The 7-Generation glocal work (local: Greater Tkaronto Bioregion to global: Bioregional Earth) is at the heart of what the Legacy Project does. Simply put, it's about people (generations) in place (bioregion). It's complex…
Where do you think it's best to plant a young tree: an open field or near old-growth forest?
This is both an ecological question and a social metaphor. In a time of change and uncertainty, the 7-Generation work in the GTB is about relationships – like between the tree and the forest, the individual and the community, the plot of land and the bioregion, the arteries in your body and the waterways on the planet, a lifetime and the seven generations before and after. This is systems transformation.
7-Generation GTB (Greater Tkaronto Bioregion) is about social regeneration (generations in community) and ecological regeneration (community in bioregion). It interconnects across seven broad themes: environment and climate change, economy, community, health, education and lifelong learning, life course and aging, Indigenous worldviews and knowledge.
We're working toward ecopsychosocial wellbeing – ecological (and by extension economic) integrity, personal wholeness, social coherence – in the context of lifetimes across generations.
7-Generation GTB is part of the first cohort of the Bioregional Earth (BE) network being created by Joe Brewer, author of The Design Pathway for Regenerating Earth. The GTB can both lead and learn from other bioregions around the world.
This work ripples out through Circles of Activity. In practical terms, we're interconnecting people, projects, and places to each other for shared purpose; facilitating collective learning; weaving collaborations for systemic impact; and embodying parallel structures and processes that build community resilience in the face of increasing risks.
This is the difficult yet vital systems complexity work of our time.
The blunt fact is that we're in a polycrisis – converging climate, environmental, economic, political, technological, social, health crises. We can't stay in an isolated room at a white board using a simplistic, straight-line problem/solution mindset and ignore the messy, complex reality just outside the door. From the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (2019): "We require transformative change – a fundamental, system-wide reorganization across technological, economic and social factors, including paradigms, goals, and values."
Says Thomas Homer-Dixon in Commanding Hope: The Power We Have to Renew a World in Peril: "Anyone who grasps the severity of humanity's predicament and tries to figure out how we might respond with something like a new organization, technology, or social movement to make things better – not just for ourselves narrowly, but for all of humanity – confronts an unforgiving conundrum, which I've come to call the enough vs. feasible dilemma. On one hand, changes that would be enough to make a real difference – that would genuinely reduce the danger humanity faces if they were implemented – don't appear to be feasible, in the sense that our societies aren't likely to implement them, because of existing political, economic, social, or technological roadblocks. On the other hand, changes that do currently appear feasible won't be enough."
To face enough vs. feasible head on – in a way that meets the polycrisis at a reasonable scale, puts life at the center of every action and decision, and gives people a chance to navigate through – we need social collaboration, especially across generations, in bioregions scale-linked into planetary processes. In other words, we need to hold each other's hand and start where we are – in our place.
The photo at the top of this page is of a White Pine tree, over
Ecologists have found a young tree grows better when it's planted in an area with older trees. The reason, it seems, is that the roots of the young tree are able to follow the pathways created by former trees and implant themselves more deeply. Over time, the roots of many trees may actually graft themselves to one another, creating an intricate, interdependent foundation hidden under the ground. It's through this powerful dynamic between younger and older trees that an entire ecosystem is transformed. Trees communicate with one another, stronger trees share resources with weaker ones, and the whole forest becomes healthier.
Looking at humans, anthropologist Margaret Mead asserted that "connections between generations are essential for the mental health and stability of nations." In some Indigenous cultures there's an understanding that, if you want to get something done, you bring together a "fired-up youth with a feisty granny." Young and old together can become a formidable force. This is a vital human connection for healthy psychosocial development and ecocultural wisdom.
Intergenerational connections are the seed from which the
The 7-Generation work draws on an Indigenous concept of holistic, long-term thinking across seven generations while at the same time reflects the modern context of a historic demographic shift to more living generations. For the first time ever, you are likely to personally know seven generations in your family and/or community: your own generation; three before you (parents, grandparents, great-grandparents); and three after you (children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren). There is comfort, insight, and power in this ability to connect more generations than ever before.
Susan V. Bosak is a researcher, educator, and Founder of the Legacy Project. Her 7-Generation research and strategy work is the foundation of 7-Generation GTB. Take a look at her TEDx Talk on Building a
The 7-Generation work takes root in a place – specifically, your "bioregion."
Bioregions are holistic landscapes broadly defined by geography, ecology, and culture (including Indigenous history). Drawing on earth systems science, a bioregion is the smallest actionable scale reflecting bigger planetary processes. Understanding how what you do on your plot of land, wherever you find yourself, connects into the bioregion and ultimately into the planet gives everything more meaningful long-term impact.
A fractally scale-linked network of activated bioregions of at least 500,000 ha reaching a critical mass of 1,000 landscapes, could, cumulatively, help regenerate the entire Earth. The bioregion is the difference that can make a difference, as discussed in detail by Joe Brewer in The Design Pathway for Regenerating Earth.
We're working in the Greater Tkaronto Bioregion (GTB). We draw on the seminal 1992 Regeneration report by The Honourable David Crombie, former Toronto mayor and federal cabinet minister. From the report, the GTB is generally "bounded by the Niagara Escarpment on the west, the Oak Ridges Moraine to the north (along with Lake Simcoe) and east, and Lake Ontario to the south."
So, 7-Generation GTB is very much about systems complexity across contexts, levels, and silos. It looks at people and place while asking a big question: What's y/our legacy at this pivotal moment in human history? Social and ecological regeneration is legacy action. It's where we find our power. It's how we can #ChangeTheStory of how we live with each other on this blue dot called Earth.