THE REGENERATION MAG
“We see this in the massive wave of female and transgender candidates who are taking a stand on several important economic and social issues.” Founder of The Regeneration Magazine, Kyle Calian, discusses gendering climate change, three social innovators you need to know and how the mag strives to highlight individuals creating positive environmental change.
YOUTH and COMMUNITY
In your youth was there an activist or role model that inspired your career trajectory?
I would have to say the person that inspired me the most growing up was writer Michael Pollan and his book “The Omnivore’s Dilemma.” Understanding monoculture and the way it blatantly disregards biological principles was the first time I started thinking about systems and how we can design better ones.
A quote that best describes your outlook on life?
“If you’re going to tell people the truth, make them laugh, otherwise they’ll kill you.”
The intersectionality of individuals and climate change, as well as the gendering of climate change are conversations centring the importance of how different social groups are impacted by climate change and demonstrate how these social categories respond differently to warnings of climate change. What are some new approaches you’re seeing that are more effectively communicating the message of climate change for tailored audiences?
The climate movement has seemed very much like a revolution for rich white men who throw around words like CSR or reduced emissions. We’re seeing a considerable paradigm shift toward what many call “the feminine” or what I feel is akin to mother nature, where that kind of energy, not just male or female polarities, is becoming more and more popular in our western culture. We see this in the massive wave of female and transgender candidates who are taking a stand on several important economic and social issues.
On the other side of that coin, we’re seeing a president, who is overwhelming a hyper-masculine individual, become the antithesis and almost a symbol of the opposite of what’s soon to come.
Traits and actions like empathy, caring, collaboration and most importantly listening is more important than ever in an increasingly complex world. When you start to tell the stories of individuals who are trying to create a more equitable environmental and social world you begin to see a new social fabric being woven between communities. And we believe storytelling to be one of the most powerful tools of social change. When you learn about someone else’s perspective, you can start to understand so much more about the world and the way it works.
Who are three thought leaders contributing to social innovation or the environmental movement that we should have on our radar?
The first is Hunter Lovins who co-authored Natural Capitalism with Paul Hawken and is releasing a new book this fall called A Finer Future. The second is Earth Guardians Youth Director Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, who is currently suing the federal government for failing to act on climate change. He’s also an excellent rapper, poet, and musician. The third is Dr. Daniel Wahl, a writer who frequently publishes his writing on Medium on creating regenerative systems and cultures.
A shout out to an unacknowledged hero in the New York scene contributing to the green economy in New York?
Rafael Espinal, the city council member in Brooklyn, is definitely at the top of my list. One of the most down to earth politicians I’ve ever met and true to his word. He listens to his constituents closely and is continuously working to improve his own policies, like his straw bill and his green roofs bill. Check out our most recent online interview with him for more on that.
“We provide a platform to share the good news when it comes to climate change and other environmental topics in the hopes of shifting the conversation towards a solutions-based paradigm, rather than just focusing on the problems.”
THE REGENERATION MAG
Tell us about The Regeneration Mag and how do you hope through this medium to redefine climate change from a problem to an opportunity?
I’ve passionately studied works of literature, architecture, and design by people like Wendell Berry, Buckminster Fuller, and Frank Lloyd Wright. These people inspired monumental changes in our approach and perspectives on topics such as building community, our relationship with agriculture, the disconnect between modern economics on a finite planet, and more.
I truly believe climate change will be the single most crucial issue of the 21st century. It is already causing conflicts and will continue to do so if we don’t begin to create resilient systems. Worst of all, our media isn’t inspiring us to take action or providing us with the stories, businesses or information we need. They only focus on the bad news when it comes to climate change.
That is why I want to highlight the individuals who are working to bring positive environmental and social change to the world — big and small.
As an environmentally and socially conscious platform why was it important for the magazine to be print and what do you say to the critics who may label this as a hypocritical decision?
The short story is the internet, phones and computers still use a ton of energy. Reading on a screen can be distracting. Our print edition is more like a book or reference guide you’ll want to keep, share with friends, and dig into. It’s also why we’re a biannual print publication.
We use FSC certified paper and the magazine is 100% recyclable. We also plant a tree with Tree Era which helps us offset our carbon by almost 5.5x for every issue sold.
What would you describe as the core values of The Regeneration Mag community?
We provide a platform to share the good news when it comes to climate change and other environmental topics in the hopes of shifting the conversation towards a solutions-based paradigm, rather than just focusing on the problems.
Our core values are the following: Drawing the connections between the largest movement on Earth; showcasing contributions that drive a meaningful conversation; promoting the commonly forgotten relationship between social justice and environmental sustainability; believing that sales figures are not the only measurement of success; acknowledging the evolution of the economy away from free market capitalism; practicing what we preach and taking significant efforts to minimize our environmental footprint.
Can you tell us about the difference between sustainability and regenerative thinking and how The Regeneration Mag employs this ideology?
Sustainability, the ability to maintain life in its current form over a long duration, needs to be eclipsed by a new paradigm. Living processes, don’t just endure, life either flourishes and blooms, evolves and transforms or it stagnates and dies. What we need now are leaders who want to help us shift into a regenerative culture so we can thrive, not just survive.
Sustainability in business maintains the status quo of solutions that exist in isolation, without taking into account other stakeholders, such as businesses, consumers, production, and materials, as well as local governments, communities, and ecology.
A regenerative culture is one that considers a circular economy based on collaboration, not competition. Circular solutions think about business like an ecosystem, wherein we have both organic and technical nutrient cycles that need to be considered. Humanity has a bad habit of trying to solve problems too quickly, without considering the consequences of our actions, such as the rapid extraction and widespread use of fossil fuels to elevate the quality of life for people around the world.
As David Orr said, “Environmental problems are a miscalibration between human intentions and ecological results — which is to say they are a kind of design failure.”
When we become intentional about how we think, what we do and how we do it, we can create change. From the farmer who designs a resilient waste free closed loop to the architect thinking about greywater systems and capturing lost energy – we can all be good designers, entrepreneurs, and leaders if we can listen to people. That’s what we do at TRM.
Since the foundation of the magazine, what have been some exciting social innovative or environmental projects that TRM team has been a part of?
We’ve had so many fun events since our initial founding. We launched our first issue at Package Free Shop, our second at The Assemblage and the third at the Soho Grand Hotel. In the last year, we collaborated with Ciel Power on a sustainable fashion show at the Reeves-Reed Arboretum and with Global Fashion Exchange on their biggest clothing swap party to date at The Brooklyn Mirage. This fall we’re doing an event with Trillium Investments and Merrill Lynch on their impact investment portfolios, details on that coming soon!
“I would like to see the voices of many more indigenous peoples, people of color and even rural white farmers amplified because the climate movement is about creating a society and a world that is better for all of us, not just those who have the privilege of shopping at whole foods.”
You’ve mentioned how the “haulers” of instagram need to pressure industries, such as the fashion industry to take ownership of their responsibility in climate change.
I’ve always believed that individual actions can create rippling changes. I’m enamored with famous people like Al Gore, Leonardo DiCaprio and Jamie Clayton, who use their enormous followings to leverage important social and political issues. But there are also the up and coming influencers who need to take a firm stand against things like single use plastics and try to get a generation of young people, who are constantly on social media, excited about being a green leader.
Our actions, and how we lead others in this world towards a better future is all we have. We live in a beautiful profoundly interconnected world full of opportunities to make positive change — all of the effects you may never feel. If you have a following, use it for good and amplify those voices that need to be heard. Just like money, there is nothing inherently evil about it – there’s nothing wrong with being popular either, but it’s way cooler, in my opinion, to be popular and inspiring.
How do you believe the individual can take action and do you believe sustainable capitalism is achievable?
I believe that capitalism that functions in a biological world dictated by the limitations of ecological systems will inevitably transform and shift toward one that values all life on earth. It saddens me, the rate at which our biological diversity is being diminished. Diversity is our greatest asset in nature and the same can be said for humanity. I hope we figure that out soon.
We will find ways to manipulate and modify natural systems for our benefit, like growing salad greens on walls. I think this kind of innovation is really exciting, and the more we learn about plants and local ecology, the more communities will thrive.
As a side note, read Michael Pollan’s “Botany of Desire” for more on how plants manipulate us for their own ends and how our culture forms around the food we grow.
Where do you hope to see The Regeneration Mag in five years?
I would like to see our online platform grow and our frequency of exciting collaborative events increase. I’m also working on creating an educational store that teaches consumers about the benefits of supporting businesses with social and environmental goals that will tie into our media platform – more on that soon as well.
Your Go-To track for working out?
Almost anything by Bassnectar, Tipper or some Drum and Bass – usually a prerecorded set or playlist. I’m a bit of a live music lover.
The AIDS crisis saw the rise of queer creatives and the creation of Silence=Death: a confronting message that triggered action within the queer community that extended to the wider community and stimulated political action. Do you think there’s a lack of storytellers to humanize the narrative of climate change, if so is this changing?
I think the environmental movement has failed on many fronts – most importantly the failure to be inclusive and exciting. It’s been a movement that has been primarily run by large NGOs and politicians from the most elitist parts of the United States. I would like to see the voices of many more indigenous peoples, people of color and even rural white farmers amplified because the climate movement is about creating a society and a world that is better for all of us, not just those who have the privilege of shopping at whole foods.
We also need to make the green movement more exciting and less about what you can’t do, and what you can. The zero-waste movement has also made it a bit scary for some individuals who feel like anything less than perfect isn’t enough. We’re all about doing as much as you humanely can and making as much incremental change as you can. If you bring your reusable mug to work for a year and use it twice a day you’ve saved over 700 single use cups. That’s a small win, but becomes a big win over time.
We like to partner with companies that make going green fun, like Bureo a skateboard company that makes their decks out of recycled fishing nets. It’s companies like this that to me seem like the future of our economy.
What would you graffiti on the back of a toilet door?
Do more good, not less bad.