When I was asked to write a piece for nexxworks' 2022 trend e-book called "On Building A Better Future", the picture that popped into my head was that of a tree. You see, trees are immobile. They cannot run from harm and havoc. Their survival depends on their capacity to continuously upgrade their surroundings and to maintain a friendly climate because that is the only way they can ensure a good quality of life for themselves and for their offspring. As a follow up on last year's piece about regeneration as a force for good, it therefore seemed appropriate to zoom in on what is needed for us to develop a regenerative mindset: to become rooted in place. Our future will depend on our capacity of homecoming. Forget Mars, it is time to put our roots down.
Deep in most of us Westerners, below our awareness, implanted there by centuries of the industrial age, is the exploitative, manipulative, colonial model of reality. It makes us behave like perpetual plunderers: we conquer land, exploit it to the brim and then we move on to new land to do just the same, leaving a trail of destruction in our wake. It is a sad story because nowhere is home. The grass is always greener somewhere else. Not even Earth is enough to still our hunger, we now dream about colonizing Mars. We are the most invasive species Earth has ever known because we act as if we do not belong on this planet with limited resources.
This colonial mindset comes with serious disadvantages. Because there is always somewhere new to go to and plunder (the Amazon, deep sea, Antarctica, Space…), we do not take care of the place that takes care of us. We do not take responsibility for our homeland and act as if we do not want to stay. And so, the places that we inhabit deteriorate to the point where they can no longer sustain a decent quality of life which reinforces our nomadic disposition. Those who can afford it travel to less damaged places to relieve stress and re-energize.
An important side effect of our colonial way of thinking is the unconscious feeling of homelessness. We are so disconnected from the places we inhabit that we no longer know and understand our life-support system and what makes our home unique. Nature has become alien territory. We can identify all the brands of big corporations, but we no longer know the plants, animals and other organisms which maintain services vital to life. We have forgotten the intricate relationships that keep life alive. Who still remembers that plants inhale what we exhale and that we inhale what they exhale?
Maybe we should take inspiration from plants. Most of them have roots that keep them in place. So contrary to us, they are immobile. They cannot move away when local conditions worsen. That is why they do the exact opposite of what we have been doing. They improve their environment, and in fact, enhance the entire biosphere, leaving it healthier, wealthier and more vital than before. If you can’t leave, that is the only thing to do to guarantee a good life and ensure the success of the next generations.
Building back better therefore starts with renaturing human nature and rewilding our homeland. Tuning in with the way life works and growing roots, not building space shuttles. Acknowledging that we are nature and we are part of nature. I wonder, is it a coincidence that the pandemic we are experiencing today is ‘grounding’ us? Or is it Earth’s invitation to come home, to become indigenous again? So that finally, we will learn to take care of the land that takes care of us.
This piece was inspired by the writings and voices of many indigenous elders who have shared this message before. It is an extract from nexxworks' brand new trend e-book "On Building A Better Future". Check it here for more trends, scenarios and insights from top experts like Nir Eyal, Dave Snowden, Naomi Oreskes, Adrian Bejan, Greg Satell, Frederik Anseel, Chris Skinner, Steven Van Belleghem, Brett King, Jeremy Lent, Celine Schillinger, Rik Vera and many, many more!