To regeneration

Michelle Furtado
5 min readApr 29, 2024


Dawn, again

In my circles, sustainability has become a messy word. The range of projects and programmes that exist under this umbrella term, and the ongoing surge of greenwashing showing progress where this is none (or very little) has, to many, dirtied the term. It’s similar to the Net Zero ambition, which is now seen as a ‘slogan’, as stated by the outgoing Chris Stark, from the UK’s Committee on Climate Change. The buzzier terms are now regeneration, regenerative practices, regenerative and purpose-led business.

This is all well and good, but semantics don’t change the unfolding crisis. The glaciers continue to melt at unprecedented rates, animals, birds and insects struggle to find new habitats, the potency of greenhouse gas emissions build their atmospheric alterations, and chemicals from every corner of human activity leach into our soils, rivers, oceans, and air. They are found in our bodies.

Our future is full of legacy.

The degradation of our environment is currently the norm, this is business as usual. Sustainability is seen as maintenance and management of this degraded state. Regeneration seeks to rewild, restore, protect and improve. This switch is necessary and urgent. And yet, how does humanity — all of us; warring and conscientious, divided and communal, the same but different — move cohesively towards a more balanced earthly exsistence?

I listened to Mo Gawdat, speaking on the Diary of a CEO podcast, and how we may not have a choice in our future, given the potential (unfolding also?) dangers of Artificial Intelligence (AI) or Artificial General Intelligence (AGI). It was both fascinating and terrifying in equal measure and I really think that anyone who bothers to read this, should also head over there and make time for that. One of the future scenarios presented plays out…

… In a pincer move by a human-created technology, a human-created planetary-scale, environmental disaster is thwarted by the removal, or management, of the key cause of such disaster, the humans themselves. Other voices in my circles, when discussing the above, see AI assume the understanding that humans are an essential part of the planetary ecosystem, and therefore we wouldn’t be exterminated or managed in that way. That then, just leaves the question of whether we are an essential part of the ecosystem?

Are we essential? Life was around before us and, if we destroy ourselves, it will also continue, albeit somewhat stunted until a new evolutionary explosion fills rich niches once again. The removal of humans overnight leads to nuclear anihilation, extinction, and then regeneration and resurgence. In that sense, no I guess, not essential.

What if, when confronted with AI, we can truly examine what is unreplicable by these machines, what it is that makes us precious and essential? I’m having regular meetings exploring creativity and innovation — joyful, playful spaces, thoughtful and thought-provoking. In a more professional setting, I’m learning to be a practitioner and teacher of Inner Development Goals. As an artist, I’m co-developing and organising a creative imagination workshop, seeking to reignite the ease of childhood imagination. I can feel the thematic bells sounding.

The five pillars of the Inner Development Goals framework (

Emotion. Imagination. Creativity. Will these human qualities prove essential? These may well be found too in AI/AGI as it accelerates — I’ve read about them enough in my sci-fi novels. AI characters are often burdened; with depression or paranoia, or want to give up on humanity, unless they are actively trying to obliterate it. The learning platform our AI friend is gathering its personality from, is all the videos, pictures, blogs, news, history, and every other corner of the internet. The good, the bad, the ugly, all ingested and logically reformatted into opinion. Our views on them, and our views on each other.

If we are on the cusp of birthing a new sentient species, one capable of its own evolutionary path, how can we be responsible enough parents? The post-Covid shadow is long, tilting slightly the balance towards a desire for a deeper reconnection — based on my Eurocentric experience — to people, to nature, to experience, to joy. The next few decades of the human story will contain the legacy elements, the chaotic and unpredictable. Yet, many more of us eight billion or so humans do have the power, now more than ever, to really influence the outcome.

Love, kindness, softness. These traits, the warm, fuzzy ones that make me smile as I scroll Insta, these might just save us. As I move through this life, I’m increasingly feeling that my sole purpose as a human is to share the love, so to speak. I’m acutely aware that I know nothing in the grand scheme of things. That I am but one of many, each besotted with their own ego. That here by the grace of god (gods/goddesses) go I.

I ponder these questions at night trying to sleep. I daydream them, sat in a spring meadow, alive and teeming with life, watching my children play hide-and-seek in the long grass. I escape them through music and art, lost then in the act itself.

Part of the next step I believe, and why growing our inherently creative and imaginative self is so important, is that it will support us sitting in a space of uncertainty. Each human has the capacity to imagine their own future self and the world in which they walk through. This is powerful, and contextual. The global forces I write and talk about — the climate and biodiversity crises, AI, economics, and inequality — will all be playing out simultaneously. As the impacts of each collide geographically, unintended consequences may also be unleashed. Facing uncertainty and being adaptable (which we really excel at!), are where the powers of our creativity and imagination shine.

We have wished and created this world into existence. The divine rights of kings are no longer part of our cultural beliefs. Our culture now needs to rapidly respond to the pressures of the externalities discussed above and the uncertainty that comes with that. Playing, storytelling, imagining, and creating are all ways we can vision new futures. They hold the joy that is educated out of us. They are non-conformative to rules, lauching dreams and ambitions. We are a species that invents and we need this skill more than ever.

If you like this article, please give it a clap — you can clap up to 50 times! I write irregularly, normally every couple of weeks or so, follow me to be notified when I do. I’m a artist, activist and sustainability guide, building a new life in Portugal and growing trees. See more of my sustainability work at To support my work as an artist, visit — or buy me a coffee Thanks for reading, hope you enjoy it, and get the conversation started below if you fancy.



Michelle Furtado

Sustainability and regenerative, systems-thinking mentor, fine artist (sculpture, painting and digital) and community activist.