Regen Cities with Jason Twill

by | June 23, 2020 | Permaculture Education, Permaculture Podcast

In this third episode of Sense-making in a Changing World, I am delighted to welcome Jason Twill,  globally recognised pioneer in regenerative urbanism. Together we explore what regenerative cities look like and how we can take clear steps toward transforming our urban habitats.

About Jason Twill

With a career spanning over 20 years in urban development, Jason has been at the forefront of built environment transformation. A globally recognised pioneer in innovation districts, alternative housing and regenerative urbanism, Jason’s work is informing the next generation of city making. His career experience includes mixed-use developments throughout New York City, Seattle and beyond. He’s a Director of Urban Apostles, co-founder of the International Living Future Institute and originator of the Economics of Change project. In 2018, Jason founded and launched the City Makers’ Guild, an education, advocacy and research group promoting more equitable and inclusive cities.


Morag Gamble: Welcome to the sense-making in a Changing World podcast where we explore the kind of thinking we need to navigate a positive way forward.

Morag Gamble: I’m your host Morag Gamble, Permaculture Educator, and Global Ambassador, Filmmaker, Eco villager, Food Forester, Mother, Practivist and all around lover of thinking, communicating and acting regeneratively.

Morag Gamble: For a long time it’s been clear to me that to shift trajectory to a thriving one planet way of life we first need to shift our thinking , the way we perceive ourselves in relation to nature, self, and community is the core. What better way to make sense than to join together with others in open generative conversation.

Morag Gamble: In this podcast I’ll share conversations with my friends and colleagues, people who inspire and challenge me in their ways of thinking, connecting and acting. These wonderful people are thinkers, doers, activists, scholars, writers, leaders, farmers, educators, people whose work informs permaculture and spark the imagination of what a post covered climate, resilient, socially just future could look like. Their ideas and projects help us to make sense in this changing world to compost and digest the ideas and to nurture the fertile ground for new ideas, connections, and actions.

Morag Gamble: It’s my absolute delight to welcome to the show today, Jason Twill. Jason has worked for decades in regenerative urban development; he’s a leader in this field of thinking about cities differently and a globally recognized pioneer and innovation, alternative housing, and something that’s called regenerative urbanism. He’s been the head of sustainability and urban innovation in land-lease, he’s a director of Urban Apostles with focuses on city making and the sharing economy; he founded the International Living Future Institute and the originator also of economics of change and has recently created this city makers killed. So as I said, it’s my absolute delight to welcome Jason today to talk about how we go about creating regenerative cities and what does that look like.

Morag Gamble: So thanks Jason for joining me today, both you and I have been involved in regenerative work for decades now but kind of in different worlds and so what somewhat swirling, but now we kind of meet and it’s really on this theme of regeneration and that’s the basis of my work and it’s the basis I understand of your work too that dries pretty much everything. And so I’m really wanting to dive into what that means, what does a regenerative culture look like, what does a regenerative city look like I mean this is kind of the focus I understand of your work through Urban Apostles and where you’re about to hit right now, like what is the imperative from your perspective and what does that kind of world look like.

Jason Twill: Yeah, I mean I kind of adhere to the definition of regeneration being like the creating conditions conducive to life and humanity are humans being aligned to in part of the evolutionary process of life, which is it’s hard to do when you have a Western educated upbringing, and lifestyle, and consumption patterns and the way we’ve structured our economies it’s like such a different departure from our current reality. That reality is achievable, I’m hopeful for it towards that goal, but it’s been aiming up my connection to the topic is very rooted in my personal experience and I, you know, have a special affinity for cities because city is kind of saved made from the doll of monotonous living in suburbia in America. The social patterns that suburbia in the built environment shaped and engendered in the society I grew up in the east coast of the US. So let me start out there.

Morag Gamble: Yeah, so what does in your mind a regenerative city look like? What are the components of that kind of living community, the living building, the living culture that you’re wanting to engender through regeneration practices?

Jason Twill:  I see a city as being an ecosystem. So Anne Whiston Spirn , I got really inspired by her, she’s an American writer, teacher in US, she’s at MIT UPenn and she wrote two seminal books called, one’s called The Language Of Landscape and the other one was called The Granite Garden and she was the first person to help me understand that our cities our nature, it’s not like nature in the city or city in nature or cities are nature. Everything that’s around us comes from nature and it’s been manipulated by our own vision of what we want or the way our brains are programmed to do want things.

Jason Twill:  So I’ve always kind of adhered to this ideal that you know instead of seeing cities or the built environment is something that the natural world has to be protected from that it could be the greatest tool we had at regenerating life and just flipping the coin and how we think about our built infrastructure our mobility, our buildings, the way to move around, our food systems can all be aligned to adhere to the biophysical realities of our planet and at a bioregional scale so they’re living within the eye by a capacity of a region. So I see that and I know it’s hard to think about that with supply chains the global economy, but that’s what the world was like for thousands of years and trade is important so that goods and services going back and forth between bioregions, but are the way that you know humans have inhabited the planet in the last few hundred years, more than that a couple thousand years, it’s so out of alignment with living systems and the biophysical reality of our planet and it just needs to be a whole so realignment of planning, habitation, and governance around human habitation within by regions and I think the bio region is like the scale I’ve tried to work at for a long time from a planning perspective,  from a resource management perspective, from movements perspective, whatever it might be that’s like the life.

Jason Twill:  You know when the water catch me there’s the source of that life, so how do you if we’re not doing things in a way that’s regenerating and restoring that water can catch more than we’re doing it wrong and that gets people to think, you know, like I’ve been trained to have this planetary consciousness and that’s what I’ve inherited by being mentored by First Nations people so I can’t help but think about you know the sphere, the biosphere, that we’re sitting in. When I’m sitting on a table, working with architects and engineers, looking at a regeneration precinct or a building,  I have to think of that bigger scale it’s not just here’s the site boundary and I’m plugging into the existing infrastructure, it’s like okay where’s our water coming from you know, what are the other light living systems around here, what are the bird species, where are the floor and fauna, how they all correlate to this and how do we integrate the human system into that in a regenerative way. So it starts with this question of what’s working for life first and then we start the journey if you get figuring out a design response.

Morag Gamble: So how do you then reconcile the notion of scale? So you’re thinking in a bioregional scale, but then we explore exploring cities of that are just so enormous and how do we bring those layers back together and how do we bring that bioregional approach and that the richness of that local community connection into a city that is actually enormous?

Jason Twill: Yeah, I mean it’s looking at the resource flows of cities and mapping that. And cities can’t be islands, like you can’t look at a carbon-neutral city, you have to look at a region where does all the food come from, the workers come from, you know the throughput of a city, the urban flow. Those things need to be in comp, that’s why I’m like a big fan of bioregional governance right. We should move away from like city states or nations say it’s the bioregion states and have some kind of cooperative model that allows bioregions to support each other around the world but it’s like aligning to that, you know, I guess the ecosystem services of a region that’s probably paramount and an ecosystem services being brought into the urban core in a way that lets us grow food, provides resilience, provides shelter, provide shade, mitigates urban heat island, creates more resilience, all that kind of stuff is paramount and you’re seeing bits and pieces of that with living infrastructure and you know vegetated walls, green infrastructure, tree canopy discussions, urban forests are all like steps in the direction for where your cities become nature. How he chooses their material, how we build our homes, for me that urban compression is the most important one so there’s a sweet spot for density is another really important where we tend to cities tend to kind of, you know, I’m a big fan of like no more than eight story so I get, you know, that’s a bit by a contentious point in the industry.

Jason Twill: Yeah, I don’t believe in sustainable skyscrapers, I think human scale of human connection to earth is really important. Chris Alexander had a 4-story in the mitten pattern language, I mean that’s a great pattern, but and that’s it you know direct connection of mother and child, a parent and child outside, so there’s a sweet spot for density it’s really important, but the urban compression and the fact that I live in Balmain and there’s no garage is just the fact that there’s not space allocated to a car for every house compresses the whole urban environment and makes a human scale but hyper walkable and that I have a much more lower ecological footprint because I don’t need to hop in the car, but they actually haven’t used my car on our members since the isolation. I have a motorcycle out there that’s getting cobwebs I haven’t used it, so you don’t really, you know, that’s a really important point is the spatial dimensions of urban nation organization within the context of the PI region.

Jason Twill: Those things need to be really well thought through and unfortunately the failings of Western societies notions of cities has been copy pasted into the Philippine world so you just get these, you know, tower solar power stamping in the ground everywhere across the world right now and they think that’s their way of like, you know, we’re becoming a world power, we’re becoming a global city and it’s like if there’s SQL you lost the plot because you look like every other city now and the reason I want to kind of is like how do you make yourself so distinctly different and responsive to your buyer region, to your cultural context, to geomorphology, to your human history that you visualized that history and your built landscape so you’re so unique that you’ve become the only place that you can give that experience of somebody missing that level of thinking in our cities right now.

Morag Gamble: So within that compressed city landscape, where do you see or how do you see food, growing food, fit into that and into this bigger city concept? Because something that I’m struggling with a lot at the moment is the notion of the urban food becoming a lot about, you know, vertical walls and more technological food systems which to me also misses a serious part about that deep connection with soil and mycelium. It’s kind of manufactured food and the nutrient density of it would never be your liveliness, it would never be what we can get from actually thinking about regenerating soil.

Morag Gamble: So how are you working with the kind of the food systems and how that weaves in through your concept of a regenerative city?  What are you seeing that’s working?

Jason Twill: I mean there’s, yeah, this part of its about regenerating, some part of this like social cohesion and people being connected to soil and the relationships people get around community farms or urban farming. So one of the science of what are the right food systems or food crops that are, you know, resistant to certain urban pollutions or environmental fallout in the city, as I kind of filter that really well, but then every looking at every like you know food security and urban farming or urban food strategy for a city that complements the more robust I guess periphery urban farming that you have with farmers markets and farmers coming in, but you could have a series into the backyard guard. Let’s think about World War II and everyone had the little, you know, gardens in the backyard, I wasn’t around back then, but and I think about that quite a bit because there’s so much space around our homes and there’s a model that was in Seattle that I really liked around distributed farming because I’m not a green thumb, maybe one day I will have the capacity and fortitude to spend time in the backyard like how my wife is, but I don’t have to be in Seattle because there was a group of people that did that for me and they would rent out a little space in my backyard and put up raised beds and I had this beautiful river farm in my backyard I’ve wished maybe fifteen percent of the crop I would get to keep and cook and use with it and then the rest would go to the farmers market.

Jason Twill:  But they had 50 of those, Vancouver did that, Viktorovich, Columbia, Seattle, so you had this like urban farming distribution strategy in a connected people, it connected us to the food system in Seattle can’t dance for the farmers but this farmers market people to grow, so it was a social connection as well

Morag Gamble:  And that’s yeah, that’s fantastic. So how, so where then does the idea of compressing the city but still maintaining enough space to have that distributive farming approach or is it something where we think actually about, you know, like examples in horseshoe or in Denmark where a new development is happening and we actually create a farm in the middle pick out my edifying, which is the best farmland before any development happens and put that aside as kind of a community farm land trust and then all the development gets built around that, or the waste water waste nutrients go down into the farm, a farmer is employed, or you can volunteer and so there’s this whole farm system that’s, you know, and that’s kind of a suburb and it’s quite densely urbanized around and it’s brilliant and I’m thinking, why are those models they integrate food that’s actually in the soil rather than add on on the edge something up a wall? Where is that happening in the thinking that you’re seeing you know in and around development because you know you’re in the building industry and you’ve seen in many different countries and many different cities and you’re talking to, you know, I’m more sort of like a bottom-up community-led permaculture eco village background whereas you’ve come from the building industry, like where are these meetings? Where is that place where we can actually free much?

Jason Twill:  In the Peri-urban sense, when the urban air is any urban regeneration project we’re doing with Mina’s community gardens, councils have been really good about you know freeing a public plan, supporting community gardens, in the city we have a beautiful community garden right down here it’s gorgeous, so there’s a lot of the integration and happening interventions into cities, but there’s a huge movement it’s called Agriburbia or Food Centre in suburbs where they start with the farm and they build the community on the farm and that’s been a massive movement across North America and you have some really incredible examples of how that’s manifest, there’s even a company in Colorado that consults globally on that doing work in China now.

Jason Twill:  So food is such a strong connection point for people and like the proverbial breaking bread and it creates this maybe not genuine farm village community from the past, but it creates a deeper sense of authenticity around community and how food creates an epicenter for community and I think there’s a project in Georgia, I’m forgetting the name of that – Serenbe, so Serenbe is a really, I mean it’s kind of burgeois but it’s like beautiful architecture centered around farming in hillside farms around Georgia. It’s very, very beautifully done so beauty is a very important part of the story because that, you know, if it’s beautiful people will fight to keep it in a year is that sustainable in my mind. But food is a very, you know, is the driving force for these communities so there is the following active working farms, I’m really inspired by the generation, my generation a lot younger than me maybe, Gen X and Gen Y there’s been such an like a huge move towards permaculture and towards farming, know people just you know aren’t chasing that Wall Street job which case gonna be lawyers and doctors there’s so much more increased interest in going back to the land and setting up farms.

Jason Twill: I saw that in real time and I was living in Seattle and going to the Bullock permaculture institute they were churning out all these crazy, cool people that were going to set up farms Washington island or in the Western Washington and setting up new organic farms all over the country, so I mean it’s a good movement because it’s like, it’s people getting back to more core ways of living as people as humans, you know,  like being connected to the land and the ones inspired by Wendell Berry and this is named Ways Jackson, I mean it was a really cool.

Jason Twill: They’ve inspired a whole generation of people, a younger generation going back to farming and the region agriculture space is massive so it’s like having, you know, reach out like bringing yourself, someone like you, into the urban regeneration conversation. We tend to get into these silo specialist roles and you’re managing projects like that it’s the very technical engineering architecture you know and I learned from Janine Benyus, you know, bringing biologists to the table and marine biologist to the table of permaculture, our cultural colleges table, it completely changes the dimensions of the design team, how they’re gonna respond and I need a lot of that in Seattle. I haven’t seen a lot of that here in Australia, but that’s a huge opportunity for how we look at regenerative agriculture playing a role in the regeneration of cities.

Morag Gamble:  Yeah, absolutely. And it’s so, I mean, I think like you’re saying and not much is happening here in Australia in that space a little bit on the edge and it still seems to be quite a split between kind of the permaculture approach and the citizen design approach and then there’s the you know the urban design and development model and they’re still not much meeting happening. It’s a few projects I’ve been involved in and sitting you know at the table of these developments, but mostly we’re not even on the menu, let alone at the table, so where does that change happen, like how would where can that change happen and right now actually in this moment, you know, we’re speaking as part of this lockdown with the pandemic it’s just starting to open up a bit, but globally like what is shifted and how can this moment actually help us to shift things further into, I know they would ciliate this conversation much more widely to help to flip the changes that flipping to the changes that we need to happen now, how’s this moment to accelerate them?

Jason Twill:  I mean, we’re in this really historic moment in human history with, you know, the we’re all globally committed right now through this one crisis, you know, and we in Australia I particularly feel like we’ve been in crisis for a few months before the sick as a drought, massive drought and bushfires that result of the trust. So resilience is a really key issue and I think that’s a term we use quite a bit but maybe the context of that change is given the people have now experienced the issue I’m going through something like this and not having access to toilet paper you know like you know how resilient are we if we can’t get certain goods and services that we need and you know what is the mindset of the culture that wants to hoard things and so permaculture, I think, can be a really interesting way to rethink how we rebound out of this and really look at urban scale permaculture initiatives and how do we create those regional resilient bioregions kind of thing that’s the competition which I might have yesterday like that’s the global dialogue right now we’re having what come off because it’s…

Jason Twill:  I can get news from the councilors all the time about food security, this issue going on, you know, this has tested the limits and Sydney’s about to come out with their Covid-19, you know, response strategy here or rebound strategy so it’s making sure that things like permaculture, like regenerative development, like Biophilia, like biomimicry, advance sustainability moving beyond green star is on the agenda. I’m really, how do you think about matching our urban strategy to the science and magnitude of the challenge we’re facing, you know, be a climate change, be a social equity, be a water scarcity, be an extreme weather events, be it you know rising slave, or whatever it might be that we have to start building our cities that match the magnitude and the science of the problem because we’re not we’re making incremental change.

Morag Gamble:  So with what I’ve experienced over the last few decades of being involved in permaculture and also you know more recently where I really feel there’s an intense depth of knowledge and understanding and experiencing in creating living systems, living communities, but get with I still feel like this block for being heard or you know being brought into the conversations or being able to ripple out into news for it to actually be part of the conversation for people to hear. How would you go about trying to get permaculture heard more I suppose? I mean, your experience in the States, I think is you’re saying that it is actually rippling out a lot more but it still feels quite, even though it’s emerged out of Australia still feels like it’s quite marginal.

Morag Gamble:  I know the edge is a very fertile place to be, but I think there’s something about where we are right now that we need to be able to bring it further into this conversation that’s being had about where to now, how do we bounce forward not snap back.

Jason Twill:  Yeah, I think, I mean America I wouldn’t say is, I mean America is like six countries in  one and while we were doing some really good stuff in New York, like when I moved to Seattle and Portland Vancouver, Pacific Northwest was like exponentially farther ahead and that’s where I saw real things happening. So there’s a cultural argument to the embracing of this Germany is one of those countries in Northern, you know, Northern Europe because it’s just ingrained in their culture you don’t want to be the asshole driving to the party in BMW.

Jason Twill:  They’ve evolved and matured their understanding of sustainability into a cultural mainstream norm where if you’re living in Seattle, you better be wearing something local organic, eating organic food, doing something for the planet, or you are just kind of irrelevant, you know, it’s just like so there’s kind of a status quo mentality, I don’t see that here. I hop on a flight from Seattle Portland went here and it’s like the slick, you know, global corporate boom what’s a very corporatized country so you need to penetrate transformation in this country, you need to get into the boardroom and there’s such a dominance of corporate.

Jason Twill: I mean every city has their the four Big Bang, so the four big corporations, the four big developers and they pivot it’s there it’s like it’s been amazing impressive growth on an island you know continent like this, but it’s very corporate eyes and in the whole country has this corporate green strategy has been set up by these trade organizations and corporations so they could pack themselves on the back for media Gras comes like green star five right, which isn’t really true sustainability. Yes, it’s amazing accomplishment of what green star I’ve been able to do, but it’s not driving transformation away it needs to at the speak at the pace it needs to do particularly given the fragility of Australian resources, not mining resources of food and water like living life sustain resources.

Jason Twill: So it’s penetrating that and you have glimpses of that like Fraser is doing that living building mall right so they have embraced something but it’s more probably competition and setting themselves if they set a new benchmark though and if they continue to drive that, you know, it’s that’s really important to move the needle but I think Australia needs to get past this risk-averse sustainability mindset and really start to unlock true transformational outcomes and the full potential of all Australian industry and communities can do as I do see even when I first came down here I first saw like the Eco village and all that stuff is just the fringe stuff in the rural environments a country and hasn’t really made its way into how we rethinking community in cities and it’s an urbanized country so that’s hugely important for this country. So it’s getting into the planning regimes of the state – I mean the state operates more like a corporation than a government in my mind or like just the way they talk about their sort of sentences customers that just gets a bit, there’s a bit of a blurred line between industry and government here which also concerns me and I’d also to say there’s a lack of trust with government and that’s a huge problem.

Jason Twill: You have to trust your government and I would say that you know just even dealing with Covid-19, the mixed messaging from the federal to the state level is correct by city, but I think because of the mishandling of the bushfires that there was a really good response I had like over Covid-19, but you know we can’t lose sight. It reminds me of the GFC right and when everything was like shovel-ready projects that were bad for the environment like highways, and other stuff that was shelved just to get very, you know, save the economy, get the economy back you know a growth centric mode everything out the door but those are products that were purposely shells because they were bad for the environment, but we can’t just snap back into that. It’s like, psychologically up until this is the US thing like Obama became president and reading up to that like climate change and climate legislation was like top of list right and all these surveys and we had all this one mentioned to get a cap and dividend thing through the government, you remember some of the bills that were going through, we were paying attention that was happening down here as well and then you know the economy collapse and climate change went huge all the way down bottom lists and jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs, okay number one and all the decision making was based on that short-term is short-sighted.

Jason Twill: So we need to get into that space again around you know super long term thinking and making sure that climate change agenda development is always top of the list no matter what, but those are the truths of what we have to stay adhering to do matter what happens. That’s really hard for politicians to do that because they’re only in it for two years, three years …

Morag Gamble:  And now this situation too that we’re in, you know, this priorities are shifting. So from your perspective with the kind of work that you’ve been doing, how has your perspective on what’s kind of the urgent imperative work that we need to be doing right now shifted since we’ve entered into this pandemic? Because I know that you know we’re only just entered into you know it’s kind of like there’s a marathon and we’ve only started the first mile, you know, we’ve got a big recovery ahead, so have you been oriented, how you’re thinking about your work?

Jason Twill: What’s just about these issues and crises were dealing with it’s just validating why we do what we do, you mean, we’re doing this because we know these things are coming there to get more frequent, more pervasive, more disastrous. Science has been there for before I was born, we know this stuff, I mean, limits of growth 1972 like Dana Meadows you know like even before that. You know there’s a lineage here that we are part of that and I’ve been dealing with the climate scientist for a long time and they’re scared shitless. Like we know these things are going to happen and they’re happening more frequently and public sooner than we anticipated, but we knew they’re gonna happen so I’m not surprised by these events.

Jason Twill:  I’m studying how they’re manifesting, how they are responding to them but I’ve always been early on focused on economic transformation. The things that govern human decision-making and govern our societal behaviors and habits, we have a completely broken economic system that was born out of you know the great World War II that restructured your politics in the world and the model of the macroeconomic theory came about when people at the time saw nature is free limitless and obviously that’s not the case we saw the friction between that model when Rachel Carson wrote down the spring and the problems of externalities so we need a new economic model for Humanity but that’s predicated also on the politics of humanity, the political ideology that informs that and values and belief systems in it form a political ideology. So there’s this massive shift we went when 2012 happened and I’m a huge fan of Mesoamerican culture and history and  Aztec calendar, Mayan, you know long count calendar when 2012 was the end of the world, I always saw it as this evolution of human consciousness and the shifting of human consciousness and I can see that even the conversation we had yesterday with the group and the different perspectives, if you look at the patterns across humanity right now I am extremely hopeful and I’ve been trained to be seeing the glasses overflowing because I can’t fall into morass. This, you know, not certainty but catastrophe I can’t have that, I have to have deep hope in humanity and that we will shift our consciousness to create the kind of world you know we’re living this all life thrives.

Jason Twill:  So, but there needs to be the economic structure in the interim that helps us shift and help set a consciousness grow within us, that’s why I’ve been working with store for so long so that you know generate genuine progress indicator is a difference from you know GDP creating a world of internality but there’s no such thing as throwing something away because we have one biosphere one planet. Our economic models have to match the biophysical reality of this and you go back to the physiocrats in France in like the 1700s, they weren’t thinking that they were trying to do that stuff back then, you know, biophysical economic theory came from like French salons in the 1700s and that kept on getting because the power struggle it was always pushed down because I knew they’d have less with those kind of models. So the tension I was brought up yesterday is a really important one on the power struggle that we have to face.

Morag Gamble:  So you’ve mentioned a lot that since you’ve been here in Australia that what you’ve learned by from indigenous Australia has open up and informs so much more of what you do. So talking about bioregional planning or economic models or governance models and community, in what ways and that’s a very big question, but in essence how has that informed what you do and and maybe change your perception on regeneration work?

Jason Twill:  Yeah, I should have acknowledged country before I started, but yeah, I want to acknowledge again I’m picking the irrigation and my adopted family Namba buggabugga people they get Bhangra nation which is what shows us from.  So I’ve been through so much training mentoring by incredible people in the world like all of our friends and family out there big movement and I could say being Australian for seven years at having that connection to country and being mentor by suddenly chose and her peers has been profoundly more valuable and more insightful and shifting my perspective on the world and my own ontology about my relationship to the world than anything before that so it is this notion of being a service to the restoration or application that need just knowledge system into Western contexts but the fusion of that through this notion of culture reciprocity. Like I deal with this hunt with the Maori and with Aboriginal Australians and you know what the complex community and systems relationships that were here before Western contact and how the whole country was managed through this complex system, there’s so much to learn from that and I first started getting glimpses of that with Jared Diamond’s work and in particular his book The World Until Yesterday,  which looked at you know the core elements of family dispute resolution, food systems, child rearing, and indigenous context versus Western context and there’s a blending of that that in some ways indigenous you know ways during that war better and actually training you know the lineage of generations of kids coming up and learning, not about competition, but of collaboration cooperation.

Jason Twill:  There’s something in there about like kids in Indonesia or Papua New Guinea and they’re in preschool age get a banana and they have the slice of banana they need to give a piece to everyone else in the classroom at the end of the exercise everyone still has a whole banana but everything took the whole banana was given to them by something else right does that make sense? So yeah, we teach Western competition and so there’s this whole different thing in there on that, but that indigenous knowledge can inform a different type of antigen ah mix a different economics model but has lore kinship and connection to country and that land would and would say land is law so that notion that we belong to the earth and how that mindset informs. That’s huge, I can’t pretend to create that without you know as a white dude from New York, but I know the people out there that you know coming, if we bring those two things together something really special can get created and there is some of that with happening k ray where it’s work I posted that thing with Maori interpretation of economics, those are glimpses of where we can go.

Morag Gamble:  Yeah and so what you’re doing with this common earth project and the road mapping, the bringing that to Australia as well this is part of I guess trying to get those conversations together, get those thoughts and leaders together, get those different perspectives together. So where are you hoping we might go with that? What’s the, tell us a little bit about the common earth. How do you describe it, so common earth project or a common those what?

Jason Twill:  The Commodore if there’s an initiative the Commonwealth, so the Commonwealth of Nations represents 54 countries on the planet probably about 2.7 billion people. It’s interesting that I guess the context of Commonwealth being the epicenter of imperialism going back in European expansion and colonization of the world and I think there’s some relevance to the understanding of Western views and Western mindsets around land management governance and economics have dominated the human story in the last 100 years and what that’s done to create the crises we’re dealing with now, the human and abuse challenges and sustainability is a very Western contrived concept as well so I’ve learned that and it goes back so much farther than us.

Jason Twill:  So common earth is set up to help the Commonwealth look at regenerative development as a model or a pathway to her birth global warming to create planetary health in leverage there in flow with the world leaders, politics, policies, I mean they are the ones that have ducted the STG before the STG is ratified by the UN and so everyone’s there. Drawing on culture First Nations people so the indigenous knowledge is right in the heart and of that work so that we listen and learn of how it was done before contacting before Western influence came up you know welcomed place but each country needs to have a group of people that help store that work. We have a great group of people doing stuff in New Zealand, has already worked been done in Costa Rica with incredible group of people there and I just you know I’ve met some incredible and been grateful to connect with some beautiful people here in Australia that I saw as having the right hearts and minds and training the understanding of the world themselves and of this place to be the custodians of that work here.

Jason Twill:  Having the right sensibility, the right way of working, the right way of engaging with First Nations people having First Nations leading this work it’s also very matriarchal because that’s another hugely important role in the future as women leadership and decision-making and guidance of how humanity corrects itself. So it’s not any business in that limit, I think this group is the 100 percent women and 50% indigenous. I think that I just know how to stay out of it, as a white guy you know a privileged white male from the east coast of America. I know to say I just know to nurture and then walk away and let it grow how it needs to grow from the people that are around it because I’ve only been here seven years as a guest and I can’t pretend know the deep history knowledge of this place for growing up here. That’s hugely important to how this work involves, I know there’s incredible women who would raise her hand, who are committed to seeing something happen and deterministically happens so that will help shepherd this process through with some support from the global working group of the common area to help.

Morag Gamble:  And you were about to hit off on it a new adventure idea…

Jason Twill:  I am, very daunting, but I’m heading off to Doha Qatar to work for the Qatar Foundation who has a mission to use research science community development education as a way to transform the economy of guitar and support Kotori people and shifting away from a carbon-based society to a knowledge base and hopefully regenerative society if that’s abatable in the mindset of seeing the middle east has the oil barrel and the geopolitical cracking it’s the center of the world. There’s something especially if there’s something inherently special about the culture of people trying to regenerate its own culture and craft an economy based on that culture that is committed to environmental regeneration, education, peace, tolerance, diversity, then it’s interesting as I have a lot to learn about Islam religion about Sharia law so I’m going there very respectfully of service to Qatari people.

Jason Twill:  So I’m doing what I would train to do if how to get into the system and learning it, respect to understand it, see its opportunity potential, but I get to work on incredible work for the World Cup and look at the role of sports to helping create a peace and health for my generation and beyond that you know an organization that’s literally shaping a national strategy in trajectory to move away from fossil fuels and the resources to do it. So good vision lucky to work with go into a new part of the world, and brace a new culture, learn about it, learn about the place and share my experience in a way the communal, anything I tried to do here.

Morag Gamble:  Yeah, I acknowledge that you need to hit often you have other things you need to do this morning in your incredibly full life as you get prepared to and on that journey. Thanks so much.

Jason Twill: Absolutely, I have two reverse interviews, like I have next week or a week after we’re doing this

Morag Gamble:  Yeah, that’s right

Jason Twill:  I have so much to learn from you and I’m really, I’m excited that we got to connect but it’s like we’re at the last hour of my life in Australia but it’s not going to be the end of our relationship because I know it’s usually important to this movement and to this region and globally because your expertise, you know, the lineage of knowledge that you’ve been holding from the pioneers of permaculture and we need permaculture

Morag Gamble:  Yeah, likewise I feel you know an important connection between the work that you’re doing I’m really inspired by you know to be part of the initiatives that you’ve brought and activated here in Australia and I feel it’s a really important way to kind of leverage the imperative that is now to bring these regenerating solutions that exist into the form to help make the change that we need to see in the world right now and to activate the generative education, regenerate generally cities, and planning, and culture, and thinking. It’s a shift and I think it feels like its ready and I think this moment now is so important. It feels like there’s a been a crack as sort of something like being peeled back and we can we have an opportunity now to really to help to fill and fill that space with a different kind of thinking and I’m always forever hopeful because I know on the other side of that is a huge amount of challenges and pushback as well so then I’d like to stand the hopeful side

Jason Twill:  I’d say it’s your destiny to be part of this group for the governor because you’ve been committed your life to this work and deserve to be involved in how this work of all that’s perfect Union of Mines

Morag Gamble:  Well, thank you so much Jason and all that you get on with your day of generating the world.

Morag Gamble:  So thanks for tuning into the sense-making in a changing world podcast today it’s been a real pleasure to have your company. I invite you to subscribe and receive notification of each new weekly episode with more wonderful, stories, ideas, inspiration, and common sense for living and working regeneratively and call positive permaculture thinking and design into action in this changing world. I’m including a transcript below and a link also to my four-part permaculture series, really looking at what is permaculture and how to make it your livelihood too. So join me again in the next episode where we talk with another fascinating guest. I look forward to seeing you there.

Subscribe & Share
Thanks for tuning into my podcast today, SENSE-MAKING IN A CHANGING WORLD.  It has been a pleasure to have your company. I invite you to subscribe (via your favorite podcast app like iTunes) and receive notification of each new weekly episode.  Please also feel free to share.

Each Wednesday I will share more wonderful stories, ideas, inspiration, and common sense for living and working regeneratively.  Positive permaculture thinking, design, and action are so needed in this changing world.

What is permaculture?
Take a look at my free 4 part permaculture series or Our Permaculture Life Youtube and my permaculture blog too. For an introduction to permaculture online course, I recommend The Incredible Edible Garden course. Become a permaculture educator (Permaculture Design Certificate and Permaculture Teacher Certificate) through our Permaculture Educators Program, and involve your young people in permaculture through Permayouth (11-16yos)

Please support our permaculture work with refugee children, the Permayouth, by donating to our registered permaculture charity The Ethos Foundation. Every dollar goes directly to support these young people.

Warm regards,
Morag Gamble
Founder, Permaculture Education Institute

I acknowledge the Traditional owners of the land from which I am broadcasting, the Gubbi Gubbi people, and pay my respects to their elders past present, and emerging.

Thank you to Kim Kirkman (Harp) and Mick Thatcher (Guitar) for donating this piece from their album ‘Spirit Rider’.


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