Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

Designing Regenerative Cultures

Rate this book
This is a 'Whole Earth Catalog' for the 21st century: an impressive and wide-ranging analysis of what's wrong with our societies, organizations, ideologies, worldviews and cultures - and how to put them right. The book covers the finance system, agriculture, design, ecology, economy, sustainability, organizations and society at large. In this remarkable book, Daniel Wahl explores ways in which we can reframe and understand the crises that we currently face, and he explores how we can live our way into the future. Moving from patterns of thinking and believing to our practice of education, design and community living, he systematically shows how we can stop chasing the mirage of certainty and control in a complex and unpredictable world. The book asks how can we collaborate in the creation of diverse regenerative cultures adapted to the unique biocultural conditions of place? How can we create conditions conducive to life? *** "This book is a valuable contribution to the important discussion of the worldview and value system we need to redesign our businesses, economies, and technologies - in fact, our entire culture - so as to make them regenerative rather than destructive." --Fritjof Capra, author of The Web of Life, co-author of The Systems View of Life: A Unifying Vision *** "This is an excellent addition to the literature on ecological design and it will certainly form a keystone in the foundations of the new MA in Ecological Design Thinking at Schumacher College, Devon. It not only contains a wealth of ideas on what Dr Wahl has termed 'Designing Regenerative Cultures' but what is probably more important, it provides some stimulating new ways of looking at persistent problems in our contemporary culture and hence opens up new ways of thinking and acting in the future." -- Seaton Baxter OBE, Prof. in Ecological Design Thinking, Schumacher College, UK [Subject: Systems Thinking, Education, Social Anthropology, Environmentalism, Ecology, Regenerative Culture, Sociology]

288 pages, Paperback

Published May 31, 2016

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Daniel Wahl

23 books13 followers

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
79 (52%)
4 stars
41 (27%)
3 stars
23 (15%)
2 stars
7 (4%)
1 star
0 (0%)
Displaying 1 - 21 of 21 reviews
Profile Image for Samantha Sprole.
78 reviews
September 19, 2020
3.5 stars for being brutally repetitive, sloppily organized, and lacking an index.

All this notwithstanding, Designing Regenerative Cultures is a useful consolidation of theories, institutions, and approaches toward ecological thinking in our culture/worldview, in governance, and in economics/entrepreneurship.

In sum, Wahl appeals to a new and developing scientific consensus about our world: that collaboration is at least as much a driver of evolution as competition. This perspective has important corrolaries and implications, not only for the natural sciences but crucially for our subjective attitudes and social institutions:
1. We can and should see ourselves as "interbeing," meaning our existence and survival is the result of countless symbiotic relationships. Instead, our culture is still rapt with the "narrative of separation": the idea that competitive individuals are the primary units of life.
2. Our economic, cultural and governance systems, and even our scientific biases reflect an outdated overemphasis on competitive, individualistic values. These values and the institutions that emerge from them are ill-equipped to deal with persistent environmental decline.
3. We must redesign our attitudes, beliefs, and institutions according to the life-conducive and salutogenic (health-generating) principles that govern thriving ecosystems. Biomimicry is one term that encapsulates this idea of harnessing natural design wisdom. Ideas like a "circular economy" may be the result.
4. We must focus on the small-scale, the personal, local and regional, with an eye to how these efforts interact with and may synergistically entangle with larger scale transformation.

In short, the best approach for positive change is to live the right questions (rather than adhere to rigid solutions) and co-create responsive, context-specific (but likely modular, redundant) designs that mimic nature and slowly build up the health, the biomass/(bio)diversity, and the resilience of our communities.
Profile Image for Clivemichael.
2,052 reviews3 followers
April 11, 2018
Manual for a new paradigm. Excellent overview of possibilities and enthusiastic encouragement for transition. A great resource.
'Social enterprise' is a sub-set of 'social innovation'.
"“ We are all co-creative and co-responsible microcosms of our culture, and therefore changing ourselves is changing the culture. Transformative resilience is also about our willingness to give up and let go of the status quo, questioning who we are individually and collectively, and letting go of the patterns, systems and attitudes (narratives) that no longer serve so that we can transform into co-creative change agents of diverse regenerative cultures in service of all life. This process of continuous learning and transformation never stops, as it is in its very essence a reflection of our continuously transforming universe and life’s continuous exploration of novelty."
Lao Tzu wrote-
'Watch your thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become actions. Watch your actions; they become habits. Watch your habits; they become character. Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.’
7 reviews12 followers
November 4, 2018
Profound and powerful book that will have you re-examine everything you do.

Along with John Ehrenfeld's Flourishing: A Frank Conversation about Sustainability and Naomi Klein's This Changes Everything , consider this mandatory reading if you work in or care about sustainability.
Profile Image for Kin.
60 reviews39 followers
February 13, 2023
This is definitely a rich insightful resource with a lot to digest. Good as an open door into regeneration for the "nerdies". Not very easy to read and follow, but definitely worth it!
Personally I found it overlays a lot of what I've had the chance to come through with my work in the ecovillage network. However still found some wow moments with the book which I really appreciate.
Profile Image for Carlo Battisti.
Author 2 books2 followers
August 1, 2021
This is a great and inspirational book, a compendium of everything you need to know on the state of the art, references, approaches, principles of regenerative thinking, sustainability, economy. The list of references is also comprehensive, again, you may find there all the relevant books and articles on this topic. The urgency of the paradigm change explained by Daniel Christian Wahl in the book is of priority one nowadays.
The only reason why I did not give 5 stars is due to a lack of truly new concepts or frameworks - except for an interesting adaption of the disruptive innovation graph - and also because the book is affected by a research oriented style which sometimes lacks in the ability to synthesize. (And I typically rate 5 starts groundbreaking masterpieces as 'Silent spring' etc.).
But in summary, the book is an excellent resource for those who don't want to read too many books to have a clear idea on the state of play in the sustainability discussion. I heard Daniel C. Wahl speaking few times and I also had the privilege to organise a webinar with him as keynote speaker, I can ensure he is one of international leading voices on regenerative sustainability. A must have book in your library, sustainable development section.
Profile Image for Aleksandar.
125 reviews3 followers
April 21, 2022
If you are still hopeful about our civilization changing its ways, my review is about to clash with your worldview.

This book makes for a depressing read in 2022. It goes into deep detail about how we SHOULD be acting, but when you look at the situation out there, it's clear humanity as a collective is still doing the very opposite, with not much hope of changing course until we smash into the wall.

One sentence in the final chapter reads Together – as one humanity – we are capable of responding to the converging crises and offering culturally transformative responses to them.

Even at the time it was written, there has been a lot of grasping at optimistic straws. There's even less to be optimistic about now. The pandemic was a free gift for our civilization to change course, but we've only had more of the same. The examples are countless.

And now with war knocking at the door of the 'developed world', tribalism is beginning to set in. Who's got time to think about climate chaos and biodiversity loss tomorrow, when we've got an energy and military crisis today? Particularly saddening has been the response of the 'the enlightened West' that goes to show that all the progress towards sustainability has just been a light mirage during the good times. When the shit hits the fan, the true colors start to show.

We knew exactly what needed to be done, but our hands were tied.
Profile Image for Fernando Kaiowá.
19 reviews1 follower
December 8, 2021
Inspiring framework for those already engaged in shaping regenerative cultures, who according to the author, includes everyone. The author brings forward the need to ask the right questions and live them collectively in order to address problems more efficiently, rather than focusing on static responses that may lead to false solutions. This is the first step in order to establish a deeper and truly participatory process of design a regenerative culture. Another essential step is learning with nature, understanding how nature works and us its patterns and inspiration in the design. The book is a optimist (pre-covid) reading of the current state of the regenerative movement, which according to the author is growing in influence and number of participants. For this reason, it is a motivating piece, which can bring a fresh new look at what can be done and at what is being done, so needed in a reality where gloomy doom perspectives about the current state of the world dominate.
Profile Image for Eric Benson.
Author 1 book2 followers
July 23, 2019
This book is right on topic for our contemporary climate, cultural, and pollution issues. It asks a lot of questions on how we as a civilization can work together to create an economy, a way of life, and a culture that lives to regenerate the Earth and improve the qualify of life for everything on the planet. A tall order.

Wahl provides a few case studies (regeneration projects) and organizations that are working toward this endeavor, however, I feel, in the end, he asked too many questions with not enough answers. I had picked up the book to learn more about some regenerative design solutions, as I had gotten the gist from his writings on medium.com. I was a bit disappointed in that, however I did learn some important principles and questions I can incorporate into my work as a designer to take a bigger step toward creating to regenerate.
February 22, 2021
I like to call this book the 2021 bible as it should be one of the most read books in the world. Luckily Wahl is gaining everyday more and more attention, because the world needs the ensemble of opinions he brought together in his work and all the knowledge he gathered in his career.
Every line of this masterpiece is full of deep and well-thought concepts which makes the book one of the best ever read but also one of the most difficult as you cannot lose your attention neither for one second not to lose something important.
It is a book containing regenerative pills about every kind of topic: from the life in community, to spiritual philosophy passing through financial themes and new economical propositions.
A book for everyone and definitely one of those which will create the foundation for the new social paradigm.

Highly recommended

127 reviews1 follower
April 23, 2022
I wasn’t sure about it…do I agree with a lot of the ideas? Yes, most definitely. But it falls into that same category of people that I kind of try to limit my investment in: big, sweeping thoughts about how we could fix everything if we just thought differently, about how there IS indeed a categorically “better world” waiting for us if we just remember who and how we are “supposed to be.”
I mean, maybe. But maybe not. And while I like this book and the interesting thoughts and the brilliantly creative diagrams and illustrations, I no longer feel like I have time to spend on people who don’t really have solutions to offer, but who can talk a LOT about their vision of the world and how someone else should come up with the solutions to get us there. Idk. You should still read it for yourself and see. There’s definitely some helpful nuggets in there.
53 reviews4 followers
April 26, 2022
Wow I struggled to finish this, even though there is so much useful and valuable content in here: it is so repetitive, lacks cohesion in structure and narrative and the style of writing is not engaging despite the author’s best efforts (he tries with anekdotes and personal experiences, but it just doesn’t come alive).

The argument he makes still is clear though (live the questions, not the answers, live a narrative of connected interbeing, not separation, collaborate and co-develop, instead of competing and exploiting, etc), I guess on the strength of shear repetition.. and as I said the book contains a very complete overview of subjects and examples that illustrate the philosophy and provides links to further reading. So if you’re into the subject: strap in and wrestle through, there is value here.
Profile Image for Pierre.
17 reviews1 follower
January 4, 2020
This book contains essential ideas and principles for building a resilient world, whatever the circonstances. The author has started to develop the content at the Schumacher College, UK, building on the ideas received by Fritjof Capra, Stephen Harding, later using it for a transdisciplinary PhD.
I see only one limitation to this brilliant book: it is essentially conceptual. If you are expecting ready-made tools, a set of practical principles, they may be difficult to find (though not absent). As a consequence, my reading of the book was rather slow and cautious (one chapter at a time), even though I was familiar with many of the sources of the author (such as those mentionned). That is perhaps the way to ingest such a deep and off-the-track reading.
5 reviews1 follower
October 10, 2017
This is by far the clearest and the most complete statement of what we can do together to make it possible for a vibrant, sustainable new approach to education, design, health, economics, housing, government, tourism, agriculture... to emerge. I don't know if it's ridiculously over-optimistic or JUST achievable. But it seems to be worth a try.
229 reviews1 follower
September 27, 2021
This was a very challenging read, but worth it. There is much work being done that leads towards the world we want. I need to read it again and digest it more, but it will shape my thinking and my activism going forward.
Profile Image for Mark Wagnon.
12 reviews17 followers
March 19, 2019
Brilliant work! Like an intro to the world of 'Inter-Being' with Nature.
Profile Image for Josh.
16 reviews
Shelved as 'abandoned'
May 7, 2020
Had to retire about 200 pages in. Some interesting and important questions - but highly repetitive, which makes it unenjoyable to read.
Profile Image for Trung Pham.
1 review1 follower
July 20, 2020
Instead of finding a concrete answer in this critical time, holding questions and co-create spaces to explore together keep us on track of regenerative cultures <3
Profile Image for Andy Triggs.
3 reviews
December 16, 2020
Some interesting ideas but very jumbled content. It feels more like a collection of notes than a finished book.
Profile Image for Giordano Margaglio.
83 reviews1 follower
April 3, 2021
Unlike Gate's, this book truly is about "how to avoid a climate disaster" (and more).
A tad too much academic but still a great read.
100% recommended
Profile Image for Marcos Moret.
93 reviews3 followers
July 12, 2022
Has its heart in the right place and contains a lot of good content, but is extremely waffly and badly in need of a brutal edit.
Profile Image for Jorim.
8 reviews27 followers
January 16, 2022
An important book that helped me understand ecosystems much better. I liked the first half or so better, the second one is about examples in different industries which may be necessary for some but wasn't so interesting for me. I learnt a lot from this book, it certainly changed how I see the world.
Displaying 1 - 21 of 21 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.