Stuart Cowan (Autopoiesis) on regenerative design & economics

Cowan's talk will address the question of how we can connect public interest design projects to initiatives like transition towns, ecodistricts, one planet communities, and living buildings--which suggest opportunities to greatly increase the resilience, livability, and equity of neighborhoods and cities. How can we connect public interest design projects aligned with these visionary efforts with significant, tangible investment from local communities, government agencies, and the private sector? In this discussion, we will explore the emergence of “regenerative economics,” within which regenerative design is valued and nurtured for its multiple social and ecological benefits.

Stuart Cowan, Ph.D., is a Partner with Autopoiesis LLC, which offers ecological design, complex systems modeling, strategic planning, and sustainable finance services in the service of regenerative buildings, communities, landscapes, and organizations. Autopoiesis LLC is one of four organizations leading the international Economics of Change initiative to transform real estate investment models to include a comprehensive range of ecological and social value layers. The firm recently completed a major case study on the Bullitt Center, a candidate Living Building. Stuart served as a Transaction Manager and founding team member with Portland Family of Funds, an innovative sustainable community investment fund. He served as Conservation Economy Research Director at Ecotrust, an innovative sustainability non-profit in Portland, where he led the development of the Reliable Prosperity framework for a carbon neutral bioregion. He is the co-author with Sim Van der Ryn of Ecological Design (Island Press, 1996/2007), a visionary overview of the whole systems integration of ecology and architecture, land-use planning, and product design that has been translated into three languages and become a standard reference on creating a restorative built environment. He received his doctorate in Applied Mathematics from U.C. Berkeley with a focus on complex systems and ecological economics. He has taught at the Bainbridge Graduate Institute (MBA in Sustainable Business program), U.C. Berkeley, PSU, and Naropa University. He lives in Portland with his wife and daughter.