Nature as Mentor…

Fresh Food with a Fresh Paint Job

I love Einstein quotes. Here’s one of my favorites: “We can’t solve problems using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” It comes to mind when I hear, “We’ve got to get the economy going again.” Yet, if there’s no longer a correlation between the USA’s growing GDP with quality of life (we’re less happy now than forty years ago and easy to see why: we work longer, for less money) and worse, a growing GDP means more of life dies, i.e. forests, fisheries, soil, isn’t it time to rethink our strategy? If our most ‘educated’ people, as business execs, do the most damage, shouldn’t we rethink education?

The Industrial Revolution was fantastic for a number of reasons, but taking what we could from nature for our benefit and then using the air, water and soil (and our bodies) as repositories for our toxic waste no longer adds value to our lives. Worse, every living system in the world is in decline and that decline is accelerating (Hawken).

What if we were to change our relationship with nature? Instead of seeing nature as something to control, to exploit, and, yes, to conserve, what if we view nature as a teacher? Nature’s been around, tinkering to find out what works and what doesn’t, for a couple billion years. What would it mean if we, homo sapiens, mere upstarts, look to nature to find our way? How would we, in the words of Aldo Leopold, “think like a mountain”?

If we could redesign our built environment with nature’s principles, what would it look like?

We’ll stick with food (it’s harvest time in Chicago and I have veggies coming out my ears), and we’ll learn what’s already happening….

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