SEED Design Philosophy

Nature’s intent is to self organise into a diverse and integrated community of organisms with a common purpose – to maintain their presence in one place, make the most of what is available, and endure over the long haul.


Mature natural systems do everything we want to do. They self organise into diverse and integrated communities, living in a state of equilibrium within the area they occupy. They aim to optimise the relationships, trapping and using all resources and networks within the system to create the most shared value possible.


The stability and longevity of mature natural systems is determined by the potential wealth (or capital) and connectivity that exists within the system. The lesser the potential and connectivity in a system, or the more exploitative it is, the faster it collapses. The greater the potential and connectivity in a system, or the more conservative it is, the more longevity it has. This is the fundamental difference between a grassland and a forest system.

The greater the potential and connectivity in a system, the greater it’s ability to withstand or manage change and the more resilient it becomes.



SEED believes that if you want ‘lasting communities with high quality of life’ then you need to grow the total amount of potential and connectivity it possesses. This means applying a design approach that is ‘inspired by nature’ with the purpose of evolving a community into a more mature and stable state.

SEED uses a unique framework to understand the existing potential and connectivity within a community and a set of eight design principles to grow them.



Every community is different. Each with its own history, culture, political dynamics, world view, aspirations and social, economic and environmental challenges. The design of the programme has grown out of the research and direct experiences gained working with diverse communities over the last eight years. It is holistic and fosters positive relationships built on trust SEED develops pragmatic solutions based on identifying the unique needs, assets and opportunities that are particular to each community.


There are consistent challenges that need to be overcome to create lasting social, economic and environmental change within a community, including:

  • An existing culture of paternalism delivering aid, not development.
  • Conservative local world-views that inhibit progressive self development.
  • Skepticism and mistrust of external agencies.
  • Little self-determination and control over local development needs and wants.
  • A lack of local knowledge and capabilities to extract value from local resources.
  • A lack of channels and markets to support local productive projects.

This means SEED has to take a different approach. It has to:

  • Commit to every community over the long term, not with single one time solutions.
  • Understand them, what they want to preserve, what they want to change and help them to set their own agenda.
  • Build trust by delivering on what it promises. This means moving fast, delivering a succession of small, simple and quick solutions.
  • Have a strong focus on helping the community members do it for themselves by teaching the skills nessesary for them to take control.
  • Become part of the solution by opening or being a channel to markets and opportunities. SEED people need to be part of the solution, not just coaches.