Bill Reed: Staying in the Game of Evolution (E21)

Photo by Peter Casamento

On June 28th, 2019, I recorded this chat with my friend Bill Reed from Regenesis Group. A close colleague of my last two guests Carol Sanford and Joel Glanzberg, Bill is an internationally recognised practitioner, lecturer, and leading authority in sustainability and regenerative planning, design and implementation. You can see a short bio for Bill here (or listen to me read it out in the intro).

Thanks to Bill for passing on the below resources and I will record a second chat with him soon to continue tracking down the intriguing and, well, kinda deep body of work he, Carol and Joel all represent.


Click to download as pdf these articles either by or about Bill’s work:


Knock yourself out!


Find out more about The Regenerative Practitioner training here.


  1. Holy crap, I just realised they (Regenesis Group) are the guys I quoted numerous times when I was researching for my master thesis! What a coincidence – I read numerous entries on the Encyclopedia of Sustainability, Science and Technology, which was issued by Regenesis and Story of Place Institute hahaha… I had not the chance to connect the dots so far. Great work that one… really gives you awareness of the breath and depth of the broader environmental movement.
    The living systems thinking maps of “development” etc. were all part of my final dissertation for my Master degree in Architecture and deeply resonated with my own awareness of how design had been changing. If interested feel free to check it out, however, besides the quotes, it is written in portuguese so, sorry for that… ha, but you can still check the monastery project I’ve been a part of there and some images of the process at the project report annex.

  2. The relation between types of people and biophysical context happens here in Portugal as well. People are far more conservative in the northern part of Portugal which geographer Orlando Ribeiro named as part of the “granite civilisation” while our metamorphic soils from the “clay civilisation” from the south – in the words of the same geographer – always bred far more liberal (hence embracing communist inclinations) people than the still–very-christian-to-this-day northern folk. Portugal has a very diverse climatology and on the south the cork-oak “montado de sobreiro” ecosystem is one of the most diverse in the World, protected by legislation precedented all the way to the XIVth century. Maybe one could argue that forest to be the long-term causality pattern for that, so some ethnographic fundaments for bioregionalism here? What could that school of thought (and design) be worth exploring regarding this issue about perception of Nature as a whole and ourselves as nested wholes within it?
    Or is my living-systems-thinking epistemology flawed? *laughs* I mean, this is a very interesting method to perceive design, as a whole, pun intended. A process nested between essences of living entities, to be true. However, this wholes and parts thing is always tricky. Could we assess further this method? Looking at the most common flaws among its practitioners perhaps. How do we walk this talk and keep track of our roles, purposes and being? How can we hone this method’s efficiency and be self-critical?

    How does this leaves us regarding the relationships between:

    Perceiving the Whole;
    Identifying nested Agents/Operative Parts(?);
    Understanding Roles and Purposes (Analysis?);
    Strategizing and Goal Articulating (Synthesis?);
    Planning Interventions; Analysing and Simulating (most people refer to this as designing itself);
    Implementing Plans and Adapting Them to Reality;
    Perceiving the Whole

  3. Absolutely loved this episode. We need many more Bill Reeds. Unpack uniqueness, what’s the distinctiveness of place, dynamic unfolding of life and understanding…..LOVE this,

  4. Wonderful. I use a similar analogy for whole systems by asking people to imagine dissecting their favourite pet into various sub systems; skeleton, muscular, circulatory, nervous, digestive etc. And then we talk about what ISN’T there. I have found people very quickly get to the “essence” of what made their pet more than the sum of the parts.
    Very much agree with your observation that we facilitate the place and the people to be who they are together.
    I make the observation that we are moving away from the historical (and patriarchal) “hero” narrative, and towards a collective, collaborative narrative where community and cooperation are the precursors for evolving the species.
    The motto of Vermont is “Freedom and Unity”! Perfect!

    1. I am also pleased to see ‘mimicking nature’ challenged. This is why I prefer ‘cooperate with nature’ because it allows us to consider the whole of nature, including our own nature, and how we might best return to a natural state of dynamic equilibrium within the context of our place.

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