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Nature as Inspirational Architect

December 13, 2010

I just went to my first CoolMom meeting last week – I’ve been meaning to check out this cool organization of local moms who are working on a green lifestyle for themselves, their families, and their community. I was lucky to get a door prize made by the West Seattle coordinator and her children.  Beginning with a beautiful pinecone, they added glitter and a decorative hanger, and it became a lovely ornament. No need to buy ornaments when you can make something like this yourself.

I was also reminded of the great inspiration that can be found in nature. A longtime favorite book is Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature. The author Janine Benyus is a biologist who became fascinated with how people were turning to nature for inspiration. One example in her book is a team of researchers who are studying spider silk, because there is simply nothing made by humans that comes close to its strength and ability to span long distances. And it is all made without toxic chemicals or high heat, within the abdomen of the spider. The spider can even modify the properties of the silk, making it stickier or stretchier or stronger, as the web-building situation requires. Pretty amazing actually.

The pinecone is an equally elegant design solution for producing, storing, and distributing seeds. Sometimes we human beings get caught up in repeating and modifying old design concepts, when there may be new inspiration to be found in the bark of a tree or the wing of a beetle.

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