Biomimicry – looking to nature to solve our problems
By Claudia Waller
“Make nature your best teacher. With great love, learn from her the lessons of life.”
― Debasish Mridha
How many of you have heard of biomimicry? To break it down: Bio = life and mimicry = to mimic = to mimic life! That’s essentially it, looking to mimic life, to nature, to find solutions to challenges we face today. Here’s a rundown of the things that got me the most excited during an extended biomimicry course in the Garden Route, South Africa. Joined by a group of like-minded individuals we delved into the fundamentals of biomimicry, led by renowned biomimicry practitioner, keynote speaker and founder of Learn Biomimicry and BiomimicrySA Claire Janisch.
Throughout the course, I’m in awe of Claire’s abundant knowledge and inextricably connected mind. How she so effortlessly makes connections with natural systems, the plethora of examples of how they’re advantageous to our world and how they are or can be implemented into design.
We spend some afternoons attuning our lens to identify attributes and functions of naturally occurring systems and organisms, deeply analysing these processes, on Nature’s Valley beach. For example, Sean finds a dead baby shark on the shoreline which sparks conversation about how resilient they are to infection – could we look at the shark’s gut biome, discover what causes their immunity and replicate it to aid healing of infections in humans? Innovative thinking for today’s challenges.
Biomimicry’s Life’s principles are the representation of all patterns used by all species to survive and thrive on Earth. Following these in design is what fosters resilience and efficiency, without harming or overextending natural systems. Working with nature, not against it. This was the recurring theme for me during the course and as a permaculturalist it resonated deeply and is applicable to all aspects of life. It just makes sense that we would want to learn from that, right?
Sourcing energy renewably should be a big part of any conversation in the environmental space right now, and was certainly for ours. We spent time evaluating the benefits of various renewables that we all know and love, solar, wind, hydro, then analysing what the future could hold for them. Biogas or renewable-sourced electricity for powering cars was a big topic. But we must think beyond that, what about the innovators, the inventors?
Custodian of Wild Spirit, Earle Lawrence showed us how to make electricity from hydrogen, by splitting water into its two main constituents and using the hydrogen to power a disused internal combustion engine (from a retired farm bakkie), producing electricity. Using life-friendly chemistry, Earle took me back to the magic I felt in chemistry practicals as a young adult, with the conclusion of his presentation ending with a bang.
Earle gives us a show burning the captured hydrogen
The future of blockchain technology isn’t just bitcoin, it can be used for fair distribution of goods and services too. For example to distribute power through a ledger in which your excess (renewable-sourced) household energy may be sold on, or how musicians can use blockchain technologies – King’s of Leon become the first band to release an album as an NFT this week- to distribute their music without the P’s & Q’s of bowing down to Apple. You sell 100,000 records at $1 a record, you get $100,000.
Biodynamic farming teaches us a means of growing food without the chemical fertilizers and monocropping, but goes beyond organic farming to include a holistic approach of connecting the farmer with the land, as well as introducing specific areas that are not to grow food but to enhance biodiversity. Biodynamic farmers Sanele & Matt help us build a hugelkultur bed amidst the ever growing veggie garden at Wild Spirit.
Charlene and Raven creating trellis’ for tomatoes as part of a companion planting session
The social aspect
Spiral dynamics is a tool we touched on that can bring awareness to development of people as individuals and collectives, and I immediately related this to how it could help in my professional life when trying to understand a target audience in, for example, product development.
Tim Olsson, entrepreneur, musician and creator of new platform Crowdpol spoke to us about his vision for the social network to transform how we connect communities & individuals who are doing good in the world. To uplift projects and concepts we care about, through what he describes as “cosmo-localism” explaining the necessity of a liquid democracy in today’s world is of priority. He explains how the platform is sharing resources, knowledge, and funding, reflecting on how much of his business values reflect biomimicry principles.
Speaking of doughnut economics “to meet the needs of all within the means of the planet” – Kate Raworth explains, is a fundamental part of a biomimicry and a great visual representation on how we can be doing things differently.
From a biomimicry perspective, regenerative health is using nature to enhance, optimise our health and heal. We look into the art and science behind forest bathing, how biofield tuning can heal past traumas and how to make plasma to re-energise water, mind-bending thinking that can surely only lead to great healing and an optimised environment for progression spiritually.
Capturing the space between us, on the Sunset deck at Wild Spirit
We are at a turning point in our evolution, we know we can not continue to live exploiting the planet and its people on the trajectory predicted. We need to think of systems as a whole, with systemic feedback loops: life creates conditions conducive to life! Let’s learn from life and align ourselves with this transformative, radical, and necessary way of thinking.
Take a sneak peak at the Learn Biomimicry online course where you can get a feel for how valuable this practice is and how you can incorporate it into your life.
Photo credit Agnus Mazur
Photo credit Gheon Steenkamp
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