Why is place so powerful?

How do we create places for life?

Jenny Andersson of The Really Regenerative Centre has contributed to The NXT: Being of Place with this article on perspective and regeneration.

Place is the scale at which life works. Life evolves and develops – not on a global scale as humans have developed a global economy – but within eco-systems and bioregions that are distinct wholes in which there are networks of relationships that are interconnected, mutually reciprocal, and constantly working to create the conditions conducive to more life. 

One of the most destructive things the human system has wrought in the past few hundred years is to think about all sorts of different life forms and treat them generically. When you treat unique ecosystems or soils or people or even economies as if they were the same everywhere, what happens is that we over-simplify them, and they fall apart. 

In each ecosystem around the world there’s a unique pattern of biology. Each place has its own unique characteristics, patterns and flows of culture, history, ecology, and geology. There is some property of life that exists in these places that determines the kind of people who gravitate towards it. There is a unique energy field and a core essence to each Place which – when looked at through the lens of living systems thinking instead of the compartmentalised, reductive thinking of recent human history – is what calls a culture and economy into being. 

Those unique place-sourced patterns of life have regenerated and renewed place by place by place for billions of years. When we look at life through this lens of living systems, and note the scale at which life works and thrives, it suggests to us that working glo-cally – locally but in the context of our current globalised system until it shifts and changes – might be a better approach to creating thriving economies. 

The only way that you can truly work on that interface between humans and natural systems is in a particular place – through its manageable, concrete something you can actually work with. We all have some understanding of the places in which we live. We have a feel for what it’s like to live there, and so we can form coherent and systemic images and understandings of what makes each unique place work. In every place the answer is not the same. You have to look at the unique patterns of each place, its values, and economic enterprises that have thrived through time.  And then you have to develop the capacity to imagine what that ongoing pattern would look like in a place that is dedicated to creating ongoing health, life, and even the ongoing differentiation of diverse cultures.

I believe humans have a powerful role to play on earth as systemic catalysts and stewards of life on earth, instead of extractors of life in pursuit of purely fiscal wealth and temporal power. That role is not to just preserve what’s left of the environment, or put it in precious boxes where it is protected, but to work together with the patterns of life where we figure our reciprocal relationships between humans and their ecosystems – water, habitat, earth and each other – to create the meaning our modern life so deeply lacks. 

Place is the place in which we heal the story of separation that has existed between humans and humans, and humans and nature. If each place on the plant is healthy where there are reciprocal relationships between humans and their ecosystems, we have a world whose sum total is healthy.

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