What a time to be launching a blog called Rich & Resilient Living!! As I write this, Covid-19 is wreaking havoc with our fiscal, physical, and mental health. People around the globe are seeking out information on how to develop resilience in the face of this unprecedented (in our lifetimes) pandemic. I conceptualized this change and expansion of my blog long before this coronavirus outbreak began in China a few months ago and now I am struck by how well-suited the topics I intend to cover are to helping us better navigate in these uncertain times.
For almost two years I blogged at Triple Bottom Line FI striving to share information and connect with others interested in prioritizing people and planet as well as profit on the road to financial independence. And while that will still be a component of this new website, the broader mission just as the tagline states is to highlight “money and lifestyle choices for a regenerative future.”
Towards a Regenerative Future
The money and lifestyle choices that many people have been making across the planet are degenerative. They have been depleting natural and human resources in unsustainable ways, especially during the last 50 years, but even long before that as well. Our current economic model is based on extracting resources from the Earth without replenishing or recycling them as well as from people in the form of often under paid labor and the erosion of employee rights and benefits.
And now with the Covid-19 outbreak the consequences of those years of our extractive approach to unwisely stewarding so much of that abundance in our midst are beginning to play out in epic ways that are finally impacting the more affluent parts of the world in a much more tangible fashion than previous global catastrophes. In this recent Ted Talk global health expert Alanna Shaikh points out that “our human choices are driving us into a position where we are going to see more outbreaks.” She also notes that the way we are interacting with our planet is what is causing these virus outbreaks.
In a recent article on The Guardian website Elizabeth Maruma Mrema , the acting executive secretary of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, expressed similar concerns.
“Preserving intact ecosystems and biodiversity will help us reduce the prevalence of
some of these diseases. So the way we farm, the way we use the soils, the way we
protect coastal ecosystems and the way we treat our forests will either wreck the
future or help us live longer.”
For some time now the buzz word in trying to address these challenges, particularly the environmental aspect, has been sustainability. While sustainability is an admirable goal and better than the status quo, we need to reach beyond it now. Merely sustaining this degraded status we’ve reached is no longer the desired outcome. It has become essential to REGENERATE the soil, forests, and entire eco-systems as well as our fellow humans, many of whom as a result of these degenerative practices are now suffering financially, physically, and emotionally.
The conversation around regenerative practices has expanded exponentially in the past ten years. Most people, who have a passing familiarity with the concept, know about it through the increasing media coverage of regenerative agriculture and the work of people like Alan Savory founder of the Savory Institute. Regeneration is also being promoted more broadly not just in agriculture by wise thinkers (and doers) such as Daniel Christian Wahl, author of Designing Regenerative Cultures, and Janine Benyus, co-founder of the Biomimicry Institute.
So What is Resilience? Why Is It So Important? And What Does It Have to Do with a Regenerative Future?
Generally speaking resilience is our ability to adapt quickly and return to our original state in the face of change or difficulty. I chose to use bamboo in my new logo because it is considered to be a very resilient plant given the way it can bend and flex in the wind without breaking and then return to its full upright position. Bamboo possesses an incredible amount of tensile strength, which means the force required to pull it to the point where it breaks is greater than that of steel.
We are engulfed in uncertainty currently on multiple fronts, where the situation shifts daily and even hourly. The unfortunate reality is that people are dying and suffering emotional and financial hardships. Things are going to change, but it’s hard to sense the extent of it yet. Resilience is going to be especially important as we fumble our way through this Covid-19 crisis to navigate these turbulent times and better manage in the future once we come out on the other side of this.
There is a great deal of overlap between resilience and regeneration. In a 2019 article Joe Brewer, co-founder and research director of Culture2 Inc, noted that “Regeneration can also be framed as the ability for a living system to repair itself after harm has been done.” Sounds familiar, right?
What links the concepts of resilience and regenerative practices so closely in my mind is permaculture.
Permaculture is a design approach that looks to nature’s closed loop, no waste, abundance-based system as the model. Permaculture is based on a slew of regenerative practices that apply to all aspects of our lives including our finances, governance, spirituality, and the built environment . These regenerative practices are inherent in long-term resilience and vice versa.
Many other people intuitively grasp this close association between permaculture, regenerative practices, and resilience because in the past several weeks this free online permaculture course has seen a huge increase in enrollment. If you are sheltering at home now with extra time on your hands you may want to consider taking this free online permaculture course as well. You will find yourself much better prepared to apply regenerative practices in your efforts to grow food, create community, and build real wealth.
A Framework for Rich & Resilient Living
As stock markets teeter, unemployment rises, and numerous elected leaders reveal how ill prepared they are to govern in these turbulent times we are left scrambling for a sense of stability. Now is the time to implement permaculture principles and regenerative practices because they offer an extremely useful framework for creating resilience and establishing true, stable, and long-lasting wealth and well being for ourselves and our communities.
The More of Less Lifestyle
We, especially those of us in more affluent countries, need to vastly REDUCE OUR CONSUMPTION. That means going far beyond creating zero waste and purchasing fewer consumer goods to also finding ways to personally and collectively decrease our energy and water usage. I find my friend Jenny Nazak’s book Deep Green to be a very inisghtful view into one person’s pursuit of a truly low-footprint life, including not owning a car in a not-so public transportation friendly city and not using a/c in Florida.
Not only will a shift in our consumption patterns steer us away from those extractive practices towards more regenerative options, research shows that these changes lead to greater happiness and well-being. These behavioral changes have the added bonus of also usually going hand in hand with an increased savings rates.
And as popular minimalist Joshua Becker expressed it in the title of his book The More of Less: Finding the Life You Want Under Everything You Own , we’ll often find what we already have is ENOUGH, (maybe even too much). It’s such a simple word “enough,” but so often we get sidetracked keeping up with the Jones’s, letting comparison be the thief of joy, and thinking that if we just bought that new shiny object we’d be happy. By shedding the distractions and getting back to what really matters we can take the time to look more closely at what we already have to determine what additional use or value we can obtain from these items instead of buying more.
Many of those fortunate enough to be able to stay home as their contribution to flattening the curve, are realizing they can live relatively comfortable and fulfilling lives even without bar-hopping, eating at restaurants, shopping, and after school activities. People are enjoying eating meals at home, playing board games, and going for walks and bike rides together. And while I’m not suggesting we never go out and spend money again once the pandemic ends, we can learn some lessons from this time of less.
The following poem has been incorrectly circulating on Facebook as being originally penned in 1869 and widely circulated during the 1918 Flu Pandemic. Turns out it was first published earlier this month by Catherine M. O’Meara on her blog The Daily Round, but I still find it very poignant and apropos.
Once the pandemic ends and the economic engine begins revving itself up again I implore each of us to remember the lessons we’ve learned about our wants vs. needs during this time of sheltering in place. May we all heed the cautionary message shared by filmmaker Julio Vincent Gambuto in his article Prepare for the Ultimate Gaslighting. Like him I sincerely hope we won’t soon forget that this time of slowing down did actually happen and encourage everyone to “think deeply about what you want to put back into your life” as we ease back into whatever emerges from all of this.
Cultivating Resilient and Regenerative Wealth
Financial capital is the form of capital modern society has agreed upon as its primary means of exchange, which has made it the most well known and sought after form of wealth. However, there are a number of other non-monetary forms of capital that most people rarely consider. Most recently, I highlighted these other forms of capital, which include intellectual, social, cultural, and living capital in this guest post by Your Money or Your Life author, Vicki Robin.
We can achieve tremendous agency, freedom, and resilience in our lives when we find ways to access these forms of capital spending little to no money. It also turns out that our happiness and well-being stem from our involvement with these non-monetary forms of capital. Financial capital is simply the means we use to acquire them. I don’t think people have a particularly strong affinity for green and white pieces of paper. There’s nothing particularly beautiful or exceptional about them.
Admittedly, these other forms of capital tend to be less tangible and fungible, but each of them are convertible inputs into financial capital. In fact, it seems likely that all financial capital, at least initially, came about as a result of the conversion of these other forms of capital into money or financial wealth. Combining different types of capital creates value. Creating value is the basis of creating wealth.
The past month has demonstrated quite clearly that these non-monetary forms of capital are much more resilient than financial capital. Additionally, most of these forms of capital are even regenerative meaning that when we use them strategically they can renew or create more of themselves. We hear a great deal about diversification of financial assets and this holds true with this wider array of capitals as well. As Ethan Roland Soloviev, co-author of Levels of Regenerative Agriculture whom I interviewed previously about regenerative investing, has noted we want to “optimize for multi-capital abundance.”
I’m not suggesting we eschew financial capital completely, but I personally emphasize true, tangible wealth and less speculative, extractive investments. Currently, the largest single chunk of my wealth is in my home, which I own outright. Many financial experts would advise against paying off a house completely because you can likely make a better return with those funds if you got a 15 or 30 year mortgage and let that money earn more in the stock market instead of paying for a house all at once. I know I’m not alone though, in finding a strong sense of security, especially right now, in owning my home free and clear.
And when we do want to grow and wisely steward our financial capital more and more ways are emerging that enable us to invest and manage our money to bring about the change we want to see in the world. I’ve written before about the ethical and regenerative investments I’m making with my retirement funds. A great resource we’ve also looked at before on my blog is the Resilient Investor Map. This is an excellent tool for taking inventory of the financial capital and non-monetary wealth in your life.
Right livelihood is a Buddhist concept that encourages us to earn money in ways that do not cause harm or compromise our ethics. Although, some readers may be learning of this concept for the first time here, it’s actually quite well established. Since 1980 a Right Livelihood Award, widely known as the ‘Alternative Nobel Prize’ has been bestowed annually to “honour and support courageous people solving global problems.”
For me personally any right livelihood is comprised of regenerative elements. Once you start looking you’ll find a number of comprehensive and high quality resources to help you identify and pursue a regenerative right livelihood. One free online course option (I’ll admit to having signed up for and never completing) is this Regenerative Livelihoods by Design class offered by the highly regarded Gaia University.
I also greatly admire the phenomenal work Karryn Olson-Ramanujan of Regenepreneurs is doing in this realm. While her work targets women, everyone can gan inspiration from her website content.
Another fantastic tool for those who are interested in pursuing eco-preneurship, but don’t know how to translate their knowledge, skills, and experience into a revenue stream is the pay what you want Find Your Eco-Niche online course. I was extremely impressed with the way it applies a permaculture design approach to entrepreneurship.
I noted in an earlier two part blog series that we can find further ideas and direction amongst the 100 science based climate change solutions outlined in Project Drawdown. Starting or working for organizations that address these solutions would be a regenerative right livelihood in my book. Similarly, the innovation promoted by the Biomimicry Institute can also guide us to livelihoods that help address our current environmental and social problems instead of exacerbating them.
My friend Jasmina, a wonderful photographer and nurse, paused in the midst of this pandemic to reflect eloquently in a recent Facebook post about a more wholistic approach to income generation, which aligns very nicely with the concept of right livelihood, and has graciously agreed to let me share an excerpt here.
“What (who) is the economy for?
…This is the new paradigm embraced by the Radical Homemakers. Let us choose to stop investing our life energy in any employment that does not honor the four tenets of family, community, social justice, and ecological balance. Instead, let us take this time to invest ourselves in the support of all, our community and environmental stewardship so that those things, in return, will pay all of us lifelong dividends. I want to help inspire, teach, and support you in all the ways I can so that you can join me in seeking security and economic independence through frugal living, domestic skills, and reduced material needs.”
It’s worth pointing out that just as a healthy eco-system is filled with diversity so should our financial lives be. It is best if we have multiple streams of income from a variety of sources to ensure a continuous influx of funds should one of the income streams ever dwindle or be eliminated. These various revenue streams are vital to financial resilience and especially crucial in the midst of times of economic uncertainty.
Tapping more deeply into the abundance that surrounds us (or the opposite of scarcity mindset)
I always prefer to buy used items instead of new whenever possible both for financial and environmental reasons. When I needed a new shower curtain rod recently I really didn’t want to spend $17.00 at Bed, Bath, & Beyond to buy something so commonplace. Yet I wasn’t finding any suitable options at thrift stores (although I did manage to snag a very nice, brand new originally $40 Dillard’s cloth shower curtain for $4) and I didn’t have the time to scour garage sales at the weekend.
Then one day it dawned on me that the beautiful slender bamboo in my front yard was the perfect thickness for a shower curtain rod. My boyfriend brought his saw over the next morning and voilà I have a highly functional and beautiful shower curtain that adds a soothing touch of nature to my bathroom.
As a very active dumpster diver, who has made thousands of $$$ selling still perfectly useful items, which I diverted from the waste stream (if you want to learn more look here, here, and here – I know people are curious because these dumpster diving posts are among the most highly trafficked on my site), I am continually reminded of how much abundance surrounds us if we are willing and able to open our eyes and mind to it. I don’t expect everybody to get excited about the idea of dumpster diving, but we can all do a better job of recognizing the value in the things that are close at hand.
I’m learning a great deal from my boyfriend, Albert, who is masterful in his ability to see the treasure in the trash. During an after dinner bike ride together one evening last week, I biked right on by these corrugated plastic pieces and yard waste piled by the street in someone’s yard.
Albert on the other hand looked closely enough at the yard waste to recognize that for yard waste in central Florida that had a good bit of organic matter and soil built up in it. That’s not the usual state of things here without time and effort as our soil type is sand, sand, and more sand. Albert has a beautiful food forest in his yard, which is the result of much hard work and especially soil building on his part. So Albert rode back home to get his truck and came to rescue the “yard waste” for use in his garden. He’ll use the corrugated plastic as roofing material for the chicken coop he’ll soon be assembling in his yard.
And now a nod to plant power…. While researchers and other experts scramble to test the ability of already existing medicines and try to develop new ones to treat Covid-19, some amazing options to at least provide support to our bodily systems in this fight reside right under our feet here where I live. Two of the most tenacious weeds that many in my area curse and douse with pesticides contain properties that can be beneficial in alleviating Covid-19 syptoms. (And I would imagine “weeds” with similar properties thrive in your area as well. Check out the Herbalists Without Borders website to ask an herbalist near you.)
According to this scientific abstract, the first plant, Bidens Alba, more commonly known as Spanish or Shepherd’s Needle, hinders the entry of the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS virus) into host cells. The second plant is Sida cordifolia, which is also known as wire weed or Bala in India, where it’s highly regarded and frequently adminstered by Ayurvedic doctors in India. Sida is very effective in supporting upper respiratory function and alleviating asthma.
Now I’m not suggesting people go out and start self-medicating themselves by simply eating these weeds out of their yards, but obtaining tinctured forms of these plants from trained local herbalists can be a layer of additional protection as we navigate this uncharted course. And again I just want to make the point that something we usually write off as a weed or a nuisance can potentially provide us with something very beneficial.
Lastly, I’d like to talk about “mango capital.” I ride my bicycle a lot. One of the things I’m paying attention to in my neighborhood when I do are all of the avocado, mango, litchi, and other fruit trees that populate these streets. Many of them hang over and drop their fruits into the streets and alleyways, reside in abandoned or for-sale properties, or are just not picked or appreciated by the property owners. I gather what falls in the streets and alleys and ask property owners or neighbors about gathering from some of the other yards. This provides me with a staggering amount of free and delicious food. As an added bonus, last summer I took what remained of the fruit I harvested after setting aside some for myself and sharing with friends to a couple, who own a local organic produce store, and bartered for locally raised eggs and other items.
Creativity, resourcefulness, and simply thinking a little differently can help us better harness all of the abundance that regularly surrounds us.
The Path of Enough
The beauty of this framework for rich and resilient living is that it provides a pathway that is lined with connection to others, joy, well-being, purpose, and financial security. It’s the path of enough. It’s also a path of stability in trying times. And it will help regenerate our depleted planet and the people and other creatures, who share it with us. What regenerative steps can you take today to make your life and community richer and more resilient?
PS – This framework I’m sharing draws on the thoughts and observations I shared in my financial permaculture series so if you are wanting to read more content along these lines check out this post and this one from that series.
If you find value in the content here at Rich & Resilient Living, please consider supporting my work by ‘buying me a cup of tea’ using the Ko-fi button just below and then selecting the red support button on the right hand side of my Ko-fi page. Thank you very much indeed.