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Project Case Studies

What is a Regenerative Community?


People move around their community with mass transit, walking, biking, and car-sharing. The jobs, services, and goods they need are located within the transportation system. No sitting in traffic in an idling car. Children can get to school easily. People live in housing they can afford. Enjoying shared spaces -- gardens, interactive art displays, and public places for gatherings large and small. Food produced locally. Nature experienced nearby. Water used efficiently and wisely. Energy produced locally from renewable resources including solar, wind, and biomass. People feel safe, connected, and have a sense of belonging.


Is a regenerative community just imaginary or actually achievable?

It can be. Here’s why. When people from all walks of life are encouraged to share their ideas and participate in creating the community they want, they move beyond being consumers to having a stake in rethinking and improving their quality of life. By assigning equal value to the social, economic, and environmental qualities of  their home, they develop a shared vision of community meeting their unique needs and desires. 


The community, like anything in nature, evolves. Because residents actively guide their future, their personal investment in the community makes it easier to adapt to both problems and opportunities as they arise. As a result, supporting the continued health and economic viability of their community becomes a heartfelt mission.


These projects come from Regenerative Development and Design: A Framework for Evolving Sustainability by Pamela Mang, Ben Haggard, and Regenesis Group

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Albuquerque’s International District

Albuquerque’s east mesa forms a high alluvial plain that overlooks the city’s historic downtown, located along the Rio Grande. The mesa’s dry grasslands were used mostly for grazing during the city’s first 200 years. Near the turn of the twentieth century, homesteaders ventured into the area, followed by settlers in the years following World War II.


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Curitiba, a provincial capital of approximately 2.5 million people, is located in
southeastern Brazil. It has no exceptional landmarks, no beaches or vistas, and it rains a lot. In the last century, large numbers of migrants began arriving from the surrounding countryside, slums and shanty towns sprang up around the city’s edges, and resources dwindled. Yet, rather than succumb to poverty, unemployment, inequity, and pollution, Curitiba’s citizens have
brought about continuous improvement in their quality of life.


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Las Vegas

The award-winning Springs Preserve in Las Vegas, Nevada, is an example of what can result when a design focus shifts from preserving to partnering. The preserve is a unique natural area located in the historic heart of Las Vegas, Nevada. It includes a Desert Living Center and Sustainability Gallery, the Nevada State Museum, Origen Museum, the University of Las Vegas DesertSol Solar House, a butterfly habitat, botanical and conservation gardens, a recre- ated spring pool, and extensive trails.


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Juluchuca, Guerrero, Mexico

The Playa Viva sustainable resort and residential community is located on 200 acres adjacent to the village of Juluchuca, not far south of Zihuatanejo on the western coast of Mexico. The site includes pristine beaches, a private nature preserve, a turtle sanctuary, ancient ruins, and a natural estuary that is home to more than 200 bird species. When the project began, Juluchuca was dying.


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Quivara Coalition, New Mexico

A New Mexico-based nonprofit, Quivira holds a vision of harmony among humans and natural systems. It was founded at the time of the grazing “wars” of the 1990s, when ranchers and environmentalists were locked in an esca- lating conflict over the future of the west’s public lands. Quivira brought together ranchers, conservationists, public land stewards, and scientists in a neutral place to work on this critical issue. Together they discovered a “radical center,” where values aligned and differences could be reconciled.


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Quesada Gardens Initiative, San Francisco

The Quesada Gardens Initiative was launched in San Francisco in 2002, when one person took the simple step of planting flowers along a driveway. At the time, Quesada Avenue was ground zero for drug dealers and gang warfare in Bayview-Hunters Point on the southern industrial edge of the city. The neighborhood had long been plagued by poverty, pollution, and violent crime. In a place that hope seemed to have abandoned, one person’s quiet act inspired a regenerative neighborhood initiative.


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