Regeneration and Resilience Through a Multi-Capital Lens to Make Value Visible

The multicapital framework allows for important conversations and innovative thinking to emerge so that we can address issues in new, creative ways. --Sean Esbjorn-Hargens and Claudia Meglin

Sean is a global leader in the application of integrative thinking to leader development, organizational design, and mixed-methods design. In 2011 he founded MetaIntegral a social impact network that supports change leaders around the world in applying integrative principles. Sean’s passion lies at the intersection of design, integral theory, and embodiment. He has published and edited numerous articles, chapters, and books. His most recent book is Metatheory for the Twenty-first Century.

Claudia Meglin

Claudia is an Integral Systems Designer for Creative Enterprises. She has been working for decades to guide organizations through organizational and cultural change and completed her Integral MBA in Creative Enterprises for Social Transformation in 2017. Her calling in life is to bring together creativity and business to consciously design sustainable and regenerative systems. Claudia is a certified Somatic Focalizing Coach.

Welcome Back!

We're talking about catalyzing a farm to food system vision for regenerating community health, wealth, resilience and well-being. 

In this interview I'm talking with Sean Esbjorn-Hargens and Claudia Meglin of MetaIntegral about an expanded view of community values, taking a multi-capital perspective. MetaIntegral is a global social impact organization committed to transforming capitalism into a system that works for all. They support visionary leaders, teams, and organizations to design and implement Wisdom Economies--systems of value exchange that reveal and measure the connections between the typical types of capital including financial, mechanical, natural and social and the values we typically don't measure but which make a system healthy or cause dysfunction. Their vision are holistic, virtuous systems that result in more positive kinds of individual and collective impact. Their MetaImpact framework includes 10 different types of value capitals that can be used to assess impacts in organizations and communities. These are: human, health, social, cultural, knowledge, psychological, spiritual, natural, manufactured, and financial. Together these capitals comprise a whole system. 

Sean and Claudia are working with regenerative community systems around the world, including efforts to expand regenerative farming by creating new value opportunities for farmers. They are using the 10 capital framework to track the impact of farming using regenerative approaches beyond financial returns and environmental impacts to include psychological, social and cultural values that are also circulating in communities of farmers.

For example, Sean points to the physical health and wellness of farmers themselves. In recent years farmer suicides have increased substantially, as many farmers find themselves deep in debt as commodity crop prices no longer support their profitability. Social capital results from farmers connecting in peer learning networks that reduce their social isolation and help them overcome fear (psychological capital) of negative peer pressure from their still-conventional family and neighbors and the broader farming sector (cultural capital). When farmers feel supported by a community to risk a different way of farming, this helps farmers and their communities bring forward another vision of wealth, including farmers' psychological wellness. We've already heard examples of these values at work in previous interviews with Allen Williams and about Janie's Mill. 

The multi-capital approach shines a light on each capital through community conversation and analysis, allowing for new thinking to occur and values to be surfaced. Often connections emerge across capital areas allowing for innovative ideas to emerge that help overcome disconnections that are resulting in negative impacts. By building on the natural links that exist among capitals but often aren't seen as important or valuable--for example farmers often meet for coffee each day in their community and talk about farming and new farming methods are discussed at machine shed talks. Harnessing this social and knowledge capital mechanism and using it as an opportunity to introduce regenerative farming approaches and their financial benefits to farmers due to reduced chemical input costs, is a way to also help farmers feel supported and connected while also learning new ways of farming. 

The multicapital framework can be used to design wiser local systems that work for farmers and benefit whole communities, such as the local grain mill that serves as a hub for many types of capital exchange and value. Examples abound in the story of Janie's Mill, which we've heard about in earlier interviews.

Please enjoy my conversation with Sean and Claudia to learn how we can catalyze and support a regenerative farming and food system that works for everyone.

Don't forget, I’ve created a special Our Food Is Our Future Facebook Group where you can join the conversation and share your reflections, questions and ideas about creating a healthier farming and food system.  

Here's to a healthier farming and food system for us all,


Food Farm Health Lab

Food Farm Health Lab builds on the Social Laboratory Movement, bringing together diverse stakeholders to explore, develop, and adapt regenerative farming and food system solutions that can be prototyped, modeled, and scaled in local communities for greater health, wealth, resilience and well-being.

©Basil's Harvest, 2020

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