Amid increasing homogenization of American communities, there is a growing interest in identifying and cultivating the unique traits inherent to individual places. Imagine for a moment three different towns that you are familiar with and that are geographically proximate. Each one has its own particular character, culture, and mindset – but why is that? What drives a place to be one way, and not another, in spite of many seemingly similar elements? If we could truly understand the driving forces, patterns, and relationships that make a place what it is, how might that inform our business approaches, city planning, stakeholder engagement processes, and the activities that provide benefit to the community?
Regenesis Group, based in Santa Fe and Boston, has been pioneering a practice called regenerative development, which seeks to reveal and work with the inherent potential of a place. Specifically, Regenesis has developed a methodology called “Story of Place,” which aims to “access the deep love and caring that people have for their place, and then reconcile the inevitable contrasting stakeholder viewpoints into a higher-order understanding that all stakeholders can experience, share, and work from together.” This methodology creates an understanding of what is unique, important, and fundamentally programmed into any given community.
The Story of Place process is built on thorough research about a place’s unique characteristics – what differentiates it geologically, ecologically, and culturally from any other place. The process pulls on a community’s collective experience to explore a place’s distinction—from pre-human history through human inhabitation—considering how culture has developed though time. It uncovers complex patterns that point to customized strategies for supporting a place’s ecological, social, and economic resilience. Ultimately, the process offers unique solutions for making a place thrive.
In this process, community members are active participants in the story of their place. They take ownership through community planning processes and along the way, reaffirm their belonging in the community. As a result, creativity and cooperation drive the planning process, enabling the community to think outside the box, address larger challenges, and regenerate from the inside out.
How You Can Get Involved
IBE, in collaboration with the Urban Lab, is pleased to join Regenesis Group to bring Story of Place to Fort Collins beginning this spring. On April 11, Ben Haggard, founding principal at Regenesis Group, will discuss regenerative development and Story of Place (register); he’ll also present in Denver at the Alliance Center on April 10 (register). Then, through a hybrid online and in-person training from June to September, Fort Collins participants will re-discover our place and our collective experience within it. To learn more about Story of Place and how you can get involved, contact Colin Day at colin.day[at]colostate.edu.