Scenario C: The Grown – A Biomimicry World

Scenarios of Sustainability

Warning: the following will include an excessive use of question marks, as answers are far beyond me in the current scenario.

What if the world of the manufactured became the world of the grown? How literal should this future be?

Image by Steve Kinderman-AP - How comfortable will we be with a fully integrated urban ecology?

Do we want our indoors to be the same as the outdoors? What if hardwood floors and stark white walls were replaced by soft grass and flaking bark? How do we deal with the germ-o-phobia and fear of creepy crawlies inherent in the wild? Predators are a sign of a healthy ecosystem, would a healthy urban ecology be able to support larger predators, when we already struggle with accommodating pigeons and raccoons?

I’m very curious to know if these questions are currently being pursued by the true visionaries of sustainability, biomimicry, ecological design and any other label for innovation inspired by nature. There may well be some of us that wish to return to a life connected to nature and who want to see nature physically integrated into our daily lives. But the vast majority are likely happy with this inclusion being limited to the tame confines of a green wall, internal garden or meditational pond, and would like their desk free of dirt, and with blinds over the windows to prevent glare on their computer screens.

So, then, what IS the vision of a biomimicry future?

Kevin Kelly, Out of Control

Kevin Kelly's Out of Control, written at a similar time to Janine Benyus Biomimicry, a great read.

Would a bio-inspired world be current practice as usual, sans the pollution, would it be a solar and material revolution so that we could continue as we do now, only without toxic land fills? I’m sure this is the dream of many technologists and innovators. It appears to be the goal mapped out by visionaries such as Kevin Kelly. What I find very intriguing, is that like discussions around Artificial Intelligence, there is an underlying fear around completely embracing the “non-human”. Kevin Kelly’s book “Out of Control” establishes this theme from the beginning with the title. The future of the grown, will involve uncertainty and chaos that can not be controlled. Nanotechnology already hints that this, operating at the nano level deals with shaping probability, rather than the explicit fabrication methodologies of injection moulding and rapid prototyping.

This chaos is beautiful. We desire it as an escape from the cities, as we vacation to beaches, lakes, mountains and forests. But we still mow the grass around the cottage. The kids want to play soccer after all. And we still return to the city, to get the real work done, away from distractions.

I am surprised by myself that this is the least conclusive scenario currently, as I have spent so much time thinking of biomimicry as a creative tool for change. I hadn’t realized until recently that I hadn’t spent that much time defining what I wanted that change to be as a tangible reality.

2 Comments on “Scenario C: The Grown – A Biomimicry World”

  1. danburgess says:

    Really interesting post. we’re currently living in a treehouse in Costa Rica- the house is very open – we really do share it with the more than human world – loads of bugs, animals, birds, gekos all coming in and out. It was quite a transition for the first few months, but now the inspiration from a more wild living context truly outweighs the squirming side of things.We do have wifi so we can work and connect – but no TV – it’s a great balance for me of nature and tech – nice blog btw!

  2. carlhastrich says:

    Hi Dan Burgess,
    Thanks for the comment – I am really curious to know what the balance part way might be? If one extreme is fully living in nature and the other is completely disconnected, what are the options in the middle.
    I’d be extremely curious to know what you “bring back” to your city life, if you ever do go back. What from nature would you be able to integrate?

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