ReGen Villages show us what the future of living in regenerative and resilient communities can look like. The founder of the Stanford University spin-off company behind the innovation, which is harnessing frontier technologies to transform the future of living, is James Ehrlich, my guest today on Inside Ideas.
Designed to provide organic food, clean water, renewable energy and circular nutritional flows at the neighbourhood level, ReGen Villages can be replicated on a global scale to build safe and secure communities that are aligned with all 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals. With its patented VillageOS™ operating system software it will use artificial intelligence and machine learning to define, design and autonomously manage regenerative neighbourhoods that promote healthy long-term outcomes for residents and wider communities.
I have a different idea of how I want to live and what I want to do to help provide for my family.James Ehrlich
By allowing people to reimagine what is possible, these villages can help catalyse a paradigm shifting moment in the search for truly sustainable living.
“We have to rethink everything, in terms of what is work versus self-worth; what is economy versus gross domestic happiness,” Ehrlich said. “There are lots of different ways to re-examine this renaissance, and I really want to look at it that way. It’s a renaissance, and this is what I feel that Covid has opened up for us: to really think differently about who we are, and what we’re doing, and where we spend our energy. And we’re seeing this more and more in the news, about people who are saying ‘I’m not going back to that job that I had before. I have a different idea of how I want to live and what I want to do to help provide for my family’.”
Ehrlich insists people inspired by ideas of living differently should not be held back by thoughts that work is a barrier to change, because this is about shifting paradigms standing in the way of societal progress.
“The question then arises: why do we go to work? What are the reasons that we need to have gainful employment? It has to do with the 30-35% that goes to your living expense, your housing, and another X percentage that goes to daily nutritional needs, to energy costs, water, access to communications – whether it’s cellphone, phone, media or whatever it may be.” Ehrlich said. “But if we can answer that living within a ReGen Villages neighbourhood community infrastructure will provide 85-90% of what people’s daily basic needs are, then that delta for income, or universal basic income, can be dramatically reduced and that’s something that starts to get really interesting and exciting, especially when you look at how we can reduce burdens on governments, on healthcare systems, on brokering peaceful happy places.”
ReGen Villages capable of making this type of impact offer policy makers a game changing solution that can help support the ambitions of the post-COVID green transition.
“Our primary focus is on local, regional regenerative resilience, because reliance on globalised infrastructure is not the smartest way forward. We really have to have the skills, the capabilities, the functionality from doorstep access to hydrate ourselves, feed ourselves, empower ourselves, digest our own waste, and create the circumstances for us to be better global citizens and think big thoughts.”
An Entrepreneur in Residence at the Stanford University School of Medicine Flourishing Project, Faculty at Singularity University, Senior Fellow at NASA Ames Research Center and former (Obama) White House Appointee for Regenerative Infrastructure, Ehrlich is now collaborating with established industrial partners, universities, governments and sovereign wealth and pension funds to progress the ReGen Villages vision to redefine the future of living.
COVID has been a huge shock but what comes next is being reimagined by the likes of James Ehrlich, and I am delighted to welcome him on the show to discover more about these regenerative communities and the frontier technologies that will power them.