November 7, 2022

Not about me; all about “we”

Regens Unite, a DisCOnaut reports from the front line of regenerative action.

Regens Unite events are an invitation, a call to spend days and nights devoted to bringing communities and individuals together to share and learn from one another. Regens Unite is also a party and, of course, we DisCOnauts love a good party. 

We unite around the idea of regeneration, bringing a will to share our work in this space, and to find inspiration in seeing so many different ways of being regenerative, of being #Regen.

Regens Unite Brussels, May 19-20 2022, @The Citizen Corner

I’ve attended the first two Regen Unite events held in Brussels in May and in Berlin in September (2022) representing the DisCOCrew. I must admit that I did not expect to be so blown away. 

I believe in serendipity, and the Regens movement manages to embed serendipity in the structure and organisation of its events. At the heart, its purpose is to connect. Vulnerability is central to the whole exercise. I was shocked, thrilled, but also scared to death in Brussels when we – around 65 people – were asked to engage in games that, little by little, revealed ourselves as humans, activists, thinkers. Little by little we peeled away our fears, allowed ourselves to be vulnerable and make real connections with people we may never have otherwise met.

Regens Unite Berlin, September 16-17 @Moos Space

The whole punk, DIY approach to the event was another aspect that made me feel at home (coming from a punk, DIY initiative). I sensed that the others felt it was “their event” too, and felt at home from minute one. When one of the organisers tied the green handmade REGENS UNITE band around my wrist, it felt almost like I was taking a vow to help others, to open up, to take responsibility for being there. It was an act of care, performed individually and with immediate effect. I took that invisible vow seriously, and made it my mission to go the extra mile and make every single person I met feel that sense of belonging.

The Berlin event (the core team is amazing) kept up the same spirit of uniting through belonging, though it was both different and similar to the one in Brussels. It was in a larger, different space, with different dynamics and different content, all under the banner of regeneration. Held just 3 months after the Brussels event, it felt like the number and diversity of initiatives had grown exponentially in that short time. Conversations were meaningful, full of care; not necessarily about each other’s project or initiative but more about each other’s values, interests and motivations. 

From left to right: Irene Lopez de Vallejo, and Ela Kagel, Supermarkt Berlin & Platform Cooperatives Germany.

I personally loved the emphasis and presence of discussions around governance, Web3, cooperatives, community finance, tools and infrastructures, existing regenerative practices, care and self-care practices in communities, commons, regenerative finance, DAOs, and many more topics. Key thoughts and feelings include: conscious, caring, cultural, creatives, and the way all of these topics converge towards the main purpose of the movement, to bring visibility and support to regenerative practices and initiatives to make systems change, collectively, united.

One of the many amazing workshops taking place in Berlin.

Regens Unite has made quite visible through these events that many people around the world are organising in collectives, taking responsibility to solve problems encountered in their daily lives. Whether operating at a local level or at a global level, using cutting edge technology or conversations (like we propose), all those people have something in common and have responded to the siren song of Regens Unite. I believe that’s because each of us understands that we need to weave all these ways of being “regen”.

Workshop on governance, introducing the DisCO principles to the communities present.

But again, this is not about me, it’s about “we”, and how we must share the same concerns about our current context which some call the “polycrisis”, where the whole set of problems is far more dangerous than the sum of its parts. I also believe we possess tools to challenge this polycrisis. The key is to focus our will, and cultivate our many collective, cooperative and collaborative organisations. Interconnected risks require interconnected solutions. If a ‘crisis’ is an unstable, dangerous turning point, let us aim towards restoration, reparation and regeneration, together.

The famous Regens Unite bracelets.

I am Regen, we are Regen. Unite!

Irene Lopez de Vallejo, PhD, is a member of the founding team of DisCO. DisCO stands for “Distributed Cooperative Organizations“. Our mission is to bring the cooperative model into the 21st century, address the rise of ‘trustless’/dehumanising technologies, and consider technological (specifically blockchain) sufficiency. DisCO emboldens people towards creating economic counterpower in achievable ways through trusted groups that can compound into large-scale systemic change.