Is Davis Council Serious About Sustainability?
Davis Farmers Market loaded with crafts, gifts

Building a Regenerative Future Should Be Council's Focus

Recycling-4091876_1280I am grateful for the efforts of the Davis City Council in organizing the priority items for the next year in Davis. It’s great to see actions regarding sustainability, resilience, and equity.

I would encourage that climate action be put as item #1 given our very short window of time to act and to create resilient models for dealing with the impacts of climate change. Regarding framing things in terms of “sustainability”, I would like to repeat the words of the visionary Dr. Daniel Christian Wahl, author of the book, Designing Regenerative Cultures:

“Sustainability alone is not an adequate goal. The word sustainability itself is inadequate, as it does not tell us what we are actually trying to sustain.

When we reach being “sustainable” we have arrived at the neutral point. Bill McDonough likes to say: “sustainable means 100% less bad”. It means not adding any more damage, but after 250 years of industrialization and 5000 years of deforestation and agriculture that is no longer enough.

We need to do more than simply be sustainable. We have to begin to reverse the damage we have already done! It is also important to point out that there are many people working on sustainability projects who hold a deeper vision for sustainability that is very much akin to what this article describes as ‘regenerative’.

A regenerative human culture is healthy, resilient and adaptable; it cares for the planet and it cares for life in the awareness that this is the most effective way to create a thriving future for all of humanity”

Economic development is a double-edged sword. It has the potential (though a largely unrealized one) to provide equity and generate true community wealth building, but all too often it creates a landscape of inequality, gentrification and increasing rent, loss of diversity, and severe environmental degradation.

If we want to talk about fostering a “diverse and resilient economy” we need to be asking deep questions about the nature of our economic system in general. Despite our commitments to being part of the climate solution, we are still deeply invested in extractive capitalism, in environmental destruction, oppression of workers and third world peoples, and inequality by participating in the dominant economic paradigm.

If we hope to truly create a “diverse and resilient economy”, we ought to be studying concepts of circular and regenerative economies, groups like the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, the Capital Institute, and principles of regenerative design. 

In terms of creating equitable systems, we need to be surveying communities, especially those that have been most affected by economic injustices what their needs are directly, instead of designing solutions for them based on what we think their needs are. Not that we are necessarily doing that, but this is a common problem. On the County Level, one way to do this is to adopt California State AB626, which the Yolo County Board of Supervisors has thus far not supported.

We cannot get out of the problems we have found ourselves in by using the same fundamental economic structures that have led us to the brink of planetary collapse. We need to rethink what kind of “economic development” we want and begin to invest in regenerative economies that are climate-positive, carbon-negative, equitable and accessible, and foster a shared abundance and community spirit.

Thank you for considering what it will take to build a regenerative and resilient future for our beloved city.



David Abramson



David Abramson

If you are curious what the City of Davis is doing with regard to their climate action, here is a list compiled from what they sent me:

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