Review: Designing Regenerative Cultures

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Amazon Page
Amazon Page

Daniel Christian Wahl

6 Star Handbook for Saving Civilization & Earth

This book makes the jump from 5 stars (generally I don’t bother to review a book if it is not a four or five star read) to 6 stars — my top ten percent — because of the combination of Questions Asked, glorious color graphics, and the total holistic nature of the book — this is easily a PhD thesis in holistic analytics, true cost economics, and open source everything engineering. Indeed, this book could be used as a first-year reference across any humanities and science domain, they would be the better for it.

It is of value to ministers of government, managers of corporations, administrators of non-profit and educational organizations, labor union and religious stewards, and every single citizen planning to be alive in five years and beyond.

From the cover with its four core value-propositions:

01 Transformative Innovation
02 Biologically Inspired Design
03 Living Systems Thinking
04 Health and Resilience

through each of seven chapters and a conclusion where deep questions are asked and answered, to the references, where a bitly shortcut is easily used for each and every reference, I am simply delighted to have this compilation of life-affirming wisdom in my hands.

This is a practical book and it is a spiritual book. I particularly like the six points made by David Orr in the first of two Forewords, the sixth of which suggests that systems thinking — holistic design — is akin to the core nature of religion in binding us all together in our stewardship of the Earth as a shared habitat.

I cannot over-state the value of the questions asked in each chapter. This is a book that Joan Blades and Living Room Conversations could easily take on as a global starting point for the one conversation that matters most, the question of who we are and why we are more worthy together than apart.

As I go through the book, I see the humility of the questions — this is a book that embraces the idea that “we” can come up with better answers than the author by himself — and the very wide net the author has cast to capture the thoughts of others that are very elegantly distilled in this easy to read, very broad, and also very deep, manifesto for the future of humanity and Earth.

Collective design is what you get when you achieve collective intelligence. The author has done a fine job of tapping into the pioneering works of others such as Elinor Ostrom who earned the Nobel for her book Governing the Commons: The Evolution of Institutions for Collective Action (Political Economy of Institutions and Decisions), and Tom Atlee, who did not, but could, for his collected works including The Tao of Democracy: Using Co-Intelligence to Create a World that Works for All.

As the book morphs from introduction to conclusion it comes together with two other books I have recently reviewed, by circumstance also 6-Star books (the portal to all my reviews sorted by 98 categories and each star class is at Phi Beta Iota Public Intelligence Blog / Reviews (Page), Pedro Ortiz’s The Art of Shaping the Metropolis, and Parag Khanna’s book, Connectography: Mapping the Future of Global Civilization. The author ends strongly, to include an introduction to holistic planning of land, biological monitoring, grazing, and finance. He draws ably from others — for example, Figure 25 on page 223, is a redrawn version of The Solidarity Economy building on the work of Ethan Miller.

I am stunned to find that Figure 29 is from The Open-Source Everything Manifesto: Transparency, Truth, and Trust (Manifesto Series) so I cannot help but be moved by the fact that the author detected and understood why we must migrate from an economics for the few to an economics for the many, and the only way to do that affordably and scalably is by embracing “open” across all domains, not just the information technology domain — the five billion poor must be empowered with free energy, free clean water, free pressed-brick shelters, and free Internet access, in return they will innovate and create infinite wealth with a regenerative aspect.

The book ends, and I quote (page 268):

“Living the questions is an opportunity to connect, to yourself, to your community, to your world.”

Somebody give this guy an honorary PhD — he has more than earned it. While I always liked E. O. Wilson, his stuff is hard to read — a precursor in some ways to this book, Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge, gave me a headache despite the importance of the material. Similarly, while very subtly present, the spiritual aspect of this book is in keeping with the very best of other works, such as James Molben’s God and Science: Coming Full Circle?.

On my Latino side, going back to my mother’s family in Spain via Colombia, the family motto was “Que Vivas” — that you might live! Indeed. The author has provided a manifesto for life. I could not be more impressed.

Best wishes to all,
ROBERT David STEELE Vivas
INTELLIGENCE FOR EARTH: Clarity, Diversity, Integrity, & Sustainability

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