GAIA: Inspiration For A New World

Giuseppe Tallarico asked me to translate one of my blogs for the World Permaculture Association website and give my vision on sustainability and regeneration.

Here is a first attempt to share some aspects of my vision and their roots.

There is so much to tell… My vision is a holistic one, embracing the Systems View of Life of Fritjof Capra, and it is sometimes difficult to make clear in a few words.

But in 2019 I have started trying to share different aspects and possible actions in a series of Dutch articles and shorter blogs in Dutch and English.


Not even that long ago, in 1972, the first photograph of the earth taken from space was published.

The image of this ‘blue marble’ touched people in their hearts.

Never before had the fragile beauty and vulnerability of the earth been captured so vividly.

People realised how dependent we are of Mother Earth, GAIA.

Around the same time (1972) the report ‘Limits to Growth’ made by a group of scientists, the ‘Club of Rome’ appeared.

The report states that we only have a limited amount of resources and that our economy can never grow unlimitedly.

The scientist writers worry about our capitalist society in which financial growth and consumption are the main economic drivers.

Again around the same time (1974) Bill Mollison and David Holmgren got together to work on their first permaculture book.

These three events in the 1970’s are connected for me. They show why we CARE, to define the need for a new ECONOMIC system and give direction on HOW to do that.

If we take our ecosystems as an inspiration, restore them and learn how to live within these restored ecosystems as humans, we have taken a big step in the right direction.


We need more than just our rational thinking to guide us. Because everything is connected, we live in complex systems.

So how can we really understand what consequences our actions have in the long run?

And how can we find sustainable solutions if we just use rational thinking?

We really need to use more than our brains, we need our whole bodies to become involved.

I once heard this quote and it stayed with me: if our brain starts feeling and our heart starts thinking, our hands will automatically do the right thing.

The picture of the blue marble helps here. It touches our hearts and we can train our ‘regenerative muscle’ thanks to this image.

Look at the image of the earth from space and realize this is our home.

In the south of Holland we have the Columbus Earth Centre where the earth can really be experienced in 3D and beyond.

Our two Dutch astronauts, Wubbo Ockels and André Kuipers have been advocates of sustainable action ever since they came back from their trips.

They experienced the so called ‘overview effect’.

Many astronauts say that the view of the earth from space changed them. It gave them new insights on “who we are” and how “everything is connected to everything else”.

Edgar Mitchell said: “We went to the moon as technicians, we returned as humanitarians.”


Let’s get back to the report of the Club of Rome ‘Limits to growth’.

The report investigated five world problems and their interrelationships: growth of world population, food production, industrialisation, depletion of raw materials and pollution.

The conclusion of the report was that growth of world population and material progress cannot be our main purpose without getting in trouble.

We need a new main purpose.

At that moment the message was only received by a small part of the world. But in the past decades many things have shifted.

New generations are looking for purpose and hopefully they will look beyond consumption and short term gain.

What is really important in our lives?

If we put this above all else and introduce our humanity in our conversations, our love, our friendships and our jobs, we can create a new kind of world together.

We can even create an new economy in which more benefits count than just money-for-a-few.

Let us regenerate the damage done to ecosystems and spend our lives creating beautiful new things that can last generations long.

Nature can be our compass in how to choose compostable materials, how to use everything that is locally available and how to create abundance with it.

Care for the earth, care for the people and fair share are the three principles of permaculture.

If we build our economies creating abundance within fully functioning ecosystems, it will be easy to share with all species. 


At the moment ‘Limits to growth’ was published, it was a new voice for the holistic view that everything is connected to everything else.

Our earth consists of interrelationships.

The world consists of building blocks, local ecosystems, that keep themselves and each other in balance thanks to biodiversity and the fact that every organism has its own role.

We, humans, are part of those natural ecosystems.

And however hard we try to reign over the earth, with our energy slurping technologies, toxic materials and economy of pollution and waste, only when we are really being part of nature we can take our own place sustainably.

We can build another economic system. A system of qualitative growth, as reflected upon by Fritjof Capra and Hazel Henderson so beautifully.

A small is beautiful economy, as described by E.F. Schumacher, a meaningful economy and a Donut Economy as reflected upon by Kate Raworth. They are all different sides of the same coin.

Mother Earth, GAIA, leads the way and many different paths can lead to a regenerative society.

Let us also embrace biodiversity here, study different holistic paths and make the choices closest to our hearts and our local cultures.

All indigenous tribes knew their unique paths ages ago. We learn every day…


The holistic view on sustainability is connected to ‘deep ecology’, a philosophical view in which nature has its own intrinsic value, separate from its usefulness for humans. Arne Naess used the term first.

He stated that biodiversity and abundance of nature have value in themselves.

Nature cannot only be a resource for production and consumption.

Non-humans have the same right as humans to live on our planet and thrive.

Deep ecology inspired a lot of other people in their work.

Such as Joanna Macy (US) and Schumacher College (UK).

Also Gunter Pauli with his Blue Economy has been very inspired by the deep ecology of Arne Naess.

And with this Blue Economy my own search for “how can we change things?” started.

A whole new world opened up for me.

A world of systems thinking, permaculture, technical innovation in line with nature, social innovation, personal growth, farming with living soil as basis, deep connection to nature.

It’s all in there!

We can innovate in line with nature.

We can create healthy products with multiple benefits, use materials that are compostable and locally abundantly available, create resilient business models with multiple income streams and innovate with the power of diversity.

Abundance is possible, but it is important to think and act differently first.


Blue Economy inspired me in becoming a freelancer in 2014 and study in line with my vision.

Permaculture has been my practical guide ever since.

With worm farms we can learn about systemic design, food forests create abundance and living soils show us the unmeasurable value of micro-organisms and fungi.

I initiated many projects in line with nature since then in my own area and abroad.

Creating food forest on a Dutch 13 ha farm, organising symposia about living soils for farmers, explaining inclusive business models to Blue Economy teams around the world and inspiring businesses to use design thinking for technical and social innovations that make sense.

I really think the way to go is an inclusive, ecosystems inspired way.

Look at the blue marble and understand why we need to do this.

Look at our economy and realize that we built it ourselves, so we can also change it together.

And if we need inspiration on how to change it, I suggest to study permaculture and Blue Economy. 


Permaculture for me is so much more than gardening.

The three inspiring starting points: care for the earth, care for people and fair share inspire me to create abundance in everything I do and share this abundance.

With my strengthened connection to nature (living and breathing in nature), to myself (meditation) and to others (deep listening) I lead an inspired life full of love, friendship and meaningful work.

My path is getting more clear every day and I just love the journey… 

Désirée Driesenaar

Désirée Driesenaar lives and works in The Netherlands as a freelancer initiating projects on Blue Economy and Permaculture. After a long career in business, she decided she wants to combine her talents with her passion for nature and people. So she works on restoring ecosystems and teaches/learns how to live abundantly within these restored ecosystems. She is part of the international Blue Economy and Permaculture networks.