Climate change, biodiversity loss, economic contraction and pandemics reveal systems under stress, requiring a systemic response. Working at the scale of the bioregion–how human societies have organised themselves for millennia–we can see the many ecosystems and human systems alive within our place. Bioregioning is the set of skills and pathways that bring vitality to these connections and enable us to take action at systems scale.
We are collecting case studies, resources and experience so that we can share them with you.
Our aim is to professionalise the role of place-based systems change leader and to teach this role drawing on examples from the South Devon Bioregion.
Here is our roadmap for developing a bioregion. Each of these steps include key Bioregioning skills. Contact us if you would like help in developing these steps and we ask that you let us know if you are following our roadmap. Visit the Learning Centre to find downloadable assets.
Make a Story of Place
Story of Place enquires into ‘who’ a place is and how it functions, from the beginning of geological time to the present day. Local people are the experts in understanding how their place has shaped them, and vice versa. The outcomes are specific to each bounded place while the way of looking for layered patterns that repeat remains the same. ‘Seeing the Whole’ is a key Bioregioning skill.
Reveal the systems within the region
Humans have always lived in webs of life support systems that meet our basic needs. Now these systems are typically managed by public utility companies and large-scale businesses, regulated by local authorities and the state. By revealing our local systems, supporting innovators and connecting them up we can start to create systems of transformation in which we can all play a role. Mapping for vitality is a key Bioregioning skill.
Intervene and demonstrate
Look for creative ways to intervene in systems and sectors (such as the drinking water system) that bring in the voice of civil society, as well as experts, towards common pool resource management: This could take the form of participatory governance or a design intervention to bridge the gap between academia, policy makers and people on the ground. Intervening in systems is a key Bioregioning skill.
Launch a multi-sector design process
Grasp the opportunity to start a big region-wide conversation, as we are doing with the Devon Doughnut. The outcome will be an ecological and economic baseline for Devon with indicators that can be used by many different sectors, as well as community dashboards. The aim is to establish narrative and quantifiable data that point to pathways for action for both policy-makers and civil society. Convening is a key Bioregioning skill.
Widen reach and impact
Host, learn, share and raise the levels of aspiration. Keep bringing more people into the conversation, widening the circle of connection. With a coalition of organisations, co-design a public-facing programme and a big event that brings many ‘systems’ into the same room, bringing together actors from across the region. The outcome would be a shared strategy that would be held by a distributed organisation.
Document and showcase your learning region
Collect case studies, invite the change-leaders to share their expertise, become ambassadors for your region on public platforms. Continually convert practice into resources to support all the work, interpret and share it. Data, measuring, and working with experts takes place in a ‘backroom’ for the bioregion while governance grows out of building a network of generative relationships and trust.
Thanks to Glenn Page for the header image.
We would love to hear from you
We work in and at the intersection of economy, ecology, learning, arts and culture and the gaps in between.