Tools For The Regenerative Renaissance is a 6 week ‘better than free’ online course hosted by the London Psychedelic Society, Seeds Coin and Renaissance U. Why better than free? Because being true to its name, all participants get paid to learn – using Seeds.
Designed by passionate duo Phoebe Tickell and Stephen Reid, with support from Rieki Cordon (ecosystem facilitator at Hypa, the organisation leading the development of seeds) it argues that in amongst the chaos of COVID and its long-term implications – we are in the midst of a regenerative renaissance.
Consisting of a rebirth or paradigm shift across the board: we are witnessing rapid transformations in science, philosophy, art, architecture literature, music, politics and spirituality that are every bit as profound as the renaissance of 500 years ago.
In all chaos, there is a cosmos; in all disorder, a secret order – Carl Jung
In all, the regenerative renaissance is characterised by an awakening to the interdependence and beauty of the natural world, and the role of humanity as its stewards. This course focused on the tools and techniques that can be applied and enjoyed right now, for healthier, happier lives, thriving local economies, a fairer distribution of power and resources, and the healing of the planet.
Regeneration is a holistic concept. What this means is that we are moving away from reductionist, monolithic models of psyche and life, towards the emergent perspectives offered by multi-disciplinary approaches.
The forces pushing us towards this include events on a systems level such as the pandemic – leading to the breakdown of outdated structures that pave the way for the new, and the uptake and decriminalisation of substances such as psychedelics on an individual level.
This perspective is further supported by the systems theory proposed by the Gaia Hypothesis (Lovelock 1979), including the outstanding difficulties in proof of concept using current frameworks, due to the emergent properties of its holistic nature.
It also corresponds to the lack of a psychoid principle under current evolutionary theory’s reductionist lens (Haule 2010), and the relation of this to the ability of changes in systems design to affect participant behaviour (Atkins 2019).
In terms of management, this new paradigm investigates the benefits of more decentralised and distributed networks, over centralised institutions, leveraging technology (Laloux 2014). The implications of this are that, more than ever, people are beginning to reconsider what work and society mean to them, how fulfilment is manufactured through meaning and purpose, and where their authentic international motivators – their priorities and values, truly lie.
When applied to the environment at large, this impacts our relationship with the wider ecosystem including natural resource allocation and usage.
Regenerative Agriculture and Thriving Local Economies
One of the patterns that we are seeing in this renaissance is the integration of polarities by merging the old with the new. The role that human intervention and modern technology plays in this is a double edged sword, and it’s not just what we use, but how and why we use it – shifting the analysis from cause to context.
Our intervention in the environment needs to consider the longer-term impacts of short-term solutions. The first part of the course considered this sentiment with regards to farming and agriculture, using soil regeneration as an example, it looked into the benefits of making management smaller-scale and more localised.
On a qualitative front, it was interesting to read the Barefoot Guide To The Community Landscape. This argued that in the move towards a secular scientific paradigm as the predominant language, we have lost some of the inherent sacredness of life in our perspectives.
This contributes to the creation of a barrier between man and environment, leading to exploitive behaviour. It highlights that an overbearing focus on STEM to the detriment of creativity, art and culture means that we have imbalanced our innate need for reconnection, ritual, ceremony and respect.
In relation to synthesising the old with the new, this was particularly fascinating when applied to biodynamic agriculture using esoteric concepts from Rudolph Steiner – combining systems thinking with mystical or religious concepts.
For example, ‘Cannabis moon gardening’ merges both scientific and pagan concepts. It involves carrying out specific tasks in sync with the lunar phases. Although this might initially seem like pseudoscience, gardeners have cultivated plants with the rhythm of the moon for centuries with great success.
Far from an inert object orbiting the earth, the moon impacts plant life in a multitude of ways. Certain phases of the moon illuminate plants into the night, accelerating foliage growth. The gravitational pull of the moon also pulls sap up into the leaves and flowers. When this force reduces, the nutrient-rich substance heads underground and floods the root system.
Gardening in sync with the moon boils down to timing. The night sky features 12 prominent star constellations, each associated with their own zodiac sign. All 12 signs are divided into 4 groups, and each group features its own element found in nature. As the moon glides over a constellation, moon growers believe this element becomes strongest in the garden, and they conduct tasks accordingly.
Similar models of sacred economics and the move towards decentralisation and redistribution are being seen with regards to finance (cryptocurrency and blockchain), energy usage, retail, health and the internet. This is mostly facilitated by grassroots organisations taking on larger centralised powers that abuse their position through false economies, data leverage or prohibition.
Effective decentralisation and distributed networks require strong peer to peer interactions that are transparent, verified and regulated. While some form of tribalism seems natural and there is unity in diversity, technology has the potential to act as the fair intermediary between people and politics.
As the only creatures that pay to live on the earth, this component of the course considered the impacts of an inflationary and debt-ridden monetary system built on scarcity. It presented the range of solutions provided by novel players including Seeds, Celo, Circles, Cobudget and Aragon.
Described as ‘the currency with a conscience’, the Seeds platform uses algorithms to incentivise collaborative and regenerative behaviours, instead of it being more profitable to exploit natural resources. While the energy usage of such currencies is still controversial, proponents argue that when viewed from the perspective of a battery, coins like Bitcoin could fuel the renewable revolution (Grossman 2021).
With prices high, large-scale miners also have enough clout to invest in the renewable energy platforms needed to solve for intermittent supply from renewables like solar. This has the compound effect of boosting renewables and battery capacity, which would result in excess power that could be pumped into public electricity grids. As with Aluminium smelting, this is more economical than plundering finite gold reserves using fossil fuel extraction.
Therefore, whereas in the short-term it may be viewed as energy wastage (using a utilitarian logic that would include debating the energy consumption of Netflix), in the long-term extracting at such prices could have provided great value (assuming the continued increase in both the value and use of such technology, which is continuously evolving).
At any rate, these tools and the underlying technology itself don’t seem to be going anywhere, and hold much promise and potential for the future of both the access and sharing economy. The advent of furlough has also served to create further supporters of the concept of a universal basic income. Leaders in the field such as Circles are working on a peer to peer UBI that has the potential to create conditions that encourage people to engage in more creative and meaningful lives.
Decentralised Organising And Horizontal Leadership
Going Horizontal was predominantly about culture change, especially with regards to management. It increasingly seems as though the narrative of individualism being opposed to collectivism is one that’s outdated. It is possible to harness genuine internal motivators in sync with the larger collective goals of the environment.
This perspective fosters a much more altruistic and collaborative view of mankind, and could have positive impacts on mental health. It has been hypothesized for example, that a result of the reported higher prevalence of anxiety in Latino culture is in part due to the collectivistic ideals that are shared (Varela et al, 2007).
A collectivistic ideal as it pertains to Latino culture exemplifies putting the needs of the group before the needs of the individual. The emphasis that collectivist cultures place on self-regulation “may stifle youth’s understanding and managing of their internal states” (Varela et al, 2007 p.431).
Children and adolescents raised in this type of environment may not learn how to process their feelings of anxiety during stressful situations, thus putting them at a greater risk of developing an anxiety disorder.
A good example of this culture shift in practice is the changes that we are currently seeing to the world of work. The move towards a more remote world saw both employers and employees alike reconsidering workplace best practices.
A hybrid in-office and remote work model makes it possible to combine targets for productivity and growth with the needs of employee autonomy and wellbeing. This new-found flexibility has allowed people to move out of expensive cities into greener, neighbouring areas with lower overheads, contributing to the mindset shift from quantity to quality.
This has also helped to regenerate local communities, providing more services and opportunities. In a new normal where health is wealth, fulfilment is taking centre stage, and the effects are rippling out not just into the economic sphere, but also the social, mental and environmental.
Co-operatives are decentralised groups that aim to put the power back into the hands of the community. A more mainstream example would be the Co-op supermarket: set up by farmers tired of being undercut by the aggressive pricing strategies adopted by supermarket chains.
Co-operatives strive to give people a voice, to fight against the monopoly of large conglomerates, ensure fair trade and social responsibility. Similar to the B Corp movement, they aim to benefit all stakeholders – putting people and planet alongside profit.
This is part of the ‘purpose economy’, which also places an emphasis on steward ownership. This is an alternative to conventional ownership that permanently secures a company’s mission and independence in its legal DNA. These principles enable companies to remain independent, purpose-driven and values-led over the long term.
The Friedman model of Capitalism is being heralded as coming to a close, having signed its own death warrant in its unsustainable practices and a focus on aggressive, unlimited growth that eats away at the very foundations on which it relies.
Technology is playing a critical role in transforming the way humans share and manage resources. There are still many potential pitfalls and problems, but while it is far form a panacea, the simultaneous mindset shifts being seen towards more sovereign individuals capable of making creative and self-motivated contributions without an over-reliance on the traditional carrot on a stick incentive, is something to feel hopeful about.
Inspiration In Innovation
All in all, the course was thought provoking and inspiring. It was encouraging to see the level of input, engagement and enthusiasm voluntarily contributed by all participants. The only thing that didn’t resonate so well was the ‘impending doom’ attributed to ‘crisis and transformation’ in some sources. In my view, the ‘no pain, no gain’ self-flagellation approach speaks more towards the prevailing puritan culture.
Some parallels can be drawn between the war on drugs and the enforced prohibition on self-experimentation with regards to consciousness. While change most certainly isn’t always straightforward or simple, I think we can afford to be more sustainably motivated by inspiration over fear. I believe it is possible to have a good time, while using the time to do good.
Grossman, N (2021) Bitcoin As Battery Available at URL: https://www.nickgrossman.xyz/2021/bitcoin-as-battery/
Haule, J.R (2010) Jung In The 21st Century Volume One: Evolution And Archetype UK: Routledge
Laloux, F (2014) Reinventing Organisations: A Guide To Creating Organizations Inspired By The Next Stage In Human Consciousness UK: Nelson Parker
Lovelock, J (1979) Gaia: A New Look At Life On Earth Oxford University Press: UK
Varela, R.E., Weems, C.F., Berman, S.L. et al. Internalizing Symptoms in Latinos: The Role of Anxiety Sensitivity. J Youth Adolescence 36, 429–440 (2007): https://doi.org/10.1007/s10964-007-9168-4
Header image by Sara Shakeel