Kalinago Territory

[rethinking livelihood]

I was invited to participate in an international team to study and propose a design a regeneration plan for the Kalinago Territory in Dominica, an indigenous community that has been resilient for millennia.

The last 500 years of industrial/extractive economic paradigm have taken their toll community: social malaise, lack of meaningful livelihoods, high rates of alcoholism, failed economic schemes by central government. Hurricane Maria, was the last of many hard hits. The watersheds had suffered massive erosion and the few rivers left flowing, were mere trickles.

Our team was to study every aspect and co-create a comprehensive approach to regenerative development of the community. My role on the team was to develop an regenerative agriculture & agroforestry based design to jumpstart a local living economy.

The design addressed multiple scales: home-scale: every home nestled within a half-acre edible forest garden; community-scale: each of six communities had cooperative agriculture enterprise with a plant nursery and producer incubator program; and the territory had large-scale agroforestry enterprise buffering the sensitive ridgelines and rivers, which would be reforested with native species.

EU Conference+ Tour

For several years, I began getting a sense that the scale of my design work I was being called to participate in, was requiring me to stretch globally. Both New York and the Caribbean, where an easy enough stretch from South Florida, where I had dedicated all my interventions until then. 

For years, I had tended my relations to friends-in-the-work via International Permaculture Convergences: Cuba, UK, India.
By early 2019, I designed 3 month sabbatical: where I would attend an international meeting and four conferences in the EU, to further build relations and test the waters for a potential move there.
I attended a meeting of the Commonwealth (London, UK), where we presented the Kalinago design to the secretary general; Climate Change & Consciousness conference (Findhorn, Scotland); SusPlaces conference (Tampere, Finland), where I presented a poster on productive placemaking; the World Agroforestry Conference (Montpelier, France); and The Nature of Cities conference (Paris, France), where I presented on bioregions and participated in a working group on water-scarce cities.
This was one of the most fruitful (and purposeful) interventions I have made. I made friends-in-the-work beyond my wildest expectations. I discovered that there were more diverse and generous funding streams in the EU to support the types of projects I was being called to work on.
I ended my sabbatical with a brief stay in Portugal, where I reconnected with Gil Penha-Lopes (long time friend-in-the-work) and now make my home.

PhD in Complexity

For some time, I had been playing with the idea to do a transdisciplinary PhD to deepen my understanding of the many learnings over the last few decades of systemic interventions.

On a torentially rainy day in Riga, while on my EU tour, where I could scarcely get out of bed, I began researching possibilities for doctoral programs in the EU.

I found one in Portugal of all places, in Complexity, a transdisciplinary program, which I barely new existed as a field in itself.

I applied that summer, was accepted and by October 2019 had begun the program. It was an international program, in English, and online. I was furious that I didn’t have to live in Portugal, so I took it as a sign that I should.

The latest iteration of my research design pivots around the question: What does it mean to be fully-human in a universe-of-complexity?

The research is titled: Coming Back to Life: (Re)awakening radical [fully-human] participation in a universe-of-{generative} complexity. With it I develop a three dimensional theoretical framework to explore the various qualities of living systems, that we may apply towards designing ecosocial systems with that serve to regenerate Life.

Along the way, in order to build the living soils for these ecosocial systems, I look at how we can reorganize knowledge, the way we know what we know about the world we live in, an epistemology equally up to the task of interpreting our and supporting a fully-human presence on the planet.

With this foundation in place, I am exploring four areas of practical application: (1) A Regenerative Theory of Complex Knowledges: An exploration into Morin’s method in Method; (2) Regenerative Development Aims: A study in the practical application of wholeness-aliveness; (3) The Self-Organizing Bioregion: Complex organization of transformative ecosystems in practice; (4) Economies of Scale-linking: A regenerative commoning framework for living economies.

Dodoma Foodway

After my presentation in The Nature of Cities conference, I became good friends Paul Curie, (a brilliant fellow from Capetown who works for ICLEI Africa), who I shared the concept of Foodway with… it was exactly the kind of intervention he was looking to address the many ecoscial issues faced in Dodoma, Tanzania.

Over the following months, I created a conceptual design for a foodway corridor responsive to the specific challenges in Dodoma, one of many poorly-developed  places with excess burden of being a capital city, due of its central location. The call was to use regenerative agriculture and agroforestry livlihood corridor as a buffer between the overstressed areas of human activity and natural areas.
Over the coming months, the concept was refined, i was partnered with local organizations, and an initial site was selected. See Msalato Community Farm for futher details on design process and design.

Abrigada Eco Community

One of the projects that was quite dear to me, was the proposed creation of Abrigada an intentional eco community on 45 acres of land north of Lisbon. This was not a professional engagement, as I had planned on living there eventually.
The design challenge was to create various neighborhoods of naturally-built homes, each with their own character, embedded within a regenerative agriculture/agroforestry enterprises that the community would develop over time.
Among other things, the community was to be a center of mastery for natural building, including creating a bioregional economy based on generating livelihoods around producing many of the products needed for building homes in this way.
The design of the design process I worked out was based on Christopher Alexander’s Theory of centers and how these self-organize. The idea (yet to be tested) was that future residents from each neighborhood would spend time on the land, use there whole bodies to sense and image where each pod of homes could be located, given the constraints. Each then would spend time feeling where they were drawn to with in that, to site their homes, them spend time siting, eating or sleeping where they might locate various rooms, etc.
For bureaucratic reasons, the project has yet to commence after three years of seeking approvals. Fingers-crossed, something beautiful still emerges there.