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Biomimicry: Janine Benyus On “Learning To Live Gracefully On This Planet By Consciously Emulating Life’s Genius”

This week, I caught up a bit on the wonders of biomimicry. Biomimicry emulates the best of nature and biology with technology. The essentials of biomimicy are Ethos, Re-connect, and Emulate. Biomimicy offers consumers a way out of abusing the planet, and a way into a gracious interface and imitation of what works in nature. It offers vast opportunity with cleantech, green invention, and green business — everything the earth needs.

Image Credit Luke, Ma

I caught up on some of the many wonders of biomimicry by watching one of the TED Talks videos on the subject. The video is fascinating, beautiful, and expansive. I watched it 3 times. Then I watched 3 more videos on biomimicry.

Janine M. Benyus explains, “Biomimicry, as the name implies, is emulating the strategies of life. The core of biomimicry is that it uses nature as mentor, model, and measure, as articulated in Life’s Principles.”

(A while back) Janine was in a book store looking for her newly published book, Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature. She asked a sales clerk where it might be. He asked her what it was about?:

“OK. It’s about looking to nature for inspiration for new inventions,” I blurted. “It’s learning to live gracefully on this planet by consciously emulating life’s genius. It’s not really technology or biology; it’s the technology of biology.  It’s making a fiber like a spider, or lassoing the sun’s energy like a leaf.”

The growing alarm on his face confirmed it; I was postpartum and probably shouldn’t be out.

Then he lifted his palms as if weighing two packages and said something I will never forget. ‘Look lady, you’ve got Nature and you’ve got Technology; you’ve got to choose one.’ He was referring to the category scheme in the store, but I realized that the deep, deep separation between those two ideas in our culture was why biomimicry was squirming to be born.

Here’s more on the essential elements:

  • The ethos element forms the essence of our ethics, our intentions, and our underlying philosophy for why we practice biomimicry. Ethos represents our respect for, responsibility to, and gratitude for our fellow species and our home.
  • The (re)connect element reinforces the understanding that, while seemingly “separate,” people and nature are actually deeply intertwined. We are nature. (Re)connecting is a practice and a mindset that explores and deepens this relationship between humans and the rest of nature.
  • The emulate element brings the principles, patterns, strategies, and functions found in nature to inform design. Emulation is about being proactive in achieving the vision of humans fitting in sustainably on earth.

Janine Benyus explains in Voices of Bioneers 2000: “That’s what we’re looking to do, to emulate this amazing ability that life has to fertilize the soil, clean the air, clean the water and mix the right cocktail of atmospheric gasses that life needs to live. What life in ensemble has learned to do is to create conditions conducive to life.”

Image Credit: Lotus, Tapei, Tawan by Luke, Ma

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Written By

Cynthia Shahan started writing after previously doing research and publishing work on natural birth practices. (Several unrelated publications) She is a licensed health care provider. She studied and practiced both Waldorf education, and Montessori education, mother of four unconditionally loving spirits.


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