Book Notes: “Designing Regenerative Cultures”

Notes on a book by Daniel Christian Wahl

Symptoms of systemic strain are becoming clearer every day: unprecedented weather events, growing economic inequality, political dysfunction, etc. Many of these issues can be attributed to a culture that has drawn hard lines between ourselves, other beings, and our environment for hundreds of years.

Designing Regenerative Cultures is an impassioned plea for awareness of our interbeing — one-ness with each other and our surroundings — and for a more systemic approach to making and measuring the effects of our actions in the world. The book offers frameworks and models for a more holistic approach to design towards the creation of truly regenerative systems.

The scales of regenerative design, from the book. Image: Daniel Christian Wahl
The scales of regenerative design, from the book. Image: Daniel Christian Wahl

Wahl uses questions as a rhetorical device to encourage deeper exploration, and lists of such question-prompts are present throughout the text. For example:

Q Are we weaving the appropriate synergies by valuing the degree and quality of interconnections between the different components or agents in the system?

Q Are we paying enough attention to the diversity and the quality of interacting system components and their interdependence?

Q Are we designing for the renewable use of vital resources (like energy and materials) on which these systems depend?

Q Are we paying enough attention to the quality and speed of information that flows through these systems to enable the different components to learn from systemic feedback loops?

These lists of questions are the heart of the book. They’re an open-ended invitation to examine our own design practices in light of our urgent need for a different approach to being in the world. The questions, plus the models, frameworks, and references to a wide body of work by researchers and practitioners in regenerative disciplines make this book a valuable resource as we pivot towards a more responsible design practice.

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