Confluence in the Paraná River Flood Plain — NASA Earth Observatory

Why Do We Need to Design as Life?

We are life. Everything we do is part of the living transforming whole we are participating in.

Life is a planetary process that manifest in a diversity of species and in diversity within species. But it goes further than that!

We are conscious participants in and expressions of a living planet in which the boundaries between what is considered inanimate matter and living beings are fluid. Such distinctions are somewhat arbitrary snap-shots in time from a particular way of viewing life and drawing systems boundaries to make sense of our participation in wholeness transforming.

From a dynamic participatory perspective of wholeness — life, nature, Gaia, Universe transforming — the boundaries between the living and the supposedly non-living are blurred at them most, or don’t exist at all. From that perspective such boundaries are figments of one particulare way that wholeness is making sense of itself in consciousness.

The separation of nature and culture is a figment of our imagination, just like the separation between mind and body, consciousness and matter, self and world, theory and praxis. From a truly participatory understanding of reality everything is natural.

What does such a shift in perspective do to the way we see technology, culture and ourselves?

We have been designing from the mistaken conception that we are separate from nature. This illusion of separation has created an alienation which in turn gave rise to wanting to better predict, control and manipulate nature as something out there.

We began to create design that favoured our ability to exert power-over in response to perceived scarcity, rather than designs that favoured our ability to create power-with and capacity to co-create abundance.

We need to not just humbly learn from the rest of nature, but to step into our potential of designing as nature.

True co-design with the community of life is always in service to the continuation of life’s evolutionary exploration of novelty and creativity.

If perceived alienation and separation have lead us to create technologies of power-over and power-against. What if we started to redesign the use of such technologies and created new ones that truly serve power-with and are motivated by our innate love-for-life?

Biophilia can become the driver of a biomimetic design revolution that — at the level of systemic biomimicry — will help us to created conditions conducive to life, which is one of the hallmarks of regenerative cultures.

To do so effectively we need to seek alignment with the rest of life. We need to see our wider community of life as a source of inspiration as we redesign the human presence and impact on Earth from being too often destructive and degenerative to being restorative and regenerative.

The visionary design scientist R. Buckminster Fuller summed up humanity’s design challenge for the 21st Century like this:

Runaway dangerous climate chaos is unfolding all around the world and we are facing a closing window of opportunity to avoid irreversible catastrophic climate change. Our last chance — our choice between transformation or oblivion — is to come together as one mature species ready to design as life and committed to creating conditions conducive to all life!

Luckily there is a quickening confluence between people working for the restoration of healthy ecosystems functions, the shift towards re-regionalising production and consumption in the transition towards circular biomaterials economies, diverse approaches to regenerative practice in economics, business, agriculture, community design, and urban and bioregional planning, and those promoting the understand that there is a deep connection between individual, community, ecosystems, and planetary health.

We are learning to design as life!

We are learning to create conditions conducive to life.

We are embarking on a salutogenic — health generating — redesign of the human presence on Earth!

Designing as life means to design for human and planetary health.

Designing as life means to design for social, ecological, economic and cultural regeneration.

The extent to which a design promotes planetary health and regeneration is a measure of good and appropriate design.

We are beginning the process of facilitating the emergence of diverse regenerative cultures everywhere.

The measure of our success in designing as life will be the way these cultures will express themselves in elegant solutions that are carefully adapted to the dynamically changing, unique biocultural conditions of the places they inhabit.

Time to design as life!

As life, we are capable of co-creating conditions conducive to life!

That is the promise of the regeneration rising!

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

Twitter: @DrDCWahl

Medium: Blog with more than 280 articles

Facebook: RegenerativeCultures and Ecological Consciousness

NYC Design

A publication for designers in New York and followers all around the world. Design thinking is what makes us write here on Medium to share with the designers of the world.

Daniel Christian Wahl

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Catalyzing transformative innovation in the face of converging crises, advising on regenerative whole systems design. Author of Designing Regenerative Cultures

NYC Design

A publication for designers in New York and followers all around the world. Design thinking is what makes us write here on Medium to share with the designers of the world.