Things seem bad now… here are some strategies to be part of the regenerative economy

We’re in a weird place collectively since it’s not like any of us have sheltered in place during a global pandemic before. And while many of us have worked from home for years, we’ve never been forced to stay indoors for the rest of the time. And while we’ve all settled into something of a routine, the flip side is that many industries ranging from the travel industry to retail and beyond are hearing dire news on a regular basis.

It can be hard to look for a bright side when you’re still stuck in the proverbial tunnel struggling to make your way through. But if you look closely enough there are emerging signs of better days ahead (squint if you have to).

What exactly is a regenerative economy?

It’s true. In many industries, hiring is up, and people are talking about what’s coming next and how to become part of the regenerative economy. But first, what exactly is a regenerative economy anyway?

“Regenerative is circular in nature, it’s self-sustaining,” said Brady Maller, EVP of Strategy and Sales at POLYWOOD. “There is never waste. Every choice and activity both take care of oneself and produces life in others, creating robustness as participants consider the next step in the process.” While that might seem a bit esoteric to some, when combined with the idea of an economy that can regenerate, it starts to make a lot more sense.

How does it apply to us?

“Economy is the part most people get on some level,” Maller continued. “It’s the wealth and resources of a country or region.” And here’s where things become more interesting. Maler said to participate in a regenerative economy, one must be generous and thoughtful. “Generous to use resources by putting them into action, and thoughtful to not create waste, and to consider how your actions fit into the whole.”

Regenerative economy takeaway: Use the analogy of being generous and not wasteful on the professional realm. Can you send a job lead to a friend? Can you commit to not wasting someone’s time with an extra video call when time is better spent elsewhere? It’s important to adapt as we go.

Help steer the recovery:

If you’ve ever wondered if your lone voice makes a difference or if a small company or team could make big changes, there’s never been a better time to speak up and make a difference. “Advocacy is everything right now, as digital communication replaces traditional lobbying in a world of social distance,” said Jeb Ory, CEO of Phone2Action. Taking action is important, but it’s also as crucial as ever to plan before you begin.

Use Your Voice:

“Your voice matters—a lot,” Ory said.  “Explaining your situation and needs is critical. You can work through organizations such as your employer, a nonprofit, or a trade association.” Or you can use this tool built by Phone2Action “to let your elected officials know what they should address.”

Regenerative economy takeaway: You don’t need a massive platform to get people to listen. We’re all starved for information and content right now. Make yours matter.

Commit to lifelong learning:

“I think caregivers have realized that they should have been more participatory in their kids’ educations,” said longtime distance educator Karin McKie, MFA. “Perhaps this has also identified adults in need of remedial skills. The irony is that the desire to move away from screens has moved to sole reliance on screens.” What this means for the long term is that many individuals and corporations are exploring new ways to connect with politics, culture, education, and entertainment.

Regenerative economy takeaway: Pay attention to what doesn’t work right now. Can you do it better in the future? And allow yourself to become inspired by those who are doing everything right and find ways to implement similar ideas and ideals into your future projects or plans.

Develop Relationships:

If you’ve never been great at networking, this is your new time to shine! “This is the time to develop a real relationship with your elected officials, from members of Congress in Washington to state and local representatives,” Ory said. “Right now, they are at home, too, and eager to hear about constituent needs. From your state senator to the local school board member, they want to solve problems. Help give them the information they need.”

Regenerative economy takeaway: Write letters. Speak your mind (but wisely!). Become involved and then slowly explain to those you connect with why these issues matter to you. And keep those relationships going even when things seem to be going back to normal.

Find ways to be more inclusive:

McKie believes “All the posts from art and science institutions is a step to bring the sometimes inaccessible installations to the marginalized, disenfranchised, poor, with the penguins at the Shedd Aquarium leading the way.” More than that, “Major culture should be online in a more accessible and interactive way, integrated with curriculum. That process should speed up. We distance learning folks can advise this rapid transition from the concrete to the ether. Flexibility (and vigilance against trolls) remains paramount. Now we also have the gift of time to watch all those webinars we bookmarked yet never revisited.”

Regenerative economy takeaway: While it’s fine to target a specific demographic, now is a great time to pay attention to who you may have been leaving out. Reexamine your overall brand—or personal—marketing plans and try to find a way to be more open and accessible to people you may never have previously reached.

Register to Vote:

“Make sure you register to vote (this can often be done online) and make a plan to participate in the upcoming general election,” Ory encourages all. “If you think your lawmaker has done a good job, you have an opportunity to support them. If you think others would do a better job, then you can vote for them. November’s election will put our recovery government in place. Every one of us should help give it shape.”

Regenerative economy takeaway:

In times of crisis, our leaders should be leading the way, not pointing fingers or fomenting further distress. While many people nationally admire NY Governor Andrew Cuomo’s accessible yet firm leadership style during the COVID-19 crisis, many are critical of NYC Mayor Bill DeBlasio’s perceived tone-deaf approach to singling out specific groups for public censure or seeming to flout rules of social distancing while chiding everyone to stay at home.

I don’t live in New Jersey, but I admire Governor Phil Murphy’s stoic nature in barely recovering from surgery before committing to being there for his constituents. Now is the time for politicians to set themselves apart and for the rest of us to pay attention to their tactics and vote accordingly.

This too shall pass:

If there’s one way to remember to move forward even in the darkest moments, “It’s good to remember when we face the winter of uncertain times that spring always comes,” as Maller reminds us. “We can all do our part in a regenerative economy by being generous and committing to a creative mindset, looking for ways to put the resources that were once considered waste to good use.”