Our first blog post from Community Partner, Jim Gibson (July 2020)
It's about connection. Connection to each other and connection to our planet.
Without getting metaphysical, we mean this in the most basic of terms. Everything that enables our survival on this planet is connected. We can certainly influence (and have influenced) the systems of our world, but we cannot ultimately control them. That’s just the way the universe works.
So, what does this have to do with Alberta, Thin Air Labs and the work in front of us?
These simple principles underpin the concept of regenerative thinking. The entrepreneurial and innovation roots of the Thin Air Labs’ team combined with the seismic economic and social shifts happening in Alberta are telling us that regeneration is the way forward. Regeneration will be at the heart of how we invest in, nurture, grow and build what’s next – for Calgary, our province of Alberta, Canada and the world. In the very backyard of the extractive economics of the energy industry – who are desperately trying to change their economic, social and environmental model – we are saying “If not here, where? If not now, when? If not us, who?”
Let’s Talk about Regeneration.
Regenerative economics mimics the stable, healthy, and sustainable systems of the natural world as a model for economic-system design. Regeneration prioritizes fiscal goals as much as social and environmental ones. The challenges of our world today all stem from us losing sight of these connections and seeing our economic system in only dollar signs. Most devastatingly, the real damage occured when our economic systems began to value exponential growth at all costs.
Before these ideas are dismissed in whatever shaming label is popular at the moment, make no mistake: We are capitalists - in its truest form. The best of that system – which rewards innovation, entrepreneurial thinking and effort – are in fact rooted in the very concepts of regeneration. The extraordinary human ingenuity and innovation that has enabled us to prosper on this earth was the result of our collective intelligence’s understanding of and adapting to the system of our environments. We have used this cognition to observe, study, measure and use the systems of our planet to literally leave it to travel to the moon and stars. Our mistake was presuming that Darwin’s survival of the “fittest” meant the strongest. What he meant was at the centre of regeneration - that “fit” was how well a species “fit” into and adapted to its environment. When the history of the past 150 years is written, this misinterpretation will haunt us.
Our economic and social systems need to adapt once again. But this time, we don’t have 5,000 years. We don’t even have 50.
Regenerative economics – is rooted in principles that say if we use our extraordinary and highly evolved collective intelligence to understand and adapt to the connected systems of our world, we will continue to thrive. We will recognize that we have confused prosperity for the few as prosperity for all.
We will move from leaders of tribes and masters of empires to the guardians of our planet.
Ok, Now What?
Here is the real problem: In order for us to build this regenerative economy that will support us well into the future, we need to listen to each other, share ideas, communicate and connect. We have to return to the fire. We must remember that to gather and to connect is an opportunity to share ideas and spark the imagination and come up with answers to these really big problems.
In the book, Tip of the Spear, we said, “Just as we have connected up the planet with tools of the Gods, we forgot how to talk to each other”. To change this – in the words of the Rainforest movement here in Alberta that began in 2016 – it starts with a culture of trust.
We need to learn to trust again. When we trust, we start to listen. When we listen, we hear new stories. When new stories are told, we begin to understand the fundamental truths that have shaped us and need to guide us moving forward.
The foundation of regenerative economics, therefore, is in listening: to hear the sounds of other systems speaking to us; to hear the voices of diversity in our own species; and, to be able to share the stories of how we build what’s next.
The posts that follow will tell the stories of how incredible leaders, innovators and entrepreneurs in our provincial home are making one of the planet’s most complete ecosystems a leader of the new regenerative economy. We will meet individuals, teams, ventures, policy makers, investors, academics and everyday citizens of our unique place on the planet who are doing amazing things based on the belief that we need to do better, be better and strive to listen to the systems of our connected planet to build what’s next.
Have a listen, will you?