Aug27

Summer Reading List for Biomimics!

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We asked leaders in the biomimicry community – including Biomimicry Institute staff, founders of the Biomimicry Global Networks, our friends at Biomimicry 3.8, and our co-founder, Janine Benyus – for their summer reading recommendations, and have compiled a great list of books for your trip to the beach (or lake, reservoir, bay, pond, channel, estuary, fjord, bight, canal, wetland, lagoon, marsh, tributary, or river delta) this summer. Some may be better suited for hunkering down during winter months, but all will provide a new perspective in thinking about sustainability, innovation and design, and our relationship with the natural world. Enjoy!


 

Recommended by Janine Benyus, co-founder, Biomimicry Institute & Biomimicry 3.8

Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants by Robin Wall Kimmerer

Gathering Moss: A Natural and Cultural History of Mosses by Robin Wall Kimmerer

The Hidden Half of Nature by Anne Biklé and David R. Montgomery

I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life by Ed Yong

Adapt: How Humans Are Tapping into Nature’s Secrets to Design and Build a Better Future by Amina Khan

Recommended by Amy Coffman-Phillips, founder, Biomimicry Chicago network

Evolution by Stephen Baxter (Sci-Fi)

Storms of my Grandchildren by James Hansen

Birthright: People and Nature in the Modern World by Stephen Kellert

 

Recommended by Katherine Collins, author, The Nature of Investing, founder, Honeybee Capital Foundation

The Nature Fix: Why Nature Makes Us Happier, Healthier, and More Creative by Florence Williams

 

Recommended by Lisa Dokken, biomimicry consultant and lecturer, Columbia University

The Soil Will Save Us: How Scientists, Farmers, and Foodies Are Healing the Soil to Save the Planetby Kristin Ohlson

 

Recommended by Marjan Eggermont, associate dean, Schulich School of Engineering, and founding co-editor, Zygote Quarterly

Science of Seeing: Essays on Nature from Zygote Quarterly by Adelheid Fischer

 

Recommended by Chris Garvin, architect and founding board member, Biomimicry NYC network

Designing Regenerative Cultures by Daniel Christian Wahl

 

Recommended by Adiel Gavish, social media and communications manager, Biomimicry Institute and founder, BiomimicryNYC network

Orbiting the Giant Hairball by Gordon MacKenzie

“You have a masterpiece inside you, you know. One unlike any that has ever been created, or ever will be. If you go to your grave without painting your masterpiece, it will not get painted. No one else can paint it. Only you.” – Gordon MacKenzie

The Story of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang (Sci-Fi)

Recommended by Ron Gonen, co-founder and CEO, Closed Loop Fund

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari

 

Recommended by Tim McGee, founder, Likolab

How to Raise a Wild Child by Scott D. Sampson

Parasite Rex: Inside the Bizarre World of Nature’s most Dangerous Creatures by Carl Zimmer

The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating by Elizabeth Tova Bailey

Recommended by Nicole Miller, managing director, Biomimicry 3.8

Teeming: How Superorganisms Work Together to Build Infinite Wealth on a Finite Planet (and your company can too) by Dr. Tamsin Woolley Barker

 

Recommended by Beth Rattner, executive director, Biomimicry Institute  

What a Fish Knows: The Inner Lives of Our Underwater Cousins by Jonathan Balcombe

The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate—Discoveries from a Secret World by Peter Wohlleben

The Soul of an Octopus: A Surprising Exploration into the Wonder of Consciousness by Sy Montgomery

Recommended by Josh Stack, founder, Stack Resilience and co-founder, Biomimicry Northern Forest

Dark Age Ahead by Jane Jacobs

Solving for Pattern by Wendell Berry (essay from his book, The Gift of Good Land)

Principles for Building Resilience: Sustaining Ecosystem Services in Social-Ecological Systems by Reinette Biggs

 

Recommended by Kathy Zarsky, systems director, HOLOS, and co-founder, and director, Biomimicry TX network

Patterns in Nature: Why the Natural World Looks the Way It Does by Phillip Ball

The Self-Made Tapestry: Pattern Formation in Nature by Phillip Ball

Seeds: Time Capsules of Life by Rob Kesseler

Presence: Human Purpose and the Field of the Future by Betty Sue Flowers, Peter M. Senge and C. Otto Scharmer

Recommended by Joe Zazzera, founding principal, Plant Solutions

The Ground Beneath Us: From the Oldest Cities to the Last Wilderness, What Dirt Tells Us About Who We Are by Paul Bogard

RESOURCES

We also recommend checking out Joe Zazzera’s 111 “Books of Interest for the Biomimicry Professional” board on Pinterest!

In addition, we would like to encourage readers to obtain a copy of your local Master Naturalist’s reading list.


 

Originally published on the Biomimicry Institute + Global Biomimicry Network blog, Asking Nature.

Nov27

Earth is (already) great

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A joint letter from the Biomimicry Institute and Biomimicry 3.8.

Let’s work together to build a just world for us all, with nature as a guide.

We’ve all spent too much time inside the last few days, looking at our computers and TV screens. In that time, birds were flying south for the winter, rain was restoring thirsty hills in California, and baby koalas were being born in Australia.

A species can only thrive if its strategies are tuned to the conditions it’s in–and if it’s in beneficial relationships with others. Humans have co-existed as a species on this planet for over 200,000 years as Homo sapiens sapiens. In that time, there have been many disturbances, challenges, and tensions between and amongst us. Somehow, we have eventually learned that we are always better together than alone.

And through it all, we always asked nature for help.

Nature adapts to changing conditions, over short and long periods of time. For that reason alone, it offers us humans millions of answers on how to build a fair world that works for all species.  

We have a vibrant planet, one full of solutions to every problem we have. As we all collectively navigate this time of great change ahead, we encourage everyone to continue to look to nature. Take long walks, have conversations with birds, spend time pondering the ants.  

Go outside – enjoy it, learn from it, and protect it.

Sincerely,

Your friends at the Biomimicry Institute and Biomimicry 3.8

Apr06

Want to build an organization that lasts? Create a superorganism.

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By Tamsin Woolley-Barker, PhD

For the past 25 years, I’ve studied everything from baboon cooperation in Ethiopia and orca whale innovation in the Bering Sea, to the Argentine ant invasion in my kitchen, and my colleagues at work (not nearly as interesting!), all through an evolutionary lens.

Today, I use that lens to help companies evolve.

I’m a Biomimicry Professional, and a Biologist at the Design Table, and the teams I work with develop biologically-inspired solutions for a Global 500 clientele. We search for the technologies that make life—and business—go.

As an evolutionary biologist, a businessperson, and a biomimic, I’m always looking for the deep patterns in life, trying to find out what lasts. And here’s one thing I know is true:
Organizations can’t keep growing the way we structure them today.

It’s simple math. Like dinosaurs, organizations keep getting bigger, but they need huge bones to support the weight of all that complexity. The more weight, the more bones; the more bones, the more weight. It’s a catch-22. Management is the ponderous skeleton that keeps organizations from collapse. But as they grow, the costs of management rise, and the ability to adapt declines. When sudden change comes, there’s not much a company can do—it’s a sitting duck (or dinosaur) for the next cosmic collision. Hierarchies can only scale so much—we can’t grow bigger bones forever.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with hierarchies. In fact, nature uses them all the time—to stop change from happening. Scientists tell us that cells go rogue in our bodies every day, but a hierarchical system usually stops those cancers from growing. Hierarchies are important and useful. But they aren’t the right structures for adapting to change, and they inherently limit growth.

Change is coming—with shifting supply chains and customer needs, upstart competitors and technologies, resource scarcity and volatile prices, change is sudden, unexpected, and potentially calamitous. Multinationals span many divisions and fractured market segments, their teams cross cultures, languages, time zones, and governments. All of it held together by management. Between technological advances and social revolutions, climate change and peak everything, companies inhabit an unpredictable world of their own making. They are bound to topple and fall.

Meanwhile, they have a mandate to maximize shareholder return. Companies that are beholden to this short-sighted maxim require infinite growth. What happens when they hit the limit? Something has to give.

As an evolutionary biologist, I find myself asking—who inherited the Earth in the dinosaurs’ place?

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