A wide-ranging conversation with Ben Johnson for his Peripheral Thinking podcast recorded 18th November 2021, published 27th July 2022.

The summary provided by the podcast

Creative pursuits have a life of their own, and however attached we become to them, that attachment isn’t going to produce an outcome in and of itself. This is a lesson cultural creative Marcus Link found in the formation and reformation of his agricultural start-up.

What we discuss

What we talk about:

  • what it might mean to be a cultural creative
  • entrepreneurship as an important aspect of my biography
  • profit as business hygiene and in service of purpose
  • what I did at Riverford Farms and how my work setting up the meat box scheme alongside the veg box scheme influenced my thinking
  • the difference between the intentions behind organic certification and actual ecological outcomes
  • the difference between input and output quality assurance protocols
  • defining regeneration and the adoption of regeneration as a suitcase word
  • agroecology and regeneration: the overlap of ecological, social and economic concerns meeting in regenerating soils
  • the opportunity in agriculture in post-Brexit Great Britain
  • what it means to stack enterprises in the field and beyond the farm gate
  • rural regeneration through regenerative food & farming
  • connecting with nature and to people
  • from a 1,000-acre farm to a 10,000-acre bioregion (ecoregion) to disruptor enterprise that can scale impact and operation
  • renewable energy and mobile telephony as examples of market disruption bringing together knowledge and finance
  • the Balbo Group as a scaled exemplar in Brazil
  • from creating things to channelling things
  • the experience of more than 500x meetings with more than 100x investors across the spectrum from social impact foundations to ultra-high-net-worth (UHNW) individuals and family offices to institutional investors, finding lots of interest but no anchor investor to move things forward
  • taking a break, watching the dust settle, and assessing what the quantum jump in our work is
  • the unforeseeable journey that you spearhead, sewing seeds, and how it might take the markets a while to catch up: and then they do!
  • of pilgrimages and how trees give of their seeds generously and with non-attachment: the seeds might be future trees or bird food
  • of grieving, sadness, depression and letting go and doing something different
  • of finding what makes me feel alive again
  • cycles of life and death in entrepreneurial projects, creative destruction
  • being service of something greater, the interwovenness of all things and the possibility of regenerative or degenerative interactions
  • doing as execution of higher-level intuition
  • framing things in visionary and functional terms
  • how ESG still seeks profit first and then buys social and ecological impact
  • the economist James Quilligan points out that regeneration cannot extend to non-renewables
  • how economy and ecology relate to each other and what planetary boundaries might mean in a particular ecological context
  • regenerative enterprise must be based on stewardship of ecosystem health
  • humans live in cultures and cultures need to be looked after
  • the overwhelming experience of the awareness of all things we ought to consider but don’t
  • regeneration as a direction of travel rather than a hurdle rate allowing us take small steps at a time
  • it’s got to be rewarding, and you’ve got to be able to notice that you can have an impact
  • values-based business, ecological knowledge workers bringing the full capacity of their sensory apparatus to work versus operatives
  • job satisfaction from variety of tasks, a connection between input and output (e.g., profit share), control over one’s domain, and a wish to learn
  • limitation should be dictated by outcomes in service to overall organisation organism
  • roles should be defined by outcome not by task
  • humans have a thirst for knowledge and connection independent of their level of schooling
  • creativity is educated out of us
  • the nature of profit in regenerative enterprise
  • separating land ownership and activity on the land
  • personal gains versus collective benefit