Msalato Community Farm

[ecosocial design] [rethinking livelihood]

Msalato Community Farm (part of the Dodoma Foodway concept) design and build process was an extraordinary experience, in many ways. Being and working in Africa (specifically, in Tanazia) was extremely humbling and amazingly frustrating as well.

The site chosen was owned by the Dodoma City Council (DCC) and being farmed with annuals by some of the employees.

The conceptual co-design process was conducted with over 90 people over several days. Later I came to learn, that very few were actually residents in the area (direct beneficiaries) of the project. My partners included Charles Muhamba and Wilhard Shishkaye, each from NGOs working in Tanzania. We were all contracted by ICLEI Africa or the project.

A beautifully rich design for was generated for a multi-enterprise farm (LIFE approach) for the direct benefit of and to be cooperatively operated by the community.

Some of the systems included: native edges for production of medicinals, wood, alternative agroforestry products, habitat, and protection; massive alley cropping rows interspersed with annual production alleys; large animal grazing areas line with fodder hedgerows; small animal area lined productive vines (grapes, others); a passive watering scheme; a keyhole garden beds surrounding a farm center (production space); learning and demonstration beds surrounding a market space. All of which required immense earthworks.

After several weeks of engaging the surrounding community, which we found out well after the design process, had not been done. And, well into the implementation of the earthworks, we were forced to completely revamp the design, because we come to find that the DCC was not on board with the project as designed. In fact, they were quite fearful of the design, which gave the the community full use of the site. The fear was that the community would take over the site completely. We came to a reconcile, redesigned to appease the DCC and I pulled away from final implementation.

Needless to say, the design presented here is the comprehensive original one.

LightStream Farms

LightStream Farms was another wonderful collaboration with Jono Neiger and his team at Regenerative Design Group. This time the tables where turned, since the project was based in central Florida, he was doing the overall design and I was bringing the planting plan.

The site was quite challenging, site was primarily and still operated as a sand quarry, with varying degrees of eroding pits and very wet areas.

The design team was challenged to make the most of the degraded landscape, meet regulatory requirements to compensate for damaging activities, regenerate the land, as well as provide an alternate set of enterprises, that would produce diverse income streams for the project.

In the end, the design produced a viable approach that came through on all counts!

GEN Principles to Practices

I was brought in on the tail end of an EU funded project called EcoGamers (my first real project), where I was to come up with ways to assess integration of a principles framework for the Global Ecovillage Network (see Sustainable Development, the ecovillage way).

The design challenge involved somehow tying GEN’s principles to specific SDGs (UN Sustainable Development Goals) and developing appropriate targets.

Fortunately, I had tried this before an a brief assignment, where I had found there was a missing link, so to speak. You could not assess something as fuzzy or high level as principles. The missing link was practices, which then could be used for ecovillages in the network to self-assess to what degree they were being integrated any given practice. So, we developed practices representative of principles.

The second design challenge, when we arrived at the practices, was that most ecovillages, had far surpassed SDG targets… the wording in these represented a bar so low, that it made it absurd to even try to match them.

This triggered a complete rewrite of the SDG targets using a regenerative lens (see Regenerative Development Aims 1.0), so that they may reflect the many practices that far exceeded the previous.

Ethical Code for Water

As an outcome from a working group formed in The Nature of Cities conference in 2019, five of us (Naomi Tsur, Peter Schoonmaker, Diane Pitaki, Paul Curie and myself) felt the calling to draft an Ethical Code for Water.

The rationale was as follows: In a polarizing world where half of us (humans) have too much water and the other half have too
little, all of us share the need for water to satisfy basic human needs, support
agriculture, and green our cities. Water has been recognized as a universal human right. Further, many recognize that all living systems have an intrinsic right to the integrity of all their components, including water. We posit that all beings who participate in the community of life on Earth, have an equal and universal basic right to
participate in the water cycle.

My personal feeling is that it was essential to draft this document, and I would like to see it evolve well beyond ethical code, to full on water charter.


Regenerative Development Aims 1.0

The Regenerative Development Aims are a beyond-sustainability version of the SDGs recast applying a regenerative framing representing a vision of a world where humanity thrives by weaving itself seamlessly into the web of life.

The Aims and associated Pathways take the place of Goals and Targets. The concepts of goals and targets imply some kind of finality to be achieved.

The concept of regenerative development implies a continual striving and aspiring — taking our development beyond mere function, to re-generating of being and will — toward a greater degree of wholeness and integration with Life.

Indeed, much care has been taken to recast the language that will guide our reintegration with living systems, now and into the future, and the promise of the potential of what being human implies. These RDAs and Pathways respond directly and deeply to the question: What does it mean to be fully human beings, societies and cultures continually regenerating a mutually-beneficial relationship with Life on Earth?

I recognize that this is only a very first pass. For one, they are still prescriptive. The plan is they become a pattern generator for communities to develop their own pathways. The larger challenge is to recast them entirely, not as a rewrite of SDGs, but to stand on their own and to fully address whole people, whole communities, whole lifesheds, and whole planet.

Regenerative Knowledge Commons


The Regenerative Knowledge Commons  is an open-source, wiki-based knowledge commons for collectively (re)generating knowledge, understanding and even wisdom, perhaps, around regenerative commoning!

The Regenerative Knowledge Commons (RKC) was brought into existence as part of two Erasmus+ projects (Community Climate Coaches and Activating Community Transformation) in order to give a place for what wants to continue beyond the end of any project; this effort as such, has a rich background. My role in both projects was to design (along with Tom Henfrey) and then implement it.

RKC is an open and living system for knowledge freely given, to be cared for and shared.

RKC is intended as an active space for practitioners to regenerate themselves and their thinking, to cultivate relations with fellow participants and collectively inhabit the systems they intend to transform and evolve. Indeed, to the extent they intend to transform the larger contexts they are a part of, will generate both value for themselves and others via their active participation.