What is Regeneration? Part 2 – Living Structured Wholes


by Carol Sanford

Phase One: Discern a Living Structured Whole and Avoiding “Part” Thinking

How to know if you are doing something else and calling it Regeneration!

Last month I began a series of blogs on the concept of Regeneration. The idea of Regeneration has a very long history of practice.  It comes out of the concept of Living Systems Thinking.  Charles Krone, one of the pioneers of Procter and Gamble’s revolutionary work design, developed something called framework-thinking, which promotes the ability to see wholes at work. The one used here, he called Levels of Work, employed by all P&G Soap employees to understand markets, customers and even soap making, as a living process. The Levels of Work framework enables our understanding of the different kinds of work we take on, in business and other activities. Using it well utilizes a hierarchy of work, some with a better return for innovation, some better for problem solving. Each activity requires different natures or work. He called the base of the hierarchy “operational work,” getting things done and done well. The next level is “maintain or sustain,” how to keep something at its highest level of functioning in a changing ecosystem. “System evolution” level increases the capability of a complex system to evolve over time. Finally, “regeneration work” builds the capacity of wholes to, on an ongoing basis, uniquely bring new value from its role and contribution.  All of these levels are needed, but much is lost if we cannot tell where we are, or worse, fool ourselves. I see this happen with innovation often.  The situation required regenerative work, but often used maintain problem solving tools.

The first blog in this series was an overview of the history, including my forty years with the concept, and the etymology of the term Regeneration as an approach to change and health. When one sets out to work Regeneratively, it is with the intention of finding the full potential of some effort, one that will proceed through seven phases of thinking and acting, where each phase builds and interacts with the others. The use of phases instead of stages allows you to revisit as you move along. Phase One is the subject of this blog, which offers a more in-depth look as the first requirement to even begin thinking about working Regeneratively.  You begin with discerning a living structured whole.

When my daughter graduated from Swarthmore College, Tim William, now a professor emeritus, granted her a Distinction in Biology. She had refused to dissect animals and insects, still graduating Phi Beta Kappa, and instead studied them in motion, sometimes with imaging equipment. In appreciation of her wisdom, he offered his own relevant experience in the Peace Corps as a teacher in Zimbabwe. He had invited the young village students to capture frogs and bring them back in jars he provided. He proceeded to show them how to kill the frogs with chloroform using his frog. The children froze and then screamed, all running out of the makeshift classroom.

Very shortly, the local Chief emerged and asked why he was teaching the children of the village to kill frogs. Tim explained that is was just a necessity of being able to cut them up to be able to understand a frog.

The Chief, with a toothless grin, got down in a squat position and began to leap around croaking, in what Tim reported was a very accurate depiction of frog behavior.  When the Chief rose, he said to Tim, “You cannot understand a frog, without a WHOLE frog doing what frogs do.” He made Tim squat and hop and “be” a frog. Smiling broadly as he walked away, the Chief added, “You have to feel the whole frog in motion, to truly understand.” He had also removed the lids and gleefully watched all the frogs hop back into the brush.

What is a Living Structured Whole?

Think of the human body, both literally and metaphorically. You know it is a whole for one reason. It has structures, systems and processes of its own.

  • It has a self-contained and containing structure. E.g a skeleton.
  • It has systemic working systems, which order and organize the working of activity inside the Whole. E.g. digestive, elimination, and cardio-vascular systems.
  • The processes it engages in make use of a self-managing open exchange, rather than a closed one. E.g eating is an exchange with other systems, repeating, always with fresh material. Closed systems always require the importation of energy from an external system. An open process can engage in value-adding or value-extracting processes with its ecosystem.

Other examples of wholes with structures, systems and processes that meet these criteria are a Customer, Earth, a Place, or an Employee. They each have a self-contained and containing structure, systemic working systems to manage the recurring working of the whole, and the processes that manage exchanges and fuel.

A Business example: a corporation means “the body of the whole.”  Some business units are wholes with their own structures, systems and processes. A school most often is within the larger school system. It operates independently as a whole within a whole.

Why regeneration requires a structured whole?

It is the structures, systems and processes that get regenerated. If it is not a living system, it cannot be regenerated. For example, a curriculum or programs, which are “part” of processing, can be upgraded or refreshed, but not regenerated.  In another example, our skeleton can be regenerated, which happens after an accident or bone loss. It is done in the context of the whole body if it is really regenerative, with its unique DNA, in that context and age, and is specific to that person. This happens even beyond the physical, one’s spirit when depressed, for example. 

What happens if we don’t start with a whole?

We promote and work from fragmentation like with bones when seen as a “part” of the body, not structuring for a whole. We seek to treat the “parts” as problems in decline and try to stop the decline (i.e. doing not as bad), or we pursue something generically good, which is not matched with the whole that we want to regenerate.  E.g., medicine when it is not holistic, or sustainability approaches when practiced as parts of the whole (water, forests separately). The undeveloped mind collapses to perceiving parts. We have to learn to see wholes. In business, it leads to having someone supervise all the parts to bring them together. In medicine, we see one specialist after another for different parts of a subsystem.

How do you discern a whole?  How can you avoid fragmentation?

Medicine has been moving toward a holistic view of human health in many quarters.  This means working less to find solutions for symptoms and working to see what health creation might look like for the whole human being. How do we work from what makes systems healthy, like the cardiovascular systems, metabolic systems, and circulatory systems, in the context of the whole in which they are nested? Otherwise, it is working with the “parts of a cut up frog” to understand a living frog. It cannot be understood if it can no longer jump and croak.  What makes the “being” healthy as a whole, working to create vital structures and systems at the same time through regulation of the processes the person engages in. Fragmentation tends to be our default, and it is often hard to break the habit from out training.  Here are some hints.

  1. Use a living systems framework that evokes questions that helps us understand the working of a particular “whole.” E.g. the Levels of Work Framework I used to create this blog and many other works. A Framework is not the same thing as a model that shows how to replicate an existing pattern. It can be First Principles, like in classical and quantum physics. Frameworks invite the generation of a pattern, in this time and space, rather than follow a preset pattern. We need models for building airplanes, but not businesses, ecosystems or families. A systems framework is a mechanism for questions rather than answers.

For example, all my books are written with a living system framework. The Responsible Business uses a pentad, a five-term framework for looking at an ecosystem’s vitality, viability and evolution. It invites you to use it as a system rather than divided “parts” of the system . The understanding is not the same from one time to another. Rethinking can invite a higher quality of thinking and energy. It shows the connections and relationships.

1. Examine the characteristics of a Whole:

  • Ask what structures it contains, as a being or entity.  Not all structures are living systems. Neither a ladder nor a building is living.
  • What are the systemic systems that keep its life in order?
  • What does it exchange with other systems? Are its processes only internal ones or exchange ones? Living processes promote exchange.

2. Avoid:

  • Lists! – A quick clue you do not have a “whole.”
  • Functions of a whole, like marketing in a business.

A major challenge of our times is the development of a mind that can see wholes and their working, thus overcoming fragmentation of mind and then fragmented initiative on living beings, like Earth.

The next blog is #3, How to See Something Alive and Working Without Cutting It Up Into Fragments Through Dissection.  Once you have a whole frog, how do you understand its working?

Save the Date: First Annual Regenerative Business Summit.  Oct. 18- 20, 2016. From Friday Evening on 18th to Noon on 20th.  Seattle WA. At The Foundry by Herban Feast.

Get Notified: http://theresponsibleentrepreneurinstitute.us2.list-manage.com/subscribe?u=439c005bd8ef594c613f9ac12&id=672658a825&mc_cid=a18667f95e&mc_eid=[UNIQID]

Carol Sanford is an Educator & Thinking Partner with Game Changing Fortune 500 executives and Rock Star Entrepreneurs for 40 years. Author multi-award winning books The Responsible Business &The Responsible Entrepreneur: Four Game Changing Archetypes for Founders, Leaders & Impact Investors, Top 100 Global Thought Leaders in Trustworthy Business Behavior. TEDx X4. www.carolsanfordInstitute.com/.

What is Regeneration? Part 1 – A Definition and Some Fundamentals


by Carol Sanford

Forty years ago, I meet a cadre of business designers and developers who called what they did Regenerative Business Design. They had led a revolution with extraordinary success in Procter & Gamble, which gave the business world a state of the art approach in producing Return on Investment with people and assets. They delivered earnings for the consumer products giant that were the envy of all industries, in an industry whose margins were collapsed to below 5 percent. Their approach to innovation in offerings and business models was copied widely, but mostly without the same level of return, since they did not understand what was behind it. The cadre had already taken the same methodology into banks, the chemical, paper, and food industries, among others — each time with phenomenal success! They were the most studied success story of the 1960s though 1980s by Harvard and its famous management faculty:Michael Porter, Rosabeth Moss Kanter, Michael Hammer and others.

I picked up the mantel in the late 1970s and now have extensive case stories of my own all based on Regenerative Business Design. You can read a few of those in The Responsible Business (I tried to name the book The Regenerative Business, but Jossey Bass told me no one would have heard of such an idea). Sustainability was hot and I was pressured to give it a title to appeal to that market. In the meantime, many beside myself were seeing the incompleteness and shortfall of sustainability and searching for another idea. They knew it had to be more than “less bad,” which the reigning practices suggested (and still do)!

Many consultants, conference planners and authors adopted new terms seeking to show how they were moving “beyond sustainability” (that was my editor’s first idea for my book title). The dissatisfied folks tried out “resilience.” They revived “restoration.” Some tried “renewal,” which had been popular in the pre-sustainability days. And then a few started picking up the term “regeneration” and running with it. It was a lot sexier and less worn. Regenerative Economies. Regenerative Cities. Regenerative Business.

But using the term and understanding its deep meaning is a lot like what happened at P&G. Borrowing an idea does not produce the outcomes and transformation as much as going deeply into the meaning of the idea.

This is the beginning of a series of blogs to take us deeply into the history, the practice, and even the etymology and science of regeneration.

Definition of Regeneration from our School of Thought?

A paradigm and accompanying set of capabilities that consider any life form as singular, able to express and grow itself to contribute that essential singularity, over time, to nested wholes in which it is embedded, with reciprocity. It can only be regenerated if pursued as a value-adding process.

That is a lot of ideas, but it takes them all to be regenerative. Let’s look at each one.

As a paradigm, regeneration is based on ideas and beliefs about how the world really works. Not how it should work but does. It differs from a worldview, which is how we ought to live, whereas a paradigm is what we count as knowledge. Regeneration has its basis in science of living systems. Particularly the science of life based on DNA and the ability of living entities to bring into existence a form that draws on but evolved based on context, a version of an entity. It is unique to each entity, and further, it evolves to fit the age and context of the entity, or part thereof, being regenerated.

As a capability, it makes it clear that it does not prescribe a “doing,” but rather an ableness that has to be built to see the world through a different lens. It requires education and development to avoid falling into a familiar but incomplete way of seeing, much like we begin to see those close to us incompletely and even as fixed. The capabilities are not part of a traditional education, or even an advanced education, for the most part.

Its singularity specifies that no two living entities are identical, particularly at the level of their physical and even being DNA. They each have an essence, a distinctive unrepeatable core that is never created again, except by regeneration from which it emanates.

It lives and thrives or dies based on the nested wholes in which it lives. Biota lives in soil, embedded into vegetation, in a specific watershed and ecosystem. Nothing is isolated and much is determined by other aspects of the system. But each entity contributes to it working effectively or else it is extractive from the health of the whole. That is the reciprocity. Understanding the working of the nested whole allows humans to intervene beneficially and not extractively.

Seeing any entity or endeavor as a value adding process means to see it alive and unfolding toward more of its Essence. More of who or what it is! It leads to releasing more potential — e.g. once you know the chemical sodium cyanide has an essence of binding (most used to extract gold), you can see it as able to ‘bind’ other toxic materials and extract them. This takes a currently used toxic chemical and puts it back to its core task. Healthy soil receives a seed, which it and the ecosystem nurture. It grows into a mature plant throwing off food and new offspring. See it at any point in time, or studying on that phase of its life, it’s cutting it apart into non-living parts. The same is true of the human body. It cannot be segmented to be understood, in spite of what your biology teacher told you when cutting up frogs and fetal pigs. That is seeing a living process and the value adding that takes place at each phase toward the contribution to the next and to the end product or next cycle.

In the next blog, I will look at seven phases of regeneration that are required before an endeavor or entity can claim it is working regeneratively. And later we will look at the six essential value adding processes that are necessary for promoting health, vitality, viability and evolution of any entity or endeavor.

Save the Date: First Annual Regenerative Business Summit.  Oct. 18- 20, 2016. From Friday Evening on 18th to Noon on 20th.  Seattle WA. At The Foundry by Herban Feast.

Get Notified: http://theresponsibleentrepreneurinstitute.us2.list-manage.com/subscribe?u=439c005bd8ef594c613f9ac12&id=672658a825&mc_cid=a18667f95e&mc_eid=[UNIQID]

Carol Sanford is an Educator & Thinking Partner with Game Changing Fortune 500 executives and Rock Star Entrepreneurs for 40 years. Author multi-award winning books The Responsible Business &The Responsible Entrepreneur: Four Game Changing Archetypes for Founders, Leaders & Impact Investors, Top 100 Global Thought Leaders in Trustworthy Business Behavior. TEDx X4. www.carolsanford.com
This article was reposted from Sustainable Brands with permission from the author. The original post can be read here

Regenerative Supply on the Responsible Entrepreneur Podcast

Pod capture 2

Gregory and Ethan recently joined Carol Sanford on her podcast to discuss designing for regeneration. Carol is a thought-leader, and teacher who has been driving system change in the business world for nearly 40 years. In this conversation she engages with Gregory and Ethan to learn more about the exciting work that they have been doing to develop regenerative global supply chains. Follow along here to continue the regeneration.

Want to know what regeneration looks like for your enterprise? Reach out to us.

The Living Product Expo

Screen Shot 2015-07-21 at 10.25.17 AM


The Living Product Expo (Sept. 16 – 18, 2015 in Pittsburgh, PA) is a groundbreaking event that brings together leading minds in the product industry to ignite a revolution in the way materials are designed, manufactured and delivered. Sustainability directors from the world’s leading design firms, prominent manufacturers and sustainability consultants will gather to learn about game-changing innovations in product design.


Questions about the event? Contact us at events@living-future.org.

Speaking on Thursday, September 17

Ethan Roland Soloviev

Terra Genesis Consulting
High Falls, NY
Ethan Roland is an international expert on sustainable agriculture, impact investing, and regenerative entrepreneurship. He is the co-author of Regenerative Enterprise: Optimizing for Multi-Capital Abundance and a core developer of the 8 Forms of Capital framework. Ethan is the CFO of Terra Genesis International, the founder of Regenerative Real Estate, the President of the Apios Institute, and holds an B.S. in Biochemistry from Haverford and an M.S. in Eco-Social Design from Gaia University. You can see Ethan’s presentations and find his book at www.8forms.org


Regenerative Enterprise Part 11: Ecosystem Mimicry

Ecosystem Mimicry

The fourth factor of a regenerative enterprise is that it recognizes its actual place within the larger whole systems in which it exists. Consider the following diagram:


Figure 5.2

Figure 5.2 Nested systems.


The answer to this question may seem obvious, but few enterprises are acting as if they understand or believe it. Human systems are governed by the same fundamental laws as all natural systems. An enterprise working to regenerate multiple forms of capital will be significantly more successful if it models its own paradigms, processes, and practices after the ecosystems in which it exists.

One implication of this reality is that individual enterprises do not exist in a vacuum. Each enterprise is constantly interacting with other businesses, organizations, and individuals – it is an organism in a larger web of organisms, an interconnected part of a dynamic network. In healthy ecosystems, organisms fulfill specific roles and occupy specific niches, utilizing and transforming different forms of living and material capital in a way that ultimately benefits the whole. The relationships are (for the most part) mutually supportive, and form the beautiful complex mysterious evolving natural world that teems around all of us, despite years of mistreatment and degradation.

For example, non-human ecosystems produce no “waste” – every output of an organism or system becomes available as an input to another organism or system. The fallen tree becomes food for soil-building fungi; the fungi sprouts a mushroom which becomes food for insects; the insects become food for birds; the birds eventually die and compost into useful nutrients to feed the trees. Individual organisms live and thrive and die, but the overall health, resilience, and foundational living capital of the system is growing.

Awareness of ecosystem mimicry as an essential factor of regenerative enterprise points to an uncomfortable truth: regenerative enterprises cannot exist alone.

What would it look like if an enterprise could successfully become aware of itself in the context of a larger system? If it could consciously co-pattern it’s capital inflows and outflows in a way that supported the thriving foundation of all four nurture capitals? What if companies designed synergistic enterprise ecologies, where each organism could play a particular part, in relationship with other organisms, in the positive development of the whole?


Excerpt from:

Regenerative Enterprise: Optimizing for Multi-Capital Abundance by Ethan C. Roland & Gregory Landua


8 Forms of Capital Translated to Spanish / Las 8 Formas de Capital en Espanol

Thanks to Juan Manuel Burgos for the translation.

Here’s the link for the translation https://es.scribd.com/doc/265793206/Las-8-Formas-de-Capital-Por-Ethan-Roland-Gregory-Landua-Trad-Juan-Manuel-Burgos
Las 8 Formas De Capital

Un sistema completo de entendimiento económico

©Copyright 2011 Ethan Roland & Gregory Landua – Texto original: 8 forms of capital http://www.appleseedpermaculture.com/8-forms-of-capital/ Traduccion: Juan Manuel Burgos – Ananda Aiken, Argentina

Contexto: Permacultura financiera, 2009

En el 2008 y 2009, fui parte del equipo organizador y facilitador para el curso de permacultura financiera en Hohenwald, Tennessee. Convocado por el Center of Holistic Ecology, Gaia University y Solari, Inc. El curso juntó diseñadores de permacultura, planificadores financieros, emprendedores, activistas comunitarios, defensores de monedas complementarias, granjeros y funcionarios del gobierno de todo el país. La permacultura financiera va mas allá del acercamiento tradicional de la permacultura hacia la economía y arroja la pregunta, “¿Cómo se vería el sistema financiero global si lo rediseñáramos usando principios de permacultura?” y “¿Qué tal si nuestro sistema financiero luciera mas como un ecosistema?” En el 2009, Catherine Austin Fitts presentó “Mapeando ecosistemas financieros”. Mapeamos todas las “fuentes de capital” de la comunidad local. Exploramos los flujos de dinero entre entidades, y discutimos como las vibrantes economías locales están definidas por los flujos de dinero más que por las fuentes. Algo no estaba encajando para mí. Seguíamos hablando del dinero como si fuera la única forma de capital, aun cuando había una creciente consciencia que los acres de tierra, tablones de madera y toneladas de carbono podrían ser también parte de una economía ecosistémica. En uno de las sesiones del Espacio Abierto comencé a darme cuenta de un mapa más completo del “capital”.

8 Formas de capital

El Diccionario Americano de Oxford afirma que el capital es, “riqueza en la forma de dinero u otros bienes” y un “recurso valioso de un tipo particular”. ¿Cuáles son estos “otros bienes”? Nunca vi un mapa de todos los tipos distintos de “recursos valiosos”. En el Manual del Diseñador de Permacultura, Bill Mollison ofrece y expande una categorización de bienes basadas en su potencial: Degenerativos, generativos, Procreativos, Informacionales, Conservativos.1 Parece ser una buena manera de pensar sobre las cosas, pero no la utilizo de ninguna manera tangible. Quería algo que pudiera ser más útil para comprender las complejas transacciones e intercambios revoloteando alrededor mío como un ser humano y a nosotros como comunidad global. Mientras consideraba el ejercicio de “mapeo de ecosistemas financieros”, una imagen más grande empezó a emerger al pensar sobre las fuentes de capital y los flujos del Alcalde de un hipotético pueblo pequeño.

El Alcalde quizás tendría algo de dinero (capital financiero). Un buen Alcalde probablemente también tendría muchos amigos en el pueblo y algo de influencia (Capital social). El Alcalde, que tiene un título en economía, conocía el mercado de acciones extremadamente bien. Él/ella usa ese capital intelectual para generar más dinero (capital financiero) y financiar una campaña de re-elección, en la cual él/ella trabaja para transformar capital financiero en mas capital social dentro del pueblo.

Intente enumerar todas las formas diferentes de “recursos valiosos” que un individuo o entidad podrían juntar o intercambiar. “Las 8 Formas de Capital” Emergieron:Screen Shot 2015-05-21 at 10.08.51 AM

Capital Social

Las influencias y conexiones son capital social. Una persona o entidad que tiene un “buen capital Social” puede pedir favores, influenciar decisiones y comunicar eficientemente. El capital social es de primordial importancia en la política, los negocios y la organización comunitaria Jaso Eaton de Social Thread LLC me explico que el Capital puede estar en la forma de capital propio o de deuda. En el Capital Social, una persona puede “deber” favores o influencia para la toma de decisiones a otra persona o entidad.

Capital Material

Objetos físicos sin vida forman el capital material. Recursos procesados y en bruto como la piedra, metal, madera y combustibles fósiles son “complejizados” entre sí para crear formas más sofisticadas de material o estructuras. Edificios modernos, puentes y otras piezas de infraestructura junto a las herramientas, computadoras y otras tecnologías son formas complejizadas de capital material.

Capital Financiero

Estamos bastante familiarizados con el capital financiero: Dinero, monedas, títulos y otros instrumentos del sistema financiero global. La actual sociedad global enfoca enormes cantidades de atención sobre el capital financiero. Es nuestra principal herramienta para intercambiar bienes y servicios con otros humanos. Puede ser una poderosa herramienta para la opresión, o (potencialmente) la liberación.

Capital Viviente

Un distribuidor de metales preciosos que participio en ambos cursos de permacultura financiera aconseja: “En lugar de en dólares americanos, ¡mide tu riqueza en onzas [de oro y plata]!” Reconociendo que los metales “preciosos” son solo otra forma de capital financiero, Catherine Austin Fitts recomienda que diversifiquemos y que “midamos nuestra riqueza en onzas, acres y pezuñas”. El capital viviente está conformado por los animales, plantas, agua y suelo de nuestra tierra- la verdadera base de la vida en nuestro planeta.

El diseño en permacultura nos enseña los principios y prácticas para la rápida creación de capital viviente. La permacultura nos alienta a compartir la abundancia de capital vivo en lugar de la intangible “riqueza” de capital financiero.

(nota: “Capital Natural” podría ser un sinónimo de “Capital Viviente”, pero el libro “Natural Capitalism” por Hawkens et al. De 1999 se enfoca en un levemente actualizado sistema de capitalismo más que en la verdadera riqueza de los sistemas vivos. El actual movimiento de “Slow Money” esta también dando pasos en una dirección similar, buscando transferir el capital financiero hacia las formas vivientes del suelo, animales y agricultura)

Capital Intelectual

El capital intelectual es mejor descripto como un activo de “conocimiento”. La mayoría del sistema educativo global vigente está enfocado en impartir capital intelectual – sea o no la forma más útil de capital para crear comunidades prosperas y resilientes. Tener capital intelectual es promocionado como la forma más segura de “ser exitoso”. La ciencia y la investigación pueden enfocarse en obtener capital intelectual o “verdad”, aunque es frecuentemente motivada por el deseo de capital financiero o social. Por ejemplo, “ir a la universidad” es principalmente un intercambio de capital financiero por capital intelectual. Se supone que prepare a las personas para el resto de sus vidas en el mundo.

Capital experiencial (o Humano)

Acumulamos capital experiencial mediante organizar un proyecto en nuestra comunidad, construir una casa de fardos de paja o completando un curso de diseño de permacultura. La forma más efectiva de aprender cualquier cosa proviene a través de un conglomerado de capital intelectual y experiencial. Mi experiencia personal alcanzando un grado de Maestro en Gaia University me demostró que el aprendizaje experiencial es escencial para mi funcionamiento efectivo en el mundo: Era capaz de hacer proyectos en lugar de tomar clases y actualmente estoy organizando colaborativamente el gremio local de permacultura y co-liderado una exitosa firma de diseño en permacultura. 2

Puedo ver que el “capital Humano” es una combinación de capital social, intelectual y experiencial, toda facetas de una persona que pueden ser incorporados escencialmente en cantidades ilimitadas. Pero hay una forma de capital que una persona puede juntar y llevar internamente.

Capital Espiritual

Mientras uno practica su religión, espiritualidad u otra forma de conexión con uno mismo y el universo, puede acumular capital espiritual. Contiene aspectos del capital experiencial e intelectual, pero es más profundo, personal y menos cuantificable. La mayoría de las religiones mundiales incluyen un concepto de “una gran cadena del Ser”, una comprensión holarquica de la existencia donde la realización espiritual (en este contexto, la acumulación de capital espiritual) lleva a diferentes niveles del Ser.3

El Buddhismo incluso contiene una explícita moneda espiritual: el Karma! Esta forma de capital espiritual es computada y contabilizada no solo por la presente vida, sino también (teniendo en cuenta a la re-encarnación) en todas las vidas pasadas y futuras del Alma. En el capital espiritual ingresa nuevamente el concepto de que el capital puede ser en la forma de activos (juntando experiencias/realizaciones/comprensiones espirituales positivas) O en la forma de deuda. En algunas culturas Mayas (como los Tzutujil del Lago Atitlán, una comprensión básica de la existencia es que los humanos tiene una “deuda espiritual” con la magnífica belleza y complejidad de la existencia. Según esta cosmovisión, el objetivo de la propia vida en el mundo es crear obras de innombrable belleza y gratitud, pagando así la deuda espiritual con la existencia. 4 Los Tzutujil también reconocen que un ser humano jamás puede ser realmente efectivo en juntar y hacer fluir este capital si está separado de su comunidad.

Capital Cultural

Todas las otras formas de capital pueden ser tenidas o debidas por los individuos, pero el capital cultural puede solo ser reunido por una comunidad de personas. El capital cultural describe los procesos internos y externos compartidos por una comunidad – los trabajos de arte y teatro, las canciones que todo niño aprende, la habilidad para juntarse y celebrar la cosecha o una festividad religiosa. El Capital cultural no puede ser reunido por individuos nada más. Puede ser visto como una propiedad emergente de un complejo sistema de intercambios inter-capital que tiene lugar en la aldea, ciudad, bioregión o nación.

Propiedades del sistema

Estas ocho formas de capital nos ayudan a mapear nuestra comprensión del mundo. El mapa clarifica que el dinero no es la única forma de capital fluyendo alrededor y a través nuestro. Este mapa expande el concepto de riqueza (y pobreza) para incluir los “recursos valiosos” de conexiones personales, recursos naturales, tierra, conocimiento, experiencia y más. Provee un lenguaje para que los diseñadores de permacultura puedan comunicar el valor del suelo sano y comunidades sanas a la gente inmersa en el actual paradigma del capitalismo global, donde el capital financiero es la única realidad.Screen Shot 2015-05-21 at 10.18.18 AM

Hay dos tipos de flujo dentro de las fuentes de capital:

1– Flujos intra-capital, entre el mismo tipo de capital. Por ejemplo, usar dólares para comprar una acción o bono, o intercambiar semillas de tomates reliquia por una caja de huevos.

2– Flujos inter-capital, entre distintos tipos de capital. Por ejemplo, pagar por un aprendizaje de 2 años con un maestro constructor seria un intercambio de capital financiero por capital intelectual, experiencial e incluso social.

Estas propiedades de flujo del capital nos llevan a una pregunta y característica interesante de este mapa: ¿Cuáles son los medios de intercambio usados para cada forma de capital?

Ocho formas de moneda

Casi todas las definiciones de moneda se enfocan en el capital financiero, en el Diccionario Americano de Oxford y el Princeton Wordnet5, ambos incluyen la definición de “El hecho o cualidad que actualmente se acepta o está en uso”. Para este mapa, defino como “moneda” al modo generalmente aceptado (o en uso) de intercambio entre fuetes de capital. En muchos casos, la moneda es el capital en sí mismo – Por ejemplo, elementos del “capital Material” como el cobre o el acero, pueden ser el medio de intercambio. Las monedas también puede ser “complejizadas” en formas más interconectadas y funcionales, y aun ser utilizadas como medio de intercambio.

Aquí hay algunas de las ocho formas de moneda asociadas con cada forma de capital:Screen Shot 2015-05-21 at 10.21.19 AM

Aplicaciones prácticas

Temprano en este año, mientras mi compañero y yo diseñábamos una serie de cursos sobre bosques comestibles de 4 fines de semana, estábamos teniendo un montón de problemas con el presupuesto. Los costos de alquilar un espacio y pagar a los maestros combinados con nuestro deseo de mantener las entradas a un precio asequible para la comunidad local hacían que los números fueran inviables. Sin importar cuanto cambiáramos las cosas, no podíamos descubrir como generar un razonable retorno financiero. Entonces, nos dimos cuenta que nuestro pensamiento era demasiado estrecho – estábamos solamente mirando el capital financiero! Cuando consideramos el capital experiencias que ganaríamos por llevar adelante el curso, el capital social generado por plantar bosques comestibles en un nuevo centro educativo, y el capital vivo de cientos de plantas útiles siendo plantadas…se hizo evidente que la remuneración financiero era solo una faceta del sistema. Sin embargo, aun necesitábamos balancear nuestro flujo entrante y saliente de esta única forma de capital.

Las ocho formas de capital proveen un camino claro hacia un pequeño punto de palanca muy potente: La inversión Eco-social. Podemos alentar a los individuos, negocios, organización y gobiernos a imitar las prácticas de inversión de la naturaleza: Local, Íntimo, Diverso, y principalmente en forma de capital viviente. La Financial Permaculture Community, Gaia University y una multitud de negocios y organizaciones interconectados están invirtiendo en diversas canastas de capital, ofreciendo eventos como el Carbon Farming Course en Tennessee y el prospero negocio de chocolate eco-social BooyaCacao.

He delineado una serie de principios para la Inversión Ecosistémica y Eco-Social, los cuales pueden encontrar en mi blog www.appleseedpermaculture.com/blog Una de las aplicaciones mas útiles de este mapa es para aumentar y desplazar nuestra comprensión del mundo y las transacciones en las que nos involucramos. Cuando estuve de voluntario trabajando en la granja orgánica permacultural de mi amigo, más que solo “trabajo gratis” está ocurriendo:

* Estoy ganando capital experiencial e intelectual sobre el suelo de la granja, los cultivos y su manejo

*Estamos apoyando el crecimiento de capital viviente saludable en el suelo

*Mi amigo obtiene ayuda para su producción y cambiarlo por capital financiero (su sustento bien ganado)

*Ambos estamos construyendo capital social a través de la interacción y conexión positiva entre uno y otro.

Esta claridad puede llevar a un novedoso nivel de transparencia en nuestro trabajo como diseñadores eco-sociales-culturales y económicos. Puede guiarnos hacia una constante profundización en la práctica de la tercera ética de la permacultura.

La tercera ética

Aun cuando Bill Mollison originalmente estableció a la tercera ética de la permacultura como “poner límites a la población y el consumo” 6, muchos de nosotros (especialmente en las olas más recientes de la permacultura) hemos sido enseñados de distinta forma esta tercer ética. Algunos aprenden “Justa redistribución” o “comercio Justo”, una versión más amigable de “limites”. Otros aprenden “compartir recursos”, que retira la atención de la escasez hacia la re-inversión de la abundancia. Y más recientemente he visto a Starhawk referirse a la tercera ética como “cuidado del futuro”, que sintetiza la llamada de la “justa redistribución” y “compartir recursos” en un enfoque hacia la creación de herencias prosperas para las generaciones futuras. Las ocho formas de capital pueden y deben ser consideradas en términos de cada versión de la tercera ética.

“Comercio Justo” o “Justa Redistribución”

Cuando la gente y los negocios, organizaciones y gobiernos entienden las ocho formas de capital, pueden encontrar que el capital financiero no es el todo en el sistema. Esto puede llevar a un decreciente consumo de bienes no escenciales y de servicios que energizan nuestro sistema financiero de crecimiento infinito. Una sociedad realmente justa requiere equidad y justa distribución de todas las formas de capital. Mientras el capital financiero es importante, capitales no financieros orecen caminos para el empoderamiento de las comunidades oprimidas de nuestro planeta. En comunidades que he visitad (kazakhstan, Chile y Latino América), la abundancia de capital cultural frecuentemente sobrepasa al capital financiero, regenerándose en una riqueza de capital experiencial y viviente que jamás he visto en mi hogar del Noreste Estadounidense. Cualquiera de nosotros en el mundo desarrollado puede seguir este modelo, trabajando para terminar con la opresión causada por nuestros actuales sistemas centrados en el capital financiero.

“Compartir Recursos”

Podemos usar las ocho formas de capital para incluir el compartir de recursos en nuestros proyectos. AppleSeed Permacultura ha definido una nueva política de carbono, donde él %5 de nuestras ganancias es dedicado a compensar nuestra huella de carbono mediante proyectos de granjas de carbono (capital viviente). El impuesto de arboles al “Activista de Permacultura” funciona de una manera similar, transformando capital financiero en capital viviente para el beneficio del planeta.

AppleSeed Permaculture es también inspirado por nuestros amigos Shabazz y Josephine de Greenway Environmental Services, quienes explícitamente donan %10 de cada semana de trabajo a la comunidad a través de educación y consultorías. Ellos comparten de igual manera su capital intelectual y experiencial con grupos de jóvenes urbanos y permacultores rurales, generando a la vez, capital social para si mismos. Como un hombre blanco de clase media-alta del noreste de Estados Unidos, estoy buscando formas de usar transparente y alegremente mi privilegio multi-capas de efectivamente compartir recursos con aquellos que tienen menos poder y libertad que yo. Este artículo es una manifestación del compartir de mi capital intelectual. Después de buscar liderazgo de parte de personas y comunidades que han sido apuntadas por los efectos opresivos del sexismo, racismo y clasismo, sus proyectos pueden ser empoderados a través del flujo de inversiones multi-capital.

“Cuidado del Futuro”

Para cuidar a las generaciones futuras, tenemos que movernos mas allá de lo financiero, hacia el capital viviente y cultural. De las ocho formas, estas dos tienen el potencial más grande para un cambio sistémico positivo. Mollison escribe, “deberíamos desarrollar o crear riqueza del mismo modo que desarrollamos paisajes, conservando energía y recursos naturales [y] mediante el desarrollo de activos procreativos (bosques prolíferos, praderas y sistemas vivos) 7. Solo a través de canciones, historias y éticas compartidas de un capital cultural puede un enfoque en el capital viviente ser sostenido para las 7 generaciones siguientes.

Algunas piezas están faltando del mapa: ¿A dónde encaja mi “trabajo” dentro de la imagen? ¿Qué forma de capital es el tiempo? Puede haber algunas implicancias peligrosas: Este mapa puede “comoditizar” los servicios ecosistémicos, la espiritualidad y la cultura. Para cuidar del futuro, debemos pensar más holísticamente sobre nuestro sistema de capital actual.

Dejemos que este mapa sea un primer borrador. No sabemos qué es lo que va a pasar en el futuro, pero si una compleja batería de cambios y flujos capitales aparecen en el camino, ofrezco las ocho formas de capital como un nuevo mapa para la travesía.

©Copyright 2011 Ethan Roland & Gregory Landua

Agradecimientos y recursos Ofrezco mi más profunda gratitud a Catherine Austin Fitts, Andrew Langford, Bill Mollison, Jason Eaton, Gregory Landua, Dyami-Nason Regan, Connor Stedman, mai Frank y Rafter Sass por sus contribuciones especificas y reflexiones sobre este y para este mapa en evolución.

Gaia University: www.gaiauniversity.org

Financial Permaculture Course: www.financialpermaculture.com

Financial Permaculture Blog: www.financialpermaculture.org

Solari, Inc.: www.solari.com

Social Thread LLC: www.socialthread.com

Slow Money: www.slowmoneyalliance.org

BooyaCacao: www.booyacacao.com

AppleSeed Permaculture: www.appleseedpermaculture.com

Terra Genesis International: www.terra-genesis.com


1. Mollison, B. 1988. Permaculture: A Designers’ Manual p. 534. Tagari Publications, Tasmania, Australia.

2. Roland, E. 2008. Gaia University Master’s Degree Portfolio, http://gel.gaiauniversity.org

3. Wilber, K. 2001. A Theory of Everything: An Integral Vision for Business, Politics, Science, and Spirituality p. 66-69. Shambhala Publications, Massachusetts, United Staes

4. Prechtel, M. 2009. Saving the Indigenous Soul: Derrick Jensen Interviews Martín Prechtel. Sun Magazine, December 2009

5. Wordnet: A Lexical Database for English. http://wordnet.princeton.edu/, accessed 5/31/09.

6. Mollison, B. 1988. Permaculture: A Designers’ Manual p. 2. Tagari Publications, Tasmania, Australia.

7. Ibid. Permaculture: A Designers’ Manual p. 534. Tagari Publications, Tasmania, Australia.

Regenerative Enterprise Part 10: External & Internal Development

External & Internal Development

So far, we have concentrated primarily on the external manifestations of degenerative, sustainable and regenerative systems. Underlying the eight forms of capital is another map, developed and utilized by philosopher Ken Wilbur and the international Integral community. The most basic level of the Integral framework is called the four quadrants:30

Figure 5.1 – The four quadrants. Each quadrant represents a facet of reality, and none of them can be reduced to any other. They all exist in all enterprises, whether they are acknowledged or not.

Figure 5.1


The quadrants are created by juxtaposing the internal facets of reality (on the left) with the external facets of reality (on the right), and the individual experiences of reality (on the top) with the collective experiences of reality (on the bottom). The quadrants are named:

  • Upper Left: internal / individual
  • Upper Right: external / individual
  • Lower Left: internal / collective
  • Lower Right: external / collective

The vast majority of entrepreneurial thinking and sustainability initiatives is focused on external results.31 Financial capital profits for executives, employees and stockholders is the simple bottom line for all current enterprises. Most triple-bottom-line companies add two other factors:

  • Environmental ‘do-no-harm-ism’, focused on external metrics like air quality, water quality, less-toxic materials, or reduced amounts of waste sent to landfills.
  • Social equity, usually translated again to external metrics like living wages, support for community organizations, or healthy working environments.

The Social Entrepreneurship community creates business and organizations that focus on finding “innovative solutions to society’s most pressing social problems”.32 However, these entrepreneurs are also required to produce external financial capital profits, external social systems benefits, and external environmental benefits to prove their effectiveness. All realms of the current business world are focused on only one half of reality. Something is missing.

A tenant of the four quadrants model is that no organization, venture, or individual can achieve its aims by working solely in the external quadrants. Especially if the purpose is to develop sustainability or regeneration of whole living systems, the internal quadrants must be fully integrated into the project. For example, consider a project run by a christian missionary organization that aims to increase urban food security by helping people plant gardens near their homes.

This project could focus on getting legal access to gardening spaces, providing soil and water and tools and seeds, hosting community classes on different aspects of gardening, promoting the benefits for physical health, or perhaps even exploring the money-saving or money-making potential of small-scale crop production. The project could do all of these external things, at the highest level of quality and with the best intentions, but still not achieve its goals. Why? Because the internal quadrants of the individuals and community have not been addressed.

The people in the urban area could have a firm internal belief that growing vegetables is a dirty, lowly, menial way to spend their time, suitable only for poor farmers in the countryside. Urban youth might think that growing food is ‘un-cool’, experience peer-pressure to not get involved, or feel fear about some aspect of the project. The population could be orthodox jews, whose shared cultural beliefs are fundamentally at odds with the christian missionary organization running the project. Or perhaps some people in the area have African-american or Caribbean heritage, and connect agricultural activity with the oppression and pain of their ancestors’ slavery.

Without exploring, understanding, and actively addressing the internal aspects of the people and communities involved in a project, wholeness cannot be achieved. Enterprises cannot succeed at regeneration without both the external and the internal.

Zooming out to a larger, societal scale, internal individual preferences and shared cultural beliefs often have their root in painful and oppressive historical events. Many of the original colonists of what is now called the United States were fleeing from religious persecution – they were Christian protestants who had been systematically mistreated for attempting to follow their own beliefs. This left deep psychological, emotional, and intellectual wounds on each individual. They fled to a “new” land where they could have freedom from oppression, and then immediately repeated the pattern by systematically mistreating, stealing from, and killing the native peoples of the continent, who were following their own beliefs.

In fact, this oppressive pattern of colonization goes back even further. In the country now called Great Britain, pre-”european” indigenous people were colonized and conquered by successive waves of Celts, Romans, and Germanic peoples.33 In each case, the older cultures and languages were dominated and mostly destroyed by the colonists. A similar story exists for almost all of the countries in modern-day

Europe, and the large-scale cultural wounds inflicted were never addressed or healed. During the so-called “discovery” period of the 15th and 16th centuries, these unhealed wounds of violence and colonization were carried onwards across the ocean – Europeans dominated and destroyed much of the cultural, spiritual, and living capital of what is now called North America.34

The oppressed became the oppressors. Culturally, this trend continues today.

Agriculturally, this trend also continues today. The fossil-fuel-driven shift towards large-scale industrial food monocultures impoverishes each of the places it touches and the people who live there. The degradation of ecosystem services and living capital is oppressive: Humans systematically mistreat the environment around them for material or financial capital gain.

Our belief is that most of the current global society is based on oppression: the systematic mistreatment of one group of people or form of capital by another group of people or by the society as a whole. The primary oppression is financial, wherein the few people that control the vast majority of financial capital actively (but usually unconsciously) destroy living capital and perpetuate artificial divisions between human beings based on their skin color, country of origin, gender, age, or other factors to achieve continued financial capital accumulation.

The financial inequality currently present in the world is held in place by racism, sexism, age-ism, and other oppressions that insidiously separate people from each other35 and prevent them from supporting each others happiness, health, and multi-capital wealth.

This system hurts every person on the planet. People who are targeted by oppression are systematically denied access to resources, verbally and physically insulted, and treated as inferior human beings. Sometimes the oppressive ideas and messages will become internalized by people who are targeted by oppression, and then acted out upon themselves and other people in the same targeted group. For example, many women in the current society receive the incorrect and oppressive message that they “are not smart” or should “keep quiet” from a young age. Some women come to believe this about themselves, and may act to invalidate or discourage other women who display their intelligence or voice their thinking. This is called ‘Internalized Oppression’, and is one of the major barriers to ending oppression in the world.36

People in oppressor roles are also hurt by oppression, through rigid feelings of guilt and blame, acts of self-deprecation and self-mistrust, and a pervasive isolation from people in the oppressed groups and even from each other. However, the hurts experienced by people in oppressor roles cannot be compared to the hurts experienced by people targeted by oppression.37 Each individual may contain a mix of oppressed and oppressor roles: A working-class man in the United States of Irish heritage may be oppressed as an immigrant and a person of the working class, but may also find himself in oppressor roles as a “white” person and as a man.

Each of us is a part of this system. The multiple forms of oppression keep people divided from each other, while living capital degrades and financial capital disparity increases around the globe.

Whether each individual likes it or not, each individual carries wounds, prejudices, and rigid ways of acting and thinking from growing up in this oppressive system. No individual would choose this system of inequality had they not been hurt and unconsciously trained into perpetuating it.

Ask yourself: Would I choose to design a world where 50% of the people will suffer malnutrition,38 48% cannot speak or act according to their faith and conscience due to harassment, imprisonment, torture, or death,39 and the collective actions of humans on our planet threaten 66% of all the world’s living species with extinction this century?40

Again: no individual consciously chose to systematically degrade the living, social, cultural, and spiritual capital of the world. And, it is not the fault of any person or any particular group of people. All people are inherently good, but as a resulted of being systematically mistreated (as young people, as women, as men, as darker-skinned people, as jews, as muslims, as christians, as indigenous people, as communists, as capitalists, etc.), people seek to release their wounds by systematically mistreating the earth’s living capital and the social, cultural, and spiritual capital of other peoples in order to achieve a false sense of safety and separation from the oppression they have undergone.

All oppression can be ended. Each individual who wants to create a equitable world free from oppression must first seek healing and liberation of their own wounds and prejudices. If each individual does not take on a path of personal development and healing, our societies will continue to re-create the patterns of oppression and extraction that have brought the world to its degraded state. If each individual does take on a path of personal development and healing, they will begin to transform their own reactive, patterned, oppressive ways of being into consciousness and action that can regenerate local human and natural and ecosystems.

There are many communities, schools, and modalities of personal development. Entrepreneurs engaged with them report the following results as they work to heal their internal landscape:

  • Increased ability to articulate and achieve goals
  • Improved capacity for clear communication
  • Greater integrity in making and keeping commitments
  • Enhanced intellectual and emotional flexibility, especially in difficult or ‘charged’ situations
  • Decreased reactiveness, anger, and fighting in all realms of life
  • Significantly less self-doubt and self-loathing
  • Deeper understanding and compassion of different people and situations
  • A greater sense of spiritual well-being and confidence

Additionally, regenerative internal development leads to positive external development: Clear-thinking, spiritually confident, emotionally resilient people are more effective at repairing the world’s living and cultural capital.

Each individual in a regenerative enterprise must commit to ongoing personal internal development. Ideally, the individuals develop an ecology of personal growth and healing modalities, ensuring continued emotional, intellectual, and spiritual development.



Excerpt from:

Regenerative Enterprise: Optimizing for Multi-Capital Abundance by Ethan C. Roland & Gregory Landua

30 Wilber, Ken. A Brief History of Everything. Boston: Shambhala Publications, 199+.

31 Brown, Barrett C. “ The Four Quadrants of Sustainability.” Integral Thinkers, 4 April 2011.

32 “What is a Social Entrepreneur?” Ashoka: Innovators for the Public. Ashoka, Inc. Web. Accessed 7 Dec. 2012.

33 “History of Great Britain.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia

Foundation, Inc. Accessed 7 Dec. 2012.

34Nabokov, Peter (Ed.) Native American Testimony: A Chronicle of Indian-

White Relations from Prophecy to the Present, 1492-2000. New York:

Penguin Books, 1999.

35Collins, P.H. (2000). “Gender, Black Feminism, and Black Political

Economy.” Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science,

  1. 41–53.

36 “Oppression” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation,

Inc. Accessed 7 Dec. 2012.

37 Jackins, Tim. Working Together to End Racism: Healing from the Damage

Caused by Racism. United to End Racism, 2002.

38 “The Miniature Earth Official Version” The Miniature Earth Project.

Luccaco*be digital Ltd. Web. Accessed 15 Dec 2012

39 ibid

40“Life support services threatened, 700 experts urge more prominence

of biodiversity on world agenda” Diversitas International. 14 Nov. 2005.

Regenerative Enterprise Part 9: Financial Capital to Living Capital

Financial Capital to Living Capital

In order to begin restorative development at any scale, regenerative enterprises must identify and reverse the currently predominant inter-capital flows that are degrading ecological, social, and cultural systems. At a macro-level there is one primary flow which, once reversed, will act as a leverage point to restore holistic health and the foundation of wealth for our global society.

The current flow in need of reversal is between living capital and financial capital: living capital is systematically damaged and destroyed in order to build financial capital. From mountain-top-removal coal mining, to rainforest clear-cutting, to chemical-based monoculture farming, to ocean over-fishing, to the entire fossil fuel extraction and combustion industry:27 Living capital decreases, financial capital increases. What would it look like if this trend were reversed?

One exemplar to consider is Polyface Farms in Virginia, USA. On this farm, the Salatin family grows a diversity of grass-based animal products (primarily rabbits, chickens, turkeys, pigs, and cattle) in a way that continually improves the quality and productivity of their land, creates multiple jobs, and earns significant amounts of financial revenue.

Because they are building their soil, catching and storing water, and increasing the health of their forests while they sell top-quality grass-fed meat, their farm system removes financial capital from degenerative systems into vibrant living capital.

A regenerative enterprise can certainly obtain a financial capital profit in the process of regenerating local ecosystems, but the majority of financial capital flowing through the enterprise will be transformed or invested into long-term living, social, and cultural resilience. Polyface Farms’ annual revenue is approximately two million dollars, which they flow back into the land (growing their herds, digging multi-functional ponds, building new infrastructure) and the local community (through jobs, feed purchases, and professional services).28 As Mark Shepard of New Forest Farm writes in Restoration Agriculture,

“Degrade the ecology and degrade the economy.

Restore the ecology and restore the economy.”29

A regenerative enterprise flows financial capital out of the current destructive economic system. The financial capital flows in to non-financial forms of capital, especially living capital.

This financial capital does not disappear. In fact, regenerative enterprises can create significant long-term financial returns, as demonstrated by Windhorse Farm and Polyface Farm. These farms show the balance between long-term financial return and reinvestment in the living capital foundation that generates the surplus in the first place. Financial capital returns should be continuously re-invested into cultivating the health and resilience of living, cultural, social and spiritual capital, not extracted for the purpose of creating financial or material capital that has no functional interconnection with the regenerative context from which it emerged.


Excerpt from:

Regenerative Enterprise: Optimizing for Multi-Capital Abundance by Ethan C. Roland & Gregory Landua


27 Worldwatch Institute. Vital Signs 2012. New York: WW Norton, 2012.

28 Salatin, Joel. Personal Communication. 2012.

29 Shepard, Mark. Restoration Agriculture: Real World Permaculture for Farmers. Austin: Acres USA, 2013.

©2013 Ethan C. Roland & Gregory Landua. All Rights Reserved.


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In this interactive workshop, Morton and Solaviev offer an in-depth exploration of sustainable and regenerative investment strategies based on real-world examples. In a safe and nurturing environment of small groups and one-on-one sessions, we learn how to shift our dollars to help empower communities, heal ecosystems, and become conscious of our power to change the world.

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Regenerative Enterprise Part 8: The Four Nurture Capitals

The Four Nurture Capitals

At best, triple-bottom line enterprises tend to ‘do no harm’ to ecological and social systems, while ensuring their continued financial capital abundance. With looming climate chaos, post-peak petroleum wars, near-peak water and precious metal resources, and rapidly decreasing biodiversity, this simply is not enough.

The pools of valuable resources from which living systems spring (social, cultural, spiritual, and living capital) must be replenished. To do so, they must be nurtured – not pushed, or coerced, or harassed into increasing, but lovingly and carefully supported to re-sprout and regrow from their already sad, angry, bruised, and mistreated state.

Like killing the proverbial goose for the stash of golden eggs, enterprises cannot continue to ransack the forest for the trees or forcibly re-locate peoples to mine the fuels and ore beneath them. The four ‘nurture capitals’ can slowly be regenerated on the local, bioregional, and global scale – as long as the enterprises that exist in them learn to nurture their healthy expression and growth.

A regenerative enterprise does not harvest the root of the tree of production, only its fruit. They gather the unique, surplus, place-based goods and services that are emergent properties of healthy eco-cultural systems, while simultaneously nurturing the system’s ability to thrive. The regenerative enterprise helps to grow the roots deeper and wider, healing the damage that has been done and eventually creating the possibility of new and larger fruits.

For example, consider New Forest Farm in Wisconsin. The dominant agriculture system in this area of the midwestern United States continues to strip living capital out of the ecosystem, sending it eroding downstream or shipping it to the ethanol distilleries to fuel more cars. Financial capital yields are significant for large agribusiness companies, but continue to impoverish local communities and decrease the organic matter content of soils. New Forest Farm reverses the trend by increasing organic matter and fertility in the soil through permaculture farming practices – nurturing living capital back towards health. By harvesting the emergent wealth of the healthy system, the farm also produces financial, material, and intellectual capital profits.26

A regenerative enterprise must cultivate the fundamental health of the four nurture capitals in order to optimize long-term production of all eight forms of capital.


26 Shepard, Mark. Restoration Agriculture: Real World Permaculture for Farmers. Austin: Acres USA. 2013.


Excerpt from:

Regenerative Enterprise: Optimizing for Multi-Capital Abundance by Ethan C. Roland & Gregory Landua

©2013 Ethan C. Roland & Gregory Landua. All Rights Reserved.