Emma Chow and Calla Rose Ostrander, founder of Terra Regenerative Capital, explore the regenerative mindset and the importance of integrating human behaviours into natural cycles, recognising abundance and the physical capacity for healing, burnout, the perception of time scarcity, prioritising regenerative activities, and much more.
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This episode is part of the Regenerative Mind series, supported by our friends at Stray who are exploring systemic investing with awe and wonder as well as our friends at Mustardseed Trust, who are enabling a transition to a care economy that fosters regenerative food systems.
WHAT ‘REGENERATIVE MIND’ MEANS FOR CALLA ROSE
It’s about healing. It makes Calla Rose think back to her experience suffering a brain injury, which taught her what it means to heal — her brain was literally regenerating itself. The regenerative mindset is underpinned by a belief that we have enough, the belief of abundance. This way of seeing the world is something we already know; it’s just about coming back to it.
‘’The thought that came to mind was actually two thoughts. The first thought I had was really about a regenerative mind. I suffered a brain injury about nine years ago. And I really got to experience the power of our brains to heal and what it means when you’ve broken something, and sometimes certain things just don’t come back the way they were. But all those little dendrites and neural pathways, you can make grow new ones and make new pathways, and the brain is so much more elastic and plastic than we have thought it is. And so, in my healing process, I often envisioned my mind itself, my brain itself, like regrowing new pathways or regenerating itself, and that to me, in my mind, it looks a lot like a mycelial network spreading out…” – Calla Rose Ostrander
‘’… the fundamental principle was when I really realised that we have enough, we have abundance, and if we didn’t have abundance, we couldn’t heal. If we didn’t have abundance, we couldn’t extract and use as much as we currently do and actually still have life. And the fact that our system still operates when we pull so much out of it just speaks to the abundance of the system.” – Calla Rose Ostrander
‘’We have the physical capacity for and, in fact, already operate in a system that is abundant, which really helped shift my mindset. And I think, for me, that’s the basis of a regenerative mindset.” – Calla Rose Ostrander
MANAGING ENERGY AND WORKING IN A REGENERATIVE WAY
Calla Rose grew up in nature, exposed to lots of diversity, and even though her family wasn’t financially rich, nothing felt scarce. Growing up around her dad who is a scientist, attending Waldorf school, and understanding indigenous cultures helped Calla Rose think in systems and weave hard science and indigenous perspective.
Suffering a brain injury during her days working in policy forced Call Rose to rework how she worked in the world. She had to step away from the quantitative side of things and lean into the qualitative, realising intuitive understanding is equal to quantitative understanding and seeing beyond the surface level ‘noise’ to simplify things.
When we realise our energy available for expenditure is finite, we begin to conserve it and manage it more carefully. During Calla Rose’s healing following the brain injury, she got to know John Wick and the Marin Carbon Project. She noticed that learning about carbon cycles through John’s lens gave her energy and leant into that more and realised that she needed to give up her old job.
”When I listen to them talk about the carbon cycle and moving carbon from the atmosphere into the soil where it was better, and it wasn’t bad for us in the soil, and the way it was an access on the air, and the way that water stacked on it, and the way that nutrients stacked on and the way it made the plants healthier, the animals healthier, and the water cleaner and more available, that gave me life, and when I engage in that system, I don’t get tired. And I don’t get angry, and anger expends a lot of energy. […] When I engage in supporting that, I actually don’t feel as depleted. And of course, there’s just like a finite limit to the energy that you have if you’ve suffered a big injury or burnout.” – Calla Rose Ostrander
”That moment of surrender really changed my life. […] I just pause and assess well how much energy that is going to take? And usually, most of the time, it’s too much. […] I have an aunt who always says, ‘Where your attention goes, there your energy flows. And I think for me, paying attention to that was regenerative, where the energy came back to me and came back to the other people in the system…” – Calla Rose Ostrander
Achiever mindset is tied back to scarcity of time, which is in contrast to when we are in flow and there is plenty of time. When we are totally present, time expands, and we move at the speed of nature. When we operate from a state of fear, it is very hard to heal and in our healing is our evolution as a society. We need to ask ourselves: How can we participate in the healing of the world and our relationship with it? Healing ourselves is in service of the world, and taking the time to heal is not selfish.
”When I had an achiever mindset, there was always time scarcity; there was never enough time for anything, and I was always busy. […] I had such a scarcity of time. And then, when I wasn’t in that space anymore, when I was forced out of that space, I realised that I had so much time, because if I was just in the flow of something and really slowed down enough to tap into the speed of the trees, or the speed that people were actually moving, and I wasn’t involved in all the clutter and all the noise, it turns out that there was plenty of time to get to the place I needed to get to. […] I don’t really understand exactly how it worked, just that my achiever mind created a false notion of time scarcity.” – Calla Rose Ostrander
”When you’re present, time expands; it’s this interesting phenomenon. And so, by being present, that issue of scarcity goes away.” – Calla Rose Ostrander
”When we operate from a state of fear, it is very hard to heal. […] I really believe that in our healing is our evolution, personally and maybe epigenetically.” – Calla Rose Ostrander
ONE THING TO HELP DECISION-MAKERS AND INVESTORS DEVELOP A REGENERATIVE MINDSET
Put the facts on the table to dismantle the argument that traditional VC models yield greater success. <4% of venture backed companies achieve exits in less than 10 years. 80% of venture funded companies fail within 5 years. We need to be honest about what’s going on.
”The system that we are currently banking on to support innovation is just A; it’s not going to work for agriculture, and B; 80% of all venture-funded companies fail within five years. Let’s be sober and look at the reality of these systems and their capacity to create the changes we have agreed that we want to create. Let’s be honest about what’s going on and just stop and take a minute.” – Calla Rose Ostrander
”The second thing is, and I would do this for everybody in whatever position they’re in, it’s just teaching them to compost. If people can compost with their communities, they can compost at the school they’re at. If there’s composting at work, if there’s composting on a farm, if their restaurant talks about their food scraps being taken away to be composted… I have seen people shift their mindset more towards regenerative when they understand and participate in composting than I have in any other thing.” – Calla Rose Ostrander
”The thing I always come back to at the end of the day is I just wish everybody had the opportunity to learn how to compost and to participate in composting in some way. Because I have seen so much incredible joy, learning, and development in the human community come from that than from any other single environmental thing.” – Calla Rose Ostrander
OTHER POINTS DISCUSSED
Emma and Calla Rose also talked about:
- The importance of integrating human behaviours into natural cycles. We need to design our systems based on the cycles of nature. As human beings we are always going to be taking, but how we foster the life through the act of taking things is essential. Composting is a process for learning just how much we get when we give back at the end of a cycle. Pollution is just an element that is out of place, it’s stuck there and we need to move things back into place to enable the cycles to naturally flow. It’s all about relationships.
- Rudolf Steiner’s metaphor of carbon as the philosopher’s stone
Steiner called carbon ‘the philosopher’s stone’. Agriculture, through photosynthesis, is a big way to work with this philosopher’s stone. Terra Regenerative Capital is taking a private sector approach. It’s not a traditional VC fund because biological solutions are slow and need a vehicle structure that is designed to support the nature of the intended outcomes. There won’t be unicorns. Their investors are typically those who’ve been on the regenerative journey for a long time, those who realise the strategic advantage of going slow and see the value in systemic change. Terra Regenerative Capital is a public benefit LLC and expects to yield a 6-12% return on its portfolio.
- Traditional VC fund structure doesn’t work for regenerative agriculture due to time constraints
- Terra Regenerative Capital
- Natural Capitalism
- Tree Range Farms
- John Wick & The Marin Carbon Project
- Rudolf Steiner
- Laurence Tremblay – How mindset is everything when turning chocolate into a tool for good
- Giles Hutchins – How we can use the achiever mindset as a tool for crafting a regenerative world
- Lucio Usobiaga – Agriculture as an act of working with the magic of life
- Thomas Legrand and Luis Camargo – Shifting the narrative to capture food’s positive potential
- Reginaldo Haslett-Marroquin – Why chickens are the perfect entry point to decolonize our food system
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The above references an opinion and is for information and educational purposes only. It is not intended to be investment advice. Seek a duly licensed professional for investment advice.