In addition to my continued opening to the biomimicry movement, I'm presently reading "Naturalist," E.O. Wilson's autobiography — I was moved, in part, to pick it up recently because I knew that he would be closing the GreenBuild conference last month with Janine Benyus, the biologist who is credited with coining the term biomimicry and who, with Dayna Baumeister, founded the Biomimicry Guild.
Before they sat together, Wilson and Benyus each addressed the very large crowd separately, and she opened her remarks remembering the "microwilderness" behind her house in suburban New Jersey, and how she used to spend as much time as she could out there, observing and communing with the organisms who lived there. Very quickly, she conveyed her love for that place, and the sorrow and offense she felt when the bulldozers came to start phase two of her subdivision.
The story dovetailed (note bio allusion!) very neatly with the tales Wilson tells in his book at greater length, the substance of which he acknowledged when they came together on the stage couch. Both these people went out of doors and fell in lifelong love. I can't relate. I played out of doors too, climbing on rock faces and playing war in the brush in places that also have since fallen to the dozers' blades, but I somehow missed the forest for the trees. They were just there, and so were the animals — musta been. But they didn't capture me. Read more »
Another in a series of miniprofiles of sustainability-minded people who are working to reduce humankind’s footprint on the planet. They're "mini" not only because they're short, but because all the questions are 10 words or less, and the answers are requested to match. (Please, no counting.)
JANINE BENYUS, 50, Stevensville, Mont. Cofounder, Biomimicry Guild; Author, "Biomimicry, Innovation Inspired By Nature"
What do you do? "I’m a biologist at the design table, helping innovators consult life's genius to create sustainable designs."
Green epiphany: "Asking the question, 'is anyone consiously trying to emulate the elegant, well-adapted, fit technologies of nature?' It was about 1990."
If you want the Prager who knows and values the outdoors, you want my brother, Richard: National Outdoor Leadership School, Outward Bound Minnesota, solo Appalachian Trail hiker from Georgia to Maine, scaler of all the 4,000-plus-feet peaks in New Hampshire, New York State School of Forestry graduate degree, all before age 25, and 10 years (maybe it was only 5) as president of the Simsbury (Conn.) Land Trust.
Me, I got nothin', as JS would say. Read more »