As I write the Russians are invading Ukraine.

With friends and colleagues on both sides of this war, my heart feels constricted. So, the Integral City karma yoga practice of Caring for Self, Others, Place, Planet is challenging – but vital for city and planetary wellbeing. Vital also for our aspirations that cities can be Gaia’s Regeneration Hubs.

Between news reports, this morning, I experienced a generative dialogue with Sarah McCrum about Cities and Money.

We started with Sarah’s observation that Gaia had spoken through her about the capacity for humans to create Beauty (Listen here.) Every person can do that in some small (or large) way.

We noticed that as I explore the human system of the city as an Integral City, one of the definitions of “integral” is the manifestation of Beauty, Truth and Goodness. This is a holistic pattern that reflects how life evolves through us as individuals and collectives at all scales.

This pattern may even be a key set of indicators that reflect Gaia’s wellbeing.

Sarah was intrigued to hear my proposition that James Lovelock had called humans “Gaia’s Reflective Organs.” From this I have reimagined cities as Gaia’s organs, organizations as organelles and individuals as cells in the city.

We both agreed that human systems are living systems that are fractal and nested. And these systems are related to one another within the larger body of Gaia herself.

The power of relationship is how we humans relate at every scale within the city and to every living system outside the city into the bioregion that embraces it embedded in the body of Gaia. Relationships are not only the core of the consciousness and culture expressed in the city, but our traditional cities are intimately related to the first culture – namely “agri-culture.”

This observation became our bridge to recognize the important flow of agriculture’s primary contribution to the city’s wellbeing system; namely, as the source of its food systems. Farmers are the stewards of food production. But how often do we recognize this food as the invaluable source of our personal renewable energy? Food is not merely commodities delivered to manufacturers and distributors to stock city food shelves but traditionally a source of our renewable energy.

Sarah shared her newest ideas and activities reframing the value produced by farmers producing food regeneratively. She proposes that they add value to regenerative farms not only through food production but by increasing the value of soil, water and air precisely because they farm regeneratively. Sarah explains:

LOVE TO Be Bright Green [new financial organization] has reimagined the way we value nature, so we could create products that work for the financial markets.

  1. We started by realising that people are the key to protecting and regenerating nature. We’re working with some of the best regenerative farmers in the world who’ve already developed systems that have been proven to improve ecology and increase food production and water security.
  2. We bring together large numbers of regenerative farmers and land managers into a Mutual company. We apply a standardised valuation methodology to account for the ecological improvement they’ve produced and turn the aggregated value into an asset, providing them with scalability, auditability and gold standard governance so they meet the requirements of institutional and retail investors.
  3. We’ve created a financial product that is an equity, produces a yield, can be traded on a stock market and is aligned with genuine ecological improvement and food and water security. It’s called a LivingShare. We’ve also created LivingOptions to allow global international trade between institutions.

Sarah Asks Why Value Regeneration?

We have to do it right this time. We must regenerate and protect nature as well as our food and water supply, in order to protect life on this planet. It must be the real deal, not greenwashing. And we must invest in the most effective, proven approaches, by putting financial resources in the hands of the people who know how to do it most successfully. They are the safest hands to do the right thing with the money.

I can resonate strongly with Sarah’s vision – it seems to embody Regenerativity as Beauty (Earth’s bounty), Truth (financial solutions that value Life) and Goodness (farmers and investors in relationship weaving value for life).

I look forward to continuing the conversation with Sarah and exploring how her vision for LoveTo has the power not only to regenerate a living food chain for and with the city – but how the city itself can learn from these ideas to revalue the life-giving human systems within it. After all, if cities are Gaia’s organs, our organizations and cells are called into symbiotic relationship for our planet’s wellbeing at every scale.

That is the key to keeping my heart open to practise the karma yoga of Care for Self, Others, Place and Planet.