As we keep cultivating and refining this tool kit we wanted to take the time to share a bit of what we’re working on. Adapt comes with a booklet that elaborates on the information presented in the game. We don’t expect everyone that plays the game will read the whole booklet, tho the glossary will come in handy. Mainly the booklet is a reference point for how to use the tool kit, in many ways, and for facilitators, educators and curious designers to dig into some of finer details. This section is early on in the booklet and sets the scene for what is to come next…’A Design Process’.


The Power & Possibility of Design

“We immerse ourselves into the design process when we become aware of a systems challenge and seek to resolve it. This process involves working our way through assessing our context, setting our aim, and developing ideas and intentions, which become solutions only after implementation and appraisal of effectiveness. Evaluation of a system is a critical step that must be revisited often. The power of choice, the power of knowledge, and the power of design can unleash possibility. As designers we hold power, yet our choices are limited when we take our ethics into consideration.

Our experience has shown that we design for a set intention, to reach for an aim, to move us from our current state to our desired state. At times we won’t reach our aim before it is changed or challenged, but our learning through the design process nonetheless informs the context, limits and further analysis of the adapted aim we then design for. The power and possibility that accompany these actions have a deep ripple effect on our lives and the greater world. It is our privilege and burden to move with caution, care and gratitude through our design processes.

Design process is integral to decision-making process, and luckily for us it is in our nature to design, just as design is part of nature, broadly speaking. We design naturally every day, all day long, consciously and subconsciously. If we didn’t, then planning meals, events and work schedules wouldn’t be possible. Such decision-making processes can happen in 5 seconds with no depth or consciousness, or they can be done over a long period of time with a detailed in-depth studying of a system and potential solutions. The depth depends on time, resources and information at hand. Nature’s designs can be found in the way its interconnected systems grow, cycle, and provide for all beings with patterns both seen and unseen.

The patterns found throughout the design process, even the facets of exchange (see page 22), are patterns in which we find frequent energy (value) exchange. We can observe patterns in our core needs and ways in which we live within nature’s cycles and patterns. We can also appraise, play with, utilize and evaluate patterns, all of which are important in a holistic design as they each relate to a part of the process. Patterns and principles can act as a guide and inspiration for our creativity in a whole systems approach.

Whole-system design and thinking starts with reflecting and recognizing the whole: time, space, place and all the energy that exists within it. Taken together, there are always more factors to consider than we can completely account for. However, we can at least start by becoming aware of many of the pieces of the whole. We can also acknowledge that when we differentiate a part of the whole, redesign it and plug it back in, the effect will reverberate throughout the rest of the system. Acknowledging this is the first step to a design system that respects the entirety of the systems we live in and the greater effects that propagate throughout these systems.

Many designers have looked into the complex depth of the design process to define and name what we are doing. Taking a step back to the profound simplicity of our subconscious experience that reflects the same process, the ‘Field-Process-Model’ from Participatory Design reflects our natural design process by simplifying in into four words, again this is not always linear: immersion – transformation – emergence – cultivation. This simplicity can be explored in great depths if we so chose to go that complexity, just like all design processes. How far do we want or need to take it? It depends.

Design processes have been taught through many different models over the years. Those who have contributed to the development of the Adapt game, teaching and design tool were themselves presented with a design intention: find a way to teach and facilitate the design process while incorporating Permaculture Design Principles and ethics in relation to our core needs. In doing so, we took into account that users of this design tool are, when viewed holistically, ‘selves’ designing within a self-designing universe. For this reason, each person has unique contributions to make to the overall conversation happening among the many levels of design. Understanding this, the game was designed to be open-ended to help access the special genius of individuals and groups. While open-ended, however, the depth of exploration into each part is constrained by the resources and information at hand. Also, though the process is presented in a somewhat linear fashion, this is not a linear process, neither as we pursue it nor as design happens in the larger systems in which we participate. Often, steps can be repeated or jumped over. We can move up and down the design process, spiraling and swirling through this model in more ways than one can imagine. At times one process will spin off into another, and another, and one within that one, too! In this way, the design process mimics the way nature works, which is one of the central insights of many indigenous cultures and Permaculture. The connections are endless, and the opportunity for us to explore and integrate is at our fingertips.”


Explore and integrate is where we’re at in this moment of development. Exploring what needs to evolve for Adapt to be in millions of fingertips by integrating the work we’ve done into classrooms and community conversations around the world. Let’s keep it all growing by keeping communication flowing, what did you think of this excerpt? Leave a comment of sent an email to


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