Artwork: ‘The Fifth Sacred Thing’ by Jessica Perlstein

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.’

Maya Zuckerman, transmedia producer and MC for Pollination2019

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!”.’

Sacred Reciprocity

‘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!’

Read about the whole Program for Pollination: Regenerative Futures Summit here.