Regeneration through a Holistic Living Systems approach

Author: Dr. Inglia Amora

12 March 2016

“No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.”
Physicist Albert Einstein

When we rise above the mud from the swamp of duality and break through the veil of illusion, then the obvious solutions for humanity’s problems could be seen and developed.

“We humans can change the colour or perspective through which we see our world. But it requires a conscious act of choice that begins with becoming aware of the way our current mental model, which colours what we see as real, how we think about ourselves and our world and how we therefore live, as well as how our future unfolds” (Reed, 2006).

Recent accumulation of scientific evidence, especially from the quantum, psychological and parapsychological realms, is facilitating a meta-paradigm shift that is significantly influencing the course of humanity’s destiny. In order for society to overcome crises and reach health and harmony, the original principles of society and design should be based on holistic living system thinking or so-called laws of Nature. Ignorance or disregard of this law is not an excuse or escape from responsibility. Human consciousness performs a fundamental and co-creating role in the interconnected reality because after all, we are interdependent with all life on Earth.
Spiral Dinamics!

Map of the Evolution of Human Consciousness

Holistic living system thinking is based on ancient wisdom and identifies that the integrity of existence is interconnected and shifts us beyond mechanics to a world that is activated by complex inter-relationships between natural systems, human systems and the conscious power behind their actions.
If humans are to regard themselves as a part of an ecosystem, it could possibly reshape human technologies as “natural”, and in this way Nature could be improved upon by human design.

Strategies to prevent biodiversity loss and climate change typically fall into two categories: those aiming to mitigate the causes of climate change, and those seeking to adapt to the estimated changes. To benefit ecosystems, these strategies should be considered together. Sustainable development projects are a prime example of design toward adaptations in the built environment context, because they incorporate these strategies while addressing human livelihoods. However, focusing on human environments cannot solve environmental issues alone, hence, the main site of cultural and economic activities should be a significant component to addressing these problems.
Due to the environmental impacts caused by human behavior, consumption patterns and inefficient energy and waste systems, the urgency of a design focused on regeneration and one which respects all life on Earth as a unified, interconnected reality has become a global priority (Van Bueren, 2007). Although most designers would point out that sustainable solutions in human environments have addressed energy, materials and water efficiency, waste reduction and indoor environmental quality in the form of national policies, local regulations, certifications and rating systems, among others, according to Bill Reed (a leading biomimetic thinker, who co-chaired the development of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards from the outset), “we could have a world full of LEED platinum buildings and still destroy the planet” (Levitt, 2008).
Sustainability is a recent phenomenon characterized by an ever-increasing collective effort to awaken the public about the environmental impacts of current inefficient systems. Since the 1970s, the urgency of sustainable design has become first priority (Van Bueren, 2007) and over the years, has developed environmentally responsible solutions to global problems. However, it provides only short-term solutions which are based on mitigation and aims to minimize pollution rather than achieving clean air, soil and water (Allexander, 2004; Van Bueren, 2007). It minimizes energy use, rather than using energy from non-damaging renewable sources and also minimizes waste rather than eliminating it altogether by creating positive cycles of resource use (McDonough and Braungart, 2002). Instead of having a less negative impact, the current built environment should have a positive environmental impact, by contributing more than it consumes and focusing on the remediation of current environmental damage (Birkeland, 2008, Pawlyn, 2011; Reed, 2007).
Everything should be connected in the act of human design. The sustainable movement, for the most part, has not been focused on or taken into account this interrelated wholeness. It is like the current culture, we have firstly concentrated on fashion, technical and economic systems when designing, constructing and managing our built environments (Read 2006).

A shift from a human environment that is degenerating ecosystems to one which restores local environments and regenerates capacity for ecosystems to thrive, will not be a gradual process of improvements, but will require fundamental rethinking in design of human environments along with a shift into an ecological, living systems worldview (Cole, 2012, Reed, 2007). In this light, regenerative design could become a tool for creating an integrated human environment that goes beyond current conditions based on mitigation, to developing an environment that could restore the capacity of ecosystems.

A Trajectory of Environmentally Responsible Design (Source: Reed 2006)

Regenerative design refers to the use of the natural world as a design model and is an applied science that generates inspiration for solutions to human problems through the study of Earth’s natural systems and processes, which creates a better understanding of interconnectedness and resilience. Recently, regenerative design has begun to play a major role in the evolution of landscape development to reflect a changing human relationship with ecosystems. Effective regeneration requires that we engage in what makes a place healthy, the core interrelationship between Earth systems, humans, and the consciousness or spirit that connects us (Reed 2006). Given that interrelationships in Nature exist, it is crucial to consider that integration is the “elastic tissue” that makes a functional unit. Integration makes possible complex and mutually beneficial interactions between the living world and human inhabitants to occur. It is also holistic in Nature, mimicking organisms or ecosystems could be an important part of such an approach to design. For instance, while the evolution of ecosystems has rewarded Nature’s equivalent of entrepreneurs (organisms) to fill new ecological niches, the same opportunities exist in human-made versions of ecosystems: rewarding those that can turn waste into value and jobs.
Considering the urgency of the changes needed, human environments should be designed as organisms with the larger ecosystem in mind, which would create harmonious interaction between surrounding environments and produce positive environmental outcomes. This integrative environment has the potential to go beyond sustainability and become regenerative, leading the human evolution and design, where flora, fauna and entire ecosystems are emulated as a basis for widespread, practical application. This holistic design enables natural and human environments to recover and prosper again, ensuring a healthy future for generations to come.