Sustain, regenerate, generate, or something else?

Like many of us, I imagine, it’s been feeling much more right to move from using the term ‘sustainability’ to ‘regeneration’.

One dictionary definition of ‘regeneration’ is: the action or regenerating or being regenerated, with ‘regenerated’ being both: 1. (of a living organism) grow (new tissue) after loss or damage. 2. bring new and more vigorous life to (an area, industry, institution, etc.); revive, especially in economic terms.

Whereas ‘generation’ is defined as: the production or creation of something.

I’m wondering if, while regeneration is probably the right term for what we need to focus on considering the current state of the world, ‘generation’ might shift our approach to being more forward-looking and imaginative. ‘Regeneration’ could be seen as somewhat backward looking, since it focuses on re-birthing what already is, or what was. The enquiry I find myself in at the moment is wondering if regeneration is somewhat limited, and instead a ‘generative’ approach feels more expansive and appropriate, especially if we are looking to make the necessary shifts in our approach to existing with this world and as a species?

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Great question :slight_smile:

There’s a ‘framework’ (or psychotechnology) I’m playing with at the moment, which I’d like to explore based on the subject of your enquiry here, and hear your thoughts on as well.

The framework might be called something like “consider context first”.

In essence this means looking carefully at the whole of the situation before figuring out which approach is most in sync with desired outcomes … sort of theorising on the best map from desired ends back through means, given the context of existing starting position and the various means available. Or, to use a production line as a metaphor, looking at the desired output and then figuring out what raw materials and processing is required to create it.

At first glance, I suspect this approach looks generative most of the time … but I’m not sure that would always be the case, for example:

  • If the desired outcome is the same as the existing outcome, then we might be looking for ways to achieve sustainability - e.g. a permaculture farm has good soils, good production etc, but is struggling to survive because it doesn’t bring in enough income to sustainably support the people who are running it.

  • If the existing outcome is no longer the same as the desired outcome, but was previously, then maybe we’d be looking at a way to regenerate the system to produce the desired outcome again - e.g. reintroducing wolves to Yellowstone:

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts!