Creating connections through the arts and across cultures

Regenerate! Tweit-Riehl Blog Duet Continues…exploring

Two weeks ago Susan Tweit and I opened a format I've termed a "blog duet" (a coinage for our exchange between blogs and mind-hearts). Susan's blog Community of the Land focuses on spirit-infused ecology. My blog Riehlife seeks to gather and amplify village wisdom we can apply to our everyday 21st century conundrums.

Off She Goes Into the Wild Blue Yonder, sculpture by Janet Riehl
"Off She Goes Into the Wild Blue Yonder," scupture by Janet Riehl,
dedicated to my mother, Ruth Evelyn Johnston Thompson

In our opening Blog Duet, Susan and I considered "the balance between outward-aiming work in the world and the inward work necessary to sustain the spirit and energy that outward work draws on" (Tweit).

In our second set [jazz term seems right for our jazz conversation format], Susan focuses on energy conservation, landscape design, regenerative design, sustainable living, water conservation, and xeriscape as part of finding your balance inward and outward.

Upon her return from some demanding speaking engagements, Susan says, she had to wait to let "the new ideas settle and hear myself think". Please go to Susan's blog Community of the Land to read about the New Mexico Xeriscape Council's 13th national conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico and themes of water conservation and sustainable landscape design attended by 400 folks. And replete with wonderful speakers like New Mexico Senator Jeff Bingaman, "who pointed out that conservation is the cheapest and most effective way to find new sources of water" (Tweit).

After Susan tagged me for our second blog duet, I thrilled to her use of the word REGENERATIVE. This word goes in so many directions and connects so many ideas and situations for me ranging from the natural world, longevity in aging, sustaining our creative lives, revivifying relationships and so on. Regenerative feels like a word that reaches its arms out across the world and then down into the earth to root and then up into the heavens to sing hallelujas!

As I re-read and study Susan's post, it occurs to me that many of the same principles for sustaining the land and dealing with dry landscapes are transferrable to human relationships and the deep core of our lives as well.

Susan quotes Gloria Flora's wisdom on working with community to bring change for the better:

1) Find the common ground and work from there.
2) Think in terms of transformation, not destruction.

Aren't these principles we can use in relationships of all types...from romantic liasons to working partnerships?

The phrase "regnerative design" comes from "Keith Bowers of Biohabitats, an ecological restoration firm based in Maryland" (Tweit). His definition of regenerative design is to "design landscapes and systems that renew or restore themselves, using the integrity of nature to also meet human needs."

Keith, could we borrow your phrase for human systems work? What if Regenerative Design became the norm in both private and public life? What if we designed our lives and the life of our nation and placed our nation in the world in such a way that the landscape of our inner and outer worlds and systems renewed and restored themselves, using the integrity of human nature to meet human needs?

Susan says she knows that the reclamation work she and Richard have done in restoring their patch of ground out back of their home has been regenerative not only for the "native plant community and some of the animals and insects" but also for restoring their "connection to the landscape where we live."

Yes, I agree with Susan. We can take nature as a model and primary source. We can also listen and learn from the ecological workers among us who are attuned to systems thinking, so we can see both the big picture and the smaller details. To see with the eyes of the eagle soaring in the sky and also with the padded feet of the mouse scurrying across the crumbling clots of earth.

Eagle eyes scanning the landscape.
Mouse-y feet sensing the land.

Thus will be able to create vital connections and tend the relationships they weave.

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6 Responses »

  1. Janet,

    You are so right that regenerative design applies to people and our systems too. It's appropriate, since we are part of nature - we've forgotten our connection, but the rest of nature hasn't forgotten us. I love your question: "What if we designed our lives and the life of our nation. . . in such a way that the landscape of our inner and outer worlds and our systems renewed and restored themselves. . . ?" I'm going to let that one settle and see what it grows in to in my mind, and I'll riff on that in a week or so for my next part in this duet!


  2. Janet and Susan,
    Your synergistic interactions are fun to watch unfold. As each sets out her theme, the other weaves and dances with it to find yet another expression. We all benefit from the process and the result.
    Many thanks,

  3. Yes, a beautiful blog, every word life giving. I stumbled by per the Talking Plants NPR blog. It is so good to know and find almost daily-beauty seekers in all things. It is always so hopeful to my spirit to connect with such high thoughts, thanks and take care-

  4. Wonderful post Janet! The blueprint of nature is in every cell and molecule within us. We have the ability to focus on that blueprint and create a physical world that mirrors that design.
    Nature's expression shows us that we can restore anything including our health once we become aware of our connection not our separation.
    Action is change and change is the one constant that balances our stability of thought and freedom of choice.

  5. Janet,

    It is wonderful that you and others have found the term 'regenerative' so inspiring. However I can't take credit for the term - The Regenesis Group ( out of Santa Fe has pioneered the concept of 'regenerative design' and remains on the cutting edge of advancing the concept. They are my inspiration. My current working definition of regenerative design is design that addresses the human mind, body, spirit and place ; that is fully particpatory in nature; and that is a prepetual catalyst to regenerating ecosystems beyond its orginial boundaries. In essence, we need to be practicing whole-systems design in every respect imaginable.

  6. Susan,

    I saw your presentation and thought it was wonderful. Perfect juxtaposition with my talk:taking from the regional landscape level right down to the community personal space level.

    Keith Bowers, RLA, PWS
    President, Biohabitats, Inc.

    Thanks, Keith....she is wonderful, isn't she? Passing the compliment along, as mother taught of those regenerative things, don't you know? --Best, Janet

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