RDA 11. Human ecosystems

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Pattern pages are used for working with RKC patterns. Patterns can be added by referencing them from the Pattern tab of Person, Social-Entity, Community of Place, or Community of Practice pages.

The Main section contains:

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Pattern page for RDA 11. Human ecosystems pattern
On the surface, there's nothing objectionable about SDG 11.

SDG Shortcomings

Similar to other SDGs, which propose something entirely impossible given existing physical infrastructure, societal structures and dominant paradigms, SDG 11 is safe enough to list as a goal. Its shortcomings, lie with its language of resilient and sustainable. Here it is important to note: all beings and biotic communities are naturally resilient, assuming they are embedded within healthy ecosystems. To expect resilient Human settlements that do not nest gracefully within larger ecosystems is absurd. Similarly, living systems do not sustain indefinitely, they regenerate constantly. Sustainability is neither possible, nor desirable and not in the least bit aspirational. Both these terms fail to envision a Humanity beyond mere survival.


Over the last several centuries, there has been a well documented trend of centralization and concentration of Human settlements in vastly over-crowded, viciously-sprawling and over-built and poorly-designed urban and suburban areas. This has gone hand-in-hand with an abandonment of rural areas, an overwhelming intensification of destructive and extractive Human activities; including ,the associated, mostly unnecessary movement of people and materials all over the globe that Human activity implies.

Humans suffer from a pathology of separation-- a centuries long process of divorcing ourselves from our wild ecosystems, physically, emotionally, psychologically, economically, organizationally. Most present-day Human societies operate in ways that actively perpetuate this Pathology. Many Human settlements are structured to enforce that separation.

The capacity to truly inhabit--that is live in a way that we can care for and regenerate our places--is being rapidly lost. The physical, emotional, mental distance and discontinuities are immense.

Resilience is used mostly as a code word signifying that we should "just live with..." or "adapt to..." an increasingly untenable ecosocial reality. Similarly, sustainability implies that one should focus on survival, on getting by as conditions worsen.

Living systems

Biotic communities and their wild ecosystems are widely-distributed almost everywhere on Earth. Over time, the species that evolve, have mastered the capacity to fit into and thrive as a species in all sorts of conditions terrestrial, aquatic, volcanic, etc.; and, across every type of biome. Biotic communities self-regulate continuously, so that they rarely, if ever, overrun the ecosystems they inhabit. They live within a scale of relationship that brings viability and vitality at every level. These communities cannot be isolated or separated from the ecosystems in which they participate and still remain viable. They are place-centric, almost everything they require is place-sourced and, via the act of living day-to-day (see radical participation), they continual regenerate their larger wholes.

Human ecosystems

As with all RDAs, Human ecosystems invites and challenges us to embrace a regenerative paradigm and living systems thinking that goes with it. The idea of Human settlements structurally isolated from the wild ecosystems that endow us with Life and regenerative capacity, is no longer desirable, nor viable. Nora Bateson often asks the question: "What wants to continue?" Here we can read this questions in two distinct, but very related, ways: What wants to continue into the future and what wants to be continuous?

Human settlements must be reimagined and reconstituted Human ecosystems, that flow out from and embed into wild ecosystems seamlessly. This includes not only the built environment but all of the processes and activities generated from within. This is best approached via encouraging and supporting the blossoming of human-scale communities, especially in the largest and densest metropolises. Economies must be reimagined as local living economies--self-organizing layers of relation and governance--that mediate the interstices and interactions between Human ecosystems and wild ecosystems.

Pattern generators

This aim could be generative of the following patterns in any Community of Place of any scale.

  • reconfiguration and redesign of Human settlements everywhere, so they become authentic Human ecosystems, whose capacity to integrate and blend with wild ecosystems is reflected degrees of aliveness they produce at every scale (from organism to planet)
  • universal access to adequate, safe and free naturally-constructed housing arranged in human-scale "villages" (whether urban, periurban, suburban or rural) each with the capacity to surpass basic needs of each individual (RDAs 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 ) [11.1]
  • redesigning of mobility systems with an emphasis on public and alternative modes of transport with special attention to those in vulnerable situations, and to support a move toward revitalizing of rural areas [11.2]
  • prioritization and enabling of a movement to re-inhabit rural villages, including a focused effort on reviving land-based, place-sourced right livelihoods and emphasizing trade autochthonous products within and between nearby Communities of Place [11.3a]
  • redesign of cities into agglomerations of small villages, repurposing the stock of existing structures and paying attention to proper human scale design [11.3b,6]
  • encouragement of radical participation of all in community through ecosocial activism, by working together on projects and celebrating together [11.3c]
  • enabling of sharing [11.3d]:
  • actively repurposing of all buildings that fall out of use, rather than build new ones [11.3e]
  • protect and safeguard, and create opportunities in each Community of Place, to enhance and add value to, the world’s cultural and living commons [11.4a; 11.4b]
  • addressing communities in living in the most vulnerable areas or conditions, via propagate regenerative Human ecosystems [11.5]:
    • via increased capacity of a community for inhabitation and regeneration of land and commons; or,
    • resettlement of vulnerable communities to existing or new Human ecosystems, where ecologically and socially viable systems are set in place
  • provision of universal access to safe, accessible, inclusive, open, productive landscapes for all (see RDA 12), beginning with the most vulnerable and prioritizing high-density environments [11.7a]
  • prioritization of food and materials harvested and/or produced via regenerative agriculture and agroforestry in or in proximity to urban areas [11.7b]
  • enabling of the emergence of genuine wealth and right livelihoods, regenerative enterprise and local living economies connected to place-sourced primary production with the necessary, supporting living infrastructure [11.7b]
  • proliferation of local living economies, in and amongst Communities of Place, where food and material abundance are produced, flow freely and provide the basic conditions for complex constellations of relations based on regenerative commoning to grow organically [11.a]
  • substantially increase the number of regenerative Human ecosystems within lifesheds by transforming cities, re-inhabiting surrounding rural areas, and regenerating the places in between [11.b]
  • assist most challenged and vulnerable Communities of Place to repair degraded ecosystems and integrate regenerative development at their own pace, in a self-directed manner [11.c]

Note: SDG target linkages in brackets

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