The Patterns of a Conservation Economy
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Fishing on the Willamette River, with Portland in the background.
Image by Katy Langstaff.

Beauty and Play

We need opportunities for deep relaxation, to absorb the beauty and fullness of life, and to simply play.

Beauty and Play is an inalienable right of all beings. Two young girls from Richmond, California on their first trip to an ancient forest play handgames with the sawed-off end of a thousand-year old redwood tree in Muir Woods. A sun-dappled crowd gathers at a waterfront park for an afternoon of Blues. An old couple strolls through an art gallery, admiring the work of centuries past.

Beauty is the measure of life well-lived and a place well-stewarded. Ugliness tends to demean and stunt the spirit; it is usually a symptom of injustice and poor design. A Conservation Economy promotes wholeness and life, and that which is playful and high spirited. Beauty and Play can be found in the wild veins of an ancient forest, within , and throughout the daily life of a Community.

The Health of people and ecosystems are directly linked. Each benefits from the other's vitality. Beauty and Play allows us to interact with the ancient ecosystems that are our evolutionary birthright and original teacher. In the countryside our senses relax and harmonize with the environment. Dragonflies and cicadas gently catch our gaze.

Beauty and Play is a Fundamental Need for all people — and all creatures — and is a basic indicator of vitality. It correlates directly with the effectiveness of the Ecological Infrastructure of any . Healthy urban rivers, wetlands, and forests attract both wildlife and people, offering abundant opportunities for recreation and sensory immersion.

Beauty and Play is also correlated with the strength of Community and the sense of Security and relaxation that one feels in Human-Scale Neighborhoods and amongst great public spaces.

Celebrate beauty, wholeness, and play as central features of life.

Examples of this pattern in action:

Organizations whose work incorporate this pattern:

National Parks Conservation Association


Alexander, Christopher. The Timeless Way of Building. Oxford University Press. Oxford, UK. 1979.

Berry, Thomas. The Dream of the Earth. Sierra Club Books. San Francisco, CA. 1990.

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Pattern Index

A Conservation Economy

Social Capital

Fundamental Needs

Subsistence Rights

Shelter For All


Access To Knowledge


Social Equity


Cultural Diversity

Cultural Preservation

Sense Of Place

Beauty And Play

Just Transitions

Civic Society

Natural Capital

Ecological Land-Use

Connected Wildlands

Core Reserves

Wildlife Corridors

Buffer Zones

Productive Rural Areas

Sustainable Agriculture

Sustainable Forestry

Sustainable Fisheries


Compact Towns And Cities

Human-Scale Neighborhoods

Green Building

Transit Access

Ecological Infrastructure

Urban Growth Boundaries

Ecosystem Services

Watershed Services

Soil Services

Climate Services


Economic Capital

Household Economies

Green Business

Long-Term Profitability

Community Benefit

Green Procurement

Renewable Energy

Sustainable Materials Cycles

Resource Efficiency

Waste As Resource

Product As Service

Local Economies

Value-Added Production

Rural-Urban Linkages

Local Assets

Bioregional Economies

Fair Trade

True Cost Pricing

Product Labeling