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Learning How to Live: Tools for The Regenerative Renaissance

My reflections and learnings from Tools for The Regenerative Renaissance. A course from Phoebe Tickell and Stephen Reid.

Photo by Landon Parenteau on Unsplash

I’ve often struggled to grasp campaigns advocating for “Change”. Politicians and social movements use the word often in slogans and posters. To strive for change sounds to me like efforting to grow teeth. It’s going to happen whether you push for it or not. However, it seems we do have some serious power to adjust the processes and events wrapped up within that process of change. Whether it’s human-driven change or otherwise, the world is perpetually changing. As I live through shifting ecosystems, governance styles, social fields, public health procedures, and digital reality, it’s empowering if not necessary to be equipped with down-to-earth tools for staying afloat and thriving.

Imagine yourself standing on one of the inner circles as it spins around (left). If change itself is the whole graphic, the content of that change is represented by the circles. It takes balance and awareness not to fall off. Perhaps a rope and harness would be helpful.

I approached Tools for The Regenerative Renaissance from Stephen Reid and Phoebe Tickell with the intention of looking closer at new potential systems for living on Earth. The structures are emerging and hazy, but the 6-week synchronous online course brought more clarity than I had before. I’m currently embarking on a research journey of Regenerative Culture, community building, and wisdom cultivation. I’m living the questions of:

  • How can I tap into wisdom and act with its guidance?

  • What can I do to uphold a community of symbiotic relationships in a post-modern world tending towards individualism & isolation?

  • How can I transform the common human story of separation into one of compassion and interbeing?

Within these questions is a quest to transform a society-scale lifestyle of perpetual growth into something healthier. Can I give up the game and join the people? Or will I hold onto the system even tighter? Tools for The Regenerative Renaissance offered me many pragmatic tools for this quest to start living a different system.

In small-group conversation and lectures from guest speakers, the live sessions introduced me to an enormous quantity of projects, organizations and applicable tools aimed at navigating the territory of regenerative culture. We dove into agriculture & local economy, digital space, decentralized organization & leadership, co-operative ownership, and regenerative money. Between each weekly session, I took 3–4 hours to review, reflect and prepare for the next week. Here’s a taste of what I took from the course.

My key takeaways from each session:

1. Regenerative Agriculture & Thriving Local Economies 🌱

  • Soil is the soul and the source. It is from soil that life sprouts and dies. It’s in constant motion and yet appears still and silent.

  • Nutrient and organism-rich soil is like a strong building foundation. If the soil is healthy, everything built on it will be too (i.e., you, me, our homes, families, and organizations).

  • Microgrids and mesh networks — Energy and the internet can be shared by you and me! We don’t have to depend solely on energy companies and internet service providers.

  • Diversity is awesome!!! If I want to really get why many people strive for social justice, diversity and inclusion, I can notice how biodiverse ecosystems create incredibly sturdy stages for life to thrive in.

  • #TakeAction → Get dirty by tending gardens and growing food

2. Digital Tools for Collective Intelligence 💻

  • Our venture-backed digital public spaces like Facebook and Twitter are programmed to be frictionless. The goal of a frictionless space is to ensure the user (me & you) doesn’t encounter anything that will make them want to leave the space. This creates the famous ‘bubble’ in which I only see content that my values mostly agree with. Friction is necessary for a thriving society — we need to encounter those we’d usually avoid in order to gain a more holistic and diverse concept of reality. Imagine walking through a city park and seeing only people similar to you. Not much use for developing confidence with the unfamiliar.

  • Let’s move away from attention economy (Facebook) and state-controlled capitalism (WeChat) and towards public service media (e.g. open-source models like Wikipedia).

  • #TakeAction → Reduce use of venture-backed social media until their algorithms are less biased.

3. Decentralized Organizing & Horizontal Leadership 🕸

  • Organization is an organism: Frédéric Laloux expresses that we can think of an organization as an organism, a human being, for example. When the story I have about myself says I should do a set of actions to be ‘successful’, but my body and instincts tend in another direction, I feel ill (stressed, confused, or inauthentic) and I lose power. This is what happens to an organization when a CEO tells the organization to do one thing, but the collective organ(ism)ization wants something else. In decentralized organizing, we follow the lead of the whole.

  • We don’t need to make total fundamental reconstructions of an organization in one go. We can transition to horizontal organizing by facilitating the people involved (e.g., employees, leaders, owners, etc.) to do horizontal practices (e.g. collective decision making, transparency practices, etc.).

  • #TakeAction → Initiate horizontal practices in the social groups or organizations I’m involved with.

The sauce of horizontal organizing is sharing and practice (i.e., doing it often).

4. Co-operative Ownership 🤝

  • The commons is defined by Samantha Slade as “a resource managed by community for the collective wellbeing of now and future” (e.g., water, forest, seeds, internet, Wikipedia, the happy birthday song).

  • Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAOs) are like multi stake-holder co-ops that are governed by contracts on the blockchain. This enables many people to co-own an organization and stay accountable to agreed-upon policies locked into a digital contract (which can be changed if agreed upon by the group using their chosen method of decision making). To be honest, this was the shakiest concept of all throughout the course for me. This shit reaches the edge of the edge of system change, and I don’t know enough to be convinced of its value for my communities. Deeper to dive! 🏊‍♂️

  • #TakeAction → Take 3 objects that I own and offer them to trusted friends to be shared more often (e.g. canal boat, my wardrobe, camera).

5. Regenerative Money 💱

  • How valuable is money if its value is determined by the level of trust in banks and government? What resources can our currencies represent if we want money to support life on Earth? This is a key question for me in thinking about a more regenerative relationship with money. Fiat currency as I know it today is simply a means of accounting for debts. The US Dollar is an IOU that no longer represents any material value, like gold, as it once did. Perhaps our currencies can represent square meters of healthy soil, clean water, quiet spaces, or areas with high biodiversity.

  • Universal Basic Income using cryptocurrency is actually being done right now. I registered on Proof of Humanity and will soon be receiving a UBI in the form of a crypto token. The Proof of Humanity registry kind of freaked me out at first as it’s part of an emerging world of decentralized digital code-based democracy. Learning from the facilitators and community at Tools For the Regenerative Renaissance helped me make a bit more sense of what’s underneath these technologies.

  • #TakeAction → Join Seeds Ambassador Academy. Get validated on Proof of Humanity.

The Regenerative Renaissance is fuzzy and undefined — it’s emerging, decentralized, collective, iterative, impermanent, holonic, organismic. It is a whole, living system.

General takeaways:

  • Decentralization of thought. We are peering upon spaces that were once known as boundaries (i.e. self/other, human/nature, mine/yours). Perhaps self=other; human=nature; mine=yours.

  • We are rebalancing. It seems to be a basic law: that which is out of balance will rebalance in the opposite direction until it’s found a center point (think swing set or balance board).

  • The Regenerative Renaissance is fuzzy and undefined — it’s emerging, decentralized, collective, iterative, impermanent, holonic, organismic. It is a whole, living system. This regenerative wave is a way of being, thinking and acting that is different from the loudest capitalistic, growth-obsessed templates I’ve observed through my life (i.e., defined & predictable outcomes, highly rational, ruled by science*). I’m doing my best to embrace what feels new while simultaneously knowing that a regenerative way of acting can be severely intuitive.

  • *I appreciate and depend on science and I do not take it as the sole valid process of sourcing dependable information.

  • What’s the point of this regenerative talk? Why are processes carried out by non-humans important to me? Ponder that.

Pragmatically speaking, this course presented me with a bunch of new life-design templates and tools. All of a sudden the question of “how should I live?” is met with some new possibilities. I can fund regenerative projects on cryptocurrency; I don’t have to own everything I use; I can participate in social media without being a product of big tech; I can receive a passive basic income; I can access Internet and energy with little-to-no dependency on monopolizing corporations :+)

I’ll leave it there, and encourage you to join an upcoming cohort of the course.

Tools I’ve actually started using:


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