Lately, we’ve been watching the US election process with hope, as we’ve seen ideas put forward that are connective, caring, and considerate of the needs of the whole of society.
What we desire is balance.
A balanced person is both strong and caring; they value themselves as well as others.
Two balanced people who join together in partnership can be happy because they share these qualities and mutually support each other “through sickness and health.”
So too, a community of balanced people can be vibrant, productive, and generous as long as the social and environmental ecosystems they create are regenerative – restoring and replenishing even as resources are used.
Our society is out of balance, in part, because the economy is trying to defy the laws of natural systems.
Our flawed economic system often rewards behavior that perpetuates the suffering of our fellow brothers and sisters, and is causing great harm to the planet that sustains us. In order for us to alleviate suffering, we need to change this system.
We can do better.
Humanity is starting to understand the inherent patterns of what works.
“We can — and must — bring our economic theory and practice into alignment with our latest understanding of how the universe and our humanity actually work!”
~ John Fullerton, Founder, The Capital Institute
Last week we wrote about the transition from “sustainable” to “regenerative” and a thoughtful comment from Hunter Lovins of the Natural Capital Institute, named a “Hero of the Planet” by Time Magazine, sent Jack deep into the study of Regenerative Capitalism.
Regenerative Capitalism is a concept developed by The Capital Institute, a non-partisan, transdisciplinary collaborative launched in 2010 by former JPMorgan Managing Director John Fullerton.
At the heart of this new way of thinking is a single core idea:
“The universal patterns and principles the cosmos uses to build stable, healthy, and sustainable systems throughout the real world can and must be used as a model for economic-system design.”
John and his team have distilled their research into eight key, interconnected principles that underlie systemic health¹:
1. In Right Relationship – Humanity is an integral part of an interconnected web of life in which there is no real separation between “us” and “it.” The scale of the human economy matters in relation to the biosphere in which it is embedded. What is more, we are all connected to one another and to all locales of our global civilization. Damage to any part of that web ripples back to harm every other part as well.
2. Views Wealth Holistically – True wealth is not merely money in the bank. It must be defined and managed in terms of the well-being of the whole, achieved through the harmonization of multiple kinds of wealth or capital, including social, cultural, living, and experiential. It must also be defined by a broadly shared prosperity across all of these varied forms of capital. The whole is only as strong as the weakest link.
3. Innovative, Adaptive, Responsive – In a world in which change is both ever-present and accelerating, the qualities of innovation and adaptability are critical to health. It is this idea that Charles Darwin intended to convey in this often-misconstrued statement attributed to him: “In the struggle for survival, the fittest win out at the expense of their rivals.” What Darwin actually meant is that: the most “fit” is the one that fits best i.e., the one that is most adaptable to a changing environment.
4. Empowered Participation – In an interdependent system, fitness comes from contributing in some way to the health of the whole. The quality of empowered participation means that all parts must be “in relationship” with the larger whole in ways that not only empower them to negotiate for their own needs, but also enable them to add their unique contribution towards the health and well-being of the larger wholes in which they are embedded.
5. Honors Community and Place – Each human community consists of a mosaic of peoples, traditions, beliefs, and institutions uniquely shaped by long-term pressures of geography,human history, culture, local environment, and changing human needs. Honoring this fact, a Regenerative Economy nurtures healthy and resilient communities and regions, each one uniquely informed by the essence of its individual history and place.
6. Edge Effect Abundance – Creativity and abundance flourish synergistically at the “edges” of systems, where the bonds holding the dominant pattern in place are weakest. For example, there is an abundance of interdependent life in salt marshes where a river meets the ocean. At those edges the opportunities for innovation and cross-fertilization are the greatest. Working collaboratively across edges – with ongoing learning and development sourced from the diversity that exists there – is transformative for both the communities where the exchanges are happening, and for the individuals involved.
7. Robust Circulatory Flow – Just as human health depends on the robust circulation of oxygen, nutrients, etc., so too does economic health depend on robust circulatory flows of money, information, resources, and goods and services to support exchange, flush toxins, and nourish every cell at every level of our human networks. The circulation of money and information and the efficient use and reuse of materials are particularly critical to individuals, businesses, and economies reaching their regenerative potential.
8. Seeks Balance – Being in balance is more than just a nice way to be; it is actually essential to systemic health. Like a unicycle rider, regenerative systems are always engaged in this delicate dance in search of balance. Achieving it requires that they harmonize multiple variables instead of optimizing single ones. A Regenerative Economy seeks to balance: efficiency and resilience; collaboration and competition; diversity and coherence; and small, medium, and large organizations and needs.
The resulting theory shows us how to build vibrant, long-lived, regenerative economies and societies using the same holistic principles of health found consistently across widely different types of systems throughout the cosmos. This theory grounds our understanding of why integrity, ethics, caring, and sharing lead to socially vibrant communities and healthy economies – while at the same time making perfect practical and scientific sense.
It differs most from current approaches to sustainability in that, instead of focusing on social and environmental health using traditional reductionist logic to “solve problems,” it aims directly at building healthy human networks as the objective, drawing on universal principles and patterns, with “sustainability” becoming an outcome, a natural byproduct of systemic health. It is like (holistic) healthcare in contrast to (reductionist) disease care.
It’s worth noting that, because these operating principles are descriptive of laws of natural systems, other regenerative practices share similar principles, including Permaculture, Holistic Management, and Sociocracy.
B Corp Certification
Also leading the way toward a regenerative economy is a new form of business entity, quickly growing in legal status in the US and around the world, the Certified B Corporation. B Corps are for-profit companies certified by the nonprofit B Lab to meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency.
Recently, Jack asked David Anderson, owner of Canvas Host, LLC in Portland, Oregon, to describe what B Corp certification has done for him and his business. Here’s what he had to say:
B Corp certification has done for our business, and me as its leader, the equivalent to working with a life coach in terms of setting measurable goals not only for “physical” success of the business, but mental and emotional success as well. Too often, we emphasize results based on the quantitative, and not enough on the qualitative. For example: Would you rather make more money? Or work in an environment that brought you more happiness? The two are equally important for some, and for other’s it’s going to be lopsided one way or another. Each of us measures success and sets goals based on different parameters. Through B certification, the big picture is coming into focus, and as leader of my company I’m realizing all of the many ways we can succeed, as well as all the places we still have left to work on. It is a never-ending process.
You can find stories of businesses and organizations that have begun applying the principles of Regenerative Capitalism here: http://fieldguide.capitalinstitute.org, and B Corp Certification here: http://www.bcorporation.net/b-the-change/changemakers
Clear guidance through complex systems
Sound science and strategic thinking are essential tools that are necessary to navigate our way through the intricacies of the emerging regenerative economy. Only by understanding the principles, applying logic, and monitoring and measuring our results can we comprehend the impact of our choices in advance of our actions. These tools are multiplied in effectiveness when guided by wisdom.
A mindfulness practice is vital to right action. Because our Souls are connected to Source, we can utilize this connection to be guided properly through the complexity that is our social and environmental ecosystem. We can know, in advance of science, where to put our attention and when to take right action.
Thoughtfully examine the principles described in this article and allow the information to percolate for a time. Then, ask within to be shown how you can begin applying one or more of them in your lifestyle choices, or your work. The answers you seek can be found within, without exception. Follow through on your inner guidance.
Apply the principles and observe the results. Share the stories of your successes with others so we can all benefit from them. Together, we can create a regenerative economy, guided by Spirit and supported by science.
Are you working to make a difference in the New Economy? Do you know someone who is? Please use the comment area below to share information and links to other examples and resources. And, please share this post to spread the word about regenerative practices.
Rich Blessings, Jack and Stacey