Investing in Regenerative Agriculture and Food

276 Calla Rose Ostrander – In our healing is our evolution as a society

January 12, 2024 Koen van Seijen Episode 276
Investing in Regenerative Agriculture and Food
276 Calla Rose Ostrander – In our healing is our evolution as a society
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Emma Chow and Calla Rose Ostrander explore the regenerative mindset and the importance of integrating human behaviours into natural cycles, recognising abundance and the physical capacity for healing, burnout, the perception of time scarcity, prioritising regenerative activities, and much more.

Regenerative mind is about healing. It makes Calla Rose think back to her experience suffering a brain injury, which taught her what it means to heal — her brain was literally regenerating itself. The regenerative mindset is underpinned by a belief that we have enough, the belief of abundance. This way of seeing the world is something we already know; it’s just about coming back to it.

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Speaker 1:

Welcome to a very special series of conversations diving deep into the mindset shift needed for the regenerative transition, hosted by Emma Chauw, friend of the show and active in the regenerative space. For a while, she worked with many of the largest food corporations in the world and went on a deep personal regeneration journey, leading, among other things, to a love for cacao. This is the first time we host another voice on the podcast, so I hope you all give her a very warm welcome. Emma, the mic is yours.

Speaker 2:

Thanks, koon. It's great to be back, and this time in the hosting seat. Through six rich conversations with a range of guests, we're exploring the role of the mind. What mindset enables people to serve as regenerative leaders for a radically better food system? What are the common threads across these conversations? Well, we're about to find out. We're looking at regeneration from the inside out. This series is supported by our friends at Stray, who are exploring systemic investing with awe and wonder, as well as our friends at Mustard Seed Trust, who are enabling a transition to a care economy that fosters regenerative food systems. Thanks so much for tuning in. We hope the conversations crack the door open for you and invite you to explore new ways of thinking and embodiment towards a regenerative tomorrow.

Speaker 2:

Rudolph Steiner, the father of biodynamic farming, said that carbon is the philosopher's stone, meaning it can alchemize into anything silver, gold, whatever we desire. But today we see carbon as bad. We have too much of it, we want to get rid of it, control it, when in reality we just have too much of it out of place. And if we get it in the right place, carbon can turn into gold, enabling healthy, vibrant living systems. What if what is holding us back is simply a scarcity mindset, believing that we don't have enough, and really what we need to begin with is our own healing to shift our own perspective and adopt a mindset of abundance, believing that we have more than enough. In this conversation, we investigate healing as our means of evolution as a society. I hope you enjoy it.

Speaker 2:

Welcome to the show Today. I'm joined by Calarose Ostrener, a founding partner of Terra Regenerative Capital, which is a catalytic fund deploying capital to scale regenerative agriculture, secure our food system and rebalance the climate. Calarose has also been a strategic advisor to individuals and organizations for many years now, focusing on climate solutions. Amongst her experiences, she's played a key role in the Marin Carbon Project and Kiss the Ground's work, as well as in shaping San Francisco's climate programs. I know she'll have lots of wisdom to share with us today.

Speaker 2:

Calarose, thank you so much for coming on the show and we were just having a chat before we hit record, because this is the first time we've connected in probably three or four years now when it was out in California, when I was there for an event back in my days at the Ellen MacArthur Foundations and, of course, focusing on food, and I remember that you helped play a role in shifting my own mindset and how I understood carbon and I knew, of course, the carbon cycle from all my studies and everything, but always heard this narrative we have too much. And you said it's not that we have too much, it's in the wrong place. And you did this little diagram and that stuck with me. So I wanted to kind of make this a more public conversation and firstly say thank you and give a bit of background to what move they made to invite you on. And yeah, I just want to start off by saying for you and I'm asking all my guests this when you hear the phrase regenerative mind, what comes up for you?

Speaker 3:

So I love this question and when I first heard you asking some of your other guests this question, the thought that came to mind was actually two thoughts. The first thought I had was really about a regenerative mind. I suffered a brain injury about nine years ago and I really got to experience the power of our brains to heal and what it means when you've broken something and sometimes certain things just don't come back the way they were. But all those little dendrites and neuro pathways, you know, you can make, grow new ones and make new pathways. And the brain is so much more elastic and plastic than we have thought it is. And so, you know, in my healing process I often envisioned my mind itself, my brain itself, like regrowing new pathways or regenerating itself, and that to me, in my mind, it looks a lot like a mycelial network spreading out. Or you know the way you can see those little electrons firing across a brain scan if you've ever seen one of those. So I had a very visceral, you know, image of a mind, a brain, regenerating. But I think that's different than a regenerative mindset. And from when I thought about the regenerative mindset, I really think there's a couple of things that underpin that for me.

Speaker 3:

Again, that injury really gave me an opportunity to basically reset my mind.

Speaker 3:

I think I had a lot of platforms laid out for me studying with Amrie Lovens and a couple of students of Donella Meadows, who was a great systems thinker of the last century, getting to study with Dr Herman Daly, who was a founder of ecological economics, sort of these Western mindsets helped lay the groundwork for what I think became my regenerative mindset, which really pulled on much earlier wisdom around ecology and indigenous perspectives that I had learned as a child.

Speaker 3:

But I think for me the fundamental principle was when I really realized that we have enough, like we have abundance, and if we didn't have abundance we couldn't heal. If we didn't have abundance we couldn't extract and use as much as we currently do and actually still have life. And the fact that our system still operates when we pull so much out of it just speaks to the abundance of the system. And reading a couple of books about the history of synthesizing nitrogen, I think, like physically we have enough chemical abundance in our building blocks of life with carbon and nitrogen that we don't have a scarcity. And I think that kind of recognition and I do mean the definition of recognizing something that maybe you've known before but forgotten. And really seeing that and recognizing that we have the physical capacity for, and in fact already operated in a system that is abundant, really helped shift my mindset and I think for me that's the basis of a regenerative mindset.

Speaker 2:

Thank you, thanks for sharing that very personal story of lived experience and that relationship with the brain too, and what we see in natural systems in terms of recovery and regeneration, and I love this point.

Speaker 2:

I want to hone in on the abundance piece because it's come up in other conversations and through this series. It's really interesting going into it with no expectations at all and just seeing what patterns start to emerge, and abundance is definitely one of them. And the other piece which you are alluding to is this aspect of remembrance. Maybe it's something we hadn't learned in school or been taught before in the narratives that we're hearing, but then when we discover it and realize it for ourselves, it's sitting in this deeper place, like dwelling in this deeper part that's wise within us and just known the eternity. So thank you for highlighting those pieces, and you've started to reveal part of your journey for us. But I'm curious when we step back even further and look at your journey, even from childhood, was there an acute moment that sparked this sort of way of thinking in terms of the regenerative mindset, or was it something that your parents had and you were just brought up with?

Speaker 3:

It's such a good question. I've been thinking about it and I could say, oh, I think it's something I've always had. But of course, that's so much a product of the environment that I grew up in and the adults that were in my life and the community that I was part of. And I think we grew up or I grew up very how should I say this? I grew up very poor. My family didn't live in the same place until I was five and we lived all over the world, sort of following different jobs or needing to go to different places for different reasons. But it never felt scarce to me. It always felt like an adventure and I think getting to spend so much time in the natural world in different parts of the world and having so many aunties and uncles who were from different cultures and who could take me on plant walks or teach me about the physics of the stars my dad is a scientist, he's a geophysicist and he had a lot of scientific friends, and so spending time with them and learning about science from a perspective of being outside in the world and then also from an indigenous perspective, with different friends of our family or elders in different communities, I think was really what gave me that as an early onset. I will also say I have to credit going to Waldorf School for 13 years and the investment my family put in and community members put into my education there. It's a really different way of looking at the world and I think the ability to see the whole of something and also see yourself as an individual in relation to that whole is a unique perspective that I don't think is taught very much in our younger educational programs, at least not in the United States. That sort of Steiner framework of learning and being part of the world Again.

Speaker 3:

I think then after five we really lived in the West and so understanding the history of indigenous cultures and being able to take part of those really shaped the way I saw things and being able to go out in the field with scientists from NIST I grew up in Boulder so we had friends who were scientists at NIST and NOAA these are some of the biggest national scientific institutions and that in hindsight I can say the combination of those two things the hard science and the indigenous perspective plus Waldorf School, I think really gave me a different mindset that allowed me to approach things much more creatively and holistically. Then I think, having that, I think what I my first mindset change that I went through in seventh and eighth grade was how do I speak to adults about why they should care about the environment? And that's really when I found Aymre and Hunter Lovens and their book with Paul Hawkins called Natural Capitalism, and reading that book kind of gave me a perspective in high school and college to approach environmentalism from an economic perspective. What are the economic values of this? And then learning ecological economics gave me another way to sort of value ecosystem services. So there was sort of this initial mindset for me of having to learn about how to speak to Western culture and adults about this in a term that they could understand, which really became about economics and efficiency.

Speaker 3:

And then I went to work in policy, which again allowed me to look at the different levers from a more modern Western mind perspective. And I think what was the silver lining of getting a head injury that made me not be able to work for about a year and a half and really not be able to work full time for about five years, was I couldn't read anymore and I had a terrible short term memory and everything was too overwhelming. So I just spend a lot of time outside, and I think that's when I really remembered that regenerative mindset of observation and being part of something that was bigger than me and the abundance of the system and the interconnectedness of that system. And having to rework the way I interacted in the world without my quick Western, quantitative mind was, I think, a gift, because it allowed me to remember again and recognize again that potential that is held within a regenerative mindset and within the regenerative mind itself.

Speaker 2:

I was dance or like interweaving between that quantitative which were often at least I know from my experience totally over index on the quantitative and hyper-rational and had buried the creative that was so vibrant in me as an adolescent and then through adulthood and eroded until I had a somewhat different but an experience where I burnt out and I was forced to shut down the screen and get back into nature. And that experience brought me back to the mind and saying it's great to write reports and do analysis and everything that I've been doing and that has a role, but let's actually be in it and embody it. And again, that was one of the pieces of that contributed to even shaping this series and this conversation we're having. So thank you for highlighting it.

Speaker 3:

Thank you so much. I love what you said about screens, because I had a lot of damage to my visual cortex. I wasn't able to look at a screen I mean like I could look at it, but it was really hard to see it, let alone absorb or read what was on it. And then my short-term memory was so bad it was like very challenging to process, like it took me about a year and a half to read a book again, and that book was like a book of poetry, actually it was the Odyssey. That was the first book I stopped to read. I was like I'm on an Odyssey, I'm going to read the Odyssey. It was like you know, two pages every night for I don't know six months or something, but that's, I mean, that's.

Speaker 3:

The thing is like we do have so much potential and I think we forget about that potential when we're behind the screen because a certain part of our brain turns off. And, at least for me, when I couldn't be behind my phone or behind my computer or watching a television like I, another part of my brain really turned on and it turned on in a way that I realized my intuitive capacity was equal to my quantitative capacity and I just hadn't been. It was there before but I hadn't been using it. And I think you know that embodiment you speak about to me really became real when I was unable to be on the screen all the time. And another piece that I really realized was like gosh, climate change is like so much faster and farther than I thought it was. And here I was behind my computer doing like San Francisco's greenhouse gas inventory, like seven ways from Friday, like we did a major urban materials, like lifecycle analysis and all goods and services sold in San Francisco, like LCA, with the Carnegie Mellon database and your traditional geographic inventory, and I don't know, we did five different inventors, like five different ways to count our carbon footprint.

Speaker 3:

And you know, after I hit my head it was like, oh well, the reality really is just like this. You know we need renewable energy, we need to shift our, diversify our modes of transportation and we need to reconnect the cycles of nutrient and carbon flows on this planet and that's done through our material consumption. And it was just I almost, almost got like lost, lost in the weeds, you could say. And then, having that intuitive capacity, come back online and just actually having being forced, and maybe I don't know if you had this experience with your burnout, but being forced to conserve energy, like, I literally had to choose between like am I going to take a shower today, get out of bed and take a shower, or am I going to lie here and be mad about something because I don't have the energy to do both. You know like when you have to like conserve your energy, you really I don't know. For me, things got a lot more simple yes, yes, 100%.

Speaker 2:

And it's interesting, you talk about the recovery. You know it took you five years, maybe even longer, to come back to working what you call full-time capacity. And even now I'm two years since the burnout and I've started to shed that story of like, oh, when I get back to how I was, or that capacity, because I was working in such an extractive way that I was just leaking energy everywhere like I thought I was this, you know, unending, endless battery supply that could just be channeled into saving the world. Uh-huh, since I was 18, I was like that's what I'm gonna do and I could do that through my 20s. And then it was like you're done, no more. This, this is a finite resource, our energy.

Speaker 2:

Yes, and this is what I think is so critical to the origin of mine. It's like I look around perplexed. I actually struggle. I know it's like for you, but I struggle to even engage with the climate solutions kind of system to the extent that I used to because of the noise. There's so much noise and getting distracted and again getting lost. It's so easy to get lost and forget the simplest things. Like, yeah, this experience forces sounds like both of us to massively simplify and get so vigilant and discern where we put our energy and and what we commit to and what we see is true for us or not. Um, and I, yeah, thank you for highlighting that.

Speaker 3:

I love it, it's so fun to talk to you about it because, um, maybe we were both and are, but in a different way like so smart, so driven, so energetic that it really was endless. And I think what I realized was just based on just like that, because when you're healing, your brain takes all the energy, so you just don't have any other energy, and so an expenditure of energy could be like am I going to call my sister or am I going to try to talk to my boss? You know, at my old work this was before I left um, you know, I was unclear how long this injury was going to take to heal. And then, like, am I going to get in a fight or an argument with somebody about something? And it had been really intense the politics, when I was right before I got injured and we'd had a lot of forces that were really trying to shut down our community choice aggregation program, which is the way for the city to buy renewable energy, and I learned a lot about politics. I watched that show, house of Cards, because it like soothed my soul, which is terrible, because it's an awful show about. It means a great show, but it's about an awful system and, like I, got so caught up in that and just the energy it takes to fight and the energy it takes to like be in that noise that you were talking about.

Speaker 3:

And so you know, when I was healing, I got to know John Wick, who I had met previously, to my injury, through through San Francisco when he came looking for more compost for the Marin Carbon Project, and I and I kind of got to know him while I was on medical leave and because I because I couldn't read anything I would listen to a lot of lectures by the scientists who are part of the Marin Carbon Project and I'd listened to John talk and I had I couldn't drive myself anywhere, obviously so I had people who would kind of come and take me places. But you know, in doing that, what I realized was that when I listened to them talk about the carbon cycle and moving carbon from the atmosphere into the soil, where it was better, you know, and it wasn't bad for us, and that in the soil, and the way it was an excess in the air and the way that water stacked on it and the way that nutrients stacked on it and the way it made the plants healthier, the animals healthier and the water cleaner and more available. I just that to me gave me life and I was like, oh, when I engage in that system I don't get tired and I don't get angry, and angry expands a lot of energy. So kind of out of necessity, but also out of you know, maybe discovering a new flavor of something. It was like, oh, that's, that's the flavor I'm going to pay attention to, because when I engage in supporting that, I actually don't feel as depleted. And of course, there's just like a finite limit to the energy that you have if you've suffered a big injury or a burnout or some sort of else, with collapse in your life, a major trauma. But I think you know that I remember distinctly when I made the switch from thinking I was going to go back to the way I was and completely giving that up and just accepting that I was alive and that that was great and that was enough, and just accepting that, just like accepting that maybe I was never going to read again or maybe I was never going to be able to remember numbers again, but that I was alive and that there were good things and that I could feel those good things. That was such a relief to me, like it just. I think that moment of surrender really changed, changed my life and has.

Speaker 3:

And even when I get a little bit stressed now and I think about, oh, I've got it, you know, solve this.

Speaker 3:

Or I wish I could weigh in on what's going on in COP, or I really would like to write a response article to the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal, I just kind of pause and assess, well, like how much energy is that going to take? And usually, like most the time, it's too much, you know. And versus like calling you know Rejinaldo it's an amazing indigenous chicken farmer and figuring out like how we're going to make hazelnut production better next year, which seems to give me a lot more energy. And so, you know, I think, paying attention to I have a, I have an auntie who always says you know where your attention goes, there your energy flows and I think for me, paying attention to where that was regenerative, where the energy came back to me and came back to the other people in the system, really was a huge change in the how I approach things. Instead of just trying to solve every problem that came my way. Now I have to let go of a lot of problems.

Speaker 2:

Yes, yes, this is a huge tool and practice. It's a totally a practice what you're describing, because I've done it too and I think if anyone who goes through this experience like you have no choice but to start measuring, basically in the internal scale, after every interaction right, media, friend for coffee, having a, not just work, all these things in the day today that we don't realize is also work yes, we start to say, did this? I asked myself was this energy giving, depleting or neutral and seeing across my life? Because I know that I can't sustain, it's not regenerative for me in my day today to be running at high levels of depletive activities most of my time and starting to reframe, I suppose, even what me being making impact means in the world, which used to be work with all the big food companies and scale, scale what's scale.

Speaker 2:

And. And then it took me going through a period. I remember I was sitting at the kitchen table at my parents house when I was just burnt out. I just went back to Canada from England and I was sitting across the table for my mom and starting to, like you, surrender to this idea that maybe I'd never go back into my job changing the food system. And I remember saying to her is like what if I can never work again?

Speaker 2:

my idea of work, of course, and I said, what if she has a cousin in New Zealand who's farm I visited before years ago? And I said what if I went and worked at your cousin's farm and then I sat with that longer I go? That doesn't sound bad at all. The farm is beautiful. You know, it was like this whole idea of value and worthiness and how my ego was wrapped up in it. And if listeners have heard the interview that I did with Giles Hutchins, you'll know what I'm referring to in terms of the achiever mindset and that's totally what was running the show so often. And still they in my day to day now. It's like so much unlearning still, even after going through this experience oh yeah, it's like, um, it's like a garden.

Speaker 3:

You got to tend, you got to tend to it.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, those weeds are just cropping up all the time all right, um, and I think, gosh, I love what you said about you know the farm. One of the things I recognized was how much more energy I got by being outside, and I think that one of my regrets is now I'm more inside and tied to the computer, but for several years, mostly because of my light sensitivity, which is why I wear a hat. Everybody always just thinks it was a fashion statement, but I was to hide myself from your lights because they were very hard on my visual cortex. I spent all this time outside and I had forgotten how much I knew about natural systems. But I also was so humbled by how much I didn't know about natural systems and how much they taught me just by being outside with them and by talking to farmers and ranchers and community members who are on living with them.

Speaker 3:

And I think it was so interesting too, because there's this other aspect of the achiever mindset which I think ties back to scarcity. And it's really interesting in that when I was an achiever mindset, there was always time scarcity. There was never enough time for anything right, and I was always busy, and I think not that I'm not like busy now, compared to other people in the rural town I live in. But I had such a scarcity of time and then, when I wasn't in that space anymore, when I was forced out of that space, I realized that I had so much time because if I was just in the flow of something and really like slowed down enough to tap into the speed of, like the trees or the speed that people were actually moving and I wasn't involved in like all the clutter and all the noise, it turns out there was plenty of time. There was plenty of time to get to the place I needed to get to. There was plenty of time to wait for that one person to make the decision we hoped that they would make. There was plenty of time to tell the story that needed to be told.

Speaker 3:

And I don't really understand exactly how it worked, just that my achiever mind created a false notion of time scarcity and when I was outside and in the flow of things, I really began to understand that like there is a right timing and if you are present and observing the system, like you can show up when that timing, when that indication starts to come that the timing is ready, like when the harvest is ready.

Speaker 3:

You know if you're watching, you know, okay, this is when it's going to be time to harvest. If you're aware of what's going on outside, you can be like, oh, this is when this grasshopper is completely destroying my whatever. You know, and I have this much time to really try to make a difference. And somehow that made me feel a lot better, because then I felt like I was part of something else and I didn't have to do everything, which then gave me so much more time, and in that time I could just show up better, I could like listen better, I could be a better observer, like a better partner in the moment to whatever I was, you know or whomever I was relating to in that moment. And I think that's not something we get to talk a lot about in our kind of work. Work is just that ability to be present which I think you really feel when you're outside, and it's a lot harder to feel when you're inside in front of a computer screen.

Speaker 2:

Yes, yes, and hearing you speak when I was coming to my mind was several things, and one of them I can't remember where I heard it or read it, but something around how we need to basically return and practice moving at the speed of nature, which is what you just described and I love because it's only a product and natural symptom of separation. Right, this veil of separation, of thinking that we as human beings are somehow separate and control and now fix nature, but actually coming back into living as part of nature and remembering that I'm moving with it, because it's that hypermasculine energy and traits of trying to control and thinking that there's not enough. I know that was for sure. For me, the propeller of all my activities was feeling like I couldn't do enough, we couldn't move faster to fix things, and that took me stepping out of it all together to say what happens when I'm completely disengaged.

Speaker 2:

And I took three months. Well, I took six months totally off and I said, ok, no, working. For the first time in my adult life I do not think about money, nothing, go do what I need to do to regenerate myself. I call it a journey of self-regeneration and, looking back at those three months, I'm amazed because I was so dropped in and so present and not thinking about past or future, and I live what feels like two years worth of life experience in three months.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, that's awesome. I love that, because when you're present, time expands. It's this interesting phenomenon, and so by being present, that issue of scarcity goes away, which is counterintuitive to whatever mindset we were trained in. Maybe that's the achiever mind, but what really strikes me, and I have a question for you, is how did you engage with your own healing process?

Speaker 2:

I was so deliberate, I have to say, because I was let down when googling what to do when burnt out, because mostly and the doctors, at least here in England, were like, let's get you on anti-depressants and let's just write you off for stress, and I felt not that I'm against medication, but I felt like that's not the answer for me right now. And I had a meditation practice. I was actually a teacher that was part of the irony at the time. I was even seen as a wellness person and then burnt out and I had my meditation teacher, I had a coach, I had a therapist and I set up a regimen. It was like I was a kindergarten and I would not every day but I'd have certain activities that I knew were nourishing.

Speaker 2:

And one of my amazing coach I was working with she said I want you to just journal every morning and answer the question of what will nourish my soul today, not what do I need to do, what's my to-do list, what will nourish my soul today? And for the first time in my life I made that my job and at one point, when I was coming back into work after a couple of months off, I was working like 10 hours a week. I'd just design my days so that I would do my two meditations a day. I'd do some sort of movement, like my whole movement practice also switched from being a lot of the yang intense energy. I grew up as a tennis player and athlete too, so that was also a big part of my own conditioning To moving into the yin and the soft. I mean, I don't always need to be training. I can. Actually I need to down-regulate the nervous system out of fight or flight. Like I was working with an osteopath who told me she's like your diaphragm is completely restricted.

Speaker 2:

Like it's not moving and I was. When our diaphragm's not moving, our body can't go out of the fight or flight nervous system into the rest and digest. So it was literally learning how to breathe and let my body start to normalize. What does being in a feeling of safe, right, safe, abundant, more relaxed state even feel like in my nervous system? And I use every tool in my toolkit and continue to because it's a continual thing Like it's so easy, I find, for me to go into the default modes and catching all the time.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, I think so. I think that's like when we operate from a state of fear. It is very hard to heal and I don't know why. I guess that one-headed jury wasn't enough. I suffered a spinal injury about four years ago. That again literally like put me on my butt, like I couldn't move again oh wow, and I had to stay in place for a long time.

Speaker 3:

I'm just starting to be able to be mobile again and it was like this time it wasn't my head, it was my body and I think I really believe that in our healing is our evolution, like personally, and maybe epigenetically, and I think as a society because I really do at this point and I don't want listeners to take this the wrong way but we're so sick. We're sick from stress, maybe we're sick from the food we eat or don't eat. If you're somebody who is not white, you're probably sick from racism. There's just so. There's war, there's the trauma of seeing war. We just have so much illness that we are fighting and so much fear, and it is so hard to heal when you're in a state of fear, whether that fear is immediate. And if it's immediate, there's a lot more you can do in terms of like you have a rapid response, it goes away. And they've found now that people who are in a very acute situation are more likely to heal than people who are in chronic situations when exposed to stress. So even if just your diaphragm isn't working for a very long period of time, that chronic level of stress really can prevent you healing. And so it's interesting to me that you really focused in on, you had the opportunity and, in a lot of ways, the privilege to do that healing.

Speaker 3:

And I think one of the things I really realized was like, wow, I'm so privileged, I paid into medical leave, working for the state of California and the city of San Francisco and I'm getting. When I was injured the first time, I got 50% of my paycheck from a system that supported me with socialized health care and for the second injury I got, my parents took me back in and I had a gift from a mentor that allowed me to be OK and just to take that time and recognize my privilege of healing and the time that I could like. Ok, I have to heal, but also I get to heal, and I think I don't know how to say this, but we just don't often take the time to heal, and it can be hard to heal if we're feeling so afraid. But I really don't think we're going to get where we want to be if we don't take the time to really see that, hey, this natural system has abundance built in. We wouldn't be here if it didn't.

Speaker 3:

We wouldn't be able to heal if it didn't we wouldn't be able to evolve if it didn't and how we connect with those physical structures that exist because we've created them, like banks or the economy or government institutions or social systems, and how we start to bring those more into alignment with the natural cycles of carbon and water and energy, and just how we position ourselves to participate in those cycles and to give back to and support them.

Speaker 3:

To me that's like supporting our healing and I know that's like super. It's not something I go like hey, I work for Terry Regenerative Capital and you should come help us heal the planet. I don't think a lot of people are ready for that, but I think that we have to understand, if we're in the regenerative movement, that this is fundamentally about healing ourselves and our communities and the systems that we're participating in, and if it's not about that, it's not regenerative 100% agree and I think that's why what you described is so important, because too often, in my opinion, is the regenerative movement and language or regeneration solely focused on the soil and environmental aspects that we can apparently measure, and abstracted from our communities, our health, our individuals.

Speaker 2:

And it's impossible, I believe it's impossible to participate actively, in a meaningful way, in the healing of our societies and our planets if we don't also heal ourselves and engage in that process. And it breaks my heart, like it, I had that revelation or realization, as I would be in my own journey and still now. And I think about how many thousands of other people are on sick leave because of stress or some injury or some issue that happened, and they don't have the tools, they don't have the support, they don't have the financial means to be able to go on that journey. And I'm more interested in how do we start with ourselves? Start within, because, as the ancient saying goes, right as Within so without, and as above so below, and understand that it's a relationship between the two. Like as, and nothing's ever perfect. It's not like, oh, I heal myself and then I'm ready to go be in service of the world. Thank you, being in service of the world also helps us heal. It's a never-ending journey. It takes lifetimes.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, and healing ourselves is in service of the world, right, I think that's what you're also saying is like that, taking that, taking that healing, and it's not to the selfish stage of like, oh, I can't be part of my community, I have to heal myself, oh, I can't, I can't participate in Leaving the suffering of another being because I have to heal myself, like, no, that's, that's being selfish, that's not healing. You know, and I think it's important to call out like there's a difference between being isolating and selfish and taking the time to heal and knowing that piece of it. And I think you know it's interesting to me because there's also this sort of this aspect of speed and a Transition here a little bit, and which is just like if we are trying to keep up with or make regenerative the same as the other systems within which we are functioning, we are not doing our job right. But if we just try to make some regenerative, something perfect and other and you know something I always have to work towards it's like you said, it's not, it's not perfect, it's never perfect, it's. It's about a process and I think, ultimately about relationships with ourselves, with other people, with other, you know, sentient beings, plants and animals and the soil and the elements and you know, understanding both the personal responsibility and opportunity and that relational piece. And I think if we try to make regeneration just about something so specialized that you know, not everybody can participate in it, we will also have been lost.

Speaker 3:

And so I think where I see myself right now in terms of quote-unquote work is how and where do we connect the existing sort of socio-economic systems that Western culture has created back into supporting the healing of land and people? And it's not going to be perfect, there's going to be a lot of weird like strange Chimeras of different iterations. But I think that if we begin to make those connections and foster those relationships by bridging practical reality with the questions of like, does this support healing? Does this support natural function of carbon, water and nutrient cycles? Does this regenerate? Is this within the system of abundance? Are we not only taking but are we also giving back? And I think that's where it's so interesting, because we take a tremendous amount as humans and we're never not going to take. Like, we have Clothes and we love them and we need food and we need water and people love to do things because we're active and we're curious and you know we're strange creatures, so we're always going to take something.

Speaker 3:

But I think there are two things that we can really do that are regenerative is to understand how we foster the life and the taking of the thing such that it is having its best life or participating in life in a way that is Positive and beneficial. And maybe that's an animals you know, like tree range farms. The chickens are outside under trees, we're still going to eat them, but they're living their best life in it, in a habitat where they are originally from, which is a jungle lake habitat, and they're having, they're living, a good life. And Then the question is like, at the end, how do we give back? And that's, I think, why I get so fixated on. I Always come back to compost, like at the end of the day, if there's anything I want anybody to do, it's to learn how to compost or to participate in composting, because then you get to see like how much more we get when we give back at the end of a cycle.

Speaker 3:

And I also like to think about how there isn't really Well, there is pollution. I mean, you can't say there isn't, but pollution is just an element that's out of place, like we have moved it from one place where it was participating in the synergistic function Into another place where it it's stuck. Either it's in a chemical form that it's bound up in and it can't get out of, or it's too much in the atmosphere and not enough in the soil, or, you know, there's too many nutrients and water when they need to be in in living matter and not in liquid. They're just out of place. And so if we can start to think about how we make things, by moving things back into place, by recycling, by composting, by Undoing and such that the undoing of something is the redoing of something else, that that sort of circular economy which I know you and I talked about before, when seen not just as like what's the next reuse of this thing, but how does the Unmaking or remaking of this thing strengthen or participate in natural, chemical and biophysical and elemental cycles of the planet that drive life, then I think we begin to Integrate our behaviors and habits as humans, which have been framed as so destructive, because they, they, they are and they can be into something that Can actually be regenerative and restorative, and that it's.

Speaker 3:

It's not necessarily like oh, human behavior is just all bad. I mean a lot of. It's not great, to be honest, but at the same time like we have such potential To move those natural behaviors into being supportive of the systems that support us. And I think that's where there's just so much Work to be done. But it's not fast work, because it's Centergistic work and when one piece clicks into place because you've helped reconnect a system, you're not just bringing one piece online, you're bringing that whole system back online. And I think that's where it's like so Regenerative, because it takes time to reconnect one piece back into the natural system, but when you do the whole force and weight and power of that system comes with it and then you know we're not acting alone. So there's a long diatribe, but I think a lot about those cycles these days and like how we can support them and how much we can do in the unmaking and remaking to support them If we're able to step back and really observe and learn about the larger systems that we're part of.

Speaker 2:

Mm-hmm, yes, and it's this piece around remembering that nature isn't linear and it may take, as you're describing, a long time to get that piece that's out of place back into place, and then that recovery can actually happen quite quickly, maybe beyond what we might believe or what we might be analyzing as or modeling. And I want to connect, give you a chance to, because I'm curious to describe how, how did terravagent of capital come to be and how does that, how is it serving all of what you just described?

Speaker 3:

I won't even try and paraphrase, paraphrase that last bit that you shared with us well, thank you for asking and bringing us back on track and thanks also for having a An endeavor that is not about a specific track but the exploration. I really appreciate that. So one thing that I learned when I was recovering was that Rudolph Steiner, who was the founder of the biodynamic agriculture and Waldorf schools and homeopathic medicine, a bunch of other stuff he actually called carbon the philosopher's stone and I thought about that and I was like, oh, that's fascinating, that the Stone that can turn into gold or in other fables that can turn into anything. The way Steiner used that metaphor in his description of the planet was as carbon acting as philosopher's stone. So I think I kind of was like oh okay, so if we are, if we are Working with the philosopher's stone and agriculture is such an amazing way, you know, agriculture via photosynthesis is the single biggest way humans manage carbon on the planet. That is participatory, within a natural cycle, and it's not just like we're burning fossil fuels and moving that into the atmosphere, but like within us the carbon, the life cycle of carbon, that, that photosynthetic capacity of the plants and the management of that via agriculture was such a strong way to sort of work with this philosopher's stone.

Speaker 3:

So with Terra regenerative capital, I was building on, you know, nine years of experience within regenerative ag, having come from a science perspective, having worked with the state of California on rolling out their natural and working lands climate programs, integrating natural and working lands into their climate policy framework, which actually is extraordinarily challenging because climate policy framework we have is built on the Kyoto protocol and the EPA acid rain program, which are both point source emissions pollutant programs, and so we continue to treat climate change like a point source pollutant program. And even when we talk about sequestration, it's sort of a one one to move. It's not a one, two, three, four, five. It's not a cycle. So something about that quote of thinking about the philosopher's stone, which can turn into anything kind of really drove me to think about all the ways in which our systems push or pull or attract carbon and how we move it around the planet. And with Terra regenerative capital, it's really a private sector approach. Now it's not.

Speaker 3:

We're not a venture capital fund and I think this really speaks to the make sure that the structure of the thing you're creating is in alignment with the outcomes you want and knowing that things take time, especially in agriculture, because they have to physically grow and people have to physically learn how to grow them, and they take time to build large facilities for processing and manufacturing. Knowing that these things take time and knowing that they're biological, we really couldn't do a VC fund. The traditional fund structure just didn't work for us. It didn't work for us for a number of reasons. One we didn't think we were going to get any sorts of like unicorns that we're going to somehow save the whole portfolio. We also didn't think that we could exit within 10 years with everything and we didn't even with the things we wanted to and felt like they could grow or move or exit from our fund faster than 10 years. We didn't want to be under time pressure.

Speaker 3:

So what I love with Terra regenerative capital and I'm so lucky to be working with Tara Smith, who is my co founder and whose family is our anchor investor in the fund is that we have structured the vehicle of the fund itself, which is a public benefit LLC, to be supportive of the nature of the things that we're trying to cultivate. So this allows us to manage, not for the speed of exit or a high, high risk, high reward sort of exit scenario that VC is traditionally known for, but to manage for the nature of the asset itself and the maturation of that and the evolution of that, such that we think that those companies that we're investing in and we invest in companies that are in the middle of the supply chain, so folks who do aggregation, processing, manufacturing and distribution that help connect farmers who are growing regeneratively into value add markets or into markets that they wouldn't be able to get to on their own, we think that that is both an important piece of connecting in this existing system of economics to supporting the change in agricultural production and incentivizing that through market access. So really utilizing that, you know, economic incentive, while also creating it, creating a vehicle structure and managing, you know, being really honest about our expectations. And I think what's interesting is that we're seeing that a lot of what we're doing we feel like is lower risk, but maybe not as high reward as as what a VC would expect, but maybe we can get a market rate return. And then I think is fair. It's like slowing it down a little bit. It's like saying, okay, money, you're used to moving really fast. What if you just slowed down a little bit? What if you just took a little bit less of a gamble and maybe a little bit less of a reward. Would that be okay? You know, would, dear money managers, would you be okay with that? And and if so, then you know.

Speaker 3:

Here are all of the other benefits World job creation, carbon sequestration, you know.

Speaker 3:

Resilience to high heat or water events, you know all these other benefits, wealth development, ownership of assets.

Speaker 3:

We hope to structure a lot of our exits to return to employee and community ownership because we believe that the value of these businesses is much greater for the communities than it would be for a traditional private equity firm.

Speaker 3:

Just from like a balance, a checkbook standpoint. Like private equity, the private equity firm is not going to get a lot out of a small batch of Midwestern processors, but all the communities in which those processors exist are going to be able to build their livelihoods with those processors existing in them. So you know, the the non monetary value and the economic impact value is so much greater for the employees and farmers and communities that these businesses exist within. That that's part of also our structure is from the beginning to the end. So how are there ways that we can get started on now such that this community or these communities have the opportunity to buy us out and to have us exit out of this in a way that we are able to return money to our investors but also ultimately return the assets and their value to the communities from which they source products.

Speaker 2:

Thanks for sharing all that and, yeah, the highlighting this piece around. Well, it's very experimental. And and designing the vehicle with these honest expectations. And through this journey, I imagine you're bumping up against all different types of personalities and mindsets, on the spectrum of degenerative to regenerative, if we can use that language. What do you find is effective so far in maybe getting those who are earlier in the journey to start buying in and understanding this approach and seeing value in it?

Speaker 3:

You know I'm. I'll just be honest and say terrarium of capital is mostly for people who have been in the space for a long time and they understand the very strategic value that this particular venture and asset classes bring to the space. And it's like I'm not going after somebody who's going to be investing in an ag tech solution that may help reduce, you know, glyphosate application, which is great. I have nothing against that. We, you know, we want our farmers to start using those things. But terrarium of capital is not for that group of people. It's for people and investors, family offices, foundations, individuals who have been in this space for a long time and recognize that it's providing a very strategic value. That takes a ton of time to do well and takes a deep level of connection to the value that we believe we're providing is a level of thought and thoughtfulness and then connection within that broader system to really deliver what we believe are going to be systemic changes and and strong financials. I think we're aiming for between 6 and 12% on return. And, you know, I think we are going to see the birth of a new agricultural system in the United States, either outside of the federally supported commodity system or maybe we'll get that system to gradually turn and support the alternative system as well. But terrarium is not for the beginner.

Speaker 3:

I think I do a lot of other work. I have a little podcast called rain and shine. It's five minutes. It's about nature and science. It's a really nice way for someone who doesn't know a lot about science or regeneration to just kind of connect in. I think you know, continuing to work and support ground films like Kiss the ground and common ground and all these other amazing, you know, pieces of communication and education systems that help people off off ramp is really wonderful. But terrarium was created for those who are deep within the movement and are ready to take the next step towards actually creating structural change.

Speaker 2:

Got it and I suppose, apart from tuning into your little podcast this is a question I ask all my guests and curious here, answer If you could do one thing tomorrow to help decision makers or these other investors perhaps you're earlier on the journey and develop our job mindset. What would it be?

Speaker 3:

Two things. The first thing I would do is I would really be like. So you know that fewer than 4% of venture backed equity funded companies achieve assets within eight to 10 years. You're aware of this, do you understand? I just put some data in front of people. The system that we currently are banking on to support innovation is just A it's not going to work for agriculture. And B is it even really? Because the emperor actually have close and 80% of all venture funded companies fail within five years.

Speaker 3:

I think there's a lot of just like. Let's be sober and look at the reality of these systems and their capacity to create the changes we have agreed that we want to create. That, I think, is just like a little bit of like a. Let's be honest about what's going on and just stop and take a minute. And the second thing is and I would do this for everybody, in whatever position they're in is just like teach them to compost. If people can compost with their communities, they can compost at the school they're at, if there's composting at work, if there's composting on a farm, if their restaurant talks about their food scraps being taken away to be composted and grown to the food, I have seen people shift their mindset more towards regenerative when they understand and participate in composting than I have in any other thing. I mean, I think if you are both blessed and cursed with a trauma that you have to recover from, there's an opening and an opportunity to learn a regenerative mindset, as we've talked a lot about on this show.

Speaker 3:

But I think that in general, I have never met a person A who didn't like composting. I mean, maybe people are like, oh, that's stinky, but maybe they just had bad compost, but I've never met somebody conservative, wealthy, poor, liberal, not from the United States. Everybody thinks composting is great and when they take the time to really think about it and learn about it, their shift towards understanding that we don't live in a scare system, that there is abundance, that if they help life like if not, if they buy something, not if there's a new technology but if they just help life do its job great things happen. So the thing I always come back to at the end of the day is I just wish that everybody, for everybody, has an opportunity to learn how to compost and to participate in composting in some way, because I have seen so much incredible joy and learning and development of human community come from that than I have from probably any other not probably definitely than any other single environmental thing.

Speaker 3:

And you don't have to live in nature outside of town. You can live in a city. Korea has the best, south Korea is some of the best composting in urban cities in the world. New York has composting. Los Angeles has community composting. I mean there are opportunities for that particular activity to exist everywhere and my hope is that everybody everywhere gets a chance to participate in that because it opens. I've seen it open people's minds and hearts so many times, again and again.

Speaker 2:

It's a way for, yeah, all of us, no excuses I love that line Understand how to let life do its job and also build community, which is part of contributing to life, and get the facts on the table, which is also so needed, and no false comparisons anymore. So I think that's a perfect point to wrap up our conversation. Thank you so much, kaila. It's been such a joy. We could go on for hours and hours, but I'm looking at the clock and going. Listeners will need to move on at some point, so maybe there'll be future episodes.

Speaker 3:

Well, it's a pleasure talking to you really on a personal level and I would love to learn more about your journey and thank you for sharing it with me today, but also thank you for sharing it via this show and with the broader world, and I hope that it gives people the bravery and the hope and the courage to step off into their own journey, whatever that may be.

Speaker 2:

Likewise Thank you, and for listeners, that was not planned. I didn't even know Kaila was his background with the injuries and things, but that's what was meant to come through, so I'm sure it's serving at least some listeners, if not many. So thank you.

Speaker 3:

Anyone who's ever burnt out or anyone who's ever had a traumatic head injury or a big injury like if we are supportive, if we support each other, if we have families chosen or biological that can support us, we can heal, and that healing is the regeneration, and I really believe that that healing and regeneration is our evolution.

Speaker 2:

Absolutely, thank you.

Speaker 1:

Thank you. Thank you so much for listening all the way to the end. For the show notes and links we discussed in this episode, check out our website Investing in RegenderWagerculturecom. Forward slash posts. If you liked this episode, why not share it with a friend or give us a rating on Apple Podcasts? That really helps. Thanks again and see you next time.

Exploring the Regenerative Mindset
Exploring Potential and Simplifying Energy
Energy Conservation and Regenerative Practices
Reconnecting With Nature and Self-Healing
Regenerative Healing and Connection Importance
Terra Regenerative Capital
Terrarium of Capital