Networked vs Nested Bioregionalism

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Alex Corren:

* Networked Bioregionalism

"No bioregion exists in isolation. Everything is connected. So if we are to use bioregionalism as the organizing pattern to cultivate a regenerative paradigm, it must not be isolationist. These connected bioregions can be considered networked bioregionalism - where place-based communities are taking action and carrying out participatory governance on a local level while staying connected and sharing resources with the greater community.

This is in line with cosmopolitan localism, which describes resilient place-based communities and economies that stay connected to a global network of other aligned communities. Cosmolocalism and networked bioregionalism strike the balance between globalism and localism. Not too open, not too closed off. Just right.

However, this still leaves us with an ambiguous definition of a bioregion. How big or small are we talking about here? Instead of a one-size-fits-all solution, we can use a flexible system that honors the depth of place.

I call this nested bioregionalism.

* Nested Bioregionalism

If networked bioregionalism is about the horizontal relationships between bioregions, then nested bioregionalism is about the vertical relationships within a bioregion. Together, they can serve as a foundational organizing pattern to combat civilizational decline and support the emergence of a regenerative society.

There are different layers of 'place', and each has its own appropriate forms of organization and action. Honoring this pattern can serve as a guide to anyone hoping to navigate the complexity of the crises we’re facing, and how to actually do something about it.

There are three primary levels to nested bioregionalism: the Federation, the Node, and the Community.

* Bioregional Federation

Most definitions of a bioregion are on the large watershed scale. This is because zoomed-out hydrology is one of the highest orders of complex systems that we can see on any given landscape. But that’s a really big area, with many distinct landscapes within it.

For example, the Colorado River connects from the headwaters in the high alpine forests of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado to the Sonoran Desert and the Sea of Cortez on the border of Southern California and Mexico. Well, at least the river used to before it was dammed up and sucked dry.

Those are vastly different landscapes that do not share a sense of place. But they are connected by the water, the life force of any landscape.

Because of the many different landscapes that constitute this pattern level, we can refer to it as a bioregional federation."