7/21 — ReGen Villages with James Ehrlich

James Ehrlich

James Ehrlich, Eric Reynolds, Jeremy Johnson

James Ehrlich

Editor’s note: Eric and Jeremy were honored to interview James Ehrlich on the future of housing with ReGen Villages for the July 2021 issue of Integral Leadership Review. You can also watch the video of the interview on ILR’s video page, or directly here.

Eric: James, thank you so much for joining us today to let us know about the work you’ve been doing. How many years have you been working on ReGen Villages?

James: Oh gosh. We started ReGen Villages as a Stanford spinoff company impact investment vehicle in 2016. The research started at Stanford in probably early 2013. In my case study, research started somewhere in the mid-to-late 90s on organic, biodynamic farming, intentional communities, co-housing, blue zone areas.

Eric: Great, so you’ve been at it for a while.

James: Yes.

Eric: Could you give us an overview of what ReGen Villages is?

James: Sure. ReGen Villages is a modern eco village interpretation that uses technology, machine learning specifically, to design and then operate bio-regenerative and resilient neighborhood infrastructure. The idea, really, is to use. Machine learning to first design these communities in an iterative, generative way, thereby hopefully accelerating the process of planning and zoning conditions. Then the other side of it is the software, once the neighbor is constructed. The software is there to run the regenerative infrastructure of that neighborhood. The food, water, energy, circular waste to resource management, connectivity to passive home, topologies, and further external services of mobility on demand and curriculum health care, etc. In addition to that, a ledger for economic value and values across the community.

Eric: That is really cool.

James: Thanks!

Eric: I’m curious about the interface of the machine learning.

James: I think the main thing really is to get the [machine learning’s] inspiration. Really, our focus has been and continues to be biomimicry. Mother Earth has been really amazing for 4.5 billion years. Understanding symbiotic natural flows, and one of those systems in particular is the mycorrhizal bundle, and mycelial networks. So if you crack into that, look at what happens underneath the forest floor for instance, you begin to understand this whole fabric—if you will—this ethernet network of mycorrhizal fungal bundles that are conveying all kinds of nutrients, minerals, carbon, sugar, nitrogen, and even water allotments over great distances. There’s an electrochemical signaling that happens: “I have this, who needs this? I have that, who needs it?”

It’s quite an elegant and lovely metaphor we think, to economies, and we hope the future of human economies is related to long term positive outcomes, which is very different from our current economic milieu, right? So that’s sort of the kernel of the VillageOS software: to look at both the design and the operation of these communities through the lens of symbiosis, of regenerative, resilient infrastructure.

Previously, or currently, you have neighborhoods and retrofits that are comprised of siloed systems, right? You have energy, you have water, you have waste, or other kinds of infrastructure whether it’s housing, roads, lighting, electrical, etc. Then you also have food, which is alwaysan afterthought, and waste, which is considered to be something that you just pump out. The same thing with excess water. It’s considered a nuisance—runoff—and you just sort of need to get rid of it.

So we look at these, instead, as opportunity zones, creating overlays where systems can learn and know about each other, then learn from each other, thereby creating a repository of data that these systems can interact with each other through. For instance, a water pump is not just out there in the field, or under a house doing what it’s doing. It requires electricity. That electricity, for the most part, doesn’t really know what it’s sending the power out to do. It’s just sending power out to do something. Well, wouldn’t it be great if the water pump and the electricity systems know about each other? The why and how. And learn. So, then you can begin to create historical data that goes with the real time sensor data. Then those things, together in the aggregate, can produce predictive models. Then you start to get some really exciting places.

We’re known as the Tesla of eco villages. It’s kind of our tagline. Akin to that, you can imagine waking up in the morning, and while you’re having your morning coffee, your neighborhood overnight had a software upgrade. It’s learning and improving for the sole benefit of you and your family and your community’s flourishing—and for planetary flourishing.

Eric: I actually had goosebumps! I imagine that this same information sharing is also happening between communities?

James: Yeah. The main objective, referring back to the Tesla model, is that you have these neighborhoods with highly anonymized and encrypted infrastructure data, intended for the village itself to learn and improve, but across climate zones we could be sharing, through a thin pipe to the cloud, relevant climate related data as it relates to infrastructure. That’s where we see that the Tesla model really fits very nicely, because it’s this idea that your car is a computer rolling down the street, right? And it’s learning about road conditions. When you’re driving and others are driving, it has all this awareness, so that when somebody from another part of the world switches on autopilot, they’ve actually gained from this bigger brain, this understanding or knowledge.

So, it just takes you a step further to that level five autonomous vehicle. Now we’re looking at a level five autonomous neighborhood and community.

But we’re really focused on nature, and permaculture, and what’s not built, right? In terms of amenities and values, as opposed to just the passive home and infrastructure parts. It’s something that’s really anathema to traditional real estate developer, or landowner, or government. They have a particular appetite or understanding for one thing, which is how much housing you can place, per square meter plot, and how much profit can you extract from that by doing the least amount in terms of building costs and services. So, we took a completely different approach.

Eric: It’s gratifying to hear. Naysayers might say, “oh, you’re just greenwashing something,” but obviously you’re far beyond that and actually doing the work of regenerating.

James: I like to say often that when it comes to real estate development, I am a sheep in wolf’s clothing. I really feel that we are at a crossroads in humanity. There’s a billion, billion and two maybe, unit housing shortage globally. Another two billion people coming to planet earth within the next twenty or thirty years, give or take. Maybe some reductions because of COVID-19 and lack of intimacy, or whatever. But still, you have a huge disaster on our hands if the intent is to try to put all these people into coastal mega-cities. So, we have this opportunity. Really, this is not a pitch, this is an urgent call to action. We only have about, I would say, a decade or less, to get these lily pads of self-sustaining neighborhoods up and running as a moniker for how the next decades to come will be the work, and to get these things moving forward rapidly. This is what I’ve dedicated my life to. This is the mission we’re on.

Eric: Thank you for that. What do you say to people who are like, “are you going to have a computer overlord running our town?”

James: Really good question. I’ve seen all the movies too, just so you know. Several times probably, with all the flights that I’ve taken. I completely get it. You look at the Oxford study, I believe it was 2010, which basically predicted that 47% of all employment won’t exist anymore, due to machine learning and robotics and artificial intelligence. It’s not like the car replacing the horse whip and buggy. All those people were able to then start working to build cars. We’re talking about a whole new era, whether it’s doctors, lawyers, professors—people in all kinds of walks of life replaced by algorithms. That’s something we see happening, we’ve already seen it happen, and it’s going to happen more and more.

Our thought process is: let’s beat them to the game, in a way, creating algorithms and machine learning and digital twin software that focuses on human flourishing within planetary boundaries. Instead of looking at robots first taking our jobs, and then killing us, we can think about robots actually going out into the fields and using ‘friggin’ lasers’—as we’ve heard in movies before—to do precision weed killing, understanding that the ground cover is really critical, that soil health is number one, that organic, biodynamic farming principles can be imparted. This regenerative ag and biodiverse ag is something that actually can be in a magical dance with robots. That gets to be really fun and interesting to imagine.

There was a Solarpunk video that came out a few months ago that I thought was really interesting. It was basically this kind of traditional farm, but it had these different drones and robots helping out in between the human overlords. The robots were there to help move cattle around, to do some of the weeding, and other things. It was really interesting. That is the perspective I want to have in terms of machine learning. It’s supposed to actually free us up.

Look at the other side of this logic: the point of work is, okay, you leave the box that you pay rent or mortgage on, get into a four-wheel box to drive to another box, to afford probably 30-35% of that income to pay for the empty box you left for eight hours. Then the other part of that work is to go on feeding yourself and hydrating yourself, and having access to communications and other kinds of things. The point is, if you’re living in a neighborhood where some good portion of your Maslow hierarchy of needs is being met, the delta for basic income or some other income that you can generate is really reduced, right?

We should especially look at this for the global south, where, gosh, you can start to imagine that you make these beautiful, peri-urban spaces in rural areas that become really attractive, and people start to move and live there, and there’s a path to ownership and their effort and commitment to that community enables them to have entitlement on the property. But moreover, we can start to shift the model of work into self-worth. People are doing things that matter to themselves, to the planet.

As I like to say often, when you have a full belly and you’re surrounded by abundance, your tendency to be generous and compassionate and think big thoughts becomes a lot easier.

Jeremy: I was about to say, “this all sounds very solarpunk!” so I was very excited that you do know about that. Of course you do. Everything you’re describing reminds me of something William Irwin Thompson wrote back in the 1970s, in Darkness and Scattered Light: Four Talks on the Future. He had this concept of the meta-industrial village, which is going into this concept of planetization or planetary culture. We don’t get rid of technology, we miniaturize it somehow, and make it work in relationship with the non-human world, right? So, this very much seems like it is one of your principles.

James: Absolutely. I mean, I’m a neighborhood guy. I grew up in New York and I really always understood, from a young age, the power of neighborhoods. But also, I was always amazed in New York City how anything ever worked. It was layers of this brittle infrastructure piled on top of itself from 150 years ago, with very large rodents running around chewing on wires. As a kid, you just look around and say, “it’s just not going to last long.” Then Hurricane Sandy really proved that out, right? When my family was without power for six weeks. The shelves were going bare because people were hoarding and grabbing whatever they could. Then COVID of course, really kicked that up a notch.

So, we’ve now seen this exodus from cities because people don’t trust the urban infrastructure, being close to each other, and they want to think that their ecosystem can be there for them. There’s a real reawakening about that now. Of course, we predicted that eight plus years ago. To be honest, a lot of people who laughed at us, or chuckled at least under their breath, that we were talking about changing this mega-trend to cities, that anybody would be interested to live outside of cities. And we said, “we’ll, there’s already a group of people who are interested in this. A pretty big population, actually.” And it doesn’t take much. A trend, by its very nature, is a shiny object in the distance. That’s pretty much what a trend is.

So when you create these turnkey communities, urbanites feel like, “Oh, gosh, I could actually live there, and I don’t have to worry about being a farmer, I don’t have to worry about struggling being out there, and I’m with a bunch of other like-minded people.” Then that trend is just easily created. So that’s kind of where we’re at right now, and we see that as being something that’s increasing, because of COVID-19.

Eric: In terms of trend, have you broken ground anywhere yet? How many places are you starting to get progress?

James: The thing is, since 2016 when we first announced at the Venice Biannual for Architecture, we’ve had outreach from almost, I think, every part of planet Earth save Antarctica, and maybe the North Pole, but everywhere in between. You can imagine. I got off a call this morning with a group from Mongolia for instance. So, I like to say from Moscow to Mumbai, from Malaysia to Texas. I mean, it’s been all over the world. We’re a Dutch holding company, we have an office in Sweden, in London, here in the US, in Canada and British Columbia, and now we’ve opened up a new one in Santiago, Chile. We’re a very strange multinational startup, no doubt about that.

We have, I’d say 25-30 likely projects on our spreadsheet right now, with four or five of them as the most likely ones that can take hold, we think, within the next three to five years concurrently. It’s in the Netherlands, Sweden, Norway, UK, Canada. Those are the places right now. Some other places could come faster. It really just depends on, again, the local regional government, land opportunity and the willingness to move faster.

Eric: Sounds like a plan.

James: We got really close in 2018 to breaking ground and realizing our first community. We were trying to do 300 homes in this neighborhood about half an hour due east of Amsterdam. But the local government changed in 2018, right? As we were in the middle of this heated negotiation and discussion about allowing us to do 300 homes, they only allowed us to do 203. The problem was it was not enough to show economic feasibility. We weren’t able to get the funding we needed at that moment to move everything forward. So, if I were Elon, and I had the private equity to just do a loss leader or breakeven project, I would have just done the 203 homes, right/ But we were trying to do 300, not only because it’s to get the 12-15% IRR, but also that we could take 1/3 or so of the housing inventory and make social affordable access. We’re telling the story that regenerative resiliency is not just for gated communities for the wealthy.

That’s where that particular project unfortunately stopped. We’re continuing to engage with different Dutch municipalities and seeing what’s possible, and where we can go. We know we’re going to get there. That’s not the question. The question is, which government is ambitious enough with the right land opportunities? Then the magic of course is, we already know where the big funding can come from. We already know where that big finance that’s going to come in and underwrite the whole development. So that’s really where our focus has been from th every beginning, even before we were doing the software development, but after our mechanical engineering development, we were really focused on the business side. How can we transact with sovereign wealth and pension funds? Who is transiting fossil fuel investments?

James: That was our logic: how can we get to a place where we can transact with these folks, and everything we’ve been doing these years is slowly but surely leveling up to get to this place where we could speak their language, have the right banking advisory to craft the spreadsheets. Now we’re really positioned very nicely. So with a little bit of additional private equity investment in us, we’ll be able to start to really cascade, replicate and scale our communities.

Eric: Having leveled up and learned the languages, do you sense you’re having an effect on those institutions so that they’re starting to look at how to use their money differently?

James: Well, look, there’s a very interesting thing that happened in the EU about a month ago. The EU Commission basically has told all fund managers by law, you can no longer call your fund green, or eco, or planet friendly, or SDG-related if it doesn’t check off these very specific eighteen boxes related to circularity and the passive energy productiveness of these communities, and resilience measures. So that puts these fund managers into quite a twist right now, doesn’t it? Because not only is there no deal flow pipeline that fits this model—except for us—but they have to be able to really check off all those boxes.

We just finished a wonderful research initiative with Duke University for what living in RegenVillages could look like fifty years later, right? In terms of reduced burdens on healthcare systems, on government, on creating new economic models, on brokering peaceful happy places, healthy places, etc. That’s really huge, because that then poured into this UN climate prize that we’ve applied for. It has to do with answering pretty much all the 17 SDGs under one umbrella. So, this is who we are. This is exactly who we are. The point is, the world is now precipitously moving to this kind of deal flow, and we’re in a sweet spot because we’re the only ones really, to be quite honest, that offer all of that under one umbrella.

Eric: Well done sir.

James: I’d love to say that we’re there. We’re doing it. It’s happening. I’d love to say that everything is rosy and there’s no issues or complexities. But the truth is, we’re at the base camp of Everest.

Eric: And Everest is out to get you.

James: Everest is. One in eight don’t come back my friend. One in eight don’t come back. It’s not a sport that I would ever choose to do, put it that way. And I’ve never aspired to be a real estate developer—I don’t know who in their life aspires to become a real estate developer! But it’s something that you really need fortitude in dealing with the costs and the ecosystems that are in place to delay you. Then there’s corruption and all those things. And those are just the good points, by the way! Just kidding.

Eric: Part of what’s coming up for me is building these new communities, do you have any plans to be retrofitting existing communities? Or going into rural communities?

James: That’s probably the number one question we get. First of all, when I look at an urban environment, urban context, the way we look at retrofits is through the context of overlays. You’re not going to take a pre-war building from Manhattan, lower West side, and make it sustainable, regenerative and resilient, without taking that building down to its studs, and reworking multiple millions worth of components. And then you’re not going to get the ability to really generate enough nutrition to feed that building or the capacity to digest the waste, because you really need some open space to do those things. But you can do these overlays. You can do rooftop ag, or atrium or alleyway or balcony ag, and then in the aggregate, you’re actually generating some really meaningful supplement to people’s diets. Bioavailable and building sourced. So, there’s that.

That could include some light animal protein, chicken, eggs. Depending on if there’s a little bit of open space nearby, you could do some other kinds of small animals, whether it’s sheep or goats. I’m not talking about lots of them, but a few for some dairy, and other things. Rabbit, turkey. The vegans are yelling at me now, but we’re talking about when things go badly with infrastructure, do you have the ability to feed yourself?

There’s that wonderful study that came out of the University of Catalan. It looked at how you can feed pretty much a city block of about 20,000 people in the case of a breakdown. When they did the planning, when they did all of the mapping and had all of the lined streets, all of the buildings on that city block, every possible surface area had glazed or grow area environments, fruit, or berry-bearing trees and bushes and legumes, etc., the answer they came up with was yes. You can actually do this, as long as there was a social contract for vegetarian/veganism.

So the main point is, you can actually create infrastructure that saves people’s lives in case there’s a big network disruption. They may not have the T-bone steak they want to eat or the full three-egg omelet or whatever it may be, but they’ll have what they need to get by.

Then, looking at the outside of cities, we get this question about, say, the old Italian village, or the old Spanish or Portuguese village. Wherever you look around the world, the peri-urban in the rural areas have been abandoned and neglected. It’s really true that these areas are in dire need to be rejuvenated. Our model, however, in this case is new build next to the old build.

The new build brings all those urbanites, turnkey neighborhoods, passive home circularity, regenerative permaculture. Two thumbs up, everything is working great. Then you take your time to restore the historical significance of that ancient village, from 12-1300s or whenever they are from. Those become more community spaces, or visitor spaces. That creates this really nice symbiosis between the new and the old.

So that has been our thought process because, again, imagine going into an Italian village or Spanish village from the 1300s. The moment you start to look at trying to re-plumb a single house, the wall falls down and on the other side the roof collapses. In other words, it’s so brittle that you really need to be very careful about what you do there.

Eric: Do you have, as part of the OS or part of your structure, social technologies for conflict resolution and community building?

James: The truth is, and maybe some of your readers will find this important, but we have been governance agnostic. We’ve seen through our research all of the failures of intentional communities, eco villages, co-housing and collaboratives around the one person or one family vote, right? Where everyone’s involved and everybody thinks there’s this great democracy, but the truth is, there’s always that guy, or that girl—I think now they’re called Karen and Ken, I don’t know, and basically, no offense to the Karen or Kens out there in the world—but basically, there’re people who had something happen in their childhood, or had something happen in their lives. A divorce, whatever it is. They’re bitter, they’ve got their chronology, they’re skeptical, they’re cynical. Even though they’ve decided to move into this neighborhood, and buy in or rent into this neighborhood, they feel like the only time they’ve ever going to be heard is by dragging those community meetings out, and being adversarial.

So, our thought process is, wait a second, let’s approach this from a management operating company perspective, where the pool of a fee ledger balancing system seems to take a lot of people’s chips off their shoulders, or guilt, because that’s all brokered by VillageOS. What you contribute, what you don’t contribute. You don’t contribute, you pay a higher monthly association fee. If you do contribute? It’s lower, that’s fine, very understandable. We celebrate organic events whether it’s DIY movement, maker movement, cooking, baking, cultural events—we think all of those things can happen naturally. And those people, again, who want to participate can participate, those who don’t, don’t have to.

And so there’s nothing dogmatic, in other words, about living in the ReGen Villages. We really tried to do is model this around current residential development, in developed economies. People understand, okay, I’ll buy a house or rent the house, or I have social affordable access to a house, and I have my commitments each month to make to the community financially. And there is no voting per se, you’re not managing the community. You can have a board and advisory board, like most homeowners associations do, but at the end of the day, humans seem to really respond very well to defined rules that they move into, as opposed to rule books that they create themselves, does that makes sense?

Eric: Oh, absolutely, 100%. And it sounds like in that though, there’s also, sort of, an enhanced communication capability. Like the OS does allow people to see and know what they’re contributing.

James: So here’s the thing from our perspective. Myself and our CTO who is based in Amsterdam, we come from a long background of software development. That’s where I cut my teeth. I started as a game designer and a video game developer and doing software for special effects for motion pictures. That’s how I moved from New York to Northern California in the first place. But the best technology is technology you don’t see, right?

When you get into a Prius, when you get into a Tesla, you don’t all of a sudden have to have a pocket protector, and a slide rule to turn the car off and on, and to drive down the street. We feel the same way about living in a neighborhood. Your house is cozy and warm and beautiful, or it’s cool and refreshing, whatever the season might be. Baskets of delicious food are brought to your doorstep. There are these Piazza kitchens, where you’re smelling the recipes of families, and you’re invited. You’re part of this larger community scene. There’s this visceral connection to the natural world, and the symbiosis that you’re related to.

So it’s not about dashboards and apps. That to us should really be played down. Of course, there are neighborhood administrators and people who are going to be working, doing the farming and everything else. They can have the tools that they need at their disposal, but we just don’t think that a synthetic environment is the right way forward.

Eric: You want to foster human interaction and allow us to self-organize into our joyful new reality.

James: Exactly. Look, I don’t know about you, but you move into a neighborhood, and I’m living in a suburb, we’re just a bike path from Stanford University, and I’m surrounded by neighbors, many of whom I don’t know. I’ll never know because they pull their car into their garage, and the moment the car isn’t even stopped, with the brake light on, the car is not even off and their garage doors coming down, that’s it. That’s how American homes are designed, right? Get into that garage, close the door. There are some neighbors I do know who are not very nice. For whatever reason, they are cold and distant. Then there’s some that we’re actually really close to, and I mean like best friends, really connected to; that’s natural, that’s life.

James: There’s no such thing as utopia where everybody loves each other, everybody likes each other and everybody gets along. You’re naturally going to gravitate, in a ReGen Village neighborhood, to those folks who just somehow know that you’ll laugh together, cry together; you make a bond. And those things happen, there’s an ebb and flow with that as well. We can’t control for that. There’s no software in the world that’s ever going to control for that.

Eric: That’s the best part. I had a sense of what you were doing was. It’s very gratifying to see the scope and the depth and the fidelity, in terms of the complexity of human life. And also the integrity in not building that village because I imagined, you didn’t have the money. You could have just done it, but instead it’s like, the first one is going to be a healthy lily pad. That’s the way it’s got to be.

James: And it’s about the building of the neighborhood that we wanted to do. But also, also we want to be a good neighbor. We want to have people around us who are excited and want us there. And then there’s this whole part about indigenous wisdom to impart.

Eric: Absolutely.

James: Those natural flows are inherent there. So, there’s a lot of those obstacles, et cetera, that we’d have to always kind of look at and as much as I believe we can just kind of very quickly replicate and scale these things we do. Each community has to have that cultural significance to impart.

Eric: Our own unique essence, as Carol Sanford would say.

Jeremy: Well, James, as you’re talking, you’re hitting some of my questions. You brought up indigenous wisdom. The shift in our thinking, where we become more placed-based, right? It seems like these values are kind of built into the long-term project of building these communities to allow us to become culturally much more place-based, indigenous thinking oriented, indigenous complexity oriented, thinking in terms of living systems, and permaculture. I mean, these are all cultural values that need to come online right now, just at the planetary scale.

So, the question is, how do we do it? And it seems like the answer is, well—we talk about this all the time—the kind of oscillation between the global and the hyper-local. And it seems like you get to the global by really thinking about how you situate yourself in the world, in the local. So just playing with that.

If scaling is the wrong word, how do you see this rolling out in the next few years? I mean, what needs to happen? Best case scenario, realistic scenario, however you want to take that question: what needs to happen in the next decade?

James: Well, again, we celebrate the peri-urban in the rural areas. They’re beautiful, they’re natural, they’ve been abandoned. And with the right planning, with the right conditions, because of autonomous vehicles, drone deliveries, drone taxis, high speed transit like you mentioned, like either Elon or Virgin, other kinds of Hyper loop, etc., that the need to live in the city can be further and further separated. So you can travel to the city in a very comfortable high speed way on your own terms, go there for cultural reasons or other kinds of things, and yet know that you have this very secure, very beautiful place in nature, out in the countryside.

And that’s the goal really. We can look at this urgent call to action on Earth right now, in terms of critical housing shortages, in terms of life support systems within the neighborhood scale that can be breakaway should district scale services fail. That through that—that’s really indigenous wisdom right there. Because you’re living in these places that are having celebrations when everything fails, because they’re humming along, they’re doing everything just great. In Pennsylvania when the power goes out, for the Amish it’s Tuesday. In other words, it doesn’t matter to them, right?

I recount this story when I was in Taiwan. I did a lecture at Taiwan University. I was brought up to this rural community up in the mountains, this indigenous Taiwanese community where they have typhoon, mudslides, earthquakes. They told me a story that there was a combination earthquake, typhoon, and mudslide all in one kind of thing. The roads were washed out, the power was taken out. The government brought these helicopters with emergency supplies for these rural areas, and when the helicopters landed, there was a festival happening, a big party happening! Why? Because they’ve stopped relying on that infrastructure a long time ago, they’re self-contained with their resiliency.

One of the things that impacted me with my research for ReGen Villages was this Rockefeller Foundation study from 2011, which basically said that, up until 1950, 75% of all humanity lived in small, self-sustaining communities. There was about two and a half billion people on Earth at that time. So that 75% lived in these small, self-sustaining communities. What was the economy? Barter. You grew more than you needed, and you would bring that to the local Piazza square. You would trade, you would barter. There’d be culture, there’d be entertainment, and that’s how people lived and flourished for eons before that. When we became agrarian, up until 1950.

Then, the Rockefeller report says from 1950 to 2050, 10 billion people, 75% of which will be living in coastal mega cities, completely disassociated from their natural resources, incapable of surviving should things go wrong, et cetera. So that’s the framework that we focus on. We have been an active member of the EU Smart Rural Village Commission of the European Network for Rural Development. Now, at the new Bauhaus Roundtable, we were appointed to the UN Climate Secretariat Resilience Lab, and I guess the one thing I’d like to just share with your community and your audience is that we’re raising private equity. We believe that we have this amazing opportunity to be at the forefront of generative software design, and that it is also moving the needle to create these neighborhoods at scale around the world. And so, there’s a lot of upside potential to be an investor in ReGen Villages.

Eric: Do you have a sense of how much equity you would need to push the needle over to where you’re funded and ready to go?

James: Yeah, it’s a 16 and a half million euro series, a round that we’re getting right now. So, we’re looking for five and a half million euro lead, and then the other 11 to follow. We have a number of family offices and industrial partners who’ve essentially committed to follow on in terms of syndicating the 11 million part, but we have to find that lead investor of five and a half million. With that 16 and a half million euro, we can build the first 400 home community, we can finish our VillageOS software, and then we’re sort of with the big folks in terms of a software generative software platform that is really compelling for these kind of stakeholders around the world.

Eric: May it be so.

Jeremy: Fantastic.

About the Author

James Ehrlich is Founder of ReGen Villages a Stanford University spin-off company realizing the future of living in regenerative and resilient communities, with critical life support of organic food, clean water, renewable energy and circular nutritional flows at the neighborhood scale. James is also an Entrepreneur in Residence at the Stanford University School of Medicine Flourishing Project, Faculty at Singularity University, Senior Fellow at NASA Ames Research Center and (Obama) White House Appointee for Regenerative Infrastructure. Ehrlich founded ReGen Villages as a Dutch (EU) impact-profit company in 2016, with its patented VillageOS™ operating system software to use artificial intelligence and machine learning to define, design and autonomously manage regenerative neighborhoods that promote healthy long-term outcomes for residents and wider communities. ReGen Villages are planned for global replication and scale in collaboration with established industrial partners, universities, governments and sovereign wealth and pension funds, enabling an optimistic post-COVID green transition.

Leave a Comment