Author Archives: martin brown

RESTORD 2030 A Regenerative Guide

RESTORD 2030 A Regenerative Guide for Educators, Students and Practitioners.

A primer for the (re)imagination of a city ten years into the future. The City of RESTORD.

We are on the cusp of something regeneratively wonderful or something irreversibly disastrous. Use of the word ‘regenerative’ has seen a welcome resurgence, applied to everything, from farming to leadership, fashion, culture, economics and the built environment.

Its current use reflects the urgency we now face as climate change and ecological breakdown become increasingly palpable. It represents a desire and a focused switch in mindset, away from the mechanistic, away from being only less bad, the common and dominant discourse, to one that is living and sees ourselves and the built environment as interactive parts of the beautiful and complex ecosystem web.

RESTORE: {verb} to bring back to a state of health, soundness, and vigour.

RESTORD: {noun} a city that is socially just, ecologically robust and culturally rich.

RESTORD2030, a guide for educators, students and practitioners, will be of interest to teachers in primary and secondary education, to lecturers and teachers in university education and those delivering sustainability courses, and workshops, including continuous professional development for (planning, design, construction, facilities management) practitioners. It is available for free download below.

RESTORD 2030 aims to inspire users to create new and enhance existing sustainability modules with a regenerative climate and ecological focus.

It is pinned on the need for us to understand what good looks like and to imagine a regenerative future, and then to identify the steps that will move us towards that goal.

It is not that regenerative thinking is new. It has been at the core of ecological thinking for decades, traced back to acclaimed and influential writers on nature and ecology such as Aldo Leopold, Rachel Carson and many others. Importantly, it has likewise been the foundation of many indigenous cultures since time immemorial.

Along with the increased use of the term ‘regenerative’ we have a changing narrative. And this is important, as it is narratives that define us and contribute, in turn, to how we define and shape our future. The future is not something that just happens to us, but it is something that we create. As Arundhati Roy noted in April 2020, we need ‘to imagine the future we want and be prepared to fight for it’.

Yet, unless we urgently address the level of ecological and climate literacy, and levels of climate awareness within all areas of education, we will not have the narratives, insights and knowledge to imagine our future, to recognize goodness and what it looks like and to be able to fight for it.

“to all who work in the built environment – the explicit purpose of your work must be to craft and cultivate the fertile conditions for life to thrive.”

Michelle Holliday preface to RESTORD2030 ‘‘Love Letter to Those Who Shape our World’.
Amanda Gorman The Hill We Climb. Image Unsplash/Yannick Pulver

Part One contains a selection of new thoughtful articles on education and awareness interventions based on, and enhancing the work from RESTORE publications, relating to the need for a new mindset and a nar-rative for a regenerative future.

Part Two provides insights into what modules are available through RESTORE members and the wider regenerative fraternity.

Part Three provides a reference portal into the myriad publications, presentations, articles, papers, videos and more from the four years of the RESTORE action.

Part Four provides a listing with details of the authors and contributors who can be contacted to facilitate elements of regenerative focused education and to give relevant advice on those themes.

The most important aspect of regenerative business today is to inspire future generations, future projects and future ideas to reach higher, to be bolder and to be far, far, more disruptive. 

Martin Brown. Author
Image Unsplash/Paweł Czerwiński

Martin Brown, Carlo Battisti.

Ann Vanner, Alison Watson, Blerta Vula, Giulia Sonetti, Ivan Šulc,
Jelena Brajković, Zvi Weinstein
, with Michelle Holliday (Guest Preface) Anna Williamson (TM and Vastu Architecture). Scott McAulay (Climate Literacy) Francesco Gonella (Systems Thinking) and Lydia Singh (RegenVast)

Zoom Regenerative Tutorials

What is Possible?

The Zoom Regenerative Pollinator series Pollinator Series – a series of three one hour sessions, commences on May 4th with Regenerative Minds.

We invite you to participate in three collaborative modules, hosted online by Martin Brown and the ZR team with guest contributors. The three modules will provide an immersion into regenerative topics, trends and thinking – to refresh existing knowledge and skills and/or begin to understand regenerative principles from the ground up and to view them holistically.

Registration and more details here 

Regenerative Minds. 4th May A deeper understanding of what regenerative is and means within our built environment context. Perhaps all too often we use the Einstein quote that “we cannot solve problems with the same mindset that created them”. Yet we may not fully appreciate the mindset now needed to move forward with the regenerative, do more good, not just reduce impact, approach. This session will explore, using design and living systems thinking, how we can acknowledge that we inhabit a biosphere that is interconnected and interdependent.

Reciprocity. 6th May An understanding of a reciprocity based connectivity with nature and each other, through, and beyond biophilia. This module examines and goes beyond biophilia (love of life) to explore an understanding of what reciprocity can mean for us in the built environment. There are no transactional relationships in nature where living systems are based on reciprocity.

Regenerative Practice.11 May Exploration of project management approaches for regenerative projects. Moving from ‘systems thinking to ‘living systems thinking’ to provide a new form of symbiotic collaboration. Where we have power with, not over. Like the roots of a tree, or a complex web of mycelium, our collaborative strength is dependant on the strength of others, and vice-versa.

Registration and more details here 

Restore / Zoom Regenerative / Earthday

Our Restore / Zoom Regenerative event, listed as an Earthday event was a bittersweet affair with the four years EU Cost Action RESTORE ending its journey on the 30th of April. And like all strong communities – RESTORE has, and will continue to seed further progress in the built environment, and beyond. I echo Carlo Battisti (chair of Restore) recent comment, ‘it has been one of the most amazing and inspiring four years of my career’

The RESTORE programme assembled, through the work of over 160 members across 40 countries a phenomenal Body of Knowledge, all freely downloadable from the RESTORE pages.

Adding to the formable Regenerative Body of Knowledge (RBoK) from the RESTORE programme, there has been a raft of publications released this week as the 4 years EU Cost Action RESTORE winds up.

  • RESTORD 2030 a guide for educators,
  • Restory – the story of Restore,
  • A System Thinking Guide to Scale Jumping,s.

Recordings from the Sabden Restore Ready event can be viewed here, along with all other recordings for this series. This includes the brilliant Restore Animations – six short (90 sec) animations, one for each of the RESTORE working group.

Regenerative Notes 6

Regen Notes,  a fortnightly newsletter is released through substack, as an update of regenerative news, stories and more with a sideways focus on the built environment, curated by me, Martin Brown. These newsletters will be also shared here for Patreon subscribers.

Here is Regen Notes 6, the most recent – previous newsletters can be read here.

Restore, Restory, Restord,

On a dreary wet Brussels day in 2017, I walked from the city hotel over to the COST offices for the inaugural meeting of our COST RESTORE ‘action’. Some 40 attendees shaped the work programme, collaborations and friendships for the next four years. (RESTORE – Rethinking Sustainability for a Regenerative Future)

RESTORE may now be concluding but will leave a canon legacy of publications, papers and more that will spring further regenerative projects and development. We are currently embarking on a series of RESTORE READY events across Europe – Paris, Madrid, Belgrade, Malmo and Sabden are still open for registration. 

Writing and editing of the first drafts of RESTORY – the telling the project management of our four-year research network, and of RESTORDa guide for educators, students and partitioners, are now complete and the publication process begins.

RESTORD is based on asking what will good look like through imagining a city in the future that applied all the thinking from RESTORE, not as isolated technical or sustainability aspects, but at a system thinking, holistic level, where the synergy of the parts leads to something wonderful and beautiful, embracing complexity, at the edge of chaos. RESTORD also picks up on a long-held belief that that one of the most vital aspects of sustainability is to inspire the next generation to reach higher, to be bolder, more courageous and more disruptive from business as usual than our generation has been.

In writing RESTORD it is hard not to reflect that so much of our built environment process persists in degenerative practice, we have a long way to go in a short time to fully embrace regenerative, do more good, not only less bad, approaches. We may have the technologies but now need the mindsets. A section within RESTORD, Mind the Regenerative Future was a journey of discovery on the necessity for higher awareness and consciousness, from mindfulness to self-organising systems, from symbiotic building to Transcendental Meditation and Vastu Architecture. 

Sustainability is not possible without engaging in the process of Regeneration or Conscious Evolution …Jason Mclellan, founder of Living Building Challenge (From living Buildings to Building life) 


RESTORD also carries an exploration of Eco Literacy and our need for standing on the shoulders of giants. Writing with Giulia Sonetti “At the heart of most eco-literature, if not all, is our relationship with nature, with land, either directly as individuals or through our industrial and societal progress, through energy, transport, communications and our built environment”

Many of the suggested eco-literacy genre authors noted in RESTORD are to be (re)published in a Penguin Green Ideas paperback series, including authors such as Aldo Leopold (Think Like a Mountain), EO Wilson (Every Species is a Masterpiece), Robin Wall Kimmerer (The Democracy of Species), Rachel Carson (Man’s War Against Nature), Naomi Klein (Hot Money) Wendell Berry (What I Stand for is What I Stand On) and Bill McKibben (An Idea Can Go Extinct) 

Also noted in respect of new books is “Design Studio Vol. 1: Everything Needs to Change: Architecture and the Climate Emergency”  published by RIBA, “‘Exploring architecture and the climate emergency, editors Sofie Pelsmakers (sustainable architect, educator and author of The Environmental Design Pocketbook) and Nick Newman (climate activist and Director of award-winning practice Studio Bark) are channelling the message of Greta Thunberg to inspire, enthuse and inform the next generation of architects. 


Most of the UK’s environmental protections stem from EU law and so could be changed as a result of Brexit. Greener UK has produced a Risk Tracker to show which policy areas are more secure, and which are most at risk. ‘Encouraging the UK government will go further than simply safeguarding protections, to take advantage of the great opportunity of restoring nature and our natural resources within a generation, as set out in the Greener UK vision’

Continuing the Regen-Notes nature and health theme, the BBC reported on the German trend of waldeinsamkeit, an archaic German term for the feeling of “forest loneliness”. Or more appropriately, the enlightened, sublime feeling that can come from being alone in the woods, seeking calm, fresh air and hermit-like solitude with the country’s restriction-free spruce, conifer, beech, oak and birch forests busier than ever. 

Over this spring and summer, Plantlife has four different Hunts with over 70 flowers to get to know. Starting with spring favourites, from first yellows of celandines and primroses, through to bluebells and cuckooflower 

Partners at the UP STRAW project have created a library of more than 400 publications dedicated to building with straw. The library, a free reference management tool that allows the user to manage bibliographical data and documents such as websites, videos, scientific articles, books and PDFs. 

Earthhour occurs on the 27th of March. No matter where you are in the world, you can make an impact and join for the Hour to speak up for nature! 


The Risk of Letting Big Finance Write Its Own Climate Rules – Bloomberg article explores the risk in how big finance interprets zero carbon – and it looks very different from stabilising and reducing CO2 to address and mitigate the climate and ecological crisis. 

Carbon offsets offer a fantasy of capitalism without crises from Robert Watt in The Conversation explores the far fetched world of carbon credit trading, where “actors all have conflicts of interest – developers want to sell more credits, while standards agencies and auditors want to gain market share. The resulting credits they certify are offered as a cheap means to appear green” 

Just Is

Georgia Elliott Smith launched a new campaign video for her legal challenge of the UK Government over incineration pollution and carbon emissions.Georgia Elliott-Smith @georgiaesHelp me fight the UK govt in the High Court on 14th & 15th April 2021, demanding #climatejustice and an end to incinerator pollution. Find out more at #somethingintheairImage

March 9th 202124 Retweets34 Likes

Zoom Regenerative 

Zoom Regenerative 28 featured Louise Hamot exploring carbon in MEP based on her work, recently published in CIBSE Technical Memorandum 65: Embodied Carbon in building services, and insights from Slovakia with Marián Ontkóc on low or negative carbon building materials, crafts and tutoring.

Delighted that Zoom Regenerative 29, on the 23rd March will feature Eden Brukman sharing insights from her regenerative work with the City of San Fransisco and beyond. Equally delighted that ZR29 will also feature Freddie Catlow in Stockholm, sharing his journey in bamboo, “from one to boo”, that led to his business venture Planboo. Registration here.

The Zoom Regenerative Earthday special, a hybrid event in Sabden Lancashire, hosted by the wonderful Class of Your Own, in conjunction with RESTORE and Living Future Europe will be held on the 20th April. The full-day (2 pm-9 pm) session will feature RESTORE Ready presentations and discussions, local regenerative presentations with an educational theme and a series of peach kuchas on regenerative practice in NW England to create a Living Future Collaborative hub. Wow 

And finally, excited to announce the ZR Pollinator Tutorials are shaping up for the week of 3 May. Tutorials will explore the foundations and basics of leading-edge regenerative themes, including Mind the Regenerative Future; Regenerative Economics; Regenerative Collaborations and The Living Building Challenge that features so much in the ZR sessions.

Regen Notes 4

Welcome to Regen Notes issue 4, a fortnightly newsletter of regenerative news, stories and more with a sideways focus on the built environment, curated by Martin Brown. Read more from this newsletter and subscribe to get Regen Notes to your inbox here


The Economics of Biodiversity: The Dasgupta Review, continues to get a lot of climate press coverage, but not that I have noticed within the built environment sector. As noted in RegenNotes 3, central to the Review, and to progress towards an economy that addresses the natural ecology is the inclusion of ecology as a core educational subject.

The UK is to set up green finance hubs in Leeds and London, as part of efforts to encourage lenders and insurers to invest in renewable energy and sustainable industry. Its mission will be to provide data and analytics to financial institutions to support their investment decisions. 

“Who would listen to Bill Gates, billionaire, on how to save the planet,” asks Bill Gates. His new book ‘How To Avoid A Climate Disaster’ is receiving a lot of media coverage. Gates focuses on two numbers 51billion and Zero. 51bn being the amount of co2 emitted annually and 0 the number we need to get to by 2050. Worth checking out is his interesting view on what he calls “the juggernaut of emissions generated by the global construction cement and steel industries” 

On which CNBC reported this week: “Cement giant turn to green hydrogen and carbon capture in efforts to curb emissions” A subsidiary of multinational building materials firm HeidelbergCement is working with researchers from Swansea University to install and operate a green hydrogen fuelled concrete production demonstration unit at a site in the UK.


An emerging and important approach to reconnection with nature is in granting natural features legal status. Amidst the US November 2020 elections, legal rights were granted to the Little Wekiva River, Orange County, Florida as having a “right to exist, flow, to be protected against pollution, and to maintain a healthy ecosystem.” 

This was an approach that I raised for discussion on a recent workshop session for the ‘“Symbiotisch Bouwen” in the Netherlands. (Whose aim is to demonstrate the application of symbiotic construction by designing and building an innovation pavilion at Kloosters). A question raised was that If nature is seen to be a stakeholder to projects, with legal status, how would Nature be represented, and who will represent, around the briefing, design, construction planning tables?

This approach popped up on the wonderful BBC OutofDoors programme/podcast in a conversation with Allison Phillips UNESCO Chair of Integration at Glasgow University. Allison started the interview with her mihi, (a Maori greeting, introducing yourself through connectivity with land, culture, ancestry and arrival) and explores how Maori land stewardship in New Zealand, led to the recognition of land having a legal personality, where respect for the land as a living growing entity should be taken into account. Although broadcast at 6:30am on Saturday mornings, OutOfDoors is a real early morning treat, it is available through podcasts. 

One successful organisation addressing the importance of nature within economics is Ecosia. “Planting forests, one search at a time”, Ecosia is a non-profit organisation that funnels any revenue that isn’t needed to cover its overheads, tax and marketing efforts towards tree planting initiatives. The company founded on green principles is responsible for less than 1% of search worldwide, compared to the whopping 91.39% market share held by Google. 

However … the company has planted almost 120 million trees to date, across 9,000 planting sites worldwide. One tree is planted for roughly every 45 searches made via Ecosia, at a current rate of 1.3 trees per second, suggesting five million searches are carried out every day using the service. 


The question remains how built environment economics will address and move to a regenerative economy, one that takes an “ecological world view in which nature is the model.” How will accountant and surveyor and educational institutions, courses and practices move to embrace a regenerative economic approach?

Many organisations and institutes have now declared climate and ecological emergencies, but as Scott Macaulay pointed out on Zoom Regen 26, emergencies don’t wait for the typical 3 or 5-year academic cycles – or for that matter the 3 or 5-year business planning cycles – they require immediate action. 

Scott also illustrated how poorly we understand climate and carbon – not surprising as we have a number of different labels, each with differing descriptions for carbon reduction, carbon neutral, carbon positive and negative and so on.

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Regen Notes 3

Welcome to Regen Notes, a fortnightly newsletter of regenerative news, stories and more with a sideways focus on the built environment, curated by Martin Brown. This posted originally released through substack on Feb 2nd. Follow Regen Notes and Subscribe here)

Emerging with the promise of pollen for early pollinators on #Imbolc day … half way between winter and spring equinox … we too now emerge with new ideas, new hopes & sow seeds for the year ahead……

Place, Nature, Economy, Education … 

Since the last newsletter, the welcomed inauguration of Biden has taken place. And the world, for a while, looking a more positive place, with the USA rejoining the Paris movement and making positive noises on a raft of environmental issues. The poet Amanda Gorman wowed at the inauguration with The hills that we Climb, hinting at the challenges ahead “what is, is not justice”

J Lopez sang This Land is Our Land the great Woody Gutherie 1940’s song, a strong message on the Public Lands debate in the US maybe, but she did not include verses critical of the USA on hunger and trespass …

As I went walking I saw a sign there. 

And on the sign, it said “No Trespassing.”

But on the other side, it didn’t say anything,

That side was made for you and me.

man playing guitar poster

Such was the potential political impact of these verses, even Guthrie didn’t sing them on original recordings fearing McCarthy investigations. Meanwhile, here in the UK Trespass is again raised as a political issue – to make trespass a criminal rather than civil offence, a move noted as an unnecessary attack on ancient freedoms

Place features prominently in the Living Building Challenge and (albeit) less so in other standards. The importance of place, of location, and access to nature, has become something we are appreciating more and more during the pandemic lockdowns, creating a real impetus for more engagement with the natural world. 

With a sense of Place as our “sixth sense, an internal compass and map made by memory and spatial perception together.” (Rachel Solnit), it is becoming an ever-important health and wellbeing issue, now challenging design of buildings and cities.(Gensler)

This innate desire and need to form a personal identity and a meaningful attachment with place and with landscapes, defined as Topophilia (the love of or emotional connections with place or physical environment) will emerge as a powerful design criteria as we emerge through the pandemic portal.

The Economics of Biodiversity

yellow and purple flower field during daytime

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Regen Notes 2

Welcome to Regen Notes, a fortnightly newsletter of regenerative news, stories and more, with a focus on the built environment, curated by Martin Brown. (This post originally released on 19th January) Follow and subscribe to Regen Notes here


On a recent tutored session the question “What is it you need to know right now’? was posed. And it is a great question. In particular, what is it we need to know right now to enable the built environment to progress on climate and ecological crisis matters, as we head towards COP26, other 2021 milestones and beyond to 2030? 


It is indeed a question many are now asking and many seeking to provide answers to. The recently launched Climate Framework is seeking to break down silos and establish common ground, define a common language, and identify the holistic knowledge and skills every built environment professional must be equipped with to deliver truly sustainable built environments today and in the future.


There is a resonance here with Rob Hopkins in the Transition Handbook, over 10 years ago. foreseeing a great upskilling in the built environment. Something we are still waiting for. Rob Hopkins continues to inspire on “What If” questions – with his latest podcast asking the question What if rewrote our national curriculum based on permaculture principles? By now, as Rob Hopkins notes, on a journey into ‘From What If to What Next’, it is clear that one of the key things in our world in 2021 that needs reimagining is our education system.

During a series of ‘new normal’ Specifi talks during 2019, I asked the question: What if every MEP trade course started with teaching Ecology 101? It is now clear that building designs will look for more and more nature-based solutions, yet do we understand how nature works?


Prince Charles launched Terra Carta, For Nature, People & Planet, with The Sustainable Markets Initiative at the One Planet Summit on the 11th January in Paris, seeking to, amongst other aims ‘broaden the definition of sustainability, beyond simply a net-zero transition, to be inclusive of Nature, People, Planet, Equality and Prosperity’ “Humanity has made incredible progress over the past century, yet the cost of this progress has caused immense destruction to the planet that sustains us. We simply cannot maintain this course indefinitely.”

As reported in the Guardian, a coalition of more than 50 countries has committed to protecting almost a third of the planet by 2030 to halt the destruction of the natural world and slow extinction of wildlife. The High Ambition Coalition (HAC) for Nature and People, which includes the UK and countries from six continents, pledged to protect at least 30% of the Planet’s land and oceans before the One Planet Summit.

Yet the concept of connectivity with nature is something on which we have differing levels of understanding. Miles Richardson and colleagues at Derby University Nature Connectedness Research Group, have launched a free online MOOC course. Made up of eight short units, it provides an opportunity to learn about Nature Connectedness and the value of having a strong relationship with nature. 


Earthday 2021 is ramping up its planned activities and celebrations on April 22nd with over 1 billion participants. When life around the globe returns to normal, our world cannot return to business-as-usual. Our global community has been shocked by the largest global crisis in a generation. COVID-19 has shown us the necessity of thinking ahead, but the next crises are already on their way. Climate change, species loss, pandemics and massive natural disasters might define the future unless we do something now. We have the solutions, both natural and technological, we just need the will.


If we need a reminder wake-up graphic, Ed Hawkins, (of warming stripes) supplied just that with a tweeted global temperature variations image. The thread of this tweet makes great reading for making sense of past warming with additional input (videos and comments) from Katharine Hayhoe. Ed Hawkins @ed_hawkinsGlobal temperature variations over the last 2020 years January 17th 20214,604 Retweets9,053 Likes


Earlier in the week, again on Twitter, Oliver Baldock asked another important question “Anyone have any / know of anyone who has techniques for getting clients to adopt low embodied carbon targets on their project. I’m looking into barriers which are slowing the tackling of embodied carbon in construction and would love to discuss! (and this is another great thread to read) Oliver Baldock @ollie_baldockAnyone have any / know of anyone who has techniques for getting clients to adopt low embodied carbon targets on their project. I’m looking into barriers which are slowing the tackling of embodied carbon in construction and would love to discuss! @ArchitectsCAN @archdeclareJanuary 13th 20216 Retweets23 Likes

My response here is to look at who is doing the carbon reduction approach well, at a client level, a contractor level and external to the built environment. We can look, for example at British Lands Net Zero carbon strategy, at Baxall Construction’s approach to monitoring and reducing carbon at construction level, (NFB Major Contractors Carbon Report pg 23) and externally to BrewDog’s carbon policy and their Make Earth Great Again programme.Martin Brown @fairsnape@ollie_baldock @ArchitectsCAN @archdeclare Make it financially attractive to reduce carbon – as British Land net-zero carbon strategy … 1/3January 14th 20212 Likes

Returning to ‘What If’ questions – and learning from Brewdog, what if the built environment offset twice the amount of carbon it generates, whilst also implementing rigorous actions to take carbon out?

Zoom Regenerative.

Zoom Regenerative returns for its first session of 2021 on 26 January, addressing more what if’s, on vital regenerative themes. Joanna Watchman (Content Comms for a carbon-conscious world and Work in Mind) shares insights on the importance of sharing stories, without greenwash, and as part of Creatives Declare, the importance of transparency in revealing income from fossil fuel clients. And from Diana Ilina, Paris, we hear on the plans to green the city and create a 15 min walkable city. 

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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

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 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:

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: )

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 –

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:

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:

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:

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:

… 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:

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:

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:

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Ego Eco Seva – Revisited

Reading Zoe Cohen’s recent linkedin share of a 2016 Ego-Eco article from Art Tawanghar lead me to revisit my my framing of regenerative sustainability work and consultancy support within Ego-Eco-Seva thinking …

Ego-Eco is a great way to frame our past and current approach to the environment, sustainability and the climate crisis, but does it go far or deep enough? We tend to think of ‘Ego and Eco’ as being distinct periods, Ego illustrating our thinking post-industrial revolution when we took what we wanted to satisfy egos, and dumped what we didn’t without thought to the consequences.

We perhaps see the current ‘Eco’ period starting in the 1970s with the first Earth Day, or with the Club of Rome, or as I like to frame it, with the 1987 Brundtland Common Purpose definition. But of course, ‘Ego and Eco’ are running concurrently. Even in the era of ‘Eco’ focus we see Ego’s surface and suppress Eco thinking, for example, in the auctioning of the Arctic wildlife area for oil drilling, in the UK HS2 project and architects pulling out of Architects Declare to continue working on projects that are seen by many as vanity projects.

But the Eco phase, if taken as the Brundtland ‘do nothing today to compromise tomorrows generation’ is failing us. Over the last 30 or so years since Brundtland most if not all climate indicators, (CO2, temperatures, waste et al) continue heading in the wrong direction.

Yet, against this backdrop, connectivity with nature has become a keystone for the emerging regenerative sustainability agenda. Manifest through the ‘woke’ application of biomimicry, biophilia and sustainable building accreditations such as the Living Building Challenge that see buildings and us as inhabitants as part of the natural eco-systems. But these are the exemptions and in many ways still passive, with a dominant focus on reducing impact.

We need something more, a new mindset to eclipse ‘Eco’. Many like myself (Daniel Wahl, Cost Restore and others) are using the Sanskrit expression of Seva. It translates as ‘being in service’ which I have used as ‘doing the right thing’ because we are a part of, not apart from nature, it is very much reciprocity, we are in service to nature as nature is in services to us.

Remaking Cities – Milan 2019

The earliest illustration of ‘Ego Eco Seva’ was in a GlanceSideways blog, Oct 2012 adjusting the Ego Eco graphic to show ‘the path to a perfect relationship within the ecosystem” As a graphic, it triggers a powerful and necessary reframing of Ego-Eco as the attitude needed to create a sustainable culture, ‘one that nourishes and cares for the earth we live on. Seva is a role that can only be performed with a relationship of love and humility to all entities in the environment’

Ed Gillispie in a lovely early 2020 Medium The End of ‘Saving the World’? article describes the Seva mindset … ‘The planet does not want to be saved. Or rescued. Or even changed. Our planet wants to be loved. Love is not a game of numbers and spreadsheets, checks and balances, debts and contracts. It is an exalted dance of joy, respect and gleeful, mutual appreciation and true partnership’.

In the wonderful Braiding Sweetgrass, Robin Kimmerer Wall addresses Seva and reciprocity from an indigenous angle, learning from plants, learning from nature. For example through the harmonious harvest of only taking what we need and using everything we take. RKW writing recently in Emergence Magazine, The Serviceberry takes this further as a basis for a new bio-economy … an economy of abundance

Arundhati Roy writing in the Financial Times at the start of the lockdown in the UK describes the pandemic as a portal through which we will pass. (This was one of the articles that triggered my founding the successful Zoom Regenerative series) And now with vaccines, we can start to see the other side of the portal, and focus on her question of what good will we take through, and what bad will we leave behind.

A sustainability Seva approach based on reciprocity, in service to others and nature, would be a fine thing to take through the pandemic portal as the new normal for 2021 and beyond. We have technological and digital solutions, we have nature-based solutions, we now need the new normal, free from the restraints of the ego-eco old normal, to apply and scale-up.

Read Zoe Cohen’s Linkedin Post sharing a 2016 article from Art Tawanghar that lead me to revisit my my framing of regenerative sustainability work within Ego-Eco-Seva thinking …

Zoom Regenerative 24: Celebration + Reciprocity

Edition 24 of #ZoomRegenerative closed 2020 by celebrating guests who shared regenerative insights over the year, and the sharing and gifting what has inspired us on regenerative themes in 2020. And wow, was there a lot …

2020 has been an extraordinary year, one of grief and sadness for many but also one of time for reflection and exploration of ideas. Starting in April, Zoom Regenerative’s impressive guest list covered the globe and spectrum of regenerative sustainability. As did the scope of the what has been inspiring us over the year. Here is a recap that should keep us busy and inspired way into 2021 and also makes for a wonderful ideas list for Christmas gifts.


Not surprisingly there were many books mentioned, including:
Braiding Sweetgrass – Robin Wall Kimmerer (link)
Underland A deep Time Journey – Robert Macfarlane (link)
From What is to What if – Rob Hopkins (link)
Entangled Life: How Fungi Make Our Worlds, Change Our Minds and Shape Our Futures – Merlin Sheldrake (link)
Chasing the Sun: The New Science of Sunlight, How it Shapes Our Bodies and Minds – Linda Geddes (link)
Doughnut Economics: Seven Ways to Think Like a 21st-Century Economist – Kate Raworth (link)
Burn – Using Fire to Cool the Earth. (link)
My Name is Chellis I’m in Recovery from Western Civilization – Chellis Glendinning (link)
Imaginal Cells: Visions of Transformation (link)
The Power of Now – Echart Tolle (link)

“There is so much information out there, don’t be overwhelmed by it all. All we can do is live in the highest state of consciousness and we will naturally gravitate to the right information and decision making” (JP)


Thich Naht Hanh (link)
Kate Raworth (link)
Johan Rockstrom (link)
Joe Biden (link)

“The greatest gift we can give is our presence” (MB)


The Story of Plastic (link)
BBC Planet North (link)
2040 (link)
Kissing the Ground (link)
Fantastic Fungi (link)
The Biggest Little Farm (link)

“To give of ourselves, through food, is such an act of generosity and reciprocity” (AW)


ACAN (Youth) (link)
Zoom Regenerative (link) (We need a website!)
Connecting Fashion and Built Environment
RESTORE Final Conference (link)
Rocky Mountain Institute (link)
LETI (link)
Architects for Future – (link)
Supply Chain Sustainability School (link)

Happiness is within us all. The pot of gold we are trying to find is deep down inside all of us. Accessing your sub conscious through mediation we can simply transcend to find that inner peace :). Then we bring it all back up into our conscious state 🙂 (JP)


Brain Pickings – Maria Popova (link)
Reboot the Future (link)
The Regenerative Podcast (Neal Collins) (link)
Carbon Literacy Programme (link)
Resilience (link)
What If (podcast) – Rob Hopkins (link)
As You Sow (link)
Merlin Sheldrake BBC Book of the Month audio (link)
Bamboo – (link)
Cradle to Cradle – (link)
Miyawaki Forests – (link)
Bio Ladies – (link)

“To me creativity is prayer, creativity is meditation, creativity is life. So don’t be afraid of life and don’t close yourself in indifference” (N)


A Costa Rican Sunrise
Earth – Sustainability Conferences within a (Bristol) Planetarium

“I want to thank you so very much for the opportunity you open to be part of these formidable webinars and gatherings. Feels like a family” (VM)

Well, I guess that concludes 2020 ZR reflections, and as we approach the winter solstice on December 21st we turn to welcome in a new spring, new growth and new light for a truly regenerative 2021.

This post originally appeared on Regenerators Patreon