In only a few months it has become clear to many that we do not want to go back to that “normal” but forward to a “new normal”. Exactly what that “new normal” will be is too early to tell and will depend on how each and every one of us and all of us collectively participate in shaping the future we choose.
Humanity is capable of profound transformation and spontaneous cooperation in service to a shared purpose and the wellbeing of all.
We are given time to reflect, while witnessing first-hand, that humanity is capable of profound transformation and spontaneous cooperation in service to a shared purpose and the wellbeing of all.
Without the pandemic the untouchable dogma of the economic growth imperative would have made the 26th UN Conference on Climate Change this year another uphill struggle against the fossil fuel and industrial lobbies influencing the political process to repeat its mantra: “We can’t afford to endanger the economy”.
Now most national governments will have to spend unprecedented sums of money on responding to the pandemic and in support of their citizens and businesses. This is giving us an opportunity to make sure we spend the money wisely on building more resilient and regenerative systems of production and consumption and stimulating local and regional economic activity that incentivizes increased community cohesion and the regeneration of ecosystems everywhere.
What we need is a culturally transformative response to a series of converging crises.
Climate change, ecosystems collapse, biodiversity loss, obscene levels of inequality within and between the world’s nations, dysfunctional economic and monetary systems driving the exploitation of people and planet … do I need to continue? The need for change is evident. Transformation is inevitable and already underway.
Upstream from all these crises lies a ‘crisis of perception’. Cultural evolution is also about the collective process of letting go of no longer appropriate worldviews and value systems. We need to transform cultural narratives that perpetuate a mistaken understanding of what it means to be human, a false separation between nature and culture, and use inadequate measures of success.
Working regeneratively means to not fall into a quick-fix, piece-meal, techno-centric mindset of problem solving in the face of converging crises. We have plenty of evidence that inadequate interventions in complex systems can have many unforeseen consequences. The problem-solving and scaling-up-solutions mindset can be part of the problem.
Rather than starting in a reactive mode addressing the problems associated with these converging crises, a regenerative approach would look at the transformative and evolutionary potential we are now invited to manifest co-creatively in our communities and bioregions.
We are challenged individually and collectively to contribute to the fundamental redesign of the human presence and impact on Earth.
I believe that the fastest and most effective way to find wise responses to these crises is to co-create diverse regenerative cultures rooted in and sourced-from the bio-cultural uniqueness of each place and its people. Biological evolution is too slow. Only cultural evolution can create a new normal over the coming decades!
We need to rapidly increase the capacity of people in place to participate in co-evolving mutuality with each other and the ecosystems and biosphere we all depend upon. The role of education and the role of cultural institutions in catalyzing and supporting this transformation are of critical importance. We are challenged individually and collectively to contribute to the fundamental redesign of the human presence and impact on Earth.
Daniel Christian Wahl is a member of our advisory panel and author of the internationally acclaimed book Designing Regenerative Cultures.
Photo by David Marcu