Running a professional ecological design company, with Daniel Halsey of Southwoods Ecosystem Ecological Design: 117


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One of the most common concerns I hear from the regenerative community is how someone could make a good living while working directly on projects that regenerate our planet. While there are many different ways to do this, it seems that the dominant narrative in business tells us that the most profitable job prospects are those that are destroying our natural world. Exploitative petroleum companies post record profits while unethical banking practices pay out massive bonuses and manufacturing covers our landscapes in trash. But I know a growing number of people who are pioneering new options for ecological work and making a good wage in the process. Though this is rarely ever their primary motivation to do what they are passionate about, it’s important to know that you don’t have to compromise a life of holistic abundance to dedicate your time to regenerative work, and that’s why I’ll be focusing in the upcoming weeks on profitable businesses that are doing just that. Specifically, I’ll be speaking to leaders who are offering solutions to conscious and ecological businesses that help them break through their financial constraints and into profitability in more than just a monetary way.

To start this series off, I had the pleasure of connecting with a fellow Minnesotan and one of my heroes in ecosystem regeneration, Daniel Halsey, of Southwoods Ecosystem Ecological Design. Dan has worked all over the world as a designer and consultant and has been a co-founder of the Permaculture Research Institute for cold climates, the Natural Capital plant database, and most recently, United Designers Permaculture design cooperative. With experience working in central America, western and southern Africa, the Iberian peninsula and all over north America from Alaska to the southern mainland, Dan’s perspective on patterns and local cultural considerations is truly impressive.

In this interview we discuss the implications of the destruction that humans are having on the planet which stretch far beyond carbon emissions and climate change. Dan talks about some of the details and observations from his many projects. We then switch to focus on the business aspect of running an ecological design and consultation firm.

Dan and I go over the importance of asking the right questions and how important it is to have a design criteria list for gathering information and recording observations. We also go over everything from attracting clients, the advantages and challenges of collaboration, profiles of the organizations that he’s helped to start and much more. There is one section of the interview where Dan shares his screen to show me parts of the functionality of the Natural Capital plant database that is hard to understand over audio, but I’ve uploaded the video to the show notes for this episode at so you can watch and follow along


Southwoods Ecosystems

Natural Capital plant database

United Designers Permaculture Design Cooperative

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