A profound way to contribute to the shift towards a Regenerative Economy — Part 2
A deep shift towards a regenerative economy: a developmental approach
By Sidney Cano (Author) and Karryn Olson (Editor) with The Regenerative Economy Collaborative
To start from the beginning, find Part 1 of this series
Since ancient times, humanity has formed various conceptions of both economics and how we relate to living systems. So what does it really take to make profound transformative change in this regard to our relationship with each of these? On my own personal journey of transformation, I realized that this kind of change implies rebuilding our capability to Connect (using Yunkaporta’s language). Indeed, we need to authentically connect with the living entity and its inherent evolutionary capacity.
Let’s ground our understanding in observing and connecting with life in ecosystems, where interrelation goes beyond exchange. According to studies of coral reefs, a great diversity of life flourishes thanks to their mutually beneficial relationships. Coral reefs have co-evolved a defense mechanism against macroalgae, emitting chemical signals that attract goby fish and cleaner shrimp, which feed on the mucosa, plankton, and algae of the coral environment, and clean the coral by eating the harmful macro algae that otherwise stick to and kill the coral [Adapted from ecoosfera].
This is possible, not just because species are inter-exchanging and interrelating, but because their relationships are vital for the life and evolution of the entire ecosystem.
In the current economic and business systems, the business is seen as isolated from the living systems, or only linked to them by transactional exchanges. But interrelation could go beyond this, so that a business is capable of connecting with the living systems in the Place where it works, and generating processes that enable the emergence of genuine wealth there. “A business cannot be considered independently of the context in which it operates. The vitality of a local economy directly affects the health of its business community. Healthy stakeholder ecosystems mean healthy businesses and vice versa. When local stakeholders’ activities are grounded in the unique essence and potential of place, they directly contribute to supporting local economic development. Therefore, we suggest that businesses have a leadership role to play in catalyzing healthy local stakeholder ecosystems”. (2021. Ungard & Haggard).
For centuries, we have limited our capacity as human species to contribute to Life due to our anthropocentric perspective of development that mostly centers human concerns — instead of conceiving ourselves as beings inherently linked to the thriving of ecosystems. We even call ourselves “citizens” belonging to the human construct of “city”, instead of grounding into our relationship with life-sustaining Earth.
“The problem with the global economy isn’t how we do it, it’s how we think about it.” (Sanford & Haggard)
A shift towards a regenerative economy is only possible if there is a change in our mindset and growth in our capabilities that enable us to pattern new relationships and develop new social dynamics that ensure the thriving of both the human and ecological Living Systems around us. Towards this mindset shift, in Latin, the word for Earth is “terra.” What if we considered ourselves “terrans”?
Developing our ability to manifest a shift in paradigm
In the effort to generate profound change in a more effective way, there is the need to challenge our system(s) of understanding — by examining the beliefs, principles, and systems that underpin current economic dynamics.
If you identify yourself as an individual or organization that really wants to work on deep transformational changes, these questions enable you to disrupt the role you usually take on while working on change processes:
· What is the philosophy underlying the way I think of, design and implement change processes?
· What are my beliefs around how to lead change processes in a system?
· What is the nature of the role I embrace to work on the change? And what is the effect in those who I interact with?
“Problems cannot be solved at the same level of awareness that created them.” (A.Einstein)
Destabilization of our current thinking is fundamental, because this breaks with the inertia of acting upon what we think we know or want, and enables us to completely disrupt our systems, allowing for real creative economic innovations to emerge from the inherent potential of the living systems where we live. In this spirit, I ask:
“What would be possible if we disrupt social norms that praise the expertise of a few and replicate models and trends from one place to another; and instead, move towards the understanding that emerges from the very systems and contexts in which we live and work?“
This means that, based on the respect and authentic connection, all stakeholders in a system need to get involved in educational processes to develop their inherent potential and allow for a new manifestation of economic dynamics to emerge — moving away from “expertise” provided by advisers, consultants, coaches, instructors, teachers, and even leaders who transmit intellectually predefined knowledge, models, or processes, and guide actions which are applied and replicated generically. (This is represented in Figure 1 below).