There has never been a more important time to find solutions that regenerate people, their places, and the planet. As we collectively move through a global health crisis and a climate emergency, it is essential that we adapt and find innovative ways to learn, collaborate and navigate this unchartered territory.
Since I was young, I have been fascinated by how social and environmental change can be driven by the power of human connection. My interest led me to eventually study arts, humanities, and environmental science, while also gathering hands-on experience with grassroots conservation projects globally. It was during my time living and travelling in Australia and South East Asia that I first connected with Regenerative Design Sciences. Regeneration can be thought of in its simplest form as a process of creating, being, and doing. It is a concept that moves a step beyond sustainability to proactively observe and respond with nature-based solutions.
Although I’m grateful for a decade full of experiential learning within a vast array of interlocking interests, it hasn’t been easy to hone in on the one thing that I wanted to focus my energies on most. Before studying as an undergraduate student, my knowledge often felt deficient due to my lack of papers, or a single detailed area of ‘expertise.’ My understanding of social and environmental problem solving has however always been multidisciplinary and holistic, as opposed to a stand-alone specialism.
This meant that I had a challenging time choosing what to study. I was drawn to an array of subjects such as wildlife conservation, anthropology, and sustainable business. I felt strongly that understanding human behaviour was imperative to tackling environmental challenges, but I knew that I also couldn’t ignore the rational grounding of science that is vital to forming balanced solutions. I finally settled on studying Environmental Science, with the affirmation to consciously apply my ‘big picture’ understanding throughout.
Informal learning experiences that hugely shaped my views include many years of connection enjoyed with the ‘New Earth School’ in rural Bali, Indonesia. It is a unique place at the foot of the sacred Batu Karu mountain, rich in Balinese culture and surrounded by unreal green rice paddies. It is a place that is helping shape the future of how we connect to food, nature, and each other. It was here I deepened my understanding of excessive land-use change and biodiversity loss caused by our intensive agriculture systems globally. At the New Earth School, I got up close and personal with the power of nature and witnessed the success in regenerative agriculture systems using permaculture practices. I saw that when the soil and vital natural systems are taken care of, so are habitats, wildlife, and surrounding human communities – there is an invitation for all to thrive.
Gathering all the lessons and a diverse toolkit, I returned to the UK in 2019 where I dreamt of starting urban food forests and running accessible, educational workshops. But there was more to come…
In the year 2020, my partner and I set out to start an exciting project on a shoestring in Sumatra, Indonesia. I had organised for us to spend some time at the Orangutan Information Society’s (OIC) permaculture sites. We wanted to film a short, human-angled environmental documentary that could be utilised for educational purposes. The team at OIC and their chairman, Panut Hadiswoyo, believe that the only way to protect orangutan’s rainforest homes is to work with the people.
It is here that we got inspired by one of OIC’s projects, the Leuser Nature School (LNS), and our own project of filming took an unexpected turn. At the LNS they are raising the next generation of community leaders and forest protectors. They cater innovative solutions in the face of local adversities such as mass deforestation, climate change, and economic challenges.
Witnessing the positive impacts that student-focused, regenerative actions greatly inspired the roots of my eco-social start-up, ‘WellGoodproject’s’ first educational workshops. Place-based education that is both contextualized and personalised to students is a potent recipe for positive change, improved wellbeing, and shared success – and this is what I wanted to share with the Bristol-based community.
Whilst we don’t live amongst tropical rainforests or with the threat of natural disasters here in the UK, the connections that can be drawn are closer than you think. When we are faced with challenges that seem overwhelmingly difficult, we all have a choice to accept the narrative that is handed to us – or change it for the better. Via my eco-social startup ‘WellGoodprojects’, I am now offering workshops to students, so that we can leave places better than we found them. We want to change the narrative by helping children to make new connections, develop new skills, and innovate how they can take them out into an ever-changing world.
If you are interested to know more about the LNS, you can find it on my blog here, or have a look at the video here.