When a forest is burnt black with wildfire, a wildflower blooms slowly but surely accepting, forgiving, birthing, regenerating the pitch black of the forest with its bright purple
We need a fellowship of human fireweed to blossom their purple on the pitch black of all human thinking and doing in service of regenerating ourselves and our pale blue dot.
This is NOT a network. This is a non-traditional designing network of people from any domain or doing. It starts with you answering this gentle but fervent war cry. After a process of self-reflection and embracing accountable commitment, those who remain will together build this fellowship for ourselves and those to come driven by our unwavering love for mother earth and our unshakable belief in true human nature.
This Pollination lab will nudge forth the Fireweed fellowship. If you would like to participate in this lab throughout the weekend (the commitment is to remain with your lab team during the daytime session blocks over the two days), please tell us on your registration.
Bloom Network’s Mark Heley talks to Maya Zuckerman
There are a spectrum of definitions for what the term ‘regenerative culture’ can mean, so it’s always interesting to give a person working in this emerging field the room to offer their own definition.
At one end of the scale, ‘regenerative’ means for many people, the next step beyond mere ‘sustainability’, in ecological practices and design. It means embracing the potential of healing and renewing the land in ways that the goal of a ‘zero- sum’ consumer culture can never do.
Maya Zuckerman is many things. For example, she’s a successful COO for start-ups in the Bay Area, a transmedia producer, and also the MC for Pollination 2019, but at heart she is fundamentally a story teller. This is where she begins her definition of the meaning of the term ‘regenerative culture.’
‘What can go right?’
‘I think the mindset of regenerative culture is ‘What can go right?’. We’re so constantly fed with the mindset and reality of ‘What can go wrong?’ this is what happens when we don’t do this.
The idea of regenerative culture promises a hope. That if we get our act together and work really hard in a way that aligns with nature and whole systems. If we actually step away from the ego-mind and the ego-space and get into a collaborative, diverse, inclusive system of cultures, then we can actually turn around what’s happening. And create the possibility of a world that works for everyone.’
Regeneration is an act of rebellion
‘Right now, we’re talking about this is the last coolest summer we’re ever going to experience in the next hundred years. What if we can actually change it into the next twenty-five years? So, twenty-five bad years and then all of a sudden…. boom! we’re landing back because of everything we did together. There is hope that is very rooted in action and reality. And then being regenerative is also an act of rebellion, of saying ‘”I will work with nature!”.’
‘Buckminster Fuller talked about a very simple formula of how you operate this planet: ‘Don’t pollute. Don’t take too much.’ We need to live in harmony as much as possible. Harmony doesn’t mean that there’s no death, or there’s no killing. It means there’s still an underlying harmony, despite those things. There’s a harmonious sacred reciprocity of giving and taking that is needed for the whole system to flourish. We need to respect that. As soon as you actually remove that sacred reciprocity, everything starts failing and we’re seeing it in our obsession with extractiveness.’
Degeneration is the opposite of regeneration
‘I think it’s degeneration that is the opposite of regeneration and that there is rapid degeneration with systems right now, that we are seeing… especially in America. What happens to people when the system doesn’t work for everyone? They start being degenerative. Some of them start killing. The dominant narrative is a false narrative, that’s actually not a thrivable narrative. And it’s very centered in the ego itself.’
A new Origin Story of the Future
A lot of Maya Zuckerman’s work in regenerative culture is at the source code level, which turns out not to just be in a new and improved version of sustainability, but a whole new way of thinking about ourselves as a species. What it is going to take is a whole new origin story. A whole new way of seeing.
‘I think that regenerative culture, or the ‘regeneration generation’, is an opportunity for instilling a new origin story of the future. And that’s kind of like not only just jumping from sustainability to regeneration …because it’s actually not that easy. There are almost exponential changes that need to happen. But it’s really this making a collective decision of what our future could be. Not a specific, ‘this is exactly what this is’. Instead we need a story where we get to create our future and be architects of the future, not its victims.’
Pollination2019: Regenerative Futures Summit
The theme of crafting a new narrative and a new story, brings us to events like Pollination: Regenerative Futures Summit, which is happening at Impact Hub San Francisco from August 17-18. This is the first annual event of the Bloom Network: a global network of hubs and nodes focused on regenerative culture. Maya Zuckerman will be the MC and host for the weekend, which will be a fully participatory event, or a kind of ‘eco-hackathon’.
Pollination features leaders in many different aspects of regenerative culture from community health, to new forms of governance based on blockchain technology. The purpose, however, is not just to receive knowledge from experts, but also to get hands-on with the crucial work required to craft regenerative solutions that can be scaled. This is an event for anyone who is interested in learning to become a participant and an emerging leader in regenerative practices and culture. Unprecedented levels of collaboration and co-operation are going to be required. The processes and tools required to accomplish this will also be a major focus at the event, whose theme this year is ‘Collective Wisdom’.
So Maya, what do you think is unique about the intention and plan behind Pollination2019?
‘I think its uniqueness is that the people coming are a very intersectional group. It’s a very global group. And I think there’s something about how emergent it is. As a community it’s taken us a long time to get to this point. So I think the fact that it’s here this year, in a seminal year, it is really an important moment. I think it’s got wonderful potential.’
And what outcomes do you hope to see coming out of this event?
‘I’d like to see that this is catalyzing continuous working groups for learnings that we can share. I mean, if this could spiral in some way, you know, something that keeps giving to the community, that supports the community with really great how-to’s. I want to see some boots on the ground. I want to see some actual metrics, to show we did succeed.
We all love these gatherings, because we get to see our community, but I don’t want to waste anybody’s time. I want people to actually get out of there and either activate their own community, or join the bigger Bloom Network community to actually facilitate and implement what we’ve started doing there. And that would be just amazing!’
Each team will receive a briefing at the start of their first session, to a) set the context for the topic: who is affected by it, what questions and blocks are there and b) get to know your teammates for the weekend. From there, the remainder of day one will be a collaborative design exploration to tease out more details of the inquiries. During these sessions, teams can utilize the Global Change Collective (the augmented intelligence networking app that Bloom uses for Pollination and the network at large), to source wisdom and expertise from other attendees at Pollination, as well as other networks in the GCC such as the UN, B Team, and more.
At the closing plenary session on Day 1, with all Pollination attendees, the support teams for Pollination Labs will make a call out for remaining expertise or stakeholder input needed on specific challenges or prototype ideas that surfaced in day one’s sessions.
Day two will be focused on iterating solutions or innovations on each focus area. Teams will share about and research existing organizations who might be working on these problems and already have solutions. The facilitators will support participants in using design prototype processes that are commonly used in product development teams and innovation labs.
At the close of day two’s Labs, each team will issue a recommendation of how to move forward, whether that is proposing a new protoype to develop and test over the coming year, or identifying an existing initiative or combination of them that, if better supported and well-resourced, could adequately address the problem at scale. These will be reported in the full group plenary, and published in the post event communique.
Outcomes will be supported in the year following Pollination by a set of organizations who have stepped up to anchor development processes for issues that are aligned with their goals.
Here is an example of the full arc of one breakout team, from prior to Pollination through year two of its execution. This is the hypothetical example of if we decided to make a revolving loan fund for regenerative cooperatives right there on the spot at Pollination, with a set of initial funders and cooperatives to apply it to. (To view a higher resolution image go here.)
Please continue reading the next blog post in this series to learn about how the outcomes from Pollination will be nurtured over the following year to support their development.
We have designed this program to support the level of collaboration that is necessary for this time of rapid transition, and to cross-pollinate resources and capacities across industries and silos that together have the ability to create healthier, more equitable human systems. This whole process will be documented and made available to other conferences, and our teams will be available to help with implementation.
This is a series of 3 blog posts to describe in detail what is happening at Pollination Labs this August, directly after the conference until Pollination 2020, and our vision for what we are building this program to achieve by 2040. Pollination is the start of a year-long cycle of collaboration among a growing movement of regenerative culture makers.
We sincerely hope you are as excited about this program as we are and that you will get involved as a participant, as an organizational or foundation partner, or as a sponsor or donor. Together we will develop shared context for collaborating on regenerative culture projects, as well as cross-pollinate our wisdom and capacities for a regenerative future for humanity and her sister species across the planet.
Registration deadline for Pollination Labs is August 12.
Pollination Labs is a program we are prototyping with 40 participants at Pollination this year. It’s like a hackathon or design sprint, where you’ll be collaborating with types of people you normally wouldn’t run into in your day-to-day work life.
All Pollination participants will start the event together, where we will first establish shared context for building regenerative relationships. We’ll also illustrate what Bloom Network generally means by “regenerative culture makers.” The whole event is designed to initiate relationships together in a nourishing, mutually witnessing experience. From that place we hope to all have deeper shared understanding of our work, where we share values, and to build more capacity together to achieve regenerative outcomes, individually, organizationally, and in our communities.
One of the overarching goals of Pollination is to build regenerative relationships. To that end, we invite you to help create this experience together to support:
Everyone feels seen and heard
Building capacity to break silos
Everyone’s needs are met – personally, organizationally, and as communities
“Magic” light bulbs going off of what is possible Now
Pollination Labs Prototype
In the Pollination Labs track at Pollination, you’ll engage in participatory design teams that work on real innovation needs among regenerative development communities.
If you register in this track, you’ll remain with your design team during each of the two-hour blocks during the day. That will give you enough time to get to know each other, reach a level of depth with the issues at hand, and conclude with a prototype, or with having identified an existing initiative(s) that could address the issue well if adequately resourced. It’s also possible that some teams will conclude with having identified inquiries that need more exploration, and that’s ok.
Each team will be approximately seven people, supported by a facilitator, a pattern observer, and an artist who will help capture insights and communicate outcomes.
These are the current overarching topics we’ve identified, with example breakout teams. These might change based on participants’ registration surveys, where you are invited to propose teams and inform us of your needs. If you represent a company or foundation and you would like to initiate a team to develop a regenerative solution, with the diverse range of experts and social movement representatives who will be at Pollination, please get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org
Again, these are just example teams – the topics we work on will emerge from participants’ registration surveys, based on responses to what real gaps, needs, and offerings people are coming to the event with. Pollination Labs is designed to help us go more deeply into a collaborative, constructive experience across difference – cross-pollination! We also think this program can help us address some of the common gaps we’re starting to see across a lot of work that identifies itself as regenerative in one way or another. It tends to be more systems oriented, for example, and doesn’t necessarily fit into the normal boxes of a business, normal investment structures, and so forth.
(For more information on the Bloom Network Governance Hackathon, specifically, go here. That is about formalizing how Bloom operates as an international cooperative.)
Outcomes might include the following:
a) prototypes that can be applied immediately after the conference b) partnerships c) business ideas to be incubated post Pollination d) coalitions e) insights f) magic will happen here
The remainder of this blog series will describe the process we’ll use during the Labs, and how these outcomes will be supported following Pollination. Pollination is the start of a year-long cycle of collaboration among a growing movement of regenerative culture makers.
Following Pollination, Bloom Network and partnered organizations will facilitate an ongoing process to nurture the regenerative relationships that have formed through Pollination. All participants receive a one-year membership to Bloom Network’s online platform, including ongoing networking and collaborating, continued skillshares through digital video calls, and more.
Here are a few of the ongoing outcomes we foresee coming together and continuing to cross-pollinate during the year following Pollination. Our design team is currently fleshing this out more, as well as designing for self-organization to happen.
We’ll come together online and in-person at regular rhythms to support everyone in moving in a coherent direction together. These check-ins will also support partnerships that came together at the conference, to continue forming and gaining traction.
For projects that have excitement (collective will to continue) and are critical, we hope to see these matched with relevant incubators and accelerators.
Bloom Network will complete documentation, insights, and publications that emerge from the event, and distribute them to the teams, movements, and organizations that would benefit from the information and/or be able to contribute further to its actualization and development. This is a team that Pollination participants can join after the conference.
We’d like to see emergent coalitions and working groups walk away with team leads or organizational anchors who have capacity to further the collective process. It’s possible the “Working Across Organizations” lab will have created sets of tools these teams can use. Our governance hackathon‘s goal is to have a DAO up and running shortly after Pollination, for ease of economic collaboration.
In our hypothetical example team of making a revolving loan fund for regenerative cooperatives we predict the following kinds of outcomes via the year-long cycle of Pollination: 1) in a partnership that formed between two organizations who were represented on the initial team, one of them had their marketing needs met, and the org that offered the marketing was able share methodologies to their community, which then benefited from and amplified the impact of those practices. 2) Over the year from 2019 to 2020, the revolving loan fund was tested out on six organizations that were operating to address a similar scope of concern. It was successful, and a review process was done in March 2020. 3) In May 2020 the group anchoring this loan fund applied to the MacArthur Foundation and received a large grant to apply the innovation to two other contexts, again with six organizations in each context, to boost the capacity of not just one organization but the system they’re working on transforming
Click here to view an overall flow map of this entire program, its inputs, and its follow-through structure.
Mansi Kakkar is the lead designer of this program, bringing her experience of working on innovation design labs around with the world with MIT’s D-Lab, Stanford, and the Social Innovation Collective which she founded to focus on development led by communities on the ground, from their own frameworks and understandings. Bloom Network has operated as an informal community incubator since its inception in 2008 as Evolver Network. Several teams have designed components that helped form Pollination Labs. Conference designer Alicia Boyd proposed a formalized collaborative incubator to happen at Pollination, based on a vision she had to increase social impact work’s efficacy. Today, every company getting involved brings their own prowess into play. We believe that collaborative, open systems like this are necessary to support the scale of adaptation that must be done as we face climate and human systems change.
Regenerative Action Day on Earth Day
April 22 2020: Dependent upon organizational capacity of Bloom Network, the yearly cycle of Pollination and our local Bloom Chapters will be punctuated with a large-scale multimedia campaign to publicly amplify regenerative solutions and relationships, and to encourage everyone to take action where they live. This is international Earth Day, and we’d like to celebrate that with hands-on action. The Pollination conference each year will be the other “pole” of our year-long process, serving as an immersive think tank and indoor experiential preview.
Addendum: Pollination 2040
It’s the 20th year of Bloom Network’s flagship event Pollination, and the Polli-Nation is on all continents, with thousands of members participating in simultaneous activities for this world-wide event! Million of public participants have been exposed to regenerative solutions through Pollination expos, and the broad ecosystem of organizations and communities dedicated to thriving, regenerative cultures are strongly established and healthy.
The Bloom incubator has helped scale up hundreds of regenerative initiatives: from healing and arts cooperatives, to seed sharing and knowledge of more regenerative approaches to food cultivation and community forestry; changing corporate structures to not be dissociated from place-based resilience across their entire supply chains and headquarters locations.
Pollination is an integral part of Bloom Network’s overall 2040 vision. Read our miniature Utopic Sci-Fi Permaculture vision, of what we believe is possible through this network, here: https://bloomnetwork.org/goals-vision/.
It was the second day of hearing the motors of chainsaws chugging that Susan McMillan realised she had to make a decision…
“Do I intervene and stop the illegal logging happening next door, or do I let it slide?”
With a brave voice, she shouted loudly through treeline, “I’m calling the police!” Fortunately, the chain-sawing stopped without confrontation, and never returned.
This incident inspired Susan to use her “Protect Our Waters” skills to share with the local community the importance of trees to the local watershed. Many trees had been cut down in Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica. The region now experiences the drier weather patterns that come with the impact of deforestation.
Susan teamed up with Janine Jordan from Green Wave Enterprises (and a Bloom Chapter Lead), and together they wrote an open letter to the neighbours about the crucial role trees play in the ecosystem. This was surprisingly well received, creating a conversation point for the neighbourhood. Local realtors read the letter and showed their interest as well.
Seeing an opportunity, Susan and Janine organised a meeting specifically for realtors so they could share more information about why trees add value to property. This deeper understanding within the property industry will go a long way to protect the local environment. The shared letter on Facebook received over 500 hits (which is massive for this small rural community). Enough money has been gathered together to create 3 large road sign posters to bring more attention to the habitat and tree removal. The open letter has also galvanised local environmental enthusiasts who are now starting to come together, creating a website and Facebook community to stay in touch.
So much positive change happening, stemming from one brave decision to speak up and make a difference! This is a great example of the impact we can have in our neighbourhood, local community and ecosystem if we take steps to educate and engage people around ecological restoration and the goals of regenerative culture.
If you want to find out about our Local Bloom Chapters and how they work, head here.