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Steward's Notes

Environment, Making and Everything in Between

Biomimicry in Peterborough?

“The people who design our world usually never take a biology class” 

A recent exploration into bio-mimicry by 99 Percent Invisible and Vox had me thinking about how many of the systems and ways in which we organize ourselves in this city could be better informed through nature’s processes. When we are looking at biomimicry there are really three ways in which we can replicate or be inspired by nature they are as follows:

  1. Form – Shape, texture, colour etc. The physical form of the object
  2. Process – Methods for solving problems, communicating etc.
  3. Systems – Methods by which individual components interact with each other to form a complete ecosystem.

Personally I am very interested in systems thinking and coming to understand how different components work together to create a coherent whole. Within this city, there are no shortages of problems that I believe really need to be addressed on a system level. If our goal is to create a healthy vibrant community we need to understand the fundamental failures of our current system and work to address them. I’m sure much of this goes without saying, but perhaps biomimicry has some of the answers we are looking for!

One great example that I can think of is a recent set of conversations that I have recently had with a number of community members. The Jackson Creek corridor in our city is an environmental problem, but is also home to many of the social problems that exist within our city. Some questions I have that might lead to some creative solutions:

  • Tackling this from an ecosystem perspective, what resources exist that may help us address both of these issues?
  • Better yet is there a process we can use that would allow us to address one issue, while solving the other at the same time?
  • Even better, is there a system we could provide the initial starting conditions for that could flourish into something self sustaining?
  • In nature, resources rarely go underutilized. What resources exist within these systems that are currently being underutilized in our community?

The talented Natalie Naiper suggested that perhaps open sections of the creek could utilize the talents of those who spend their time there to animate the space and perhaps fill the roles of a steward for the creek. There are a number of curious spaces along the Jackson Creek Corridor that would lend themselves to this sort of work. An animator of these spaces could create greater awareness around our local environment and Jackson Creek further enhancing our local community’s capacity and knowledge.

JC-stop5 (2)

Jackson Creek Emerges from underneath the city. (Sarah Cullingham, 2017)

I believe we need to think about how our solutions can fix more than one problem, and create additional positive outcomes outside of our intent. By doing so we can sustain a vibrant healthy ecosystem that we all are a part of. Perhaps biomimicry is the future of sustainability.

Watch the video for some inspiration and come up with some of your own ideas for how the design and organization for our city could be greater informed by nature’s processes.

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