Credit: Devani Santos

Last fall, I was gifted the opportunity to take the five month Regenerative Practitioner Series course offered by The Regenesis Group, which grounds itself in the belief that the inner development of new levels of capacity, consciousness, and identity hold the critical foundation needed for truly regenerative outer development of projects, initiatives, and systems change. 
As a restorative justice practitioner, many of the elements of the teachings I was learning through the Regenerative Practitioner Series reminded me of the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice (DEIJ) work that I do in my personal and professional life. Where DEIJ recognizes that systemic oppression is embedded within global political, economic, and social systems and seeks to heal communities through addressing inequalities and creating new systems, regenerative practices takes an “integrated approach towards moving past sustainability to increase vitality and holistic interconnectedness between living systems, where coevolution leads to abundance and resilience.” 
Efforts to create a more just world cannot happen without thinking of how people and the environment interact, and ecological and sociological vitality cannot exist without an equitable world. There is no regeneration without equity, and there is no equity without regeneration. Knowing this, I began to think about how I can utilize regenerative frameworks to deepen my engagement with DEIJ and vice versa.
Like equity and anti-racist work, regenerative practices require deep learning, unlearning, commitment, and collaboration – and the way we practice both equity and regeneration can advance our vision and plan for the housing ecosystem at large. 
We saw the interconnectedness of regeneration and equity last November. During Build It Green’s (BIG) California Housing Innovator’s Network Gathering, BIG held a session co-lead and designed by Shalini Agrawal (Public Design for Equity), Ayanna Davis (Healthy Black Families), Monet Boyd, and me. We explored what is and should be happening to interrupt, repair, and stop harm within processes that are intentionally exclusive for some and beneficial for others –  and how this connects to the role of housing as we discuss reparations in California. We approached the session mindful that reparations aren’t the final solution for repairing harm, but a step towards healing.  
Our goals for this session were to: 
  • Build the capacity of the group to reflect on our individual and collective roles in perpetuating and resisting harm in the housing industry
  • Provide a regenerative framework for participants to visualize how the different pathways towards reparations can be integrated into their scope of work
According to Regenesis, regenerative development gets much of its power from understanding how life and living systems work and evolve. Nested and interdependent relationships are fundamental to the way that all life organizes and sustains itself. 
Nested systems can be seen all around us — a family within a neighborhood within a community; cells within organs within organ systems in a body; businesses are nested within industries. In the same way, each of the projects we work on is nested within a system.
To do regenerative work, we need to be able to hold in our minds the relationships among at least three levels of the system.

The Three Lines of Work Framework can be used to depict the nature of relationships required to support and sustain regenerative work.

  1. Third-line work has to do with working to improve the health and value of some larger system. 
  2. In second- line work, we work to grow the capability of our work communities or teams to serve shared third line aims. 
  3. First-line work has to do with working on the growth in oneself that is required to really make a difference at these other two levels.
This framework is an instrument for integrating developmental work at all three levels. It also enables us to align our personal and professional development with our values and the work we do in the world. 
The idea behind the framework is that if we are to be agents of our own evolution, we must pursue all three lines of developmental work together and simultaneously. If we drop away from any one line of work, eventually the others also collapse and we become increasingly mechanical in how we think and work.
Becoming a regenerative practitioner is as much about developing the regenerative capability and potential of ourselves and our teams as it is about developing those qualities in our projects. The Three Lines of Work Framework helps us design work processes that can more effectively sustain alignment among all three lines of developmental work.

Example

Let’s walk through the lines of work with the example of stopping harm in the housing industry. While the example of stopping harm in the housing industry is more broad, we’ll use it as an introductory example, with the understanding that when using regenerative frameworks, it’s important to stay anchored in concrete projects or ideas. Specificity is key! They work best when we move from imagining a situation to imaging the potential we hope to enable. 
1. First Line Work: Work on developing myself
Aim: Identifying intersectional layers within myself that relate to how I show up in my job, how I move about my life, how I have access or privilege, and where I lack access or privilege. 
Concrete Action: Gaining knowledge through resources like, “Just Action How to Challenge Segregation Enacted Under the Color of Law” by Richard and Leah Rothstein and implementing intentional equitable practices into my work.
2. Second Line of Work: Work on developing the capability of my group or team to serve our third line aim
Aim: Diversifying + expanding the field or network we’re working in to include a range of stakeholders + changemakers in a more equitable, regenerative, and collaborative way.
Concrete Action: Hiring an external Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice consultant to audit our internal and external processes, with the aim of building out an Equity Action Plan to develop and fully integrate a comprehensive DEIJ program into Build It Green’s structures, work processes, and organizational operations.
3. Third Line of Work: Work that is serving development and evolution of the larger whole
AimDisrupting the structured harmful processes in which we practice planning, architecture, and housing development in California, all of which we know have been built and rooted in exclusionary and racist policies, with the aim of completely restructuring the way we practice housing development to be instead rooted in equitable and regenerative methods.
Concrete Action: BIG creating the Innovation Fund to build long lasting capacity within communities on regeneration, equity, and transformational impact by awarding up to $200,000 to support work that showcases the Network’s impact themes.

Final Thoughts

By processing my ideas around how to stop harm in the housing industry through the Lines of Work regenerative framework, I was able to visualize the vital importance of pursuing the work holistically, knowing that the individual actions needed to be taken to development my and my team’s capacity cannot be separate from our ultimate vision for collaboratively development a housing industry that is equitable and regenerative. The framework supports us in feeling centered on specific aims, while still holding the bigger picture in view. As we begin to kick off the planning process for the various initiatives brought forward at the Gathering, BIG intends to ground in regenerative and equitable processes in a collaborative way. We will be hosting workshops within our Regenerative Communities Program, where participants will learn regenerative frameworks to help bring an elevated level of consciousness to the work they’re doing. We encourage you to join us in engaging with these frameworks with your own concrete ideas, and let us know how it goes!
Alex Coba

Communications Associate

As a proud California native from Stockton, Alex brings a wealth of experience and a versatile skill set. He has a solid communication background with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and Public Relations from California State University, Chico. Alex is adept at strategic communications and media relations, with experience gathering and sharing stories from his local communities that uplift the unique spirit and values of those places. He is excited to join Build It Green, where he can apply his talents to further BIG’s mission to help communities across California thrive.