Moving Beyond Sustainability: A Regenerative Community Development Framework for Co-creating Thriving Living Systems and Its Application

  •  Leah V. Gibbons    


Sustainable development and design have the potential to shift their aim from improving human well-being within environmental limits to catalyzing thriving social-ecological communities (i.e., living systems) across scales. Regenerative development (RD), a methodology that harnesses the potential of living systems, offers a way forward. RD integrates science and practice with essential but often neglected components of sustainability—ecological, social, cultural, spiritual, and geophysical—as well as their temporal and spatial dynamics. It also addresses the root causes of (un)sustainability—thinking and worldviews. This research creates and pilots the first community-scale RD framework (RCD Framework) in a developing intentional community. Findings indicate that the RCD Framework achieves its intended aim of facilitating shifts in thinking and development and design concepts toward holistic and regenerative. Factors that are conducive to or impede RCD are identified, and suggestions are made for advancing RCD science and practice. Implications for larger communities, cities, regions, and sustainable development and design are discussed.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.