Stages in our deepening relationships with nature, excerpted from Tommy Lehe:
“As we evolve we begin to identify with larger and larger systems, recognizing the nested nature of subsystems and the uncountable interconnections between them. Using the terminology from Reed, we can see this process of transforming identity (role & relationship) as a function of expanded human consciousness and pattern harmonization. The more aware we become of how nature works, the more clearly we recognize that we are an integral part of the planetary system (Gaia). The separation between man and nature perpetuated by those lingering narratives is wilting away — though there is a lot of important work to be done to send it on its way once and for all.
The above graphic highlights what Bill Reed calls “Ecological Strategies” in the movement from a degenerating to a regenerating function of human activity.
Let’s take a quick look at what these terms represent:
Biophilia means “an urge to affiliate with other forms of life.” The biophilia hypothesis states that “there is an instinctive bond between human beings and other living systems.” In other words, by nature we long to be surrounded by life — plants, animals, and other human beings. Here we may still see ourselves as separate from nature, but we recognize our contact with it as an important part of our overall health.
Biomimetics looks to nature as inspiration for human design and development — imitating nature to produce the built environment and to create man-made systems. Nature is a guide and a model from which we gain important insights about what serves us best. These insights are derived from an understanding of how nature works. Again, still perhaps seeing “nature” as a separate concept from that of humanity and civilization.
In the restorative paradigm a role for humanity in nature emerges. We see nature as a system with an inherent self-organizing capability — and our job is to return it to its natural state. Once we have succeeded in doing so, and in what Reed calls a “finite agreement,” the human’s job is done. Time to move on and let nature do its thing.
With regenerative development and design the role of the human being merges with nature. Nature is no longer seen as an “other” — it loses its usefulness as a distinctive concept. Here the purpose of humanity aligns with the purpose of the planetary system itself, having an evolutionary function that looks to continuously improve through feedback loops, learning, and adaptation toward ever-increasing levels of diversity, resilience, beauty, abundance, etc.
In other words, we are not here by accident. We have an important role to play and it’s time for us to step into it, to transform the narratives that have cast us as separate from an environment designed to serve us.
Those operating from the regenerative paradigm have a deep-seated belief in the potential of the human race — that we are capable of much more than merely “minimizing our impact” or “leaving no trace.” In fact, and contrary to popular belief, many indigenous peoples understood this well and actively managed the land to create greater states of health than would have been if left alone.”