Growing the Future: Morphogenisis and Transformative Behavior

For all their various beautiful, dramatic forms, sea shells do not require months of design charettes, dozens of drafts, and high tech computerized design tools.

They are GROWN, naturally, by the interaction of the mollusc, and its environment, the holistic interplay of simple behaviors with forces like gravity and surface tension. Nautilus shells are now even known to get their shape from an interaction with the distant moon!

Most organisms positively grow their environments through their interactions, the beaver dams, bees pollinate, trees enrich the soil they grow in. “Everything gardens.”

Influential architect Christopher Alexander has pointed out that the world’s most beautiful, vibrant lifeways, communities, and cultures developed the same process of “morphogenisis”: Through the simple, natural behaviors of humans with their environment. From humans naturally humaning. For example, the cell-like structure of what researchers call the “home forest garden” is found around the world, grown naturally as humans holistically invest in nurturing the health of the ecosystem that supports them.

Beautiful communities are grown in the same way, humans humaning. These cell units spread, community commons develop, public squares, and together these create vibrant settlements.

Today, many of us feel disempowered from creating the kind of lives we want, let alone the kind of world we’d like to see. But the truth is we’re growing the future everyday through our actions as we choose what kind of environment we invest in, and what kind of people we’ll be to fill it. It doesn’t take experts or leaders or big corporations to create a future, just people like you and me humaning.