• Matt Sykes

Seeing differently, models of Regeneration

By Kelvin Wicks

One of the best ways to leverage change is to shift your own mindset.

The grandmother of systems thinking, Donella Meadows, argued that our way of seeing the world lies at the heart of the world we find ourselves in. Therefore when we’re prepared to change our mindsets, we can change the type of world we live in too. As Einstein once said, “no problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it”.

To avoid history repeating itself and running ourselves into the ground while addressing ‘symptoms’ (think climate change*), we can use new frameworks to see these same problems with fresh eyes. A regenerative framework is a way of seeing and examining the world. It invites a different kind of engagement with well-known problems. Unfortunately, there is no silver bullet or no one size fits all. Nor will the framework do the work for you.

As a masters student of engineering at the University of Melbourne who works part-time in a leading climate action NGO, I’ve uncovered dozens of frameworks and models. On the back of a recent collaboration with Regeneration Projects, I would now love to share some of my favourites.

Regenerative design framework (USA)

The regenerative design framework by American Bill Reed at Regenesis is a wonderful starting point for engaging with regenerative concepts. Often when we see this framework for the first time we are challenged by the notion of going beyond sustainability. But when we realise that mitigating harm doesn’t clean up the oceans, draw carbon from the atmosphere or revitalise our soils, we start to see the need to regenerate. For this reason, Bill Reed’s framework is one of my go-to tools for running workshops

Source: Article by Daniel Christian Wahl, based on original by Bill Reed of Regenesis Group

Doughnut Economy

The Doughnut economics model designed by Kate Raworth reimagines our growth-based economy. Currently being adopted by the City of Amsterdam to guide their post-pandemic recovery, the model is quickly becoming popular for its balanced focus on human wellbeing and ecological boundaries. This simple and effective framework can help businesses transition towards regenerative models of value adding and reciprocity. More at TEDx – Doughnut Economics.

Source: Kate Raworth's Doughnut Economy model, linked to Doughnut Economic Action Lab

Tyson Yunkaporta’s 'Sand Talk'

In his book Sand Talk, Apalech Aboriginal man Tyson Yunkaporta shows us how indigenous ways of thinking can address wicked problems. The framework drawn by Yunkaporta carries subtle layers of meaning. I believe that the genius of this model is that you can carry this framework with you every day, everywhere, and so the meaning is carried with you too. While we are looking for new ways to not repeat the patterns of the past, returning to ancient ways of thinking may be the type of wisdom and framing we need most.

In the toolkit of ways to solve problems regeneratively, I’ve uncovered dozens of frameworks that can help guide regenerative thinking and seeing. By choosing to work in this way, we begin to leverage the most impactful way to change systems, our mindset.

Source: Photo from Tyson Yunkaporta’s book 'Sand Talk', p200 (Available for purchase here)

Other favourites

LENSES (Living Environments in Natural, Social and Economic Systems)


Permaculture Tree by Dan Palmer.

One Planet Living.

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