The aim of creating a sustainable society was a good dream for the start of this century. Given the century was born under a general pallor of doom and gloom with global warming, resource constraints and the loss of forests to name just a few of the issues gaining wider awareness and acceptance. Creating a society that could indefinitely continue operating in a certain way was an admirable aim, especially when compared to the headlong rush into complete destruction that we were seemingly heading towards.
The problem is that we can’t just hop from our current way of life to one that is able to be sustained for a thousand years. There is too much damage that has been inflicted, and so much institutionalised inequality and disempowerment. How then do we re-imagine a dream for a better tomorrow?
A concept that has keeps popping up in my life recently is that of regenerative living. One where we aim to live in a way that, not only does not diminish or degrade life systems, but seeks to actively heal or regenerate them.
Imagine a section of land that has some remnant native vegetation on it. It could either either be completely cleared and filled end to end with concrete and McMansions built to the latest energy efficiency standards. Alternatively the same piece of land can have the same number of dwellings of more modest size placed on it leaving room for both productive gardens that feed the body, and native gardens that provides a home for local animals, birds and insects as well as feeding our soul. This space becomes a place for humans and non-humans to co-exist. Unfortunately it is the first option that usually occurs. In the most egregious cases solar panels and recycled water and all the other latest green techno -gadgets are thrown in and the label of sustainable development is leveraged to increase property prices or to pacify concerned citizens. Which is where the concept a regenerative action is more fitting guide if we truly want to create a better world.
The notion of regeneration draws the focus outward from the myopic anthropocentric gaze that has developed in capitalist societies towards the wider world we are inextricably bound up in. If we really delve into the scenario above we might begin to look at how the soil would be nurtured back to health and how the dwellings would be designed to facilitate community interactions and how all of this would be done with consideration of the characteristics of that particular land. I could keep going as there is so much to consider really. At the basis is the willingness to put health and wellbeing of all before monetary gains.
Surely we can all get behind the notion of leaving the planet in a state that is better than what we were born into? Instead of burdening the next generations with destabilised planetary systems and impoverished societies we should be aspiring to gift them with a land and community that is coming back to life, health and vitality.