From 2006 to 2016, I undertook a series of epistemologically driven practice experiments under the concept of Embedded Artist (EA). This concept has been formally engaged in cities in the USA and South America, on urban design projects of varying scales, generating a series of linked civic initiatives that model a whole-systems, place-based approach. These experiments aim to explore the role of culture in sustainability, and demonstrate how the multiple values – social, cultural, environmental, and economic – can inform a ‘net benefits’ model of development. This approach is geo-specific, focusing on bioregional thinking and localism. And thus, our underlying interest in urban ecology infuses our work with a place-based ethos that aligns with and broadens the social, cultural, and quality-of-life aims of placemaking. In our case, the EA engagements are situated primarily in post-industrial and post-colonial contexts.