Avoiding extinction: participation in the nested complexity of life

Designing for positive emergence and planetary health?

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Gibson Desert in Western Australia from ISS, Image Source

“Truly, we are now in a new world where the old certainties are melting away and we have to learn to think and act differently. We have to interact with these uncertain processes, which affect our health, our food, our weather, our standard of living.”

— Brian Goodwin, 2001

“To address our socio-economic and ecological crisis now requires a level of contextual comprehension, wiggly though it may be to grok the inconsistencies and paradoxes of interrelational process. Far from solving these dilemmas or resolving the conflicting patterns, warm data utilizes these characteristics as its most important resources of inquiry.”

— Nora Bateson, 2017

“… there is plenty to do, of a different sort of “doing.” The future can’t be predicted, but it can be envisioned and brought lovingly into being. Systems can’t be controlled, but they can be designed and redesigned. We can’t surge forward with certainty into a world of no surprises, but we can expect surprises and learn from them and even profit from them. We can’t impose our will upon a system. We can listen to what the system tells us, and discover how its properties and our values can work together to bring forth something much better than could ever be produced by our will alone.We can’t control systems or figure them out. But we can dance with them!”

— Donella Meadows, 2002

“The health and wellbeing of individuals, communities, cities and societies depend critically on the resilience and health of ecosystems and on vital ecosystems services that are provided by ecological processes within the biosphere. Therefore ,one overarching goal of design for sustainability should be to improve and maintain human, ecosystems, and planetary health. […] sustainable design is by necessity scale-linking and salutogenic (health-generating) design across all scales of the complex dynamic system that joins nature and culture, as well as global, national, regional and local scales.”

“While more food, energy and materials than ever before are now being supplied to people in most places, this is increasingly at the expense of nature’s ability to provide such contributions in the future and frequently undermines nature’s many other contributions, which range from water quality regulation to sense of place. The biosphere, upon which humanity as a whole depends, is being altered to an unparalleled degree across all spatial scales. Biodiversity — the diversity within species, between species and of ecosystems — is declining faster than at any time in human history.”

— ‘International Science and Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystems Services’ (Diaz et al., 2019)

Catalysing transformative innovation, cultural co-creation, whole systems design, and bioregional regeneration. Author of Designing Regenerative Cultures

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