The Who, What and Why of Integrative Ecosocial Design?
Who- All of us as consumers and stewards of planet earth are living, breathing ecosocial regeneration, how we play this role effects our experience as much as it effects the earth and our fellow living and non living allies. Permaculture Design, perhaps the most holistic and comprehensive action based approach of ecosocial regeneration at present, was primarily created by 2 Australian men; Bill Mollison and David Holmgren to be a system of permanent-agriculture or “integrated, evolving system of perennial or self-perpetuating plant and animal species useful to man”- Bill Molison – A Designers Manual.
It soon evolved further, encompassing the work of untold inspired individuals contributing both theory and applied ‘actionism’ to better represent Permanent-Culture. “Permaculture is a philosophy of working with, rather than against nature; of protracted & thoughtful observation rather than protracted & thoughtless action; of looking at systems in all their functions rather than asking only one yield of them & of allowing systems to demonstrate their own evolutions.”- Bill Mollison a Designers Manual
What – Ecosocial Regeneration in it’s simplest, is the regeneration of the self, the community & trade, and the environment, while recognising the inseparability of humanity from ecology. Permaculture conglomerates the ethics of multi-millennially successful aboriginal culture’s ethics and ecological principles into a design system that is applied to anything from personal development, through regenerative land use, to full systemic cultural and econoimic redesign.
The integration of ecosocial design and ‘permaculture thinking’ in to the common worldview might just be the next rational step for humanity, given the looming peaks (oil, soil and water), and the inevitable transition we are currently riding towards a lower energy future.
Sustainability merely implies maintaining the current ecosocially destructive paradigm, where as permaculture designs for regeneration and continued evolution. Daren Dougehrty quite rightly puts it-“sustainability lacks ambition”.
After all, If all we can think to do, in order to benefit the planet, is reduce our impact, we’d surely do more for the planet to simply disappear. To those cynics, via this introductory essay and the work I link to, I’d like to introduce a whole new paradigm, one that makes us the healers and designers of a future with abundance for all life forms.
For some it seems unrealistic or like a lot of hard work, yet the integration of regeneration in to ones life enhances it immediately, by letting nature take some of the weight, as we learn to live with it, in collaboration instead of attempts to eradicate or controll it.
As my personal philosophy, or dare I even say ‘spirituality’ evolves, I’m starting to ponder if regeneration may simply be an inevitable consequence of evolution, and surely if this is the case – resistance would be futile.
The universe appears to have an insatiable desire to get more complex or novel, faster and faster (Terrance Mckenna – Novelty Theory) and the only thing I can think of that is more novel than a human mind, is a human mind that has become conscious of it is capability of carrying out the task of fast tracking evolution it’s self.
I believe it’s important to understand that while evolution in the form of mutation happens more rapidly under pressure, it is drastically inefficient in comparison to evolution that results from conscious design, hence the power of a design system that integrates ethics and ecological principles (a design system that gives more than it takes from all that it takes from).
It’s fair to say that the optimal conflicts that drove biological evolution would have been predation, yet the optimal conflicts that drive evolution today are the objective challenging and redesigning of ideas or concepts (best achieved without cognitive biases related to the ego’s of individuals, or the interest of companies that too often fund scientific testing, and pull the strings in politics (permaculture principle – apply self regulation and accept feedback would be useful here)). Thus the type of complex, yet ordered environments that the universe appears to favour (see patterns in nature) are the sorts we should be consciously co-creating (designing). I feel a subtle leap forward has come in my own ability as an ecosocial designer upon realising 2 things that really mean the same thing: we are not working with nature, we are nature working, (penny livingston) and by consciously designing and holding space for further evolution (doing what we know instinctively is right), we resonate with the universe’s true desire (evolution); inevitably the path of least resistance.
“Though the problems of the world are increasingly complex, the solutions remain embarrassingly simple.”- Mollison
Firstly It’s important to know, it’s already happening, you are already doing it. Look at the sheer mass of information being thrown around on social media, and the abundance of new non-profits set up with the sole purpose of regenerating people or planet. Many, like myself some years a go, still believe we need a revolution, and as much as I like that someone has already dubbed permaculture to be “A revolution disguised as gardening”, I feel that we have to be careful with this word. If we were to throw the idea of a more traditional form or ‘revolution’ into some kind of rationality calculator (probably an ingenious idea to take egos and corporations interests out of political decisions – Peter Joseph), it would probably suggest that revolution is drastically energy inefficient, and acts more like mutation in comparison to designed evolution; not to mention any kind of global economic crises would cause untold destruction to innocent countries now totally dependent on global infrastructure and aid.
As we regenerate our selves with healthy food choices and voting with our wallet, we can remember that care of the environment is inseparable form care of the self and ‘you buy nice, or you pay twice’. It’s important to consider the net karma inherit with each $ we spend, we must continue supporting companies with ethics and that pay living wages to their employees.
Scarcity through inequality, is the biggest cause of crime, disease and death, and we as consumers cause it by turning a blind eye to our bad choices in food, clothing and products.
We should strive to remember that good decisions come from a clear mind, and a truly clear mind is as rare as an untouched natural ecosystem which unwillingly is constantly receiving airborne toxins, as nothing is truly in isolation in our global ecosystem. We thrive by constantly reinvesting in ourselves and our own personal development as much as directly into the environment, we are inseparable, “what we do to the universe we do to ourselves” [and vice versa]– Alan Watts.
To me, evolution is undoubtedly catalysed with community, collaboration and interdependence, perhaps it’s why even today in an ultra individualistic society we still seek approval and obsess over what others think of us.
Food for thought: Perhaps in order to develop the global community now at our fingertips, we had to, in the short term, sacrifice the strength of our community and the depth of friendships in favour of universities, careers, travels and opportunities, which as a bi-product have left many of us with blood ties all around the world forcing us to finally admit that we truly are all one, and that there is no ‘us and them’. Maybe In this process of ‘globalisation’ this need to ‘be’ something, as if existing it’s self isn’t good enough, expressed in the pursuit of material wealth, caused many to work relentlessly like worker ants, developing this system of roads, cables and wifi that connect us now like mycelium and wifi signals that connect us like the plant emitted pheromones connect the forest and prairies. Now, the first time in history we can rejoice with the environment, yet not only as individual tribes bound to ignite into war with one another upon contact, but as a global tribe with the same ultimate inner desires and a universal willingness to share ideas at the speed of light, so we can collaborate and help one another, because in doing so, we know it also helps ourselves.
To focus on the negatives of our current situation would be to see only the destruction, yet to see the whole view would have to include that undeniably, today we have everything we need to be global collaborative ecosocial regenerators, and we are already doing it.
Through the internet, we are bigger than governments, we simply need to stop waiting for the world to change and act ourselves, knowing fully, It’s for our own immediate satisfaction as much as its for our allies, our future, and our universe.
Doing what we know is right feels phenomenal, we’d be denying ourselves of our birthright to health, happiness and abundance by doing anything else.
My feeling is that we are over the hump in this grand construction of global ecosocial awareness. While devastation is still happening, it doesn’t compare to the rate that ecosocial conciousness is spreading. How we continue is almost unnecessary to write, It’s as simple as working on a good relationship with our conscience and following the gut instinct inside us that took some 3.5billion years to form during a complex synergy with the universe that we’ll never quite fully understand..
1 thing I feel I can promise you is this; You are on the right track.
“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” – Arthur Ashe