by Erin Leitch
Brightworks Sustainability Advisor
+ First generation Biomimicry Certificate candidate
I applied for the 2 Year Biomimicry Certificate program knowing I would be a guinea pig and without having expectations about what I would get at the end of that two years but mostly looking forward to the experience and the people. With the program coming to a close of April 10th, I realize I could never have imagined the value that it has brought to both my professional and personal outlooks. Actually, ‘outlook’ is a serious understatement. The program has deeply impacted both the way I conduct myself and the work that I do.
Biomimicry completely shifts the designer’s approach to sustainable design from being often times an obligatory chore on top of the true design intention to a broadened solution space where innovation and great design go hand in hand with resilience. This mindset shift happened to me when I first learned about biomimicry and now I have the privilege of witnessing that shift happening in the people with whom I am now working and speaking.I have already begun integrating biomimicry into the work I do at Brightworks, along with Nicole Isle, another Brightworker that attended one of the Biomimicry Institute’s week long Biologist at the Design Table (BaDT) workshops. Nicole and I have presented the biomimicry approach and its application to many architecture and planning firms in Portland and Seattle which has resulted in a tremendous amount of interest and inspiration about the possibility of emulating the genius found in natural systems and strategies. We have also been invited to speak at conferences and events. We are initiating a Pacific Northwest “Biomimicry Swarm” for emerging biomimics, and offer a full-day biomimicry workshop for designers, engineers, planners, and other built environment professionals that want to spend some time working with the biomimicry process and understanding the means by which we can distill challenges to functions and finding those functions in nature.
Through biomimicry, I have found an overwhelming ‘readiness’ in the people that we are talking with for rediscovering humanity’s intrinsic connection to the natural world – for knocking down the illusion of separateness from it – and a similar readiness for incorporating that value into the work we all do.
It is truly a thrill to be a resource to the design community for bridging the gap between biology and the built environment.
[Erin will complete the Biomimicry Institute’s inaugural 2–year certificate program this spring. She, along with 14 other professionals from design, biology, business and engineering backgrounds, will become one of the world’s first Certified Biomimicry Professionals. This posting is the first in a series of commentaries Erin will be authoring at our Blog on the subject of Biomimicry. — SL]