The emerging field of regenerative development and design marks a significant evolution in the concept and application of sustainability. Practices in sustainable or green design have typically focused on minimizing damage to the environment and human health. Advocates of a living, whole, and regenerative approach believe a much more deeply integrated strategy for the design and construction of buildings and human settlements is needed. Regenerative approaches seek not only to reverse the degeneration of the earth's natural systems, but also to engage and inspire human systems that can co-evolve with natural systems in a way that generates mutual benefits and greater overall expression of life and resilience. This groundbreaking course will delve deeply into the theory and practice of activating human and natural system co-evolution. Students will draw inspiration from the ability of natural living systems to self-organize to higher levels of complexity and exchange, and learn to apply that understanding as a means to redefine how we think about and design for the built environment, the social and ecological aspect of community, and the role of design.

Course start time: Sunday, 5pm
Course end time: Friday, 5pm



  • Competency Level: Intermediate to Professional
  • Sterling College credits: 2 Continuing Education Units ($260 additional)

Course Purpose

To help all attendees and stakeholders learn how to see the uniqueness of places through the exploration and understanding of interrelationships and patterns of life in each place, in a way that reveals the essential systemic connections extant at Yestermorrow as an example of the larger wholes in which places are nested, so that Yestermorrow and its students can improve their own long-term health and those of their broader communities as they grow and evolve together.

Course Objectives

  • Develop an understanding of the importance of working systemically and holistically with the patterns of place.
  • Develop a basic understanding of a process that participants can use to perceive interrelationships and patterns of systems and places.
  • Provide participants with the means to begin developing their capacity for using this pattern recognition as an essential tool for improving the health of their projects, their work, and their communities.

Sunday Evening -  (7:00-9:00)
7:00 Introductions
Purpose of the Course
Overview of the regenerative design & development process, its importance, and its effects.

  • Technical System Design (Mechanical worldview)
  • Living System Design
  • Regenerative Design and Development - A Whole and Living System Process

7:00 Exercises and Breakfast
9:00 Overview of the regenerative design & development process (continued)

  • Pattern recognition (physical/functional) and nested systems
  • Essence pattern recognition (next level)
  • Process "map" for implementing regenerative design & development

11:00 Outdoor observation skills exercise
12:00 Lunch
1:00 Update and review of work to date from last year's course
2:00 Outdoor pattern recognition skills exercises
4:30 Break and Dinner
7:00 Reflections and documentation of discoveries

7:00 Exercises and Breakfast
9:00 Essence patterns overview
Identify necessary fieldwork and research teams (changes - what, when, why occurred)

  • Biological/habitat patterns (mapping, watersheds, geology, soils, hydrology, flora, etc.)
  • Landscape structural patterns (built environment/infrastructure patterns)
  • Social and cultural/historical patterns
  • Client essence

11:00 Organize small group field work and online research
12:00 Lunch
1:00 Small group field work continued - outer boundaries driving tour
4:30 Break and Dinner
7:00 Reflections and documentation of discoveries

7:00 Exercises and Breakfast
9:00 Reflection and Essence patterns discussion
Identification of additional fieldwork
10:00 Small group field work continued
12:00 Lunch
1:00 Small group field work continued
4:00 Documentation of discoveries
5:30 Break and Dinner
7:00 Integrative Design

7:00 Exercises and Breakfast
9:00 Reflections and assimilation of patterns being observed
Essence patterns (relationships) and site energies (flows) discussion - large and small scale (site and valley)
12:00 Lunch
1:00 Team design sketches and documentation (including narrative)
4:30 Break and Dinner
7:00 First iteration design review
Reflections and documentation of discoveries

7:00 Exercises and Breakfast
9:00 Team design sketches and documentation
12:00 Lunch
1:00 Design Presentations
4:30 Wrap Up and conclusions

Required Reading

Reading the Forested Landscape. Tom Wessels (is a book you will want to bring to class with you - either read beforehand or consult in the evenings as we study)

Being Nature's Mind, Indigenous Ways of Knowing. Zimmerman

Regenerative Design, Sustainable Design's Coming Revolution. Pamela Mang, Design Intelligence, 2002

Living Systems, the Internet and Human Future. Speech by Elisabet Sahtouris

Living Systems Design. Bill Reed

Gift of Good Land (Chapter 9, Solving for Pattern). Wendell Berry

Entering this land, a history of Knoll Farm. This can be ordered online from Center for Whole Communities' website.

Designing from Place. Pamela Mang and Bill Reed.  Click here.

Suggested Reading

The Integrative Design Guide to Green Building. 7group and Reed

The Living Universe. Duane Elgin

Science and the Akashic Field: An Integral Theory of Everything. Ervin Laszlo

My Stroke of Insight. Jill Bolte Taylor

Patterning as Process. Marvick and Murphy

Regenerative Design (Chapters 1 and 2). Lyle

Tending the Wild. M. Kat Anderson

The Web of Life. Capra

Ecological Design. van der Ryn, and Cowan

The Education of Little Tree. Forrest Carter OR Grandfather. Tom Brown

Fox Haven Report. Regenesis

Gardening in Eden. Nabhan and Anderson

Start Date: June 29, 2014
Duration: 5 Days
Tuition: $875