​introduction to ​ regenerative community building

​Positive Culture Repair for the Modern Experience Through Timeless Mentoring Wisdom

It's  time  for  a  change...

​Whether we see it in the news, experience it for ourselves,

or hear about it from ​people we know, 

many of us now realize that we face

an unprecedented ​list of challenges in our modern times: 

- loss of meaning, purpose, and sense of value

​- increased isolation, depression, and mental health disorders
- disintegration of connection to place, people, and nature
- a dis-spirited search for “family”, community, and belonging
- social desertification, loss of intergenerational diversity
- childhood bullying, sensory processing disorders, and teen disaffection

More and more of us are awakening to the importance of repairing our social fabric.

And, many of us have been frustrated by ineffective “band-aid” approaches to a single symptom. We yearn for a more holistic approach.

We think we've found one.

The holistic recipe includes two primary ingredients:

​People Connection

​Supported by mentoring systems,

community ​activates well-being

​People are at their best when a community engages and interconnects all ages and stages of life. Mentoring is the glue that generates resilience, awakened vision, and deep learning.

​Nature Connection

​supported by culture,

Nature enlivens & Heals the individual

​Direct relationship with Nature  awakens the senses, brings inspiration, and attunes the community with the land. ​Living in balance with the land is essential to regenerative community life.

the  difference...

For the past 35 years we've been applying the 8 Shields model and seeing fantastically remarkable results. We're proud of the pioneering research we've done on Nature Connection events and activities. The results we've seen point towards a simple but powerful formula that makes all the difference:

Most folks in our network first came on one of our programs for the Nature Connection, and they've kept on coming for the People Connection:

We've seen kids who arrived as uncommunicative, apathetic screen-addicts transform into caring and compassionate citizens of the Earth, full of vitality and joy.

We've seen overburdened parents increase their extended families of choice, with new aunties, uncles, grampies and grandmas, consistently providing relief from stress.

We've seen elders
re-discover meaning and value, while youngers receive adult support rather than stumbling along feeling unseen, neglected, or lost.

We've seen folks embroiled in the most challenging of life transitions, surviving loss and tragedy, receive an outpouring of generous and empathic support.
We believe this is necessary for the future.

We can no longer continue with


Folks in modern times are becoming increasingly sick without People Connection; and they recover so much well-being when they have it. 

8 Shields Logo

When we widen our perspective, and take a long-term view, certain things become clear:

  • ​We need to re-localize in every way: our economy, our food systems, our education, our democracies (Hint: This means we need a change in the social fabric that underpins these structures...).
  • ​We need to re-learn how to live and work together, in all sorts of modern environments.
  • ​We need to learn how to welcome and honor each other, in all our resplendent diversity of talents, skills, abilities, attitudes, beliefs, and perspectives.

We will need the creativity of everyone's genius to be able to address the increasingly interconnected global issues of the next 30 years.

introduction to
regenerative  community  ​building







​Explore the foundational strategies, tools & techniques that lead to positive and lasting transformation, creating a strong platform for Regenerative Community Building.

Summer 2019 ​Live group virtual sessions will be held ​via Zoom conference platform​. 

​Live Zoom calls, 60-minutes, with Deborah & Root

(and receive ​access to the recordings if you can't make the live sessions)
​Time: 12:00 Pacific
(9pm CEST / 8pm BST / 3pm EDT / 12pm PDT / 5am AEST)

Monday June 17:  Welcome & Orientation
Monday June 24: ​Part 1
Monday July 1: break
Monday July 8: ​Part 2
Monday July 15: ​Part 3
Monday July 22: ​Part 4

     Part 1: 

Connection​ to nature & Culture

Just as important as food, air, or water, yet often overlooked, "Connection" is a key element to well-being and true regenerative  community-building. Explore the importance of Connection to Nature & Culture. What is Connection? How is Connection good for us? Why do we need to be both Nature-Connected and People-Connected?

     Part 2: 

transformational leadership    

A regenerative system must have the capability to move forward across the generations, adapting and responding to provide stability and balance.

How does a regenerative culture prepare its youth to be leaders? How can we nurture everyone's creative gifts, so that more people express their full potential?

   Part 3: 

Peace as Foundation    

Peace is a natural state of being that expresses when needs are met and balance is achieved.

What agreements do we need to build a truly peaceful and thriving society? How can we identify and measure our progress using the 8 Attributes of Connection?

Explore the dynamics that support peace on a personal, relational and systemic level.

     Part 4:

widening Perspective  

​Stepping into a Big Picture view, we will consider the movement of change-making that is sweeping around the world​. 

Every visionary collaborator is bringing forward a piece of the puzzle as we navigate into a positive vision of the future. 

What is the mission of 8 Shields? What is our role in the global movement catalyzing a historic shift in perspective? How do we tend to the wounds of the past and envision a positive future?

how  the  Training  works:

​Learn the foundations of Regenerative Community Design through each week's multimedia home study materials. Access one module of training each week on our online course learning platform. Each module guides you through essential concepts &  strategies via two ​video trainings with Deborah and Root, a ​special keynote and teaching from Jon Young, and a case study interview from our network of experienced community builders.


Enhance your learning by ​participating in weekly virtual meetings ​and peer-to-peer discussion around the week's topics with others implementing these strategies (including on-the-spot mentoring), ​or review recordings as your schedule permits.

​Features case studies and interviews with successful regenerative community builders from around the world​

Includes special training videos with Jon Young & other luminaries

Learn via weekly curated assignments and discussion topics, with personal email feedback from our team’s course responder 

​Course Facilitators:

​Deborah Benham

Deborah is part of the 8 Shields global team; co-founder of 8 Shields UK and coordinator of the online Village Builders program. She has been a student of Jon Young’s for several years, teaches regularly at Schumacher College in the UK with Jon and is now part of the 8 Shields strategic and design team.

Deborah has a PhD in wildlife conservation, environmental education, stakeholder collaboration and the people/nature interface. After 15 years working in this field she moved into broader areas of regenerative culture and design for sustainability; with a particular interest in social sustainability, peacemaking, culture repair and social enterprise.

​Deborah was until recently Managing Director of the Newbold Trust, a retreat and education centre focusing on sustainable living and wellbeing. She is now freelance, working closely with 8 Shields, plus teaching, providing facilitation, consultancy, trainings and workshops in regenerative culture, governance, positive leadership, sustainability, nature connection and youth empowerment. Deborah is an experienced facilitator, and dedicated ‘Hopemonger’ who loves to create connective, uplifting and transformative programmes in support of healthy communities and ecosystems.

deborah benham

​Root Cuthbertson

Root​ loves dancing, music, poetry, public libraries, matching needs with resources, monofloral honeys, generously inclusive humor, and stories about healing and hope. He is a curriculum designer for 8 Shields Institute and Findhorn College​, and former education director at The Newbold Trust​, a sustainable living center in northeast Scotland. 

Root is a trainer in Gaia Education eco-social design, and has co-led courses on social sustainability and cultural mentoring at Schumacher College, Sunseed Desert Technology​, and in Thailand on the Awakening Leadership Training​. He has designed programs for D Acres Permaculture Farm in New Hampshire​, and Lost Valley Education Center in Oregon. ​Root is grateful for the savvy and soulful members of the co-operative smallholding in East Devon, where he resides with his paramour, Deborah Benham.  He is currently developing a series of online educational videos for the 8 Shields Institute, called “Designing For Peace 2.0”

Jon Young

​Jon Young
Jon’s work has been the researching, collecting, universalizing and applying of models for re-Connection. For over thirty five years, he has collected, tested, trained and led Connection models that have proven dependable and predictable in their effectiveness. Drawn from earth-based approaches, these models are ergonomic in their application—they are neither philosophical or based on any one belief structure. These approaches meet us at our most basic neurobiological foundations, and are a way of learning and developing in nature that is universal to our “blueprint” as human beings.

​Jon started studying Peace Principles in cultural systems in 1979, applying them first to a project co-founded with M. Norman “Ingwe” Powell in 1983. From 1990 to 2000 he worked directly with highly experienced elders, who became his teachers and friends, the founding members of the Kanien'kehá:ka (Mohawk) Tree of Peace Society. Together, with many others, they developed the 8 Shields model, integrating Peace Principles and processes that apply in modern times, whilst remaining respectful to the original teachings.

​"Be the Change"... but how?

We often hear this phrase, "Be the change you wish to see in the world."  

But, how do we support individuals to implement positive change in our social systems? How do we empower and ripple out the change we long for, that brings real positive and lasting impact into our families and communities?

This training will help you discover mentoring and role modeling as a powerful pathway for becoming the change we wish to see in the world, and as a potent tool for propagating this change.  

Through real-life case studies and wisdom gained from on-the-ground application in communities over 35 years, learn how the combination of Nature-Connection and People-Connection addresses the challenges we face in modern times.

Get inspired and join a 35-year-old global movement of folks committed to right relationship with ourselves, each other, and nature.

Learn strategies and gain tools that will help you better support the change you wish to see. Get introduced to the 8 Attributes of Connection, and all the personal, interpersonal, and group benefits they enliven. Learn how successful communities keep that change alive to grow beyond the inspiration phase.

get started

Course Tuition includes all 4 modules + recordings, and personalized email responses



​What are some specific tools and ​understandings I will gain in this training?

​Do I need good Internet to take part in this training?

​Do I need ​any past experience in mentoring or community building to take part?

​How much time will I need for this training?

​Have other questions? Email us at: support (at) 8 shields.org