Category: Health


Designing Regenerative Cultures

Daniel Christian Wahl
Saturday, 18th June 2016

Daniel Christian Wahl says a new generation of designers can design a world in which all can thrive and not just survive.

A new generation of designers are applying ecologically inspired design to agriculture, architecture, community planning, cities, enterprises, economics and ecosystem regeneration. Join them to co-create diverse regenerative cultures in the transition towards a regenerative society. Humanity’s impact needs to shift from degeneration to regeneration before the middle of this century. We will all have to collaborate to achieve this transformative response to the converging crises we are facing….

read more here

dandelion‘The massacre of dandelions is a peculiarly satisfying occupation, a harmless and comforting outlet for the destructive element in our natures. It should be available as a safety valve for everybody. Last May, when the dandelions were at theri height, we were visited by a friend whose father had just died; she was discordant and hurt, and life to her was unrhythmic. With visible release she dashed inot the orchard to slash at the dandelions; as she destroyed them her discords were resolved. After two days of weed slaughtering her face was calm. The garden had healed her.’

Clare Leighton 1935

toddler-gardening‘My father mistrusted gardeners- they dig up all one’s best plants, he avowed- and would not have one anywhere about the place, so always I was commandeered to do the weeding and clearing that bored him. ‘When I grow up I’ll never, never, never have a garden’, I resolved, as day after day I uprooted daisies from the tennis court or tidied the edges of the paths. And I meant it. But now that there is no force to command me but the needs of the garden itself, I am happy with it.’

Clare Leighton 1935

double-digging-hero‘There is great healing power in digging. This is so much the case that one is tempted to wonder if any actual electrical power comes up to one from the earth. Perhaps the benefit is merely from the rhythmic movements of the body. At any rate, however sulking and rebellious one may be at the start, sesitiveness creeps up the fork into hands and body and legs. Finally the brain surrenders and one is again at peace with the garden.’

Clare Leighton 1935

P1020823aSeen from indoors, or as you approach a stepped entrance, pots can make a ready-staged display as they mount the stairs. But always make sure that the pots do not obstruct the route and that they cannot fall or be kicked over. You can fix the pots in place with a dab or two of cement, as long as the drainage holes are not blocked, but this means they cannot be moved. The simplest way to secure each pot is to wrap a loop of gardening wire firmly round it and tie the ends of the wire to side railings or other firmly fixed uprights.

Source: ‘Good Ideas for Your Garden’- Reader’s Digest 1995

Old School Gardener

nature playHere’s a final extract from the book ‘Noah’s Children’ by Sara Stein. This piece reflects on how as adults we are in danger of losing our ability to play and that this is part of a wider disconnect between humans (especially children) and the natural world about us:

‘One of the nicest things about the human race is our abiding juvenility….We’re fun; we’re funny. There is probably no species, not even chimps or wolves, in which there is as much behavioural congruence between adults and children.

Yet how ‘unfun’ we’ve gotten! Biking has gone pro; it is to be performed seriously (exhaustingly!) and properly attired. Even taking a walk has been transformed into walking – stylishly, with striped sweats and weighted mannerisms, to the purpose of fitness- and without an eye for what might be of interest along the way. In an article I read about dismantling playgrounds and abandoning school recess, a principal was quoted on the subject of improving academic performance. ” You can’t do that”, he said, “by having kids hanging on monkey bars.”…’

Coincidentally I’ve just come an interesting review of a new book about children, learning, play and nature. Here’s a quote from that:

‘Children play, and used to play ‘in nature’, outdoors. To some extent they still do, but probably not nearly enough. We inhibit their explorations, creativity, and self-testing. And the same goes for adults.’

You might like to take a look at the review here: ‘Learning with Nature and the Nature of Play’

I hope that you’ve enjoyed this series of extracts. I certainly found the book very stimulating and am currently enjoying Stein’s follow up to ‘Noah’s Garden’, all about natural plant communities and the like.

Old School Gardener

Picture: Free digital photos.net

Picture: Free digital photos.net

Here’s another extract from the book ‘Noah’s Children’ by Sara Stein. Here she reflects on how adolescence for many is not a transition to adulthood, but an increasingly inward-looking culture of it’s own:

‘We have experienced an emphatic turning of children towards their peers. We have seen the emergence of idols not yet beyond their teens. We watch our children withdraw into other worlds along the malls and behind computer screens where we don’t – and they don’t let us – follow.

This is taking a great leap into the unprovable, but I would guess that the interminable stage of life we call adoloscence is, in fact, a halting of development in cultures where childhood endeavor is not rewarded by adulthood as children imagined it would be.’

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this and the wider issues raised…

Old School Gardener

community parkHere’s my sixth extract from the book ‘Noah’s Children’ by Sara Stein. Here she talks about the decline of communities where people (including children) feel that they belong and experience a sense of common purpose:

‘Several times I’ve run into an interesting statistic in the books I read: the people we count as friends- those with whom we comfortably share meals and other forms of visiting- number no more than 150 (and usually fewer)…we seem to be biologically limited to a smallish circle of those whom we can know in a more familiar sense and who we feel know us. The number is about the upper limit of any group that can be sustained by a hunting/gathering economy and not much less than can be sustained by a subistence farming community.

So it may be that, in addition to the fact that residents of a tract development or a block of apartment houses are not assembled in common purpose, the sheer scale of the community may stand in the way of our sense of belonging to it. We seem to realize the importance of social scale for children when we call for smaller classes and smaller schools within the neighbourhood. The trend to gated communities, neighborhood gardens, pocket parks, and local streets closed to traffic indicate our urge to safely congregate where we can consult the social mirror. But for many of us, and possibly for most, the urge is thwarted or was extinguished before it had much chance to grow.

Aware of that difficulty, many have proposed that we teach community and family values in school. The proposal is as hopeless as teaching children what an apple tree is without their experiencing the tree or instructing them on how to fish without going fishing. A sense of community is absorbed through experience of the actual community, just as family values are incorporated within the actual family. So we are left with our good nature flapping raggedly without the pole that once lifted it aloft, and we are lonely…’

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this and the wider issues raised…

Old School Gardener

vineMy fifth extract from the book ‘Noah’s Children’ by Sara Stein challenges some notions of what education should be about for young children. She compares the needs of these ‘tinies’ with those of wandering vines…

‘Most vines…germinate, grow tendrils, and wave about (clockwise or counterclockwise, depending on the species) until they engage support. Then…they climb upward toward the light, where, in sunlit maturity, they are able to bloom and fruit….Random exploration is essential to fulfillment of the vine’s biological program. So are the wanderings of children….

…you have experienced the wanderings of a child, and how it feels when what you have come upon suddenly makes sense. First, you wander the kames and kettles, kick sand and sink in mud, climb up and down the abruptly steep terrain, find fringed gentians, suffer poison ivy: then you reach for the fabulous coherence of glacial geography. Nothing is wrong with formal education except that we have got it backward. Children need experiences to make sense of before what we teach them can make sense. In this view, education is not something imposed from outside, but arises in children’s need for adults to arrange coherently the chaos of their perceptions.’

snow sledgingI’d love to hear your thoughts on this and the wider issues raised…

Old School Gardener

withered tree dementia

‘Not a twig or a leaf on the old tree,

Wind and frost harm it no more,

A man could pass through the hole in its belly,

Ants crawl searching under its peeling bark.

Its only lodger, the toadstool which dies in a morning,

The birds no longer visit in the twilight.

But its wood can still spark tinder.

It does not care yet to be only the void at its heart.’

Han Yu (translated by A.C. Graham)

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