This conversation is about the book “Drawdown” which is a result of Project Drawdown created by Paul Hawken. He gathered a team of seventy research fellows from twenty-two countries who are some of the finest men and women in science and public policy. They identified, measured, and modelled the one hundred most substantive solutions to reverse global warming within three decades.
In atmospheric terms drawdown is that point in time at which greenhouse gases peak and begin to decline on a year-to-year basis. Because, even if we stopped emissions tomorrow, it would not be enough to ward off environmental disasters. We would still have a lot of work pulling the carbon out of the atmosphere.
The man asking him the questions is Damon Gameau, who directed the documentary 2040, the year forecasted in Drawdown when our lives could look really different, something worth dreaming about, if we keep scaling these solutions that already exist today.
Now we need to go through the list and engage in the solutions that are specific to where and how we live. I have to say, some of them are really exciting because they go beyond drawdown to economic and gender equality, food security, water security, energy justice, healthier lifestyles and bringing people together, building stronger communities in the process.
We shouldn’t have to pit conservation against livelihoods. Drawdown shows how our livelihoods and lifestyles can be regenerative.
This is a 30-minute documentary by Happen Films about Hinewai Nature Reserve and the man who looks after it, botanist Hugh Wilson. It is an inspiring story of how degraded marginal farmland has been regenerated back into beautiful native forest.
Wilson used the introduced ‘weed’ gorse to grow as a nurse canopy along with a philosophy of minimal interference (Nature is smart; leave her to it) and a huge amount of passion to regenerate farmland into native forest.
The wildlife has come back. The soil holds more water. 47 known waterfalls are in now permanent flow.
Happen Films has published this documentary for individuals to view at no charge. A gesture of sharing as beautiful as the soul of Hugh Wilson and Hinewai. Visa their website https://happenfilms.com/fools-and-dreamers to apply for a license to host a screening for groups or check out their amazing work. But definitely share it with your friends and family.
I wonder how to go about looking at backyards, courtyards and urban spaces through the same lens. To identify marginal areas that are not productive and regenerate habitat and water holding capacity and kick start carbon sequestration with minimal inputs.
Morag Gamble is in conversation here with Daniel Christian Wahl about bioregional development and his book, Designing Regenerative Cultures.
Wahl begins with, “the scale at which you can create a really regenerative and sustainable system is bioregional and not quite so small as I had thought for fifteen years. Self-sufficiency is a story that a lot of people get into at the beginning, but if you want to create resilience you have to create it with lots of people in your region and with lots of communities in your region.” Later in the conversation he emphasises the need for regenerative work to be accessible to everyday people who live in urban areas.
He encourages a focus on the “biocultural uniqueness of place” where each regenerative culture will express itself differently according to the specific ecology, people and history of that place. The aim is to create the capacity in the local people to live in a way that leaves it more bioproductive, more abundant and healthier than what they received from their forebearers.
Wahl highlights an important process of working regeneratively is through capacity building. This requires a view of education as a lifelong process of drawing out our potential as time and context changes. He goes on to describe ideally learning through multidisciplinary projects that teach a combination of social, economic and ecological literacy. Alongside rethinking how we educate our children, Wahl touches on the need to upskill millions of people who are already in the workforce.
I love his phrase, “We are the regeneration rising.” What he means by it is that rather than using slogans that come from a place of fear, we come from a place of hope to tap into people’s creativity and reach across the silos we currently function in.
Wahl also points to the value of making regenerative work visible to each other to cross pollinate ideas. He is specifically thinking of the role artists can play in sharing stories and questions. And in doing so, thinking in a “Yes, and” rather than a “No, but” way. (I thought to myself, “A ha! Just like improv comedians do.) Don’t focus too much on the little differences but celebrate the diversity of opinion.
I wonder if volunteering at an urban farm or community garden is considered capacity building in an urban context. It is something I can engage in with my kids on the weekend that is not necessarily predicated on having money and is fun and social. I wonder what else would be capacity building for us.