Tuesday, May 30, 2017

How does nature distribute resources and information? #cottonwood #summersnow

Cottonwood trees propagate their seeds and distribute the "information" needed to reproduce using efficiency and resilience strategies!

Like most wind propagated species, the Cottonwood tree leverages an existing, readily available resource to help it distribute seeds: wind. Instead of spending its own energy to distribute its seeds, it uses the wind to do it instead. This strategy allows the tree to distribute thousands of seeds as far as the wind blows. But is the distribution of thousands of seeds with the hope that only a few will mature really that efficient? It is when you take resilience strategies into account.

"R select" species such as the Cottonwood use a reproduction strategy where multitudes of seeds are a produced but each one requires a very low investment for the plant. And this shear abundance is a resilience strategy because 1) their abundance ensures that at least a few will land in growing conditions in which they will thrive and 2) their genetic diversity allows for adaptation to these growing conditions.

And even the vast majority of seeds that do not become a tree will provide food and building materials that feed the ecosystem - another example of nature creating conditions conducive to life!

So what can we learn from nature to distribute resources and information?

Leverage existing, renewable energy flows instead of doing everything yourself - i.e. leverage solar and wind energies as well as collaborative relationships
Package information to be distributed in a low-cost, energy efficient way and send out multitudes in the hope that a few will land in the right place and thrive - i.e. nature's version of email spam, and like spam these cottony seeds that coat everything can be quite annoying!
Rapidly prototype many different ideas and send them out into the wind to see what sticks!

...and many more! How can you learn from the Cottonwood tree?

See also: https://asknature.org/…/lightweight-structure-aids-dispers…/

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Let's get outside and learn - together!

Summer is an AMAZING time to be outside and experience nature, and this summer Biomimicry Chicago would like to invite you to experience nature with us - biomimicry style!

Biomimicry is the emulation of life’s forms, processes, and systems into the context of human innovation, and we want everyone in the Biomimicry Chicago network to collectively explore our region and share ideas. Each month, we will be giving you an observational challenge - what biomimics call an “iSite,” where we will ask you to go outside in a natural area by you and observe life’s forms, processes, and systems in context and explore what YOU can learn from nature. This is a FREE program that we are offering to build the biomimicry competency of local practitioners while growing our network, so join us today! Sign up for our mailing list and learn more today!

  • June’s Challenge: Exploring Life’s Forms
  • July’s Challenge: Exploring Life’s Processes
  • August’s Challenge: Exploring Life’s Systems
To participate, all you need to do is read the challenge, find a natural area near you, and observe. Complete the exercise and send your sketches, essays, or photos to us at biomimicrychicago@gmail.com and we will compile your entries and showcase them to the Global Biomimicry Network through our website and social media channels.

Explore your own creativity and learn about biomimicry this summer with Biomimicry Chicago!

June’s Challenge: Finding Forms in Nature

Integral to the practice of biomimicry is a connection with and respect for life’s organisms and ecosystems. To foster this connection and hone your skills of observation, we ask you to go outside in a natural area (a wildlife preserve, a garden, or even your backyard) and observe nature’s forms. For a portion of the time, just sit and be still. Do not check your phone or record observations at first – just open your eyes and “quiet your cleverness” as Dr. Dayna Baumeister says. Relax, focus on (re)connecting with the world around you, and let your creative juices flow.

When you are ready, consider the following questions:
  • Where are you?
  • What are you observing?
  • What forms do you see that intrigue you?
  • Are they examples of well-adapted design? If so, how?
  • What design insights does this give you for your own life and work?
  • What do you want to learn more about?
We recommend you spend at least 30 minutes outside just observing and then record your observations in a journal entry, blog, video, graphic, sketch or other medium and including a photo or two to remember your experience.

An example of completed assignment, for your reference:

Exercise adapted from Biomimicry3.8 Professional Certificate Program iSite with facilitated discussion methods from Technology of Participation by The Institute of Cultural Affairs.