduces Designing Regenerative Cultures
Cultures are not designed from the top down as much as they grow organically from the bottom up. We try to understand…
Musings on the reGeneration Rising & Designing Regenerative Cultures
This is a work in progress — started with pasting the links and want to offer a brief intro to each soon. For now, I am…
Regenerative Cultures are Cultures of Empathy
Conversation between Edwin Rutsch and Daniel Wahl
Join the Re-Generation! Designing Regenerative Cultures
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Ethics and design for regenerative cultures
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Daniel Wahl on Designing Regenerative Cultures for Resilience and Sustainability | P2P Foundation
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Designing Regenerative Cultures
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Regenerative Cultures: Review
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Activism Revisited: Conscious participation and collective intelligence
If success or failure of this planet and of human beings depended on how I am and what I do […] HOW WOULD I BE? WHAT…
What if? — Scaling-out regenerative development glocally
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Blessed Unrest? Join us! reGeneration Rising!
“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because…
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Refelctions on J.W. Thompson’s Trend Report and the dawn of the Century of Regeneration
Earthrise: The UN Decade for Ecosystems Restoration & the Century of Regeneration
This year marks the 50th anniversary of ‘Earth Rise’ — the image of our blue planet rising over the surface of the…
… there are more than 400 plus related pieces on my blog on Medium (which I have kept free from paywalls so do let me know on FB if you have any trouble seeing any of these for free.).
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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