Designing Regenerative Cultures

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* Book: Designing Regenerative Cultures. By Daniel Christian Wahl. Triarchy Press, 2016

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Contextual Quote

"I have not finished this book. I was waiting until I finished it to write a review. But now I realize that my not having finished it is one of the most important things I could share about it.

Because this isn’t a book to “finish”. It is not a container of ideas to learn and set aside. It is a doorway into a fractal encounter with a world and a worldview that are present on nearly every page. It is a territory to visit over and over again from a hundred different vantage points, a realm to explore, to get familiar with, to take in as inspiration and guide for how the world could be and should be.

It reminds me of my Wise Democracy Pattern Language Both are guides and a resources for designing a better world but, and perhaps most importantly, they offer through-the-lookinglass shifts in worldview, different ways to discern what’s going on and what to do about it.

That’s why it is so hard to communicate the nature of Designing Regenerative Cultures. You have to climb into it to even start to get what it really is about and the nature of the gift it brings.

So my advice is to get it and dive in, anywhere."

- Tom Atlee [2]


1. Seaton Baxter:

"This is a 'Whole Earth Catalog' for the 21st century: an impressive and wide-ranging analysis of what's wrong with our societies, organizations, ideologies, worldviews and cultures - and how to put them right. The book covers the finance system, agriculture, design, ecology, economy, sustainability, organizations and society at large. In this remarkable book, Daniel Wahl explores ways in which we can reframe and understand the crises that we currently face and explores how we can live our way into the future. Moving from patterns of thinking and believing to our practice of education, design and community living, he systematically shows how we can stop chasing the mirage of certainty and control in a complex and unpredictable world. The book asks how can we collaborate in the creation of diverse regenerative cultures adapted to the unique biocultural conditions of place? How can we create conditions conducive to life? [3]

2. From the author's introduction:

"We need to ask the deeper question of why we are worth sustaining. Our answers will inform how we ask the more operational questions and implement tentative answers and solutions. Such deeper questioning will shape how we might initiate wise actions that help us to transition towards regenerative cultures. Starting with the why will help us to understand our own deeper motivation, purpose and goals. We need to question the beliefs that shape our worldview. Only by starting with the why will we inspire people to change their behaviour and to co-create regenerative cultures.

... We need to reflect on how we will have to change individually and collectively to create this future. ... We need to ask important questions about why and what if. We need to rediscover the common ground of human community. This will enable us to co-create a future worth living in. We need a collective narrative about who we are and why we are worth sustaining, a shared story powerful enough to keep us all innovative, creative and collaborative as we question into the what, how, when and where.

...This book explores how we might live our way rather than know our way into the future, how we might stop chasing the mirage of certainty and control in a complex and unpredictable world. How can we collaborate in the creation of diverse regenerative cultures adapted to the unique biocultural conditions of place? How can we create conditions conducive to life?"
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Virginia Coyle:

"Living in a text-message culture, Designing Regenerative Cultures is another kind of text message, an essential textbook for our times, filled with resources, references, practices, methods and pathways, and best of all questions we can each live into, alone and together. Our world has benefitted from the contributions of many authors and visionaries, grassroots activists and social entrepreneurs, modern scientists and wise indigenous elders…. ancient and modern intelligence and creativity. And yet, the single-hero journey of brilliant ones can only carry us so far. Today there is a a deep need and longing for a local and global community of care on all levels in all disciplines. Daniel Wahl takes us there in this comprehensive 'manifesto', offering a wholistic picture of a way and a world we can be for, in lieu of the one that seems so headed for destruction. In Designing Regenerative Cultures, Daniel weaves an 'old/new' story helping and I suspect activating, readers to see, respect, learn from and go beyond, as he so clearly has, the great hearts and minds he references throughout. The book contributes to this awakening field as we find ourselves looking through a kaleidoscope of perspectives and teachings - different lenses moving in a spiral together through which to both view and live in our world. It can serve as a foundation for another 'great turn', a directory for next steps worth taking. Many will find inspiration and support to live the way we know we must, to live in the way we know we can if our species is not only to survive, but actually thrive in partnership with all of life." (


"To move from a zero-sum culture (win-lose) to a non-zero-sum culture (win-win) necessitates widespread collaboration in assuring that nature also wins (win-win-win) and wins first, as she is the provider of the abundance upon which we depend. Only if we collaborate in creating a healthier, diverse, vibrant and bio-productive planet, will we be able to create regenerative cultures where nobody is left behind and everyone wins.

Win-win-win cultures ensure that life can continue to evolve towards increasing diversity, complexity, bio-productivity, and resilience. We can think of the three wins of regenerative cultures as individual, collective and planetary wins created through systemic solutions that nurture social, ecological and economic health and wellbeing.

Humanity is beginning to explore the fertile ground of creating win-win-win solutions that drive cultural, ecological and economic regeneration. Innovating win-win-win, integrative, whole-systems design solutions is about creating shared abundance through collaborative advantage. Such innovations generate ecological, social and economic benefits by optimizing the system as a whole, rather than maximizing short-term economic gains for a few to the economic, social and ecological detriment of many.

Climate change is only one of the converging crises requiring a globally coordinated response that is nothing short of civilizational transformation. Humanity is facing unprecedented challenges and unparalleled opportunities. ‘Business as usual’ is no longer an option. Change and transformation is inevitable.

Humanity is facing important questions: will we be able to steer creatively through this period of cultural transformation? Will we manage to co-create a life-sustaining and regenerative human civilization expressed in a vibrant diversity of locally adapted and globally collaborative cultures? The answers to these questions will remain unknowable for decades, yet they will define the future of humanity and the future of life on Earth. Yes, we need answers and we need to keep experimenting with possible solutions. Both are excellent ways to help us learn from our mistakes and ask better questions. Nevertheless many of the questions and solutions we are working on are based on erroneous assumptions about our real priorities and true needs. We would do well to follow Einstein’s advice and spend more time making sure we are getting the questions right before we rush into offering solutions that will only prolong business as usual, or patch up the symptoms of a system that is based on erroneous assumptions and will continue to fail until we initiate deeper changes by asking deeper questions."

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