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Agriculture & Farming, Blockchain, Carbon Farming, Regenerative Business, Regenerative Principles, Regenerative Supply

The Emerging Crisis of Trust

Centralized failures of management of resources resulting in cascading ecosystem failures, increases in surveillance of citizens by unaccountable agencies as well as corporate actors, behavior and social manipulationthrough media and social media, and engineered mistrust intersect to form a general crisis of trust. Even trust in neighbors is undermined as polarized views and media is used to divide and conquer. This all forms into the necessity of revisiting trust as a fundamental layer for social interactions and the basis of our social contract. Regen.network is built to grow the capacity to focus on common interests and empower all stakeholders to hold those resources in trust as stewards of both outcomes and verification of those outcomes, providing a remedy to the generalized malaise of rightful distrust of centralized, opaque and degenerative governmental, economic and social structures.

Machine Learning

The rise of AI, big data and machine learning is already having huge impacts on society. Many of the impacts are visible in the earlier mentioned crisis of trust and incomplete machine learning algorithms are used to manipulate behavior of citizens as consumers. The larger debate about the safety of AI ranges from Elon Musk’s alarmist stance and public statements that AI should be governed and humans augmented, to enthusiasts who are blindly investing billions of dollars and significant human resources to feed the growth of “artificial” intelligence. Whether or not machine intelligence is truly artificial is not the focus on this conversation, however it warrants further discussion. AI is an important emerging disruption to our reality and, as such, warrants significant design consideration in any Information Technology project. Regen.network aims to grow the capacity of machine learning and attend deeply to the subtle nuances and complexities of ecological dynamics, health and regeneration, and to create a space for a deep human-machine partnership with the biosphere. This dynamic partnership is essential for all three elements of the whole to thrive.

Ecosystem Collapse

The rapid acidification of oceans, increasing rates of soil loss, accelerating loss of biodiversity, warming climate, environmental toxicity, and global scale degeneration of living systems is all emerging faster on a wider scale than humans have had the capacity to deal with. Humans are notoriously bad with exponential foresight and decision making. Apparently calculus is not our strength, and most of us, especially in governance decisions, have very short aims focused into the sharp point of survival instincts gone awry in the form of greed, optimization of financial liquidity at the expense of eco-social health. This collapse is passing our ability to attend to and respond to with centralized and glacial scientific structures. The structure of academic peer review is broken and mostly used to maintain positions of status instead of increase the capacity of the learning community to understand complex systems. The perverse economic and bureaucratic incentives of centralized power must be removed as obstacles and the ability of business, community, and individual initiative must be unleashed to find creative solutions to regenerate ecosystems around the world. Regen.network will start with terrestrial agriculture and expand to other lands, mariculture and ocean management as quickly as the creative genius of communities around the world can be unleashed to solve for peer-to-peer monitoring and verification and baseline calibration solutions for ecosystems.

Money Eats the World

Whether the destructive power of hyper liquidity in financial markets ripping away the foundation of living capital and turning it into financial instruments, or the massive energy weight of running proof of work consensus to avoid coercive centralized currency issuance, it is plain to see that money is literally eating the world. While we believe that the transparent costs of a proof of work cryptocurrency is far preferable to trust we all have in the continue ability of the US military to control the worlds metro-resources that makes the dollar the global currency, Bitcoin’s designed decentralized inefficiency is still world eating. It is less bad, but not good enough, and needless to say it is certainly not regenerative. The imperative to generate a decentralized currency system based on regenerative utility, that is a real use that increases the health of ecosystem through use is essential to a healthy functioning economy, and the maturity of the cryptocurrency and blockchain community which threatens to teeter into a war between crypto kitties and hyper liquid financialization instead of fulfilling the philosophical promised and potential of what the distributed ledger and decentralized economy can bring.

The Distributed Economy

Distributed ledger technology, sharing economy (both real and pseudo-sharing economy), micro transaction networks, token economics, and the new decentralization and distribution of technology and fungibility of decentralized cryptographic network tokens that represent various forms of assets unlock the potential for a new economy optimized for cooperation, evolution of diversified niche economic roles, and massive participation in a non-coercive mutualistic network economy. This emergence is not a minute too soon. Massive experimentation is now underway and many DApps and platforms are being born. Regen.network is designed to be a network and platform that serves to accelerate decentralized innovation to reconnect human economy with living systems and the imperatives for biological and ecological health. This is accomplished by providing the framework for the exchange of verified ecological data as the basic currency for a new regenerative, bioregionally-sourced, global decentralized economy.

Regenerative Agriculture

The growing movement to leverage the potential of soil to sequester carbon including governmental and business initiatives globally, also has deep strategic and ethical imperatives. As noted in the previously published Levels of Regenerative Agriculture white paper (Soloviev, Landua 2016), Regenerative Agriculture goes far beyond simply soil carbon sequestration. Soil Carbon Sequestration represents a regenerative outcome, but all levels of the value stream from soil to the human consumer of a product and back to the soil are part of the regenerative imperative that is now growing into a movement. Individuals and businesses are increasingly motivated to explore how to participate in a co-creative and regenerative economy where human needs are met in style while ecosystem health is increased and the capacity of the system itself and all members of the system to evolve more robust vitality and viability is grown.

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Design, Regenerative Business, Regenerative Principles

This is the story of the birth of a new approach to business and life.  This story is born out of concrete experience and passion for life, culture and health.  Over the past 8 years we have been enquiring deeply into what the healthiest possible expression of chocolate might be in today’s world.  What the farms could look like?  What would the chocolate taste like?  Pretty quickly it became apparent that this was not just about chocolate, for although chocolate is a sacred food born from a sacred plant, and represents a nearly perfect nexus of commerce, culture, and ecology, this is a story that stretches far beyond chocolate and has begun to help breath life into an entire movement of business, and create a shared way of thinking among a globe spanning community of peers.  We’ve been very lucky to stumble into a community of peers that are deeply talented and committed and form relationships with mentors and leading thinkers.  What do we all have in common?  A deep commitment to living the inquiry of how to increase the health of the world through our actions, and even thoughts.

What is regeneration?

To talk about regeneration is like trying to tell someone how to ride a bike, or farm.  You have to do it to understand, you have to feel it, see it, and learn from it.  Regeneration is something that must be explored, experienced and then, ultimately, regenerated by everyone in order to start to take form as a way of thinking and doing business. This is the kind of question that I often frown at because there is no easy way to answer that question without building a home for the question to live in.  Let me explain:

Once I was walking in the Ecuadorian Andes, and I came across a small village. At the center of the village was a beautiful tree full of colorful birds singing and chirping. I have always been a plant nerd, and my great love of plants and life lead me to become quite excited to know more about this flowering marvel of a tree. I looked around and saw that there was an old women sitting near the tree on a park bench, so I walked towards her and nodded my head. I asked her in the most old-time polite and as slow as a gringo could manage sort of a way: Good morning grandma, how are you?  Would you mind answering a question for me? I wonder if you could perhaps tell me the name of this beautiful tree? She chuckled at me and said “good morning, where are you coming from?” I answered and we proceeded to have a long conversation that after an hour or so turned towards the tree. She told me a story about the tree, or rather a story about a story in which the tree was mentioned. She told me a love story in which the tree was the trysting place, the location of love poems and serenades and eventually a marriage. She shared about the food that was eaten under the tree and the names of all the people who attending the wedding.  She did not however tell me anything about the name of the tree or directly tell me anything about what the tree meant to her or the village. I left feeling deeply grateful, slightly bewildered and somewhat frustrated with the whole exchange. My great thirst to know more about this tree was unquenched. This sweet old lady had completely avoided telling me anything of consequence or use about the tree! I left the village and when I was home I went to the library and got out a copy of an Ecuadorian Botany book and looked up the tree.  There I found her. A beautiful tree called the Huila. In that moment I thought I knew. I smiled at the seemingly inconsequential stories told by the old lady, comforted that I had found what I was looking for the name of that beautiful old tree, Mariania huilenses if I remember correctly. It was not until some years later that I was sitting in a beautiful mud hall listening to a great teacher of life, named Martin Prachtel, that I learned something that I had missed all those years.  He told of a similar story in his own life, though there was a key difference. In his story he had stayed in that little village to patiently listen and enquire deeper and deeper. After some time he asked another elder why the women under the tree would not answer any of his questions. The man, a respected and honored member of the village hierarchy, responded: “She is answering your questions! You just don’t have ears to hear it, so she is trying to help you grow ears. You don’t have eyes to see it, so she is trying to grow your eyes.” Hearing him tell that story sent shivers down my spine. It shattered my assumption that I had figured something out. Figured anything out for that matter. I started to wonder just how many things I had missed in my life because I didn’t have the eyes to see them, the ears to hear them. Why tell this story in an article about Regeneration? I think, by and large, those of us who were brought up in the western world, educated to see the world as a machine, using the language of science to dissect life and using the language of business and engineering to harness living systems, have not yet trained their eyes to see regeneration, let alone participate in it consciously. I am still growing my own eyes and ears, so this will certainly not be an authoritative review of a concept that I have conquered, instead I hope it is a living exploration of a living concept.

Taking the short road to easy answers doesn’t seem to create the thriving world we want to see. The good news is that although strenuous, learning to see and hear, learning to ask the right questions, is possible.  We can grow the ears and eyes we need to see the windy road ahead that is leading us towards regeneration, towards healthy ecosystems, trade relationships, and business models. Living Systems Regeneration is the general process of renewal of living systems. The amazing thing, is that by learning from this life renewing process, we can learn to tune our minds, actions, and even business decisions and operations into receivers and transmitters of regeneration. Regenerative Business In the case of business, regeneration could be seen as the creation of new business models, structures and relationships that uplift the health of the whole system. However neither newness, nor necessarily improving the system are quite enough to really be termed regenerative. Core to regeneration through unveiling and uplifting the potential of each unique member of the community. This deeper dedication to exploring and uplifting the singular and irreplaceable role of members of a community of businesses, members of a team, or, indeed of industries themselves, is a key aspect of the work that Carol Sanford and The Regenerative Business Alliance (TRBA) has undertaken. Carol’s invaluable work with the support of the growing Regenerative Business community has gifted us with a distilled and highly potent set of first principles of Regeneration that can be applied to business decisions, strategy, operations, design and leadership. Instead of looking at the outcomes of regenerative business or relationships such as the great work of John Fullerton at the Capital Institute, the First Principles of Regeneration as articulated by Carol, and put into practice by (TRBA), focus not on the output of regeneration, but instead on describing the underlying set of laws that seem to govern Regeneration of living systems themselves.  That is to say, that these principles serve us in the same way an understanding of the laws of thermodynamics serves an engineer or physicist. Sustainability thinking versus Regeneration thinking Some would argue that the difference between sustainability and regeneration lies in the simple shift from a perspective driven by the desire to maintain a stable homeostasis, to design for “net-zero impact” and other such drivers, towards a perspective that actively seeks to improve the system itself not merely by stabilizing, but by increasing health.  Of course this is true to an extent.  When we are thinking about a sustainability we think about net zero solutions, circular economies and we ask questions that sounds something like:

– How can we maximize efficiency?

– How can we minimize harm?

– How can we create stakeholder buy in for these sustainability goals?

The world of sustainability is driven by best practices, standards, certifications, protocols and success through measurement around questions such as these. This “do less harm” way of approaching things seems doomed to begin just thinking about the current state of events, and the idea of creating a holding pattern where we currently are, without gaining ground or improving anything. So, shifting to “doing good” is a substantial leap. But does it take us to regeneration? Not quite. Here is why: A doing good perspective asks a different set of questions meant to improve the system.  Questions like:

– How can we improve worker rights?

– How can we improve ecosystem health?

Each of these questions presents a seemingly irreconcilable tension. It becomes a fight to do good versus the degenerative system, leading to wins and losses in the board-room, in communities, in our ecosystems. It becomes:

– Worker rights versus bottom line

– Ecosystem health versus bottom line

And the untenable tension never reconciles. Why? Because the doing good mindset misses some core capacity to see the whole and inquire more deeply into what a healthy essential expression of all the stakeholders, including the business, might be. Until the mode of thought, the very approach to thinking shifts from one of being stuck in the currently problems, to one of inquiring into the unique potential that is latent in the system and each of the stakeholders, the conversation, no matter how rich with measurement and metrics, will always be asking and answering the wrong set of questions. One thing that happened for me as I started to see and think ore regeneratively is noticing that best practices are usually putting the cart before the horse.  Best practices are most often success stories, and people usually use them as analogies for what can work in another situation. Let’s go further into why that does not usually turn out the way we might like: Let us grow our eyes to see, let us grow our ears to hear. As Eisenstein noted: “We can not solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them”

Whole Eyes

Being able to see the whole system is really the ableness to discern and understand the relationship between nested systems.  From a farmer, to a farm, to a watershed to a bioregion being able to understand where one whole entity or organism (organization) begins and ends, and what environment that whole is nested inside and operating within is key.  We can only influence our environment, and of course our environment is part of what supports and defines us.  Through seeing, acknowledging and working together with wholes that share our proximate environment we can grow our collective capacity to totally shift and regenerate our large environment.  But of course, sight alone cannot allow this to happen, no, indeed we must have our hearing and our taste:

Hearing the Future

Potential is something like the sound of the future beckoning us.  One of the key ways to hear the future, is to not allow thestatic of the present to interfere with the clear music coming in over the airwaves.  Entrepreneur Elon Musk has an excellent track record of tuning himself to the future and making it a reality, and he articulates well how he peeled back the seemingly irreconcilable problems of energy storages to catalyse a revolution in electric cars and beyond. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NV3sBlRgzTI

Tasting Essence

Growing our eyes to see essence is a challenge. In a world where we are force fed superficial information and where standardization is the norm, seeing the unique irreplaceable and totally img_4921singular gift of every single member of a system or community is a very rare art. This art also takes a community. The ableness to inquire into the essential nature of a community member in order to help uplift them is quite a feet. In order to do this a deep interest in the context, history, ecology, and story of a person, place or business is key. Regenerative Business then, could be defined as the matching of essence of all stakeholders in a stream of value adding in such a way as to grow the capacity of each actor and the health of the system itself. This simple definition generated out of the Regenerative Business Summit in 2016 by Carol Sanford and the team of The Regenerative Business Alliance encapsulates these key senses for seeing, hearing and tasting that are needed to cultivate regeneration through business. The core pathway towards regeneration from the perspective of thought and then management become: Essence, Context and Place One of the First Principles of Regeneration is what Carol often refers to as Singularity. What does a term that is usually used to refer to the coming terminator machine intelligence apocalypse have to do with Regeneration you might ask? For Carol, this term combines the idea of unique, irreplaceable oneness that every being and self contained entity exhibits, with the directive movement of living systems to express that essence by connecting with the other members of the living community. Thinking from this core principles we can see clearly that no venture can achieve regeneration without the processes of essence exploration, expression and matching. Our colleagues at Regenesis have honed the process of honouring and uplifting the essence of a place in order to grow will towards the shared potential and call this process the Story of Place. Regensis has recently published an excellent overview of the steps to shift from sustainability mind to regeneration mind in the context of design and development work called: Regenerative Development and Design Inquiring deeply into the healthy essence of each member of the system

– What is the essence of the farmer growing the cacao?

– Of the rainforest surrounding the farm? Of the community? Bioregion? Of the trader, processor, chocolate maker, of the final customer?

How do we align these stakeholders of a single stream of value adding?

Simultaneously the question of the potential of the system must be held, to start to see connections and catalyze strategies that emerge from that potential and the essence matching that starts to unfold. The key to this regenerative process succeeding is the process of individual organizations/businesses and even farmers engaging to build their own will towards the actualization of healthy potential. Instead of predefined metrics created by a question set born of abstract “do less harm” or even “do good” mind sets, a living and dynamic set of shared goals starts to arise from the large aim of actualizing the healthy potential of the system.  Note, this does not happen through or because of any kind of surveying of what people currently think or want in regards to problems they currently face, it happens by shifting all the stakeholders into a place of enquiry around potential. Regeneration is a process Regeneration is a living dynamic process. It is an ability more than a practice. This means being able to shift first into a mode of inquiry about the potential, then work to develop all other stakeholders in the value stream to be able to achieve a similar shift. For a detailed look at Carol’s 7 principles of Regeneration click here. In this blog I have focused most explicitly on Wholeness, Nestedness, Potential, Essence and the Developmental principles. In addition to these five, reciprocity, and nodal awareness have been woven in more implicitly and can be explored in detail in the link above. Be sure to tune in for the next in our series on Regeneration, Regenerative Agriculture, Supply and Regenerative Cacao!Gregory Landua is the Co-Author of Regenerative Enterprise, The Levels of Regenerative Agriculture and the Co-founder and CEO of Terra Genesis International where he works with companies and organizations to integrate the processes born from his work with living systems to help shift industries towards uplifting the health and potential of people, place and planet.  When he is not traveling for work he can be found farming cacao on his co-operatively owned farm in Ecuador, Finka Aekolado.

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Agriculture & Farming, Carbon Farming, Design, Regenerative Business, Regenerative Principles, Regenerative Supply

The term “Regenerative Agriculture” has recently experienced a meteoric rise in public interest, through discussion and promotion by both corporate and non-profit entities. This explosion of excitement and engagement has great, positive eco-social potential for individuals, farms and businesses. However, some uses over-simplify, banalize, or fragment Regenerative Agriculture, instead of engaging with it as a whole and viable discipline.

To expand and uplift global conversation and action, Terra Genesis is glad to release our new White Paper, Levels of Regenerative Agriculture. We aim to support practitioners, organizations, decision-makers and investors to radically transform Earth’s agriculture as a step on the path to an ecosystemically vibrant, socially equitable, culturally diverse, and spiritually meaningful global system of regenerative potential. To download the paper, go to our learn page.

Regenerative Agriculture Cover

Questions? Comments? Tell us below!

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Design, Education, Marine Permaculture, Regenerative Principles

In the spring of 2016, Terra Genesis began working with Regenerative Seas, a nonprofit organization looking to work on the interconnected systems of marine conservation and coastal community well-being. The organization was born out of a response to the atrocities taking place in the marine environment and the simultaneous exploitation of coastal communities in the name of eco-tourism and development. There is an international phenomenon occurring wherein members of the concerned scientific community see that fisheries are being over-harvested and even species that are illegal to fish are being decimated by fisherman in rural areas (often to supply the large demand of Chinese markets, i.e. shark fin soup, manta ray gills, etc). The solution to this problem that is often proposed is bringing in eco-tourism to give the local people an alternative (and potentially higher) income stream that will simultaneously build an appreciation for the preservation of the marine ecology. A healthier reef system will bring more divers. What the Regenerative Seas organization has started documenting is that often these promises of uplifting the local people go unfulfilled. The ecotourism solution acted more as a premise that helps dive companies get a foot in a door and to some degree fulfill their agenda of preserving the marine environment (and profits), but the stated goal of uplifting local people is ignored. Take the example of Mabul, Malaysia for example.

Mabul, Malaysia – An island wrecked by “eco-tourism” One of the first locations that Terra Genesis was invited to visit was Mabul, Malaysia. We spent seven days there hoping to gain some insight into the relationship between the local people, tourism, and the marine environment. The diving in the area of Mabul is incredible, so it is an amazing place to learn to dive, but the consequences of the boom in tourism has not meant prosperity for the local people or the environment.Seven years ago Sipadan Island became a turtle and bird sanctuary, resulting the in eviction of the dive shops and resorts from the Island. The creation of this sanctuary was a boon to the birds and turtles but unfortunately resulted in the shift of the dive industry to Mabul island, where it was initially thought that the tourism dollars would result in an upliftment of the local people. (In fact, some of the dive resorts still claim to be helping the people by giving jobs and steady income.) The Island of Mabul is approximately 50 acres in size and has supported a fairly stable population of approximately 2000 people. The people of the island are made up of three distinct ethnicities, Bajau Laut, Saluk Muslims and a group of nomadic seafarers who don’t claim any country as their home (and are refused an ID card when they try). The island has traditionally had enough water for all the local people via a stock of groundwater that infiltrates on a yearly basis. The amount of total water in the small aquifer was unknown but always served the people well, providing plenty of fresh water for the household use of the local people. When the dive shops started popping up and ultimately cover a fair portion of the land area. A small percentage of the population has been given jobs, but the rest are separated from the resorts by a barbed wire fence. On one side is a well groomed and pristine grounds of the resort while the other is covered in trash, eroded soil and abject poverty. In addition, the local population has increased in order to feed the demands of tourism.

Water

The worst part of the story has to do with the water. An island that once easily supported the local population of people with clean water now receives daily shipments of bottled water that the local people struggle to afford. At 3 Ringgit per liter (about $0.75), water now is estimated to take a huge portion of the average monthly income of the people on the island.The loss of fresh well water coincided with the influx of dive resorts and the over consumption of the aquifer wafer. As the demand for showers, flush toilets, dishes and irrigation water for the landscaping around the resorts increased the wells dropped to a level where the salt water began to creep in and resulted in a complete loss of drinkable water available for free to the local people.One of the dive resorts now offers five liters for each person who works at their resort, but other than this “incredibly generous” benefit, all local people on the island either need to find a way to import their own water (which is not an option for people without national ID cards because of complex cultural bias and laws) or pay the 3 Ringgit per liter of imported water.

Trash

There is almost no food growing on the island. No farms, no gardens, very few fruit trees, and along with the import of water also comes the import of food. Because the people are so poor, the food imported is almost exclusively processed foods individually packaged in plastic. Where is this plastic to be disposed of? The culture of the people of the island has always been of harvesting local resources and anything that is waste can be thrown in the water on into the bush to decompose. This works great when everything you have comes from the natural systems around you. The “waste” is easily incorporated back into the natural systems.But now, with the introduction of processed foods, individually packaged for consumption, comes a new problem, one of waste. The easiest and quickest ways to deal with this problem is just to continue doing what they have always done, which is either to throw the waste into the ocean or into the bush. The trash in the ocean “disappears,” which we all know is not actually true, but it does solve the immediate problem for the local people. The trash on the land builds up and inevitably is swept up and then burned, which seems to solve the problem. As we know, these solutions have terrible side effects, including the toxicity of the oceans, the death of marine life, and the release of harmful toxins into the air. The open air burning of plastic has been shown to produce one of the most harmful neurotoxins known to man. So in getting rid of this trash, we are now poisoning our children and limiting their future potential.

Issues like these abound throughout Malaysia and Indonesia. This is what Regenerative Seas set out to see with out own eyes. We would like to find the most appropriate nodes of intervention to put our resources to the greatest good. What issues are most important? Which areas of concern could be addressed most efficiently with most positive benefit to people and the planet? How can we, as outsiders, most effectively affect positive change without imposing our culture, ideals, and beliefs on others? These are the questions that we are setting out to answer, and Mobul was an incredible first stop on this journey.

Why hire Terra Genesis International?

The founder of Regenerative Seas, Jessica Hardy, sees the issues very clearly. In fact, as we experience on our trip to Indonesia, there is no shortage of potential intervention points. But there are hundreds of NGOs doing work in Indonesia alone. There are thousands of scientists studying the oceans and marine conservation. Ms. Hardy wants to use her unique perspective and experiences to guide Regenerative Seas to the perfect strategy and use of resources to be most effective (and disruptive) in achieving her goals. Though TGI doesn’t bill itself as an organization that specializes in strategic development of the nonprofit sector, Jessica understood that what we do with our clients would be an excellent fit to help her discern how best to move forward with her project. Using Holistic Goals setting work, organizational essence work, a series of design sessions, and a two-week trip into the field, we were able to help Regenerative Seas sink more deeply into the nuance of what its role could be in the world. The process of definition and redefinition will never be done, just as the challenges facing theseas will continue to change, but working alongside Hardy helped us all to be more clear about what Regenerative Seas’ work is in the world, and how Hardy’s unique understanding can be put to work in an effective and uplifting way.

How has this changed us?

Along with working on her and her organization, we quickly discovered that Hardy was actually working us! And we are grateful. One of her stated goals for bringing us on this trip of discovery was to activate in us a sense of the importance and critical nature of the problems facing the marine environment. She sees in Terra Genesis one of the leading teams working with agroecological systems, doing very important work to shift companies and clients toward more awareness in their work. But after looking into it, she found that with very small exception almost none of our work directly addressed the problems facing the marine environment. It was Hardy’s secret agenda in hiring us, to make the transformation in us one of the first strategic steps of the Regenerative Seas organization.

Has it worked?

I’ve heard the rhetoric and alarm bells for years about the oceans. I’ve heard that the top five fisheries on the planet are on the verge of complete collapse (Atlantic Cod collapsed 25 years ago, and Bluefin Tuna is on the verge). I’ve heard that there are estimates that total populations of fish are less than 25% what they once were, while at the same time the population of fish eaters just continues to grow. I’ve seen documentaries about the shark fin issue, the dolphin slaughters and incredibly brave volunteers aboard the Sea Shepherd ships putting their bodies between the harpoon of Japanese whaling vessels and their unknowing prey. I’ve heard about the bleaching of the coral and the drop in pH of the oceans due to the excess amount of CO2 in the atmosphere. But what I didn’t have before was a personal experience of connection to those realities. The power of personal experience is many times more powerful than all the stats and documentaries one can work through. This is one of the principles that separates the work that TGI does with many other consulting firms. We always work to have our clientsexperience a change, rather than just being told that something could be different. This trip offered me the opportunity to really experience, in my being, the challenges facing the marine environment. Being on Palau Kappas with Anwar Abdullah, founder of Ocean Quest, diving in his coral gardens and learning learning to graft coral onto rocks was incredibly empowering. The process he is working on in 14 locations throughout SE Asia is helpig restore the reefs after bleaching and other climate related events. I’ve been moved by being able to sit with Anwar and hear the stories from him of what these waters were like when he was growing up here, how the coral covered so much more area, and how there were always schools of fish jumping out of the water has. How the fisher people of western Malaysia were some of the best in the world and would bring in huge hauls day after day. And how at this point those fisher families have moved to Thailand to captain boats in those waters because the fish are gone. Anwar shared with us his personal measurements of the UVb levels in the area and how they have steadily grown over the years. He personally has seen a 500% increase over the past five years.Having seen Mobul and the terrible conditions for the people there has moved our team immensely. Having seen scores of baby sharks for sale in the markets (against local and international law) and the general immature size of most of the seafood for sale, has really set in me a sense that the oceans are not the “inexhaustible food source” it once was thought to be.

And the diving…

As part of our work with Regenerative Seas, we were treated to a three-day, live-aboard dive trip in the Komodo National Park, off Flores Island, Indonesia. Because of the extraordinary efforts of the conservation world, the biological world of Komodo is fairly well protected. I was able to experience an incredible sense of the beauty and abundance that once flourished globally in our marine ecosystems. Though I am told the numbers of fish that we saw are only a fraction of what would have been there 50 years ago, I was overwhelmed with the sheer numbers and diversity of the fish. The bright colors, the diversity, the wild and crazy patterns and shapes the fill the reef. But after spending three days with Anwar studying coral restoration, it was the coral that really stole my attention. After one of the dives I surfaced and shared that I was trying to wrap my brain around the ecosystem that is the coral reef, just completely fascinated by the complex and completely foreign ecosystem. I was trying, in my own way, to relate it to the complex interactions I know of in a terrestrial forest system. As a permaculture designer, I desperately wanted to understand the relationships, support networks, guilds of species and the succession process associated with the reef. After asking Nick Everett, one of our dive guides, to take a photo of a 1-meter by 1-meter area of the reef surface, he aptly pointed out that from any distance, 30 ft or 3 inches, the photo would still show a mind-boggling amount of diversity and complexity. Just like in a terrestrial ecosystem (or perhaps even more so), the closer you look the more complexity you see, from macro to micro-organisms, with cooperation and synergistic relationships at every level. It was incredibly beautiful, overwhelmingly complex, and awe-inspiring at the same time. Over the course of the 3 days and 9 dives that we did, I started to get just a bit of what I was after in terms of my understanding of how things function together, but more importantly the marine environment grew in my heart to something of great importance. No longer is the marine environment a secondary thought to terrestrial, but the realization that not only did the life on land evolve out of the water, but is still completely reliant on the ocean systems for its air, its minerals, and its health.

I’m not saying that I am shifting my efforts to working with the sea, as my core competencies still lie in agroecological systems, but being aware of what we do on land and how that might affect the oceans will definitely stick with me. I’ve also followed up our time on the water with learning more about the state of the fishing industry worldwide and have decided to carry my strong convictions about what meat I eat to seafood as well. No more canned Tuna and no more shrimp cocktail for me! I have to be convinced of the sustainability of the fishery involved to engage.

Up and coming for Regenerative Seas

Terra Genesis is on retainer with Regenerative Seas and we look forward to working more on the development and transformative actions that the organization will take. This fall Jessica will be traveling back to SE Asia to join Anwar (from Ocean Quest) on an exploration of coastal communities in Borneo and join on a hammerhead shark survey in eastern Indonesia in hopes of collecting data that can be used to urge the government to move forward with proposed plans to create another large marine reserve. Thanks to the Regenerative Seas team for your great efforts. The seas need all the help they can get.

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Education, Regenerative Principles, Regenerative Supply

by Carol Sanford

A current, prevailing worldview is that everything and everyone can be categorized as a particular type. Each of us—plant, animal, or human—can be classified within a system of limited possibilities. Based on this belief, all of us humans are hungry to know who we are and how we fit into our time and place. We so eagerly want to know what types of lovers, wives, parents, or men we are that when magazines promise us quizzes to sort ourselves out they quickly disappear from newsstands. This helps us identify ourselves, and it may seem to help us understand nature and other beings. But despite its allure, by itself it cannot give us real knowledge. On the other hand, we hate it when we are compared to a specific other person or when our situation is described as a generic example of things as they are. We love the idea that no two snowflakes are alike. We know from genetic science that there are no combinations that repeat. Nature does not create exact duplicates. From microbe to baby deer to human brain, every particular example of each life form is unique. To overcome confusion about the degree or quality of likeness and difference among living beings requires discernment developed over time. It is true that based on surface characteristics, a person, a tiger, or a watershed is not unique and can be identified and categorized according to rating scales similar to the ones we enjoy reading about in magazines. Personality characteristics and personal strengths are easily organized into typologies. Nevertheless, at our cores each of us is singular, and every whole, living being has an essence that is permanent, not an accident of birth, and not the result of socialization. This irreducible reality is captured in the root meaning of essence, which is not to become something, but to be something.

Why Does Essence Matter to Business?

In the business world, we have a firm grasp of differentiation, which is often the basis of branding. A truly great business—one with a long and consistently creative life—goes beyond differentiation to essence or singularity. It becomes aware of its unique identity early on and adheres tenaciousrosely to it over the long-term; it hires to preserve it, develops products and services that express it, and makes it the basis for orientation and development. Singularity is the source of disruptive innovation, and a wise business jealously guards it. Yet even so, a great business often does not express equal understanding of singularity with regard to people and natural systems. In a living system the only lasting and precise way to augment health and wellbeing is to work with the essence of a particular whole—the same way we work when we’re raising a child, governing a city, or growing a brand. For example, when we mistakenly set out to make a child more like an idealized someone else, she quickly loses her identity, which is the source of her intelligence and vitality. The best way to set a child on the wrong track is to tell her to be “more like your father” or “more like your sister.” Advocating or advising from ideals of any kind interrupts essence expression. Ideals arise from societal or cultural aggregations of assumed truths. We form them in order to corral people who seem to be wandering beyond the bounds of accepted society. In other words, we use them to standardize norms, to make people all alike so that we can predict and control their behaviors. The imposition of ideals to for the purpose of dominating is not only characteristic of our relationships with children. We extend it to everything alive. John Mohawk, a tribal elder and a professor at New York University, has said that “ideals are how one culture eradicates another, as the Europeans have come close to doing with the Native People’s of North America.” Within the context of standardized identity, people learn to normalize themselves by mimicking others. In the business world, this can show up as the imitation of products or approaches that belong to other companies’ brands, a symptom of the failure to identify and adhere to singularity. And because we have spent so much time collecting and organizing ideals, standards, best practices, competences, and categories, most of us haven’t learned to recognize and value singularity in any aspect of our own businesses.

Developing the Capability to See Essence

In a regenerative process we look for singularity not in existence, but in potential. I love to suggest that the essence of the IRS is not collecting taxes. That is only a surface. At its founding, the IRS was intended to increase the wealth-producing capacity of citizens and fund the agreed-upon costs of existing as a nation. How would our relationship with the IRS change, if we were able to see through to that essence? How would the IRS work with us if they were able to hold in mind their unique identity? Would the nation ever experience a shortage of revenue? I suggest that every one of us living in the United States would be wealthier and probably happier. It isn’t easy to see the essences of people around us because they are often obscured by the challenges of family, school, and work life. When people are persuaded to conform, their essences are overtaken by personality traits, and the characters they play take center stage, nudging out their true selves. In order to develop the capability to recognize and engage with essence—our own and others’—we must hold it in mind and pursue its living expression in all of our efforts. Every watershed, community, and business has an essence. No two businesses are alike, although at a functional or object level (as with personality in humans), they may share many traits. We may classify types of employee, natures of raw material, categories of business plan, but until we take the time to know people, materials, and systems as their singular selves, we are failing to know and nurture them in the same way we fail to know and nurture a child when we exhort her to be like her father. A regenerative view of the world sees phenomena not only as dynamic, but as singular. That is, instead of categorizing, identifying, and grouping according to what things have in common, a regenerative business always seeks to discern the essence that makes each thing distinctly itself. It accepts and welcomes the realization that each expression of being is one of a kind. This ability to appreciate singularity becomes the basis for deep creativity and motivation, a diametric opposite of the deflating belief that everything has already been seen and done by others before us. It requires constant resistance of the tendency to categorize and pigeon hole. Instead it seeks to see each phenomenon, each customer or retail location or product, as unique and new and deserving of our full presence and attention. Looking to existence, writing down our observations or collecting facts, will not reveal singularity. In order to sniff out essence, we must become trackers and look for it in the same way that native peoples follow the traces of animals who have passed by. Essence becomes apparent in the patterns that are specific to a person, those that reveal how they engage with the world, their purpose in life, the unique value they create as the result of their endeavors. The same is true for the essence of any natural system, community, or organization.

Save the Date: First Annual Regenerative Business Summit. Oct. 18- 20, 2016. From Friday Evening on 18th to Noon on 20th. Seattle WA. At The Foundry by Herban Feast. Get Notified: http://theresponsibleentrepreneurinstitute.us2.list-manage.com/subscribe?u=439c005bd8ef594c613f9ac12&id=672658a825&mc_cid=a18667f95e&mc_eid=[UNIQID]

Carol Sanford is an Educator & Thinking Partner with Game Changing Fortune 500 executives and Rock Star Entrepreneurs for 40 years. Author multi-award winning books The Responsible Business &The Responsible Entrepreneur: Four Game Changing Archetypes for Founders, Leaders & Impact Investors, Top 100 Global Thought Leaders in Trustworthy Business Behavior. TEDx X4. www.carolsanfordinstitute.com

This article was reposted from the Carol Sanford Institute with permission from the author. The original post can be read here.

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