The origins of the word culture are in the soil. It was a word that expressed our absolute dependence on the fertility of the land and the development of human civilisations around that primary purpose.

The real challenge to human culture may have come from the great movement into cities that occurred as agriculture developed and defensive systems were consolidated. The sheer numbers of people, who were accommodated in the city, necessitated new approaches to maintaining the cohesion of the larger social group.

At a structural level, there are three primary tools through which cities and nations have learnt to manage their lives. They are the law, the market and religion.

By contrast, a relational approach to culture might consider shared stories, shared purpose and shared rituals as key components.

There are also crude evolutionary measures of cultural success in terms of numbers of people, power, geographical spread etc, but a better reflection of the health of a culture might be assessed in terms of a rich storytelling life, a social order that makes space for playfulness, creativity and diversity and a clear sense of purpose that combines human well-being with the well-being of the earth and all its living systems.