Liminal Webs Need Ancestors


THE “WERNER HERZOG OF REGEN ACTIVISM" is a name that no one ever calls the radical Austrian agricultural philosopher Sepp Holzer.  Instead, they call him the Agro Rebel.  Sometimes the Dalai Lama of Permaculture

And he is still alive.

Did we know that?  Do we even know who he is?  Are we putting any significant effort into collecting and maintaining continuity with our predecessors and their projects?

Regen(erative) approaches are an essential pillar in our developmental, transformational & liminal communities.  Here's Joe Brewer discussing it on Morag Gamble's Sensemaking in a Changing World podcast. Here's the Winter 2023 conference hosted by the Regen Network in London in a few days.  Here's Hanzi Freinacht arguing that metamodernism is more regenerative than ecologism. 

It's a thing.  We can and should be aligning our efforts, whether they be technological, digital, spiritual, philosophical, communitarian, finance-oriented, etc., into regenerative directions.  At the same time, we must also more deeply realize that we are not the first people to feel this sacred need or to appreciate its relevance for the future of civilization on this planet. 

We understand, in principle, that the permacrisis requires a protopian permaculture, yet we constantly seem to lose any sense of permanence, connection, and regenerative continuity with even our most immediate predecessors. Our busy lives, new projects, and the constant onslaught of new crisis points leave us at risk of overlooking what is older and more familiar in our networks.

Sepp Holzer has been one of the most recognizable, insightful and politically stubborn voices in the permaculture movement since the mid-20th century.  His books and trainings on Heugel beds, water retention, terracing, food forests & fungi-as-tech have influenced many metacrisis activists before that term even existed.  Many more have been inspired by his seemingly miraculous experiments in regenerating toxic, desertified & denuded landscapes.  Yet he is a vague or even unknown name for many who profess regenerative values today.  And he is not alone in that.

Permaculture can sometimes seem like a passe term for a kind of “whole earth" 1960s idealism that still haunts a few throwback hippie farmsteads.  That is understandable.  When contemporary people, capable of high novelty, stand together in front of accelerating emergence it can be easy to overlook concepts that are too familiar. 

But our world faces many of the same problems that it did twenty or fifty or eighty years ago -- collapsing ecosystems, broken water cycles, desert creep and the inability of local ecosystems to adapt to shifting climate variables, biodiversity loss & species migration.

So we should be seriously pondering whether we are doing enough to maintain continuity with our elders and make sure we have their insights and potency onboard with our emerging attempts.  This is not just about Sepp Holzer.  Regen needs legacy.  Metamodernism needs elders.  Liminal webs need ancestors.


Learn one new principle of permaculture:

Noosa Forest Permaculture training in Australia.

The UK Chapter of
Words by
emerge is convening a field of metamodern praxis