Thursday, January 23, 2014

Strategies for staying warm - this bird does what?

Ever heard of the Australian Brush-turkey? Probably not. For a turkey it's pretty showy - bright red head, yellow (or purple) wattle, sideways fanned tail. But this bird has an even showier strategy it uses to incubate its eggs. While most birds sit for hours, sometimes taking turns, sometimes one bird stuck doing the whole thing, the Australian brush-turkey has managed to figure out how to incubate its eggs and be free to roam.

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Australian Brushturkey - Source: Wikipedia

One of Life's Principles is that life uses readily available materials and energy. This concept is pretty easy to understand and it's pretty easy to find examples of this on your doorstep. The squirrel that lives in your tree isn't traveling to the next village, let alone Alabama, in search of materials to build its nest; it is finding materials in a relatively small radius around its home. Similarly, a plant isn't getting energy to grow from a coal-fired power plant, it's harnessing the sun's energy. Aside from energy from the sun, what other sources of energy can you think of that are readily available? I'm betting that this bird has you beat in terms of creativity in finding a readily available energy source.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Art of Science Learning Chicago Innovation Incubator

The memo on my desk seven years from now, I said in my Biomimicry Professional application, was from the mayor indicating I had been selected to solve the urban nutrition issue, using biomimicry of course, in the most forward thinking city in the universe. While I am very interested in urban nutrition issues, I know very little about them but have always wanted to know more. Today I joined 100 other people in the first day of the Art of Science Learning Chicago Innovation Incubator which, over the course of this year, will look to innovate viable solutions around the issue of urban nutrition. I am so excited!

While I don't think I'm on my way to becoming a true expert in urban nutrition or selected to lead any such effort in the near future, not only will I be learning a lot about the subject and meeting amazing people, but perhaps more importantly for the long term I'll also be learning about tools to inspire innovation through interaction with the arts. I am not sure that this could have come at a better time - getting a well-rounded education around inspiring innovation through Biomimicry Thinking AND the arts will allow me to figure out ways to combine the two and hopefully be even more effective in reaching/connecting more people to biomimicry.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Biomimicry Thinking

As a part of the Biomimicry Professional program we have been doing a deep dive into Life's Principles - those principles that all life must adhere to to be successful (survive). This process has gotten me thinking about life's principles in my own life - how can I be more multi-functional? In what ways do I replicate strategies that work? I've found myself categorizing tasks I'm doing - such as streamlining the cookie-making process for a school fundraiser (I was much smarter about it this year...finally) and building upon a stage made for our girls a few years ago which since last year also serves as a puppet show stage and this year is a little house (via a felt overhang covering). I find myself thinking, how can I be more successful - and for me that means getting things done with any semblance of time left over for me to breathe - still working on that!

This week we are starting to look at Biomimicry Thinking - using Biomimicry tools and principles throughout the design process. As I did the assignment I had been thinking about how others use life's principles in the design process of which, not being in any semblance of a design world, I have zero experience. But someone's discussion post made me stop and think. I had considered design of a product, a building, a neighborhood, business strategy around a product, etc., but how does this apply to what I do currently? Is there anything I do that could be considered "design"? What about "designing" a sustainability strategy/goals/programs for a business (not product specific)? Yes. What about designing a sustainability training program?...sure - I'll have to work on that one. So how can I apply Biomimicry Thinking to what I do currently? It will be something I catch myself thinking about going forward for certain.

What kind of "design" do you do? Could Biomimicry Thinking be integrated into your "design" process? How can the products or services or actions you deliver have a greater chance of enhancing rather than detracting from Life on earth?

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Waste is Normal?? Lessons from a Bird Feeder

Industrial ecology and bird feeders - what?? Check out Amy's recent blog post on lessons we can learn about waste management by observing nature.

"Waste is normal. This observation is a bit shocking to me. It flies in the face of all sustainability theory I've read and practiced for the last fifteen years, so how can I observe that waste is normal? Because it is, when you look at component parts in isolation without seeing the larger system. Not every species can consume the entirety of the resources that are offered. Sometimes, there is waste, but this waste is readily taken up by another component, resulting in a zero-waste system."

Read more at The B-Collaborative Blog