Biomimicry is the design and production of materials, structures, and systems that are modelled on biological entities and processes. We are, after all, biological ourselves, not separate from nature. We can optimise our lives by looking to nature for intelligent solutions, designs and systems. When we look to nature to teach us how to live we find that symbiotic relationships build resilience. It is about our relationships with people, our social systems. Sustainable individual resilience is not possible without social connections and shared resources… quite contrary to our current culture of individualism and consumerism.
For two weeks in October I was fortunate to be part of the thriving permaculture community in Raglan. I attended the Permaculture Design Course at the eco-retreat known as Solscape and my life will never be the same again. I went with the intention to learn about soil health, landcare and how to create a food forest. I left with the intention of creating a whole new world for myself, my family, my community, my business, the whole of humanity, the land, the earth and everything that we call life. Permaculture encompasses all of life and is a new way of designing the way we live in accordance with nature.
Biomimicry is a way of looking to natures design to inform our own resilient technology, infrastructure and social systems. It is with the understanding that we are an innate part of nature and cannot design our lives as separate entities without dire consequences. Nature is intelligent and elegant in that it designs simplicity with multiple complex factors. In a broad perspective biomimicry is based on simple observations…
Nature runs on sunshine (not fossil fuels)
Nature uses only the energy it needs (zero waste, maximum efficiency)
Nature fits form to function (responding and adapting to conditions)
Nature recycles everything (production – consumption – decomposition – production)
Nature rewards co-operation (symbiotic relationships build resilience)
Nature banks on diversity (interdependence and support = survival)
Nature demands local expertise (maximising what thrives locally)
Nature curbs excess from within (with diversity, moderation and healthy competition)
Nature taps the power of limits (turns a problem into a creative solution)
How would we re-design our lives based on these observations of nature? I won’t go into detail here about technology and infrastructure design here, however, if you are curious to know more there is an awe-inspiring explanation of it in a link I will share at the bottom of this article.
Which of of the above observations ring true to you? For me, I came to see that energy efficiency, co-operation and social diversity are key foundations in the redesigning of my life. What that means to me is being aware of the areas in my life that I waste my energy and learning how to minimise those activities, habits or patterns. When I look around at my social connections I can also see where my friends and family are wasting their energy too by trying to do everything by themselves. In our culture we defend our individuality and pride ourselves on being self-sufficient, and to a certain extent this is ok, but mostly it means that we waste much of our precious energy.
We waste our energy doing things on our own that could be done communally. I am not saying that we should all aspire to live in communes, what I am saying is that we could free up our time to do more of what our heart desires, or develop our natural talents and skills, if we shared our fundamental living resources within our community. I do not need one of everything if I can call on my neighbours to borrow something. I also do not need to do everything by myself if I can call on a friend for their unique skills and reciprocate by offering what I can in return. Whether that be time, money, baking, homegrown vegetables, or some other skill that I can share.
By connecting into our wider social networks we find that we have everything and more that we could need to be resilient. Resilience is not about spending a fortune on a thousand products or proving to anyone that you can do it all on your own. That is not a sustainable life design. Resilience is being very honest about your energy resources and being intelligent about how you use them. That could be as simple as checking in with yourself, knowing your energy levels, before committing to a tasks that you want to achieve in your free time. Do you really need to do all the things you think you need to do, honestly? Who can you reach out to share the task? How can you maximise what you already have by working smarter and more efficiently?
When we look to nature to teach us how to live we find that symbiotic relationships build resilience. It is about our relationships with people. We can have all the tools, gadgets and products we want. We can isolate ourselves and do everything on our own. We can create a little haven away from the hustle and bustle of the rest of the world. But what good is that if we do not know how to have meaningful and supportive relationships with people? What good is that if we do not know what is happening around our neighbourhood? What good is that if we are disconnected from the diversity of the rest of the world? Our individual wellbeing and the wellbeing of our world is intrinsically interdependent on the wellbeing of all of us.
He aha te mea nui o te Ao? … He tangata, he tangata, he tangata.
What is the most important thing in the world? … It is people, it is people, it is people.
Peace to all.