FRACTAL DESIGN principles, based on natural systems, deliver exemplary land-use, and regenerative, purposeful economies and livelihoods.
Multifunctional habitats and nourishment systems designed using nature’s FRACTAL principles deliver on balanced human/nature relation.
FRACTAL design delivers balance by incorporating human needs into natural systems in ways that are productive, self-sustaining and regenerative. Raw materials, energy and food production and dignified, engaging vital living and learning spaces coexist sustainably with areas of conservation and biodiversity that produce environmental services and wellbeing.
Fractals have manageable proportions and scale by replication and specialization, much as cells do. Fractal are designed in vocation rings.
Productive Fractals quickly start generating social change through regenerative activities that turn into abilities then into opportunities and finally regenerative livelihoods. They also detonate focused value chains for stakeholders seeking sustainable supply chains. Our vision includes a Local Market Developer, called Mercado de la Tierra, that links Fractal activities to local economies.
Lead Applicant Organization Name
Green Squids, SAPI de CV (Green Squids Variable Capital, Special Limited Corporation for Investment Promotion)
Lead Applicant Organization Type
Small company (under 50 employees)
If part of a multi-stakeholder entity (i.e. team), provide the names of other organizations and types of stakeholders collaborating with you.
Market: Mercado DLT, Local mkt developer. Totonal, purposeful travel. Marriott Serve-365 (Cancun). Merca Corp, franchise mgmt. Indigenous Design, ethical fashion. DAC, produce distributor.
Facilitation: Agora Partnerships, business accelerator. Opportunity Collaboration, social-impact network. Mentor Capital Network. Red Agroforestal and Alianza Andina, small producer networks/facilitation. Measurement Matters, social/environmental/financial value management.
Policy/Education: National Natural Protected Area Commission, National Autonomous University of Mexico. Universidad Tecnologica de Cancun. Universidad Aztlan. Fundación Nacional de Becas para la Educacion, scholarships for adult learning. UADI, National Autonomous University of Yucatan.
Finance: Impact Finance; Kun Capital, Transformative Capital. Isla Business Group, land/real-estate law.
Tech: Circular Systems, Social Purpose Corp, science + circular/regenerative tech. Streamics Lab, cognitive tech + communications.
Website of Legally Registered Entity
How long have you / your team been working on this Vision?
Lead Applicant: In what city or town are you located?
Lead Applicant: In what country are you located?
Your Selected Place: what’s the name of the Place you’re developing a Vision for?
Yucatán Peninsula, currently limited to the States of Quintana Roo, Yucatan and ONLY 3 municipalities in Campeche, totalling 87,916 km2
What country is your selected Place located in?
Describe your relationship to the place you’ve selected.
Deep and personal. We’ve travelled and/or lived here most of our lives. Standing anywhere is standing in the exact spot we stood at different stages of life and common history. Some changes are welcome, but we mostly feel aching in watching the agonizing lack of insight, foresight and consideration; the absence of mindful intention. Remembering, all those times in the past, we dreamt of something better, much, much better. Now we are dreaming again, dreaming ahead, but with a plan, with urgency, with inspiration, and the resilience to make our visions reality.
We’re here because we’ve witnessed a beautiful, rich, biodiverse, culturally and historically significant place accelerate towards environmental collapse, deepened social marginalization and a patronizing cultural pantomime.
We’ve invested 7 years into developing our model here that provides food, raw materials, environmental services and living spaces while loving the land; embracing and upgrading the culture and creating deep relationships based on purpose and mindfulness. Starting from a manageable, it is scalable, replicable scale, designed for the Yucatan but meant to exemplify here what can be grown here and also elsewhere.
Our model is deployed in multifunctional spaces, we call Fractals. We’ve been living in Fractal-Zero Cancún. We’ve seed bombed, planted, grown, harvested, processed and distributed from here; turned barren land into agroforests and biodiversity. We’ve raised capital and received more than 400 volunteers and interns; Maya and from around the world. We’ve tested its capacity to create Fractal change in complex systems.
It matters to us to deploy our model. To help the economic activity of the Yucatan find balance and value in native culture, Rights Of Nature, circular, purposeful economies, as well as develop systems that are sustainable that share value and make us useful and resilient within the natural environment.
Describe the People and Place: Provide information that would be helpful for an outsider who has never been there and may have no context about this Place to better understand the area.
Lol-Tun, a magnificent property (investment opportunity) in Playa del Carmen- A Fractal development that unfolds into a green belt for the city; an agro-touristic - agro-residential corridor- An active example and support system for developers and investors, also integrates a production/distribution cluster for the area’s nourishment systems, respecting 70%+ of the original jungle. Built and managed using social change programs by learners, experts and mentors with grants and scholarships.
Mayan culture has existed from 4,500 to 5,500 years, rivalling Egyptian, Greek and Roman classic cultures. Thousands of years of observation and knowledge (how much have we learnt in 200.) Hundreds of cities were built, all with deeper considerations than those we seem to use today: constellations, orbits, natural cycles and patterns. There is at least an echo present here today, the northern Maya flatlands.
Few places as diverse as Mexico: environmentally, socially, culturally. Everything blends; cultures, temperaments, words (60+ indigenous languages). The Yucatan Peninsula has Mexico’s distinctiveness and then its own.
3 States with access the Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean Sea, Central America and continental Mexico. They lay above the largest known network of underground rivers with scarce soils identified by colour: WHITE limestone mixes with clay and iron for RED and with biomatter for BLACK. Topography mostly flat.
Rain: 130 days; mostly Jun to Oct. Temp, 21°C to 31°C; cities higher. The 2nd largest forest land in LATAM. Mixed tropical terrestrial: fresh water and marine plants; mangroves, rainforests, coral reefs, coastal lagoons and sea grass beds.
130 vegetable species used for construction; 145 as food. 680 for medicinal use, 97 ornamentals; 36 bee plants, 27 for handcrafts, 24 for firewood; 12 as forage and 5 for dyes. 7,300+ species of wildlife. Yet most food is imported from elsewhere.
Six+ human worlds: 1. Yucatec Mayans, 800,000+, in small villages with inexistent economies, marginalized for language, culture and appearance. 2. Yucatecos (European descendants). Some very well-off. 3. Mexican families looking for opportunity. Some very business oriented. 4. International families doing business, retired or in international jobs. 5. Immigrants/nomads seeking work/experience. 6. World travellers, in timeshares or vacation homes part-time.
Traditional food, with habanero-pepper sidekick includes French, Lebanese, Creole influences and pre-Hispanic foods. Newcomers find almost anything. Families want clean, healthy food, congruent with world trends and contemporary diets. Hotels and restaurants cater to millions.
Sophisticated agricultural knowledge existed here for millennia. Cities designed for connection with Time/Space and the biodynamics of human life and food systems. Unsurprising how much Mayan knowledge relates to current science.
Modern agriculture is for subsistence and pressured to turn to patented, unsustainable, culturally irrelevant models seeking the water, instead of supplying local requirements.
What is the approximate size of your Place, in square kilometers? (New question, not required)
What is the estimated population (current 2020) in your Place?
Challenges: Describe the current (2020) and the future (2050) challenges that your food system faces.
ENV: ABSENCE OF SUCCESSFUL EXAMPLES and regenerative business models for all economic sectors. Unbridled growth, land speculation, habitat and biodiversity loss. Wasteful supply-chains/consumption. Inadequate waste management. Agrochemicals and GMOs threaten native natural systems.
DIET: FOR PROFIT PRODUCT ENGINEERING AND MARKETING vs missions to nourish and food security. Manufactured perceptions of health. Oversimplified/oversaturated messaging shields customers from complexities of living/nourishment systems. Excessive use of antibiotics and new elements with limited/convoluted research on accumulated/amalgamated effects on health/interdependent living systems. Cheap commodities and addictive foodstuffs. Unprincipled patents on living beings and standardized/unethical production systems.
ECON: UNECONOMICAL VALUE CHAINS. 1. Corporate shares and commodity speculation 2. Macroeconomic distortions like subsidies. E.G. Corn (mayor staple.) Subsidized US production bankrupts local producers, fractures smallholder value chains, triggers migration. 3. Unnecessary logistics and intermediaries. E.G. cheaper transport from Mexico City (1,609 km) than Campeche (476 km.) Most product is imported from elsewhere, thus creating unnecessary emissions.
CULTURE: PURPOSELESSNESS AND BINARY DECISIONS. Farmers with access to food, eating junk food. An apiculturist serves fresh passion fruit juice with organic honey and drinks a Coke; wealthy vegans decline honey from apiculturist who walks 40 km in a unique and critical environmental reserve to feed bees (honey harvested months before) to help them survive. Bees pollinate 80%+ of wild plants. Believing bees are exploited, does not prevent them from eating crops pollinated by rented beehives suffering constant transport and agrochemical exposure or buying maple syrup from thousands of km away.
Culture seems motivated by convenience, self-image and inertia created by brands and cult-like “lifestyles.” Nutrition, ethics, sustainability, falls short of stated purpose, despite GROWING concerns with nourishment systems. Seeking fast convenience has big effects on food culture and on not making congruent choices, at all levels.
TECH. LACK OF INTEGRATED SOLUTIONS: Crippling absence of reliable, simple, accessible, affordable solutions within food value chains, especially sustainable ones.
POLICY. NO INCENTIVES for change. Corruption, politics and inertia mask inefficacies, incongruences and lack of enforcement at all levels. Pressing issues like safety.
2050: IPCC: “Global mean sea level (GMSL) is rising and accelerating … (0.61–1.10 m) by 2100 relative to 1986–2005.” Other estimates calculate 3 m and much sooner. Coastlines will change and much of the tourism infrastructure along them will be affected, storm surges larger, but the most unpredictable change is that to the massive (and fragile) underground freshwater system encapsulated between surface rock and a saltwater water table.
Address the Challenges: Describe how your Vision will address the challenges described in the previous question.
We address challenges together, structuring efforts/metrics into 4 fields: i. Places, ii. People, iii. Production and iv. Prosperity.
PLACES. We start with FRACTALS which are: 1. A MEASURE of manageable land-use for human sustenance. 2. PRINCIPLES for Primary Vocations (PV), and Vital Functions (VFs): i.e. a. food/raw materials/energy; b. conservation/environmental services; c. social intelligence/wellbeing; d. community services/outreach. 3. A MODEL for scaling by replication/complementation, like living cells. 4. MEANING: small changes can create huge results.
Fractals must be: 1. Exemplary: experimental/didactic/demonstrative. 2. Versatile: adaptable/relevant. 3. Inclusive: diverse/HABITABLE/shared/productive. 4. Connected: nature/economies/cultures/capitals.
Fractals use silviculture, agroforestry and forest-pasture systems; intensive islands of sustainable aquaculture, and greenhouses; within “9 planetary boundaries”, 4 relate directly to agriculture: nitrogen, water-use, deforestation and biodiversity.
PEOPLE Amazing places compel positive interactions. Regenerative activities turn into abilities, opportunities and sustainable/resilient/regenerative livelihoods. That is our theory of social change through nourishment systems.
We’ve validated it in our pilots. Fractal-Zero Cancun uses scholarships vs. job positions, has received 400+ people from around the world: experts, experienced farmers, volunteers, Maya and Mam families.
PRODUCTION. Fractal design unfolds into larger patterns; geographic, economic, social and cultural; that enhance efficiency, culture, value chains and wellbeing.
TECH in Fractals is: 1. Simple/passive/local first; 2. Holistic, ecological/ethical/precautionary. 3. Scientifically disciplined/measurable/documented, pertinent to vocations/bearing capacities; 4. Resilient; 5. Multidimensional (up/down/sideways; roots/stalks/leaves…) 6. Complementary with high tech; 7. Promotes autonomy, security and shared-cost efficiencies.
Mercado de la Tierra (MDL), sister company, connects Fractals to markets by being Conveniently Responsible for consumers, producers and investors, using meaningful customer relationships for high levels of loyalty, advocacy and trust. Pilot delivered 4% of organic market in Cancun/Riviera Maya helping local, sustainable, mindful, self-sustaining, resilient economies.
Also transforms/customizes minimally processed, value-added offerings in reusable containers. Plans last-mile logistics trough micro-distribution/attention centres close to customers. Waste is almost zero. Working on tech solutions for anyone in the world to strengthen local markets in similar ways.
PROSPERITY. Fractals foster entrepreneurship and create investment and facilitation pipelines linked to national/international organizations and universities. 2 collectives and 2 indigenous companies have been through the process, including the first Indigenous Council on Sustainable Development (CSD).
High Level Vision: With these challenges addressed, now provide a high level description of how the Place and the lives of its People will be different than they are now.
The model becomes a product and an attractive impact investment channel. It builds value from regenerative systems of nourishment and human development through authenticity and relevance. It supports other visions of better versions of ourselves and of our livelihoods; adapted and integrated to nature, enhancing Life and culture in smart and efficient ways.
Deploying Fractals puts Maya cultures and entrepreneurship in centre stage, unleashing gradually their vast capital-stocks of social, cultural and environmental wealth to their benefit and the world.
Fractals are built in Mayan communities, hosted and operated by locals, linking villages in patterns that ignite local economies and integrate them into value chains that multiply social and environmental impacts. They are built using Fractal Social Change model; each one designed, built and managed by Maya entrepreneurs and “Black-Swans,” part of interdisciplinary teams of learners and mentors who receive scholarships, instead of salaries while undergoing 18-month experiential, project-based programs that feed investment pipeline.
Programs follow Fractal theory of social change, and human centred learning. Five, 3-month stages with three 1-month slowdowns to connect to culture and ancestry.
Conservation areas in and around Fractals become, through Rights of Nature personhood, funding vehicles, making natural-capital stocks direct beneficiaries of dividends to be reinvested in them. Indigenous Investment Councils evaluate their use.
Fractals change the landscape, protect jungle, revamp local food systems and bioremediate affected areas. They reach greater numbers and households and tourists get personalized, ethical, responsible product they can feel good about from regional Fractal farms and their small industrial kitchens. They can visit and interact with these farms; some are a walk away. Larger companies get greater portions of their food from local and ethical sources by plugging into Fractal local value chains.
Full Vision: How do you describe your Vision for a regenerative and nourishing food future for your Place and People for 2050?
We have piloted the amazing ability that syntropic agroforestry has in Fractal design, producing soil and productive ecosystems that require fewer and fewer inputs. In our pilot, Fractal-Zero Cancun, we have been able to produce more than 80 different food crops simultaneously in 4 hectares, along with poultry, turkey and eggs; all while using a fraction of the space as some areas are for conservation, habitation and social interaction.
Seems like worst-case scenario by 2050, possibly before, is higher sea levels by up to 3 m (10 ft). Coast lines have changed permanently, some are seasonally flooded. Many cenotes (sink holes) become open-air lagoons, some rivers actually surface. Mangroves recover original space and a bit more. Big tourist destinations adapt and use new situation to their advantage. The north and west coasts of the Peninsula are most affected. Maya villages on the west move east and adapt as well.
Change is inevitable and ubiquitous. We’re on the move in many dimensions/directions, at different speeds. Never at the same place twice. At human scales, we can manage and direct change. We walk in a certain direction at a certain rate and for specific purposes. At GSQ we strive to make that walk transformative and beautiful and respectful. To see as much as we can, enjoy the trip, visit everyone and get hopefully a place where we can finally agree-to-agree.
We’ve also piloted the ability for Fractals to bring people together and create social change. Video was made by a collective that incubated at Fractal-Zero, Cancun. The founder embodies our theory of social change having turned into an expert syntropic agriculturist working with companies and communities. Video describes weeklong camping trip by local school with parents who are customers of local market building company in the group, Mercado de la Tierra.
ENVIRONMENT. Common place environmental integrity.
Fractal deployment has retraced urban patterns drawn by thousands of years of Maya Civilization. Fractals are common here and around the world. Basic instructions are “open source.” Great designs create cultures and pride. Fractal design and Fractal Integrity (FI) are measures of regenerative production, conservation and social/environmental services, as well as functionality, intelligence and multi-dimensional bottom lines.
FI is a Fractal designer’s main concern and source of satisfaction, systems thinking and art in equal measure. Purposeful/beautiful design induces life, harmony and independence. Fractal designers are Renaissance artists, painting frescos on wet walls that will be very different when dry. Great FI design solves soil building, renewal, nutrients, energy, water, diversity and much more.
E.G. Plants need 50+ nutrients; 3 are key: Nitrogen/Phosphorus/Potassium (NPK). ARCHAIC (30 years ago) agriculture produced them synthetically or extracted them. We ran out of mined phosphorus 10 years ago. FI extracts/restores them in systems locally balancing every Life Domain in circular economies. Chicken shit! Absolutely, 35 kg of N/ton of it, 31 of P, and 21 of K. Chicken are fed high-protein legumes that FIX NITROGEN from the air planted next to consumers like corn (why Mayans plant them together.)
Guttation, rate of absorption higher than transpiration; occult precipitation; epiphytes, plants that derive moisture/nutrients from air; forest evapotranspiration. All this natural acumen is in a FI designer’s colour-palate and can “extract,” save, recycle and restore water/soil/nutrients in semi-closed, circular systems that thrive on their own, produce food/biomass/raw materials; give us shade, and wood and fibre; and leaves rustling in the wind while dinning under a flowering tree.
Oceanic/freshwater Fractals enhance fisheries, marine and mixed environments, using pre-Hispanic knowledge and high-tech. Desalinisation Fractals found ways to reproduce mangrove ecosystems to produce fresh water.
Bioremediation Fractals renovate land, like that devastated by lime-stone mines. Using (nutrient-rich) treatment-plant muds and contaminated seaweed (filled with heavy metals/pharmaceuticals,) bamboos, hemp and other plants are grown for bioconstruction and composite materials, together with forest building plants and precious woods. These plants eventually clean the soils for use in food production. On flood-prone land super-plants absorb excess water to produce biomass for many useful purposes.
Urban design has changed. Fractals link together to enclose cities in greenbelts. Playa del Carmen and Merida stopped sprawling and heating up. An agritourism/agri-hood corridor now links Playa to Pto Morelos through the Cenotes route, creating a whole new residential and travel offering. In Cancun, originally designed as a “garden-city,” green corridors connect external Fractals to the city’s green belly button (opened in 2012.)
In 2020, some saw the future full of lab-modified and lab-produced corporate-owned “life” and extracted inputs for commoditized foodstuffs controlled by a handful of companies. We in the Yucatan envisioned open-source Fractals, epicentres of systems knowledge, umbilical cords to nature, focused on wisdom and nourishment rather than patents.
DIETS. Missions to Nourish. Abundance, not “yields.”
Diversity, is now known, is the mother of immunity. Fractals make it accessible. People live and work in them. Children’s schools are nestled in Fractals. More people are eating delicious, fresh, clean food and feeding their biomes.
Fractals related are the most common; associated with chefs, traditional foods, “cocineras” and to cultural expressions. Full immersion, pop-up Fractals versions bring cultures together.
Brewery, winery, chocolate fractals (with cacao rituals) and other hedonistic/indulgence trends are also plentiful. Those designed for health and life-sensei and ancestral cultures (Ashrams, Toltec, and Zen Fractals), using Fractals to enhance experiences through the senses are very sought after.
Some food Fractals produce more than a hundred different crops and provide experiential food sales like weekend markets, cooking/tastings. Others do home deliveries only. Some produce raw materials to transform into customized value-added offerings sold directly to consumers and businesses.
Farm-to-Table businesses sharing Fractals with commerce have changed strip malls for ever. Medical, longevity and wellbeing Fractals provide amazing places for treatment and retirement.
ECONOMICS. Multifunctional, multisector business models.
We’re multifunctional, multitasking beings. We’ve vital needs and functions, but once we’ve done that, we find time to do amazing things. So does Fractals design, striving for Fractal Integrity, but with the good sense of assimilating into value chains, several at once.
The first Fractals in 2020 interconnected privately owned real estate with common land in Mayan villages. They produced food, building materials, inputs and products for themselves, for their communities and for two super-efficient value chains: one distributing food to a 15 million tourists a year economy, the other into bio-refineries, aggregating biomass; separating it into energy (biodiesel), nutrients (animal feed/organic fertilizer) and textiles, changing the composition, quality and ethics of fashion for ever.
Live in a farm. Get (paying) residents and learners and volunteers and funding for grants for learners and builders and researchers. Feed yourself and others. Sell food too. Produce energy and fuel. And sell to international markets ethical, sustainable textiles: i.e. Farm/farmer viability.
By 2050, most things are produced in some sort of Fractal. Monocultures are mostly gone. Fuel comes from biodigesters/bio-refineries produced within Fractals for auto consumption or local sale. Some advanced Fractals produce hydrogen from supercritical water gasification (SCWG) of biomass or, where possible, from solar-based production.
Developers, producers, entrepreneurs and investors have grown accustomed to evaluating a business by its Fractal(s) and Fractal-Growth-Patterns (FGP). Good designs provide raw materials, fuel/electricity and inputs as well as food for employees and venues for education and apprenticeships. They unfold into entrepreneurial incubation and investment portfolios that strengthen a company’s local supply chain, community, social/political good-will, as well as access to benign capital with little waste, intermediation and with slim, super-efficient supply chains.
Amazing and innovative Fractal designs compete with one another, creating trends and using multiple dimensions (roots, stalks, leaves, fruit, flowers, seeds, perimetral, vertical production, etc.) Radical Fractals are based on complex mathematical, geometrical principles as well as astronomical observation and quantum phenomena applied to biological, highly productive, habitable systems.
Modelling Fractals is a Wiki effort. People get inspired by designs and solutions coming from around the world. Easy-use apps exist, as well as expensive modelling tools and consultants. Fractal creation provides hands-on venues for experience/project-based learning, incubation and refining sustainable businesses integrated into residential areas, places of work, recreation and learning.
Classrooms no longer confined and focused on purpose, help build communities, identity and local economies. Fractals with amazing cultural strength based on native cultures and virtues, linked to modern science and values are deployed in villages.
In some Fractal philosophies, people are animals once again. Extreme natural connection to raw intelligence and severe natural environments is gained by fitting us into amazing interactions with nature. Extreme Fractals take on unexpected shapes; some with stern challenges in concurrent levels of difficulty. Others use enhanced sensing tech to experience nature’s sophisticated evolutionary mechanisms and communications networks; including hormones, ultrasound and light spectrums, invisible to the human eye, for hyper sensing beautifully complex traits and rituals.
Fractal design principles have changed the way we use the space we live in, produce and distribute; buy and sell, learn and research; incubate ideas and invest in them; enjoy, harness and interact with Nature; and with one another.
Fractals are big on tech. They’ve shaped integrated low/high-tech solutions for purposeful intent, not technology for its sake or for control. A Fractal Tech Curve (FTC) is used to filter all solutions: 1. original, brilliant-low-tech, passive (no resource consuming) first. 2. Smart high-tech (with high degree of autonomy) second. 3. High-tech biological third. High-tech dependent last. E.G. irrigation based on buried clay pots, a pre-Columbian, low tech method, super-efficient, filters hard-water, pottery skill set required important for social inclusion. Refrigeration system based on mix of coconut-biochar and solar water pump, etc.
Policy has followed Fractal development closely, using it to combine evaluation, permits, enforcement and incentives in one concept: Fractal Integrity. With it authorities can look into
land-use/conservation, water use, waste management, climate change mitigation, bioremediation of land used for extraction, and many more. Authorities ask companies to use Fractal design services and submit FI designs and management plans for approval and monitoring.
Another example has been related to nutrition. Authorities have been able to enact and enforce nourishment regulations for schools and companies well as workers, which has helped decline obesity and diabetes, two seemingly unsolvable public health issues in 2020.
How did you hear about the Food System Vision Prize?