Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Naughty By Nature



I, along with several other students, had dinner tonight with Janine Benyus. Ms. Benyus is the author of Biomimicry: Inspired By Nature, an awesome book that advocates human examination of natural processes as a way of advancing our own inventions, products, and ways of thinking. She also runs the Biomimicry Institute, based out of Montana. She's awesome.

I don't know that I have ever really come across such an eloquent, thoughtful, and incredibly intelligent person. Janine is overflowing with knowlege about the natural world, business, and life, in general- the sort of knowelge that not only informs, but inspires and inspires in an uplifting and day-dreaming sort of way. Speaking with her has definitely been a highlight. And that's because first and foremost, her goal is to make human existence better. That is, she believes that through the emulation and adaptation of natural processes and methods for creation and manufacture, we can live progressive and productive lives in such a way that humanity's impact on the world can ultimately be a positive one. By pushing the people and corporatations who make the things we buy, own, and use to use naturally-inspired methods, we can not only gain a better understanding of the world and how it works, but design products, processes, and ultimately, lifestyles and cultures that are not only environmentally benign, but hopefuly, environmentally beneficial.
This, I believe, is a message of hope, hope and imagination. And these are the things our species needs this day and age: a reprioritization and reogranization of our own exisitance, how we do things, and why we do them. I have grown weary of our wholesale categorization of human existance as something that is ultimately detrimental to the world. Yes, we participate in and support destructive and gluttonous endeavors all over the world, but these activities are merely cultural artifacts; artifacts, practices, and outlooks that can be changed. Ultimately, we have to see ourselves as possibly contributing to the richness and diversity of life on earth, not merely detracting or chipping away at it. This view is not only too easy to fathom (because it means that we resign ourselves to destructive cultural habits instead of proactively attempting to change them), but it is altogether wrong. We are a part of nature in the same way that trees and animals and oxygen molecules contstitute discrete parts of the overall equation that, when added together, gives us nature, life, and the very existance some of us are fighting so hard to protect.

As an entire species, we need to move passed protection and reach for enrichment of the world and all of its inhabitants. This thinking is embeded somewhere in the gospel that Benyus preeches, and that is why i appreciate her thoughtful and compelling argument.

Upcycle, please

Antonio Pacheco

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