Creating living infrastructure will require us to do more than just model our designs after living systems: it will require us to integrate our designs with living systems. And, as living things evolve uniquely within their own ecological contexts, so the question of how to model human infrastructure after nature must be asked and answered thousands of times, in thousands of unique places. It’s vital that we ask not only “how do ecosystems work,” but “how does this ecosystem work?”
The thinking cannot be done for us by any central authority. We must all become able to observe carefully and think generatively about the specific living systems in which we live and work. This will require re-patterning much of the thinking and behaviour that society has handed down to us. Rather than take a single great idea and scale it, people all over the world must master the art of developing systems that fit precisely with their contexts—as nature has. To do this requires an evolved concept of ‘value’: rather than measuring success by the level of accumulation of a single resource, we must define our value in relation to each and every living thing that we touch—as nature would.
We can no longer rely upon ecologists to think about ecology. The capacity to see living systems at work and to conceptualise reciprocally beneficial ways of working with them must be grown within each and every discipline that shapes our world.
Regenerative Development and Design: A Framework for Evolving Sustainability