Imagine the kind of world you would like to live in ...

Let's build that one.

Welcome to Living Systems Institute


View a slide show of our workBee Touching Sunflower

We can change the way we produce what humans need to thrive (food, clothing, shelter, education and health care).  We can create sustainable systems of production that heal nature and produce abundance - increasing resilience.  It all begins with each of us building healthy relationships with the things around us.  (Click the abundance picture, left, for a visual explanation of our work.  Swarm Team, click the honeybee, right.)




Published 9/21/2014, Don's book is available. Order your copy of Beekeeping Mentor In A Book now. Or better yet, click on AmazonSmile to the left and search for Beekeeping Mentor In A Book. A portion of your purchase will be donated back to LSI.

Living Systems Institute


Sustainable Abundance

This is not a typical website dedicated to a single entity structured in a hierarchical manner.  This site is shared by organizations recognizing their interdependence and co-creating a habitat dedicated to achieving the vision.  It is impossible to diagram all of the interactions within a complex system like ours, but the following shows some of the major connections involved in our habitat which is supported by this website:

Habitat 1-9


Take the one question living systems survey.

Our mission is to:

Increase resilience by nurturing healthy relationships, creating repeating interactions, among the things in our range of influence, our habitat.

That sentence is jam packed with substance that may or may not be familiar to the reader.  We are using some of the terms in a unique way.  Let's define some terms.

Habitat:  Not just a place, but the sum of all interactions between things in a place.  Because a place has no boundaries, habitat is defined, geographically, by influence, that is, the ability to attract participants to interact.

Relationships, flows, connections, bridges and transactions are all terms that describe different aspects of the interactions that make up our habitat.  These are the exchanges of value that form our habitat.  Healthy transactions are voluntary and provide something of value to all participants, therefore, participants are motivated to repeat them.


At Living Systems Institute, we are helping people take steps to improve individual habitats.  It's building healthy interdependent community.  We teach people to tend to relationships among all things in our overlapping ranges of influence.  Improving habitat is beneficial to all participating things.  Increasing mutually beneficial interactions improves the habitat. 

Voluntary ParticipationAn example is "providing manure for a garden" which involves interactions between animals, the soil ecosystem and the gardener that results, if done correctly, in more soil organisms participating in that place.  Another example is "harvesting surplus honey" which involves interactions between humans and a colony of honeybees.  We wish to nurture healthy relationships between living things:  team members, neighbors, the soil and all living organisms because this is beneficial to our habitat which is beneficial to us all.  Healthy relationships are built upon healthy transactions worthy of being repeated because they involve benefit to all the participants.  This, by definition, does not include excess or exploitation but rather achieves balance and, consequently, abundance.

Participation is voluntary and self regulated.  The participation of more individuals of any species as well as more species is a direct measure of our success.  Nature increases resilience through diversity.  Thus, we also increase our resilience when more species and more individuals choose to participate.

The more individuals and species we can
into the production of what we need to thrive, the healthier our

Integrating the production of what we need requires us to develop the know how to organize ourselves to provide for ourselves.  We call this Community Sufficiency Technologies.  To learn about the projects we have worked on click the links below:

Community GardenCommunity Gardens

Building HugelkultureTeam Gardening

Sheet MulchingSheet mulching / Hugelkultur

Bee Hive BuildBees

Backyard ChickensChickens

HugelkulturMultiple Use Facilities


Floor PlanFood Cells


  1. We are already a part of the group that consists of all living things in our habitat.  It is in our individual and collective interest to work for the benefit of that group because it is the interactions within that group that create the habitat that we experience.
  2. Every thing is of value and has a gift(s) to contribute to its habitat.  That gift(s) can be contributed when we find how to meet the needs of the thing.
  3. There is no such thing as a weed.  Nature may provide a gift called mulch, growing in place, where a gardener can pull that mulch and lay it down to aid in the cycle of life, feeding organisms in that place, accepting the gift.  Pollen Rainbow and moreLikewise, there is no such thing as a pest.  Nature may provide an organism that is temporarily inconvenient to us, however, that organism will inevitably become food for another participant in our habitat.  Abundant food sources attract things to eat them.
  4. Every choice we make has consequences.  When we choose to expand relationships, bridges or transactions that satisfy healthy needs and desires we tend to increase diversity and create abundance which can cause a spiral of positive consequences further increasing diversity and abundance.  The opposite is also possible, but not desirable.
  5. We are self-starting.  Identify a project you wish to complete and invite others to engage.  Participation is always completely voluntary.

are the one
for the condition of your habitat.
We can


This site is based on an understanding that every choice you make, along with the choices of the living things around you, creates the world you experience.  To apply that understanding requires a paradigm shift.  We are used to believing that we are powerless to do anything about all the terrible things going wrong with the world.  David Braden has written some thoughts about this paradigm shift and how it allows us to overcome the 3 assumptions that prevent us from building the world we want.

Linda Harvest 2012We offer a class called Principles of Community Design which teaches how to use this understanding to make connections in your  community and begin applying this understanding.  Once you start you will find that the resources available to you are not scarce.  Every community has unrealized human potential and unrealized biological potential. Society calls these poverty and environmental degradation and treats them as a problem instead of a resource.  We choose to engage the resource.


Like everyone else at LSI, you have projects you want to accomplish.  For projects that improve our habitat, we want to help.  Where team member transactions are concerned, we do not expect direct compensation for helping a team member with an individual project.  Instead we expect that team members will help us with our individual projects, that the whole team will benefit from the abundance that we will produce, and that the whole locality, all the living things in this place, will benefit from the improvements in the habitat.

  1. Team WorkConfirm availability with key players in advance - people who are involved in the project design or sourcing materials needed.
  2. Pick some day and time options that would work for you and your project.
  3. Announce those options in an invitation to the group for their participation.
  4. Identify the best date and time choice.
  5. Confirm with the participants.
  6. Get organized and use their time efficiently to the best of your ability.
  7. Watch for opportunities to contribute to other projects.
  8. Avoid the temptation to keep score.  Consider the "pay it forward" philosophy.  Pay attention to your sense of equity.  Don't allow yourself to get out of balance on either the giving or the receiving end.  Lack of balance breeds resentment.

Everything you see referred to on this page is, in part or in whole, a result of using these steps to organize ourselves to provide for ourselves.  You are invited to join us.  You are invited to do this in your habitat.


Green Line

Earth Care, People Care, Fair Share


Top-bar CascadeWe would like to acknowledge the significant contribution the ideas of the Permaculture movement have made to our work.  To understand how effective permaculture techniques can be watch this five minute video called Greening the Desert and for a more detailed understanding watch A Farm for the Future a 48 minute BBC production about the alternative to petroleum based agriculture.

There is also a free series of videos by Geoff Lawton demonstrating the application of permaculture principles.

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We believe that this work holds the potential to create the world we all want for our children.  We cannot do it alone.  If you see the value in this work please donate what you can.