Regen Sydney has a big vision for regeneration on a citywide scale, tied into a fast-growing global movement. It’s about nothing less than rewilding and rewiring everything that makes us who we are and how we view the world.
Guided by the simple question, “What does good look like for Sydney?", we are building a coalition to examine what initiatives and meaningful measures of progress are already in place for our city, and to uncover what else might be needed to shift our city's course towards a future that's inspiring for us all. A future in which everyone and everything has a role to play.
Regen Sydney is an emerging network, a coalition of 180+ organisations & individuals (a network of ~600 people) committed to enacting a regenerative future for Greater Sydney.
We are connecting across silos and sectors to reimagine a new economic narrative for our city, together and our goal is to get Sydney inside the Doughnut within a generation.
Regen Sydney is using the Doughnut model to engage institutions, organisations and individuals to explore the economic narrative in a post-COVID Sydney. This is such an exciting challenge for Sydney: how we can weave Doughnut Economics in, as only we can, to the story of this place, and what it means, and how that works up and through us.
The Doughnut is the most holistic (and fun!) regenerative economic model we’ve found so far, but we hold it lightly, we use it playfully and it gives us something to gather around as we explore and surface our story here, our place, and patterns in the land.
Any individual or organisation is welcome to join Regen Sydney if they are inspired by Doughnut Economics, want to explore together how we can put it into practice, and work together on our mission.
We started in lock-down, in the middle of the gnarliest, darkest time experienced by modern day Sydney, when the flaws created by our current economic system were more visible than ever, demonstrated by the catastrophic bushfire season of 2019/20 and the huge social impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
As we started, we were gifted the question from Darkinjung Elder, Uncle Phil Bligh - ‘how do we live in this land with joy?’ (the question came via our community member David Beaumont).
That moment in early 2021, more than ever, felt like a time we needed to come together as a city to find that joy. And we believe it’s a beautiful question to coalesce around when we think about regeneration, and the patience and generosity that it takes to both find and stoke the joy as we go.
Our first action was to explore the appropriateness of Doughnut Economics as a holistic framework of progress for our city, while simultaneously seeking to surface the profound connection and wisdom of our First Nations people.
We want to honour that this country was regenerative in a very profound and deep way for many thousands of years before colonisation. So, rather than seeing Regen Sydney as being something ‘new’, instead, we’re looking to ‘graft on’ to - and learn from - ways of doing and being that existed prior to colonisation. In that way, we choose to come together through relationships, first and foremost: relationships with land, community and ourselves.
From February 2021, we invested time in building relationships, and building the network before leaping into action. On 18th August 2021, we held our public launch, ‘Regen Sydney: The First Bite’, which brought together over 100 people from all areas from public policy, decision making, regenerative design, indigenous custodians, students and members of the community. Held virtually, the event provided a welcome dose of optimism and community action in the middle of city-wide lockdown.
Our focus then moved to how to harness that enthusiasm to roll the Doughnut forward.
For the rest of 2021, we worked on making visible much of the regenerative work that was already underway in Sydney. The aim being that these people, groups and organisations already working for a regenerative Sydney can connect and we can collectively amplify their stories. Doughnut Economics offers us the opportunity to make links and connections, both in our city and across the continent, between people who are working for a regenerative future for these many lands we call Australia.
In April 2022, we published our first report - Growing the movement
We defined the three pillars of our vision:
And we created our goal: to reveal and communicate opportunities for deep economic transformations in Greater Sydney and beyond, by:
These foundational elements were really helpful in giving people in our emerging network a guide to coalesce around. Something we could say, ‘Oh hey, get involved!’. As we did so, we realised too that people in the network played different roles, depending on their level of engagement and interest. So, to help us understand how and where different people wanted to be involved with Regen Sydney, we asked how they saw their role in Regen Sydney going forward.
Most recently, in late 2022, we held a series of community workshops to co-create a collective vision for what a regenerative Sydney might look and feel like.
We also held a series of professional stakeholder roundtables (across Social Equity & Wellbeing, Public Policy & Law, Shaping the Environment and Finance & Economics), which uncovered rich insights into what blocks and enables 'the system' from making a regenerative Sydney happen.
We’ll be sharing the learnings from both of these soon…
Right now, we’re now in the final stages of preparing to launch our findings, which include a distinctly ‘Sydney’ version of the Doughnut, as well as our updated strategy a Sydney Doughnut, which includes strategic demonstrations (at the cross-city level) and neighbourhood doughnuts (at the local level).
Our intention for the next phase is to branch out further into community spaces where Sydney-siders may not, as yet, have heard of The Doughnut (e.g. in the ways CIVIC SQUARE has done in Birmingham, UK). We plan to set about catalysing neighbourhood doughnuts (following CIVIC SQUARE’s excellent example), and setting up strategic demonstrator projects (funding willing).
Our approach to sustaining the community over the next phase will be to hold in-person events linked to the creation of the City/Data Portrait, as well as regular 'Regen Cafes' virtually. We have lots of ideas but obviously need the resources to bring them to life, so are focussing all our collective energies in that direction at the moment!
Our number one priority from here is attracting funding for the core team / backbone function asap to keep going.
Imagine if… every council in Sydney had their own data-informed version of the Doughnut (co-evolved with their electorate) that fed into a Greater Sydney dashboard. And that dashboard enabled citizens across the city to see where the city is falling short on their collective aspirations (e.g. for healthy waterways) and where we might need to channel more energy and resources into turning things around (eg creating swimmable rivers initiatives, channelling funds towards waterways, phasing out pollutants etc).
Does that sound too far-fetched? Actually, Amsterdam is just one of the cities across the world working on exactly that.
Going further, imagine if, by doing this, we were also able to heal and restore our relationships with each other, and the places we live. What if the journey to regeneration was actually a journey back to ourselves, back to Country? Back to seeing ourselves as Country.
The potential of what Regen Sydney can achieve by working as a collective - weaving together regenerative design & development projects, initiatives and ideas already underway across our city - is not only profound, it’s wildly exciting.
Dream out loud with us at regen.sydney
And visit our DEAL platform page here.
Get inspired, connect with others and become part of the movement. No matter how big or small your contribution is, you’re welcome to join!