Caroline Robinson: Regenerative Development - the Art, Science & Beauty of Co-evolving Place & People

Interviewed by

Tim Lynch

Caroline Robinson: Regenerative Development - the Art, Science & Beauty of Co-evolving Place & People

Caroline Robinson is the founder of Cabal, a creative studio exploring and advancing new pathways for regenerative development. Results of Cabal’s public art collaborations can be seen across Auckland City and beyond.

 

The whole living systems practice behind these artworks, informs Cabal’s wider role as an integration facilitator, contributing to complex city-making projects by supporting project teams to grow the capability to work in full reciprocity within their unique community and place.

I first met Caroline at Dave Breuer’s - Anew NZ ‘group mind gathering’ - at AUT - Auckland University of Technology. There she had a huge blank art board at this visionary function that let her visually translate the stories that speakers covered, to that very engaged audience. This enabled people to see how intellectual concepts and mental information can be elegantly transcribed into a visual form that was holistic in intent and that lead us to explore as participants, how we the people can become involved and renew our whole country.

Based on Measures of Genuine Progress (and “genuine economic success”), as a challenge to the misuse of GDP, via the measurements of social, cultural, economic, environmental and governance wellbeing - with the public shared visions determining the goals of wellbeing. (See at the bottom of this posting.)

Measuring Human Joy and Contentment

Dr Ron Coleman from Canada was at this function to explain and Dr Marilyn Waring http://www.marilynwaring.com/ as an Ex National Party Member of Parliament (who went/rebelled against the National Prime Minister Robert Muldoon, many years previously) introduced Ron as she had been doing work on the ’true’ cost of living index and how do we measure success - particularly our decision making process at a governmental level. Known as the ‘genuine progress indicators' - meaning not just managing the gross national product and financial benefits from across the country - but also understanding what makes us flourish - what brings joy and happiness and peace as well as bringing balance in a holistic way.

Today, Caroline as an extraordinary creative artist - is still very much aligned with the notion of ‘genuine progress indicators’ she remains very interested and curious about what are the conditions that we need for life to flourish within our homes, within our communities, our nation and our planet.

Community & Connection

Asking the question? - How do we create a flourishing for all of life - including ourselves?

Food being a conductor of getting together to eat and share … gatherings around eating and sharing - being a universal common ground - and in the world of today that needs to be more unified - Caroline's focus is - how do we bring this all together?

So what is it we need to improve? Like how do we re relate to each other - connect the fragmentation and those who have been isolated from each other? How do we best do this? So that we are working all together as a more dynamic whole?

Because the processes of regeneration of rebirthing of healing is becoming paramount as there's a lot that is out of balance and in crises - there is much that needs to be addressed.

So what is the journey we need to take to come back into wholeness and that everybody has a role to play in this.

And with the experience and the practices that she brings to the conversation.

The Land and Sacred Place

Caroline is very aware of place and the historical implications of how did that particular area come into being - the terrain, the living matter, the water sources and courses - the Maori tribes or iwi that were present prior to the coming of the white man - the sacredness of life over a very broad context .

That there are many areas of land in Auckland that housing and buildings sit on - yet underneath these houses are a hidden creeks where a spring once was. That in today’s urbanised sprawl a little rivulet - or tiny creek, can be a wonderful play area for young children - where the water is clear, healthy and cool. Kids can see their reflection, see the stones or marine flora around it, maybe cockabullies or kura - freshwater crayfish - yet today’s developers will most probably put pipes in this area and pipe all the water away underground and thus the stereotyped boring industrial housing complex - hypnotises us into a thousand high priced houses looking basically the same, on a treeless landscape - scraped of nature - is the NZ culture of homogenous sameness?

Auckland Connection -Tamaki Makaurau

Coming from a Taranaki farm near Stratford in the rural landscape, that had many different animals - gave her a deeper sense of nature and its richness. That when she arrived in high density housing Auckland gave her cause for reflection.

Tamaki Makaurau - Auckland, gave her another understanding of place - of the Maori, the mauri (essence) and going deeper and feeling the grief of the landscape and ecology of what has been lost - in the vast forest of what was once Auckland and the covering up of water courses or arterial waterways by burying them and piping that water to the sea as per the Horotiu stream for example that used to run down the centre of Queen Street in Auckland.

That there are springs or puna that are even very close to the PlanetFM radio station that emanates pristine water that bubbles up out of the volcanic rocks and lava - very pure water - and there are around 51 volcanoes that comprise the whole city of Auckland. With numerous cones that we can climb, dotted around the city.

Public Domain and Community Involvement

Caroline has a feeling for public domain and community projects

She has been involved in the Panmure and Glen Innes suburbs of Auckland for the master plan for the town centre - bringing story of people and place, including geological and ecological activity so as to define and development projects.

In this process - getting to know each other as humans is so very critical. if we are to develop trust - mana - wairua and mauri - all are integral to deeper connection.

Living Earth Papatuanuku

The mentions Te Urewera in Tuhoe country - as a park with human rights - that for the Tuhoe people and the NZ Government acknowledge at some level that ‘the land is a living being.’ Papatuanuku - Mother Earth.

Caroline is focused on find a space for people to work out the complexities of the challenges that are facing us - and allow them a way to work themselves out.

Regeneration

In this regenerative practice it covers working out complexity - that there is a harmonising energy within nature that has the ability to work things out. Caroline says it is in many ways ‘beyond consensus’ - and in ‘trusting the wisdom of life.'

It knows how to work complexity out - all we need is the space to take the time to connect - and communicate - share the breath and weave family - and though this sounds philosophical there is a very pragmatic quality to it - see her sculptures along the motorway in Grafton gully in Auckland - where the artwork has an intention to speak to the resonance of that place and its history and respond to that.

She says that the art does not need to be a sculpture - that it can be a building as in the Living Whare in Taneatua - In Tuhoe country - it could be a roading project - even a skyscraper - (Listen)

That everything we do - needs to become an art form.

That the universe is a work of art - that our planet and all its biota and landscapes are an art form - thus the importance for us as humans is to create our homes on our home planet into art forms that embed beauty and geometry as a reflection of the magnificence of creation and of what we can evolve.

Something that Caroline says meets all of our needs at once … be it every building built - every community developed can be part of a regeneration into a greater whole. Economic - social, cultural - spiritual and our human developmental journey they can all coalesce together - it is possible.

That the universe is a work of art - and our planet and nature is one too

The Living Future Institute

The Living Building Challenge - has a ‘check out test’ where if you are an architect and/or builder you have to use only materials that are ecologically sustainable and non polluting?

They have a red list of 25 chemicals, that cannot be in any building materials.

Firth Concrete in NZ now have a product that is biologically safe and comes up with a big tick.

You can now check your home building products - https://living-future.org/declare/declare-about

‘A Declare Label’ Answers Three Questions:

  1. Where does a product come from?
  2. What is it made of?
  3. Where does it go at the end of its life?

The Regenerative Economy is becoming a renewed mantra for today and tomorrow.

https://medium.com/@designforsustainability/towards-a-regenerative-economy-bf1c2ed6f792

Regenerative Building - One being finalised in the Wynyard Quarter here on Auckland Waterfront Educational Centre for Sustainable Coastlines.

Biophilia - living in accord with your home that is embedded in nature and all of life.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biophilia_hypothesis

This interview covers Homelessness too

The amount of homeless in this country is a crisis here in NZ. That there are ways forward on this important issue for people to have a home and be safe and secure Not only warm and dry homes but homes that become temples of belonging - places where we can really belong and be and developed ourselves … We can do many things, we can build good homes, we know how to live on and with the land - grow gardens and quality food - let’s have a conversation about the larger NZ - where we all live. So that we are really regenerating life. (Listen)

Omaru stream Glen Innes Auckland - One of the few remaining streams that have not been piped and buried.

“Ko au te awa, ko te awa ko au."

The whakatauki above, translated into English, says

‘I am the river and the river is me'.

Call to Action

Caroline says: “climate change is a deadline for humanity …”

http://www.cabal.co.nz

Introduction to Regenerative Development (5 short videos)

https://vimeo.com/album/4650028

As per in the introduction of Dr Ron Coleman - Genuine Progress Indicators.

 


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Tim Lynch

Tim Lynch

Tim Lynch, is a New Zealander, who is fortunate in that he has whakapapa, or a bloodline that connects him to the Aotearoan Maori. He has been involved as an activist for over 40 years - within the ecological, educational, holistic, metaphysical, spiritual & nuclear free movements. He sees the urgency of the full spectrum challenges that are coming to meet us, and is putting his whole life into being an advocate for todays and tomorrows children. 'To Mobilise Consciousness.'

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