After six years of thinking, researching, collaborating, planning, mapping out, experimenting and talking about the Greenprints approach (and then sketching-out ideas and re-sketching them to be clearer and easier to understand), I’m beyond-excited to launch our gorgeous Greenprints website: www.greenprints.org.au
Our deceptively simple website represents the ‘front end’ of years of research, pilot workshops and communication experiments, pieced together in between all the other work that I create and manage within AELA, NENA and Future Dreaming.
Over the coming months (and years I hope), I’ll be writing about some of our projects and amazing collaborators, who are helping us to use Greenprints as the scaffolding for truly regenerative, Earth-centred transformations. In this blog, I’ll share an introduction to Greenprints, and the personal story of how I dreamt it up.
What is Greenprints?
The Greenprints initiative has been designed as a comprehensive system to help communities, organisations and interested governments create regenerative societies and thrive within healthy ecological limits.
It is an approach that provides a practical, step-by-step approach to help people understand both the big picture and the small details, of how to transform our societies within our unique local places, and thrive within our ecological limits.
Importantly (to me) it’s an Australian-designed approach, that aims to be accessible to anyone. It demystifies and connects the many varied concepts, models and methods that can be used to create sustainable and regenerative communities, organisations and societies.
Equally importantly it cuts through jargon and outlines a step-wise approach to creating systems change and governance transformation at any scale.
Greenprints is a process, and an output.
Greenprints offers a process to help us find and use the very best sustainability & regenerative approaches, so we can redesign societies to thrive within our local, regional & global ecological limits. The basic process is set out on our Greenprints Steps webpage and the detail of how to carry out each step can be explored once people sign up to the Greenprints approach.
By using the process, people can create the output that gave the system its name: ‘Greenprints’. These are a set of viable alternatives to business as usual – a bit like sustainability blueprints: scenarios showing place-based, alternative land use options (local and bioregional scale), regenerative economic activities and socially just, democratic decision making processes.
How Greenprints was born
In mid-2015 I was diagnosed with aggressive breast cancer. I didn’t know if I’d live or die, and I was terrified of leaving my family behind – especially my then 7 year old daughter. I went through some savage surgery, months of chemotherapy and months of radiation treatment. My immune system collapsed because I was allergic to the drugs that support you through chemo; I was in and out of hospital ALOT. By January 2016, I was bald, bloated and burnt.
The last six months of 2015 felt like hell on earth, quite frankly.
I was so sick – so incredibly sick – during the treatment, that I could barely move, and I spent a huge amount of time stuck in bed, simply enduring the pain, nausea and fear that comes with cancer treatment. But through the whole process, my brain never slowed down, and never stopped thinking about Earth jurisprudence, Rights of Nature, ecological limits and the urgent need to change human systems and live in greater harmony with our living world. So it was during those days, weeks and months – of having an over-active brain trapped in a body that couldn’t do much – that I thought about, dreamt about and started mapping out, a practical, step-by-step way for community groups, schools, local councils and all interested people, to understand both the big picture and the small details, of how to change our societies and thrive within our ecological limits.
I remember thinking over and over – “even if we support the Rights of Nature, even if we respect First Nations knowledge and sovereignty, how do we rein in the unsustainable consumption and expansionist extractivism of my culture and all industrialised societies? And how do we know when we’re ‘there’, when we’ve reached ecological health?” I had submitted my PhD in the November of 2014, and it was passed without changes in May of 2015, just before my cancer diagnosis. I had learnt a heck of alot from my PhD research, about ecological limits, consumption, production, behavioural regulation and much more.
I realised that for us to truly transform human societies, we had to (1) identify, understand and aim to work within natural boundaries like bioregions and catchments, and work out what ‘ecological health’ looks like in those places so that we have an ‘end game’ to transition to and (2) we have to bring ALL the good stuff together, all the tools we’ve been trying to use so far, and pick and choose the best approaches that suit unique local places, in order to bring our places back to life, and reduce human impacts. So I started sketching out ideas, tapping away on my laptop in-between chemo sessions and grappling with some of the most fascinating and troubling, multi-disciplinary questions about life, civilisation and human governance.
Greenprints is the product of my more than 30 years of working across environmental law, Indigenous rights, social justice, sustainability, climate change, Earth laws and the new economy. Creating it has been one of the most fascinating processes I’ve ever been involved in, and I truly hope the approach can help people make the change they want to see, so we can rein in runaway climate change, address biodiversity loss, restore our precious ecosystems, create social justice and find a future amidst this terrifying ecological crisis that’s upon us.