Photo courtesy of Leonora Enking

I just got home from an incredible hike in the Point Reyes National Seashore. Earlier, as I climbed gingerly down a steep rock face and alighted onto the sandy beach below, I noticed with immense awe the tenacity of succulents clinging to the rock face, such steadfast creatures who have all that they need to sustain them close at hand––sunlight, water (in the form of ocean spray), and nourishment distilled by their roots from deep rock crevices.

Now there’s an example of nature’s impeccable design. In such extreme circumstances, there is no room for error, or wasted resources. The design must be meticulous.

“The concept of waste is essentially a reflection of poor design. Every output from one system could become the input to another system.”
––David Holmgren, co-founder of the term “Permaculture”

There is an emerging relationship between Permaculture design and business design, and the next period of my life is an investigation of this. Nicholas Stern, the author of the 2006 Report on climate change, recently released a statement that called to light the idea that economies (not just ecosystems) are going to suffer dramatically as a result of Climate Change. The native plants who thrive on the California coast live in extreme conditions (roaring sea, high winds, and beating sun) that calls for careful, meticulously designed systems. Likewise, the current changing economy indicates that businesses are in need of a redesign. In the new economy, there will be no room for businesses that are wasteful or haphazard about their resource use.

“As Albert Einstein observed, if we are to solve the problems that plague us, our thinking must evolve beyond the level we were using when we created those problems in the first place.”
––William McDonough, Cradle to Cradle

My life’s passion is to use the power of permaculture design to reconnect communities with local food and water, and to re-localize waste streams to optimize efficiencies and enrich quality of life. As a dear friend of mine recently reminded me, it is not enough to argue about the ethics of limitless extraction of fossil fuels, or to fight against it without at the same time rapidly working to unleash a viable alternative. Look at the inspiring story of Revive Drinks. They are a Sonoma County-based Kombucha company that is challenging the notion that any product has to be sold in a disposable bottle. Environmental & social enterprises rooted in meticulous, nature-based design, provide alternatives to dramatically shift our course, to rapidly (and scale-ably), regenerate the ecosystems we rely on to function. I look forward to catalyzing and strengthening a web of these interconnected models. We cannot wait, our ecosystems (both human and natural) are at stake.


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