A Doughnut on a plate?

Posted on Jan 8, 2021 in Devon Doughnut, Regenerative design

By Paul Pivcevic –

If the Doughnut is a powerful analogy for the space we need to maintain for all humanity to thrive, then perhaps the addition of a plate could give it some grounding, something to carry it to the table of conversation, in our communities.

I hope Kate Raworth will forgive me, but I’m going to risk suggesting that the Doughnut can be improved. Or maybe evolved. See the plate as the ‘systems around the Doughnut’.

For the last two months I have been privileged to have taken part as the only outsider in the dialogue about creating a ‘Doughnut for Devon’. I’m from Bath, my council is BANES but I know Isabel who leads the Bioregional Learning Centre that’s coordinating this initiative for Devon, who kindly invited me as a fellow regenerative practitioner. I’ve been generously listened to as an occasional contrarian.

The world has been going nuts for the Doughnut since local authorities declared climate and ecological emergencies with little idea as to how this would need to change how they operate. Peter Lefort, Carbon Neutral Cornwall Sector and Partnerships Lead for ‘doughnut pioneers’ Cornwall Council told our group last week that introducing the Doughnut to guide the climate emergency had transformed governance in the Council, and got decision-makers asking questions they’d never asked before. Which I guess is the power of Kate Raworth’s model. It prompts the linking of agendas: housing quality and gender equality with climate change; biodiversity loss and health and well being and so on.

Peter is convinced this will be seen as a turning point and will make it much more likely than not that we reach our climate targets.

Having worked with many Councils, I very much appreciate what it means to be able to catalyse this level of change, and the hope this generates.

However, all Councils in my experience struggle with the question how do we mobilise our local communities, how to marry top down leadership with bottom up change? How to get our local communities enthused and active, many now struggling in the teeth of our pandemic with all sorts of pressures.

Robin Lincoln Wood, the respected adviser of international bodies and author of many books about ‘thriveability’ of our earth and society said before Christmas: “I believe that the power to change the future now lies in alliances of locally regenerative initiatives, and globally regenerative media transformations that can drive change and transformation in our global business and governance systems” (quote source here).

Regenesis Group who have developed a rigorous regenerative practice over 30 years also speak of the ‘particularity of place’. Each ‘place’, each piece of geography defined by ecology and human settlement as a unique piece of the planetary jigsaw puzzle operates in a unique way and has its particular role within its context. It must be viewed as such if it’s to unfold its potential. Just like each of us. Their belief is that we can almost always improve on what is here by discerning the patterns that have shaped this particular patch of land and its human society, and governed its thriving over time.

Kate Raworth herself speaks of the Doughnut as catalysing a shift in our global economy to become ‘regenerative and redistributive by design’.

But it’s important to be clear and consistent with what we mean by ‘regenerative’, and to recognise that getting there is a journey of care, clear thinking and commitment.

There is much to learn from those who have travelled this path.

As in the plate image I’m offering I wonder about how Devon might build on so much good hearted volunteering that got many isolated folk through the first lockdown? This resource reminds us again of how we see ourselves as communities. We value and are valued for serving our neighbours.

This is a half open door towards deepening our appreciation for where we live and what we value in each other. As regenerative practitioners there are creative ways to help communities to tell this ‘story of place’, a celebration of what we value here, and what has kept this place going and evolving as the world has changed.

If we can deepen our bonds with each other, and we can see that this has real practical benefits, even if it means I now have space to share my burdens, then I at least believe, the potential to release energy for local change that surfaces a new regenerative landscape, socially, economically and environmentally is limitless.

Any meaningful target that we’re all committed to then becomes so much more possible.

Paul Pivcevic is a Regenerative Practitioner and Systemic Consultant based in Bath.

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