Regen Notes – Newsletter 1

Welcome, to the first of fortnight newsletters about regenerative practices and thinking, linking the built environment with the wider climate, nature and ecology agendas in the UK and beyond, collated by me, Martin Brown 

2021. We are 2 years into the 12 given by the IPCC to limit climate change catastrophe, and 11 months away from COP26 in Glasgow where Paris commitments are to be ratified. As is customary at each year end, reviews of the previous year dominate, and of 2020 the most worrying and sobering was the Guardians Floods Storm and Searing heat 2020 in extreme weather. Where, month by month weather records were broken, and the effects of human driven global heating experienced across the globe.

Way back at the start of 2020, before the pandemic, the year was seen as being a watershed on action for climate and ecology, building on the momentum from Thunberg, School Strikes, Declarations, XR and more. Corona Virus had other plans and although the anthro-pause, when the whole world came to a stop, on numerous times, resulted in the the largest single year carbon emission reduction – it wasn’t enough, and that we would need similar, if not greater reductions every year to avert real climate breakdown. (CNN https://www.instapaper.com/read/1374889417)

All this illustrated that we no longer have the luxury of only just reducing our impact on the environment but need more and increasingly radical solutions. A blog post from Rozall Telbis (Medium https://medium.com/climate-conscious/sustainability-is-dead-f93878aa81eb) caught my eye with the title of Sustainability is Dead. This is something we have known for a while, as we increasingly see it as a bridge, a transition from business as usual to regenerative practice. Not a state in its own right. (Back in 2016, in FutuRestorative I focused on and explored Yvon Chouinard’s comment ‘we shouldn’t use the word sustainability until we give as much back (RIBA: https://www.architecture.com/riba-books/books/sustainability/product/futurestorative-working-towards-a-new-sustainability.html)

Telbis makes the point that Sustainability first ‘entered the mainstream’ in the 1972 Club of Rome sponsored book, Limits to Growth, to impose limits to the way we live our lives – and that Sustainability is Akin To Baby Steps, and while the concept of sustainability may have had sincere origins, it has quickly dominated environmental discourse, and it is now used ad nauseam by governments, environmental groups, and companies, among other entities, to sell products and buy votes.

Moving forward, we are now entering the UN Decade on Restoration (2021-2030) with “10 years to restore our planet. 10 actions that count. Every single day” Against a backdrop of environmental crisis, the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration is a chance to revive the natural world that supports us all. The next ten years will count most in the fight to avert climate change and the loss of millions of species. The UN Decade on Restoration web page highlights 10 actions in the strategy that can build a #GenerationRestoration. (UN: https://www.decadeonrestoration.org/strategy )

There are many wonderful and inspiring regenerative practices now emerging and indeed well established, as recently pictorially demonstrated in the Guardian’s overview of Icelands innovations to reach net zero, on energy, food, buildings transport and lifestyle.

Cities, such as Paris, partially in response to Covid 19, partially as a continuing regenerative practice, are beginning to reimagine themselves, as a collective of small village communities, rather than one homogeneous city, through ’15 minute Cities’creating stronger, more resilient and thriving communities (BBC – https://www.instapaper.com/read/1375115943)

Zoom Regenerative concluded 2020 with a participant round up of what has postively inspired during the year, ZR will continue through 2021, commencing on 12th Jan, providing a platform to share, learn from and celebrate regenerative practices around the world. (Fairsnape: https://fairsnape.com/zoom-regen/

Something to Do

Asking your MP to speak up for wildlife. The first (UK) Environment Bill in over 20 years is making its way through Parliament and will soon be debated by MPs. UK Wildlife trusts are calling for a clear, legally binding target in the Bill to reverse the decline of species and habitats within a decade. By being the first country to set an ambitious target in law for the recovery of nature, the UK will set an example which the rest of the world can follow. (Wildlife Trusts: https://www.instapaper.com/read/1374802645)

Something to Read

As this is the first newsletter on here and for 202, book recommendation has to be Braiding Sweetgrass, Robin Wall Kimmerer, for a real grounding in understanding our relationship with nature, and in particular plants. Towards the end of 2020 Kimmerer wrote for Emergence magazine on the need for a new, eco-economy (Emergence Magazine The Serviceberry: An Economy of Abundance)

Something to Listen to …

The amazing podcast series from Rob Hopkins, From What If to What Next continues to inform and inspire (Hopkins: https://www.robhopkins.net/podcast/)

Something to Look out for …

The RESTORE research network publication from the Scale Jumping working group will be available very soon. Through the application of system thinking, how can we identify injection points to scale jump from the proven regenerative practices in our quislings and cities, to a state where they become mainstream, the new normal. (Restore: www.eurestore.eu)

… and Something Else

The thinking behind Regenerative Agriculture and its nexus with design living buildings has featured on Zoom Regenerative a number of times, particularly with the Nature Barn, a Living Building Challenge project on the Diggens farm in Devon, that practices regenerative agriculture and rewilding. (Digg and Co: https://www.diggandco.com/writings/nature-barn

Read the wonderful article from Patrick Barkham A moo-ving target: fenceless grazing widens possibilities for cows and wildlife, where technology is being embraced by rewilders who want cows to mimic the grazing of extinct wild herbivores such as aurochs and move through wider landscapes in a natural way, ensuring their grazing creates mosaics of habitat and boosts rare flora. (Guardian: https://www.instapaper.com/read/1374924567)

Related, I am reading and engrossed in Nick Hayes excellent passionate Book of Trespass – where he makes the point that fences were originally to keep stock in but soon became the symbol to keep people out. Now that we can train and keep stock within zones marked through an app, without fencing, what impact will this have on law of trespass, on rights of way and right to roam. (Bloombury: https://www.bloomsbury.com/uk/the-book-of-trespass-9781526604712/)

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