How we work

The most globally important sustainability projects undertaken in the world today are conceived and executed by local actors at the local level. The reason is simple: a single, particular place is the only scale at which the interface between people and natural systems is immediate and accessible.

Today, a new generation of place-based leaders is emerging to spearhead regenerative development and planning efforts all around the world. But as anyone who has undertaken such a process has learned, making progress at the local level can be a surprisingly complex challenge. Each and every place on earth is characterized by a unique set of cultural, social, and political dynamics that can hinder or even prevent local projects from making a global difference.

The Regenesis approach is based on the premise that deep and practical understanding of the unique dynamics of a place is critical to regenerative planning and development. It is an approach that we have developed over two decades, working with more than 300 projects in places spread across six continents.

Story of Place

In all of our projects, we begin by developing a Story of Place: a research-based understanding of how a place works and what it strives to contribute to the world.

The process that we bring to this work derives its power from our ability to discern the ecological patterns–the stories of geology and hydrology, flora and fauna–that gave rise to the cultural patterns that those that live in the place know deeply, live with daily, and joke about with each other. In scientific data, historical records, ancient legends, regional arts, and kitchen-table conversations, Regenesis finds those patterns that reveal the timeless essence of a place and its whole living community.

When a place’s essence is articulated clearly and concretely, it becomes possible to design, develop, and plan for the future at an entirely new level.

Ben Haggard talks about the importance of starting from place.

Nicholas Mang talks about identifying the core patterns of place.

Arenas of Work

Story of Place has been used to inform the development of schools, farms, resorts, and parks; housing, commercial, and mixed-use projects; cities, neighborhoods and planned communities; and community and regional economic development and sustainability plans. Most of these projects fall into one of two arenas:

Legacy Projects Each of our clients comes to us with a strong aspiration to create a project with a truly transformational impact on its surrounding community. But when a project hits the road, it encounters multiple challenges in the the messy dynamics of complex local systems. Story of Place helps our clients to discern how their community yearns to transform and how their project can be an effective catalyst–building authentic, reliable stakeholder investment along the way.

Community Planning Today’s community planning efforts are taking on work at increased levels of complexity with unprecedented levels of ambition. Without ways to collectively understand and talk about complex systems, even the most ambitious efforts may fall victim to fragmentation, divisiveness, and abstraction. In the creation of a Story of Place, Regenesis works with a project’s myriad diverse stakeholders to develop a common language, shared understanding, and mutual commitment to envisioning who we are in this place are and what we can become together.