Dec04

Is Nature the Coolest #Startup in the World?

Girl and Mountains

In Silicon Valley, where startups are born just as quickly as they perish, the predominant saying is, “Innovate or Die.” In the natural world, that saying holds true in an even more literal sense, and applies to not only entire species, but the ecosystems of which they are an integral part.

From a systems perspective, mother nature is a design expert and stellar model of ubiquitous innovation.

Unlike Silicon Valley, the “enterprises” that comprise nature’s business of “creating conditions conducive to life” are billions of years old, with standard operating procedures and innovation strategies connected to the very beginning of life on the planet. A quick Google search for “the world’s oldest companies” will tell you that ConEd was born in 1823, Lloyd’s insurance in 1688 and Kongo Gumi construction in 578. There is no decimal missing there, it was actually founded in 578.

Nature’s “valuation” is priceless and shareholder return, infinite.

Nature is an entrepreneurial system that has been conducting research and development not for tens, hundreds or even thousands, but billions of years. From a systems perspective, mother nature is a design expert and stellar model of ubiquitous innovation.

Photo Credit: Chris Moore

“Nature can’t put its factory on the outskirts of town. It has to work where it lives.” Janine Benyus

Our natural world is not only the guru of green design, but a startup whiz who’s had billions of years to perfect her craft. And not only does she make cool “apps” like spring and summer, but she does so in tandem with all other species so that her “valuation” is priceless and shareholder return, infinite.

Take a closer look at the way in which the natural world makes and does things, and you may find the equation for sustainable innovation. If business were to look at the natural world “as our mentor, rather than a warehouse of goods” as Janine Benyus, co-founder of Biomimicry 3.8 has stated, they may be able to find the secrets to long term success.

“Life creates conditions conducive to life”.

Studying these principles of good, regenerative design is a science and movement called biomimicry. Some also consider it an art form, in which nature’s sustainability strategies and principles are applied to man-made challenges. This goes beyond “net zero” impact. Nature never strives for zero. Not only is it boring, but it makes no sense. In order to create conditions that are optimal for life on the planet, you must constantly innovate, because life is always changing. If it didn’t, well, then life would be dead.

Janine Benyus, the biologist and philosopher, with Dr. Dayna Baumeister distilled our natural world’s best practices into a set of standards called “Life’s Principles” urges us to remember that “life creates conditions conducive to life.” It is not a “goal”, but rather a universal charge. Every single product (flora and fauna) and service (carbon cycle, water cycle, biomes and ecosystems) creates value, so that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

This underlying framework keeps everything working together, in balance, in sync and in harmony, at an optimal level. The application of “Life’s Principles” to global challenges is an emerging science, philosophy, discipline and art. Rather than ask, what can we take from the natural world, biomimicry encourages us to ask, “What can we learn?”

And not only is biomimicry on the rise, but the principles by which nature operates are popping up in man-made innovations in our universal quest to do “more good” and not just “less bad”. This focus beyond “sustain”ability has organically evolved into regenerative design – something our planet has been doing for billions of years.

Nature’s strategies are echoed in the relatively recent development of the sharing economy, the circular economy, social enterprise, big data applications, “smart” products, resilient cities, and so on. It’s all trending towards “regenerative”.

When you look outside today, you see what has survived. These innovations are built to last. And they do so by giving back to the (eco)systems of which they are an integral part.

Nature’s wisdom, as the world’s longest standing “startup social enterprise” is the most powerful natural resource we have yet to explore.

 

Oct28

Biomimicry + Urban Green Harbors Workshop

Urban Green Harbors and LivingLabs Logo

Urban Green Harbors Design Charette

How can urban harbors accrete sediment and stop erosion like the salt marsh;

while improving water quality like the oyster reef

and creating a habitat for other species like eel grass beds?

Two years since Superstorm Sandy, the world is a different place. Everyone is talking about “resilient coastal cities”, but what does that really mean? What can we learn from inherently sustainable and resilient natural systems? And how can we apply nature’s adaptive strategies to our urban harbors?

THE CHALLENGE 
How would nature design resilient breakwaters, supporting human and ecological services and functions?

OBJECTIVES 
Introduction to the science, philosophy and practice of Biomimicry and the 6 Biomimicry Principles.

PRACTICAL EXERCISE 
Design charrette of a local breakwater on Governor’s Island. Work with an interdisciplinary team of designers, biologists, architects, engineers and planners. Final designs will be presented to the NY Harbor School

WHEN     Monday, November 17th from 10AM to 5PM

WHERE   Pershing Hall, Governor’s Island – the Ferry leaves from the Battery Maritime Building (the historic green building to the left of the glass Staten Island Ferry bldg) promptly at 10 AM. Address: 10 South St, New York, NY 10004

COST      $60 per person, $40 for first 10 registrants, 2 student scholarships currently available

RSVP

LEAD INSTRUCTOR : DR. ANAMARIJA FRANKIC

Dr. Anamarija FrankicDr. Frankic is founder and director of the Green Harbors Project®. She is a Biomimicry Educational Fellow, and a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Zadar. Her background in biology, ecology, limnology and marine science guide her interdisciplinary work in coastal and watershed ecosystem stewardship and restoration. Anamarija founded the LivingLabs® program where students and local communities can ‘learn and teach by doing’ biomimicry, applying nature’s wisdom to be healthy, wealthy and resilient.

ABOUT THE DESIGN CHARETTE 
Each participant will be assigned to a diverse 5 person team, based on your background and experience. Volunteers from BiomimicryNYC and Biomimicry New England will be assigned to each team in order to provide guidance through the research phase and biomimicry design process.

WORKSHOP PARTNER : THE NY HARBOR SCHOOL 
Located in the heart of New York Harbor, Harbor School’s mission is to provide a college-preparatory education built upon New York City’s maritime experience that instills in students the ethics of environmental stewardship and the skills associated with careers on the water.

Inquiries

Student scholarship applicants, please contact adiel@biomimicrynyc.com 

If you are interested in being a Community Partner or Event Sponsor, please contact Adiel Gavish adiel@biomimicrynyc.com.

Community Partner and Sponsor Packet_BiomimicryNYC_Urban Green Harbors

(more…)

Dec07

Student Design Challenge 2014

Student Design Challenge

BiomimicryNYC is helping to spread the word on Biomimicry 3.8’s annual Student Design Challenge. This year’s challenge focuses on sustainable transportation solutions: How can biomimicry help us address the deeper needs around transportation?

(more…)

Jul29

Biomimicry Conference Highlights

Global Biomimicry Conference

The first ever Global Biomimicry Conference explored nature inspired 3-D printing, Generous Cities, a Regenerative Economy and how Green Chemistry can lead the way in creating sustainable products.

Biomimicry consultant, Dr. Tamsin Woolley-Barker captures these inspiring and game changing ideas from the Conference in a series of articles featured in Triple Pundit.

(more…)