A profound way to contribute to the shift towards a Regenerative Economy — Part 4
A new way to organize for the emergence of a regenerative economy
By Sidney Cano (Author) and Karryn Olson (Editor) with The Regenerative Economy Collaborative
To start from the beginning, find Part 1 of this series
Let´s dive deeper into a point made earlier — the shift towards Regenerative Economy requires all social actors (not just those institutions and individuals directly involved in modeling the economy or financial dynamics, or the decision-makers in governments or chambers of private industry) to be able to think and act from a regenerative paradigm.
This requires the development of consciousness in societies and organizations, opening up new levels of decision-making power. This new approach aims to deeply change the way we live and work in order to set up economic dynamics that regenerate the placeswe inhabit.
This approach also implies a new way to organize for the emergence of a regenerative economy: organizing from a more profound interrelation of all stakeholders involved, in order to generate creative processes from a higher order thinking.
To illustrate this, I’ll share an example from my experience: For years, our holding company DUIT had been working in silos: in the for-profit realm, we were engaging with companies and entrepreneurs, but separately from investors; and in the non-profit sector, we’d engage with the NGOs.
After we realized the importance of the interrelationships in the System as a whole, it was a total breakthrough and shifted completely the way we work, and our effectiveness. Through developmental processes, we´ve transformed ourselves and our company to concentrate energies and work in generating guidelines for transformational investment in the different business endeavors as means toward contributing to stronger and healthier communities.
Many changes took place, including the way I involved myself in the work. As I narrated in The Regenerative Life book: “The next time (our) team got together, I was prepared. I had spent a couple of quiet hours really thinking about the meeting and what it would take for me to step into the regenerative educator role. Instead of problem solving, I wanted to help people develop the capabilities needed to read the patterns behind the problems, and then move up to a genuinely creative response. In other words, I wanted us to learn how to shift our paradigm. So I asked them challenging questions to find out what was behind the issues they were facing.
I kept pushing to get at what was really going on with both our clients and the systems they were immersed in. It was almost funny to see the surprise on people’s faces. “What is she asking us? And why does she keep piling on questions instead of helping with answers?” I explained that I thought we would have better results if we learned how to think together and if we put our attention not just on ourselves but on how to actually improve communities (…)” (2020. Sanford, Carol. P. 156).
A developmental approach for deep-meaningful-change in our economies calls us to break with current widely spread tendencies, and work on awakening the intelligence in each and all of us, to contribute to the manifestation of contributing process for the aliveness of the Systems we are found in. (Figure 3).
Didi Pershouse’s experience working in Land and Leadership Development illustrates this way of working. Her story shows how the potential in systems as a whole that can be brought to life and have greater effects by embracing the role of a Regenerative Educator:
Recently, the US Department of Agriculture solicited public comments on how to make food supply chains more resilient. I used that as an opportunity to work with my community in understanding food supply systems as living systems (not just a single machine-like supply “chain”). We looked at the USDA not just as a big bureaucracy, but as a unique living entity in relationship with other living beings and systems.
We began our exploration around some questions. Here are a few of them: Could we use our diverse experiences of food systems to be able to see the system more clearly and in more depth? Could we simultaneously see soil microbes, insects, “weeds” and the makers of pesticides as living beings capable of evolving together? What parts of our food system are enslaved, versus dependent, versus self sufficient, versus self organizing?” How do social systems, cultural paradigms, industry, and foundational agreements impact our food supply system?
When working to develop the intelligence of all participating, we realize that if you want to grow your capacity to participate effectively in living systems, actual experience is key to learning, and continual shared experience through a community of practice is far more powerful than one-time individual experience.
Also, as I observe myself in the role of an educator, I try to never ask a question of participants for which I already know the answer. I also set myself to observe the effects of questions on shifting the energy of the group (and ask them to do the same) while we learn through reflecting together. I am not there as an authority /expert (passing on knowledge). Nor am I there to reward them if they behave in a certain way (through grading their work, offering feedback, degrees, or incentives). I consider each one of them — farmers, economists, policy makers, scientists, educators, and citizens from very different places — with inherent intelligence and great potential, and I have no idea where they will go or what they will be able to effect when applying what they´ve learned through the reflections. And that’s okay! In fact, it is exciting. I am an interested participant myself, engaged in lifelong learning(…)
I thank the collaborative exploration of Karryn Olson and Didi Pershouse; and The Regenerative Economy Collaborative members for the support they provided in the writing of this article.
2020. Sanford & Haggard. https://medium.com/the-regenerative-economy-collaborative/the-regenerative-economic-shaper-perspective-paper-part-2-418f35369ded
2021. Ungard & Haggard. https://medium.com/the-regenerative-economy-collaborative/the-role-of-businesses-in-regenerating-local-economies-f71b973d3a5
Sanford, Carol (2020). The Regenerative Life: Transform any organization, our society, and your destiny. Nicholas Brealey publishing.
Yunkaporta, Tyson (2020). Sand Talk: How indigenous thinking can save the world. HaperOne.