30 Days of Reconnection

In the wake of COVID-19, our global society was faced with a moment for a forced, collective pause. In this time of uncertainty, we created an opportunity to try a new practice, one built on reconnecting to nature. Whether you’re online or able to go out safely in nature, this timeless series of activities will get you started or continue your biomimicry journey.

What might we learn after 30 (or more) days of observing how a leaf works, how a spider senses, how ants assign duties to one another, or how energy and mass are linked in a perpetual life cycle dance?

Through these activities, we hope to give you a greater sense of our biomimicry ethos and to learn how to tap into nature’s wisdom. How does nature create resiliency? How does nature communicate? How does nature embed sustainability in all of its systems?

We’ve prepared one activity per day. This journey presents us with an opportunity to reconnect with nature—and ourselves. And when the new day arrives following Day 30, we hope you will feel empowered to mobilize and act, discover new ways to live in this world, and embrace a practice of biomimicry, where we create conditions conducive to life—just like nature does.

You can kick off the 30 Days of Reconnection any day you would like. We encourage you to complete these activities with your friends and family—virtually or in-person if you have the opportunity—and especially with any young adults in your household who would like to expand their creative and critical thinking skills.

Stay grounded and curious, friends. We’re all in this together.

For each resource, you’ll be able to do an activity or reflect on the material provided in your Biomimicry Nature Journal. Sketch your ideas, create storylines, take pictures or videos, and get creative with your journal entries. Please continue to send us your journal entries on social media with hashtag #mybiomimicryjournal (tag us on Instagram) and [email protected] so we can help share your inspiration with the community!

 

More Biomimicry Activities

For extra inspiration, go beyond the 30 days with more nature-inspired exercises below.

Getting Your Biomimicry Nature Journal Ready
+ What Does it Mean to Be Regenerative?

Whether you are able to have a physical notebook, are using scraps of paper, or are using digital resources to take on these activities, Day 1 is about getting your biomimicry nature journal ready and taking on your first reflection question. On the cover, please write your:

  • Name
  • Nickname
  • Your favorite animal (include a sketch if you’d like!)
  • Your local ecosystem / the biome you live in
  • If you could have any superhero power in the world, what would it be?

For your first page, and moving forward for each new entry, you’ll want to add the Date, Time, and Location from where you are writing. As we go through each day, we encourage you to send us an image of your journal entry to Instagram or Twitter using #MyBiomimicryJournal or email us at [email protected].

Biomimicry Nature Journal Reflection: Today’s reflection is about tapping into the wisdom and knowledge you have already. In one to two paragraphs, write down what regenerative means to you. This could be in the form of design, in daily life, ecosystem services, across the globe, etc. If relevant, sketch a story, make a word map, or diagram your words. There is no right or wrong answer. Be as creative or brief as you’d like.

*Need a biomimicry refresher after you’ve reflected on what regenerative means to you? Check out Fast Company’s short clip where Janine Benyus answers the very important question: What is biomimicry?

#30daysofreconnection #mybiomimicryjournal

The Five Senses

Your five senses (sight, hearing, taste, smell, and touch), along with the brain and nervous system, all work together to collect information about the world around us. These senses give us humans a way to interact within our surroundings. While books and online resources contain a lot of great information, there’s no substitute for experiencing nature with your own senses.

For our younger readers, watch this video from Generation Genius to learn about how animals and plants gather information about the world through their senses — and how these senses help them survive.

Biomimicry Nature Journal Reflection: Identify a spot that grabs your interest and get comfortable. Take a moment to channel your senses. Settle into a comfortable position, and spend 15-20 minutes just observing the environment around you. Make observation notes and/or sketches. What do you see around you? What sounds do you hear near and far? What do you feel with your touch or what is touching you? What smells are in the air? Is there a particular taste in your mouth? Try to diagram the sounds around you, what you see, and how close or far they feel from you. What would these sounds look like as a shape? Journal your experience.

Then go to another location — maybe outside! What are your senses telling you now in your new environment? What organisms do you see? How are they interacting with their surroundings?

Learn Biomimicry Wherever You Are

Today we are going to expand our minds with new biomimicry resources and certifications that can equip us to see through a new lens.

There are now thousands of resources—including books, articles, videos, lesson plans, groups, training programs, and more—available to folks who want to learn, teach, and practice this valuable problem solving approach.

Let’s start with revisiting our founder Janine Benyus’ eloquent insights on biomimicry:

Want to see biomimicry in action? Take a look at our playlist of short, animated videos featuring real solutions inspired by nature.

And here’s a resource for our younger audience: author Dorna Schroeter reads her biomimicry children’s story ‘How an Idea from Nature Changed Our World: The Story of Velcro’.

Below are a few of our favorites resources to check out:

  • The Biomimicry Toolbox: The toolbox provides an orientation to biomimicry and introduces a set of tools and core concepts that can help problem-solvers from any discipline begin to incorporate insights from nature into their solutions.
  • ‘Learn Biomimicry’ Online Course: ‘Learn Biomimicry’ is a new, online course offering created by BiomimicrySA (South Africa) in partnership with the Biomimicry Institute. Not only will you gain the foundational tools needed to practice biomimicry, you’ll also receive a certificate that recognizes your aptitude.
  • ASU Graduate Certificate in Biomimicry – Online: The Graduate Certificate in Biomimicry is an educational program designed for professionals who want to add the practice of biomimicry to an existing or planned career.
  • Biomimicry Academy: At Biomimicry Academy you learn how to learn from nature, and how to apply these learnings in the context of product or service development, business or social entrepreneurship, organizational or personal change.
  • Greeting this Technological World with Nature at Home and in the Classroom: This article contains dozens of resources and activities for K-12 nature and STEM-based activities.

Also be sure to visit our sister organization, Biomimicry 3.8, for their new collection of Resources to (Re)Connect, which contains more fun ideas to brighten your day and reconnect with the natural world.

Biomimicry Nature Journal Reflection:

Consider the following questions, and write down your thoughts in your journal:

  • Why is biomimicry intriguing to you?
  • How could the practice of biomimicry help positively influence the world? Or how about your local community?
  • If you’ve studied or practiced biomimicry before, what aspect(s) have you found to be the most inspiring?
  • What are your best practices?
  • What advice would you give to a new biomimicry learner?

Fun with Fantastic Fungi

As we enter into an even more vast understanding of just how interdependent we are and how fast something travels between us all, we can appreciate the power of our interconnectedness. Fantastic Fungi is all about our interconnectedness and the common issues that we face as a species. We know that our biggest defense from these viruses is our own sense of wellbeing, our own immunity, and the ability to live from a place of health and wellness both individually and collectively.

Learn about the 7 Mycelium Pillars posed by the Fantastic Fungi creators. Their mission for the pillars is to connect, unify, and support each other, following the mycelial network’s guide to a better earth for all.

Biomimicry Nature Journal Reflection:

After reviewing the 7 Mycelium Pillars, write about how you could incorporate each into your life and community. If you were able to watch the film, consider how prepared we are to face the pressing issues we have in our world. Like the mycelium network, we are adaptable. What lesson can be learned from the mycelium to provide innovative ways of addressing these new challenges? Journal about your reflection — and if you’re inspired, sketch some of the amazing mycelium you see!

For the Kid Inside All of Us

Today is for the kid inside all of us – and for all the parents who have taken the lesson plans home. Let’s give ourselves permission to be creative and tap into our childlike wonder. Pick a path to take, let your imagination run wild, and reflect on the journal entry below!

  • Lunch Doodle with Mo Willems: Draw, doodle, and explore new ways of writing by visiting Mo’s studio virtually. Grab some paper and pencils, pens, or crayons and join Mo to explore ways of writing and making together. Bring in nature’s inspiration by adding this lesson plan from the Smithsonian Learning Lab.
  • Bird Academy Play Lab: You have to try Beastbox! Make music with animal sounds from five different ecosystems. And explore the rest of this variety of online games that teach about birds.
  • Exploratorium: Learning Toolbox: Explore science activities, articles, and videos curated specifically for school closures, all related to COVID-19.
  • Make a Phenology Wheel / Seasonal Round: This is fun for the whole family. See how to make your own phenology wheel for your Biomimicry Nature Journal from Lily & Thistle.
  • NatGeo Kids: Introduce your family to brain booster videos, cool articles, and fun games.
  • Scholastic Learn at Home: Bring school home with daily learning experiences, each built around a thrilling, meaningful story or video. Kids can do them on their own, with their families, or with their teachers. Just find your grade level and let the learning begin!
  • Free Science Lessons from Mystery Science: Mystery Science is the creator of the most popular science lessons in U.S. schools. They’ve curated a starter set of science lessons that you can use remotely.
  • WWF’s Wild Classroom: Browse free educational resources, including species lessons, toolkits with fun activities and games, and expert webinars to bring conservation and science to life in your home.

Looking for more resources? Read Back to School, Back to Nature on our blog.

Biomimicry Nature Journal Reflection:

Which activity or activities did you do? How can the topics you explored be related to biomimicry? What inspired you most about the activity? Were your activities fun? If so, did they make you laugh? Laughter can be potent medicine, especially in times of stress.

As a second reflection, write and sketch a story about a memory or an activity you loved as a kid outside. What did you love about that game? Did you bring it closer to nature or your friends? What would it be like to do this activity as an adult?

What is Nature?

To define nature in biological terms, we see it as the sum of all life-systems on Earth. Some think this includes humans and others do not. It is a philosophical question that is explored in the ethos essential element of biomimicry. In this activity, we will reflect inward on the big question: are you part of, or separate from, nature?

If you’re able, visit a nearby green space when you’re doing this activity to connect with your natural environment. If you can’t get away, watch this stunning short film to get into the right mindset.

Biomimicry Nature Journal Reflection:

Write down responses to the following questions:

  1. Do you consider yourself as part of, or separate from, nature? [YES, NO or BOTH]
  2. List 5-7 words that come to mind when you think of a natural environment?
  3. List 5-7 words that come to mind when you think of an unnatural environment
  4. Expand your response to the first question. Why do you feel this way?

After you’ve reflected, watch this short video: What Nature Can Teach Us About Life.

*Looking for a different perspective? Watch a few of Conservation International’s videos from Nature is Speaking. They provide a humbling reminder of our place here on earth. “Your actions will determine your fate.”

Choose an OLogy!

Ever wonder what it’s like to be a biOLogist, an anthropOLogist, or some other sort of OLogist? “OLogy” means “the study of” — what can you learn today? This is a great exercise for kids and adults. Choose an OLogy created by the American Museum of Natural History and explore the resources within. There are games, stories, videos, and other resources to help you dive into a particular area of study.

Biomimicry Nature Journal Reflection:

Under your chosen OLogy, pick one of the Hands-On activities to do and complete the activity in your Biomimicry Nature Journal.

We are all designers.

When you read the title of today’s activity, you may have felt some disbelief. “But I’m not a designer!” is a phrase we’ve heard many times before. But the truth is: we are all designers! Design is everywhere, and everything we do is designed. Think about your morning routine, the clothes you wear, your living room’s decorations — these are all concepts chosen to create something, which is the act of design. Every day we try to mold our experience for our individual lives. You are designing your life.

Good design comes from intention. When you consider all aspects of the design — and who it will affect — the end result could be one that fits into the surrounding environment, gives back in a regenerative way, or supports the overall system in which it exists. From the biomimicry lens, we can look at design in many ways — from the direct emulation of nature’s genius into innovations, to the way our behaviors shape our environment, to the methods used for conservation of the natural world.

Now’s your time to reflect on the ways you are a designer — and how you might learn to design more of your life in the future.

Biomimicry Nature Journal Reflection:

In the wake of social distancing and increased time spent at home, what can you design in your environment to support positive health and wellbeing? List out ideas of what you already design in your world — and perhaps what else you would like to learn to design.

Here are a few videos to get you thinking — they range from ways to be productive while working from home to tips to bringing resiliency home by creating a garden to how biology is helping to improve wellbeing in our buildings.

  • Designing Your Life: Bill Burnett, executive director of the Design Program at Stanford, talks about designing for the “classically wicked problem” of figuring out what you want to do when you “grow up.”
  • How to Design Your Perfect Day with Journaling: ModernHealthMonk gives us ideas on how we can design our perfect day. What activities can you implement in your day to help you design your best life?
  • SproutPeople: Sproutpeople offers the widest and wildest selection of organic sprouting seeds and supplies on this planet. Their YouTube channel offers many videos on how to grow your own sprouts and microgreens — and experience the joy of producing your own food! Doesn’t sound like design? Try again! How will you put your little garden together? How will you design it for your needs?
  • How to Make Compost at Home: BuzzFeed provides a great video on everything you need to make composting simple — and with materials you may already have at home. This kind of design is about the cycle of food — how can you create a closed loop food system at home?
  • BBC Home Making with the Weaver Bird: Sir David Attenborough takes us on a journey with one of the most complex and elegant bird nests designed and built by this inspiring creature. Perhaps this may inspire you to consider how to design the future of our built environment — and how we can do this sustainably.
  • Nature Becomes Architect: Tune in to Eric Corey Freed’s humorous TEDx Marin talk about growing our next generation of buildings, and how biology will help tomorrow’s buildings to be pre-tuned for our wellbeing.

Tree Life iSites Activity

First, what are iSites?

Doing biomimicry is strengthened by strong nature observation skills and direct encounters with the way life works. iSites are nature journaling activities that support nature encounters and observations with a biomimicry perspective because biomimicry goes beyond learning about, to learning from, nature. They are recommended as a professional habit for biomimicry practitioners to build their personal collection of nature’s genius and to practice finding connections between biology and sustainable solutions.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll share some iSites activities that can help you pull out that new lens and tap into nature’s perspective. These activities can be done outside or inside—observing nature in real form or virtually through a documentary or live stream!

Biomimicry Nature Journal Reflection:

Observe a tree and consider the life system that it supports along its vertical axis. Sketch the tree in your new Biomimicry Nature Journal and divide it into its vertical parts: canopy, exposed trunk, ground level, below ground level. What types of life are being supported at these various levels? What relationships do these life forms have? What can this teach us about self-organization?

Need some help with your drawing skills? Take a look at this excellent short video here: Introduction to nature sketching.

AskNature Exploration: Two Truths, One Lie

Time to take a break from the seriousness of life to be silly! For this activity, let’s head to AskNature.org. Your task is to explore different organisms, and find unique strategies they have adapted to survive in their environments. Look below to the journal entry on what to do next.

Biomimicry Nature Journal Reflection:

Got your three interesting strategies? Now it’s time to play a game with those that you are at home with or virtually over the internet. Hopefully you can take this activity outside to discuss! Have everyone share three statements about the organisms they explored. Two of these statements must be facts, or “truths,” and one must be a lie. Then the others try to guess which statement is the lie. Send us your favorite ones!

Tune into 30 Animals that Made Us Smarter

Take some time to listen to some amazing biomimicry stories! Tune into this podcast from the BBC to learn about how different species have inspired a variety of products and innovations that have improved our world.

Biomimicry Nature Journal Reflection:

Pick an organism from one of the podcasts you listened to and explore them deeper. In your Biomimicry Nature Journal, write down an interesting adaptation that you learned about the organism and why those unique adaptations are suited for the organism’s environments. See if you can sketch how the organism is functioning and think of one idea for an application that could benefit the world.

Exploring Function with Live Animal Cams

A function, by definition, is the purpose of something. In the context of biomimicry, function refers to the role played by an organism’s adaptations or behaviors that enable it to survive. Importantly, function can also refer to something you need your design solution to do.

In this activity, your tools will be AskNature.org and the Biomimicry Taxonomy, which is a classification system that categorizes the different ways that organisms and natural systems meet functional challenges into groups of related functions. Choose one of Adventure Journal’s list of animal cams to observe with AskNature and the taxonomy, and complete the Biomimicry Nature Journal Reflection below.

To learn more about the Biomimicry Taxonomy and how to use it, read this article on the Biomimicry Toolbox.

Biomimicry Nature Journal Reflection:

What functions can you find in your live cam? What organisms can be found in the ecosystem, and how are they behaving? Using the two biomimicry tools, list out three functions you can find after watching for 15 minutes—and if relevant, try to sketch them! You’re welcome to jump to different feeds to see what other organisms are doing.

Leaf Study iSites Activity

Time to go outside! Collect a leaf and/or a branch with many leaves or many different types of leaves. Observe the leaf shape, the leaf arrangement on the branch, the color varieties, and texture. Reflect on and try to sketch what you see.

Biomimicry Nature Journal Reflection:

What do these characteristics tell you about the plant? What functions could these various characteristics serve? Where are those functions needed in our world?

Need some help improving your sketching skills? See Fast Company’s list of free drawing classes from famous illustrators. You can also order biomimicry expert Erin Rovalo’s iSites: Biomimicry Nature Journaling for Biomimicry book on Amazon.

Tap into Nature’s Sanctuaries of Silence

Journey to the world’s last quiet places with this video by Emergence Magazine. If you and your family are feeling stressed and overwhelmed by digital noise, this is a great resource to immerse yourself and listen to nature in the few places left untouched by human-made sound.

*Want more? Tune in to the last quiet places on earth with acoustic ecologist Gordon Hempton who says silence is an endangered species. Visit On Being to hear how he’s recorded inside Sitka spruce logs in the Pacific Northwest, thunder in the Kalahari Desert, and dawn breaking across six continents. 

And if you’re looking for a soothing, inspiring distraction, read about Elizabeth Tova Bailer’s unlikely companion — a solitary snail a friend brought her from the woods as she was bedridden with illness. Elisabeth spent the year observing the creature, and it inspired her memoir, “The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating.” You’ll be surprised by how much peace is offered while watching a snail devour a leaf.

Biomimicry Nature Journal Reflection:

What can we learn by listening deeply to the environment, plants, and animals around us? Take some time to sit quietly outside, and write down what you hear!

Identifying Patterns in Nature

In the section on Earth’s Operating System we discussed the planetary context in which Life on Earth exists and introduced the idea that, from a systems perspective, Earth is interconnected, and life allows other life to flourish. In biomimicry, we identify persistent patterns in how organisms function and interact that contribute to resilient ecosystems. These patterns are worth paying attention to, because they can have profound implications for human design.

In today’s activity, we are looking for patterns in your backyard or in a nearby greenspace. If you’re stuck inside, don’t fret! BBC Earth has dozens of videos to observe.

*Want to explore your own backyard with your family? Use the SEEK app by iNaturalist to see what’s living back there, and use WWF’s Biodiversity Audit activity toolkitto find the interconnections.

Biomimicry Nature Journal Reflection:

Look for and record, using words and sketches, patterns that you see, hear, or feel. Patterns might include structural angles, edges, distribution systems, or gradients. Bonus: Guess the function each pattern might serve!

Connecting with the Global Oneness Project’s Nature Collection

Experience our shared planet and humanity by watching curated videos from award winning filmmakers. Each video comes with an included lesson plan, helping you and your family dive deeper into the content. We’ve selected the Nature collection in particular, but invite you to explore the other collections available by the Global Oneness Project.

Biomimicry Nature Journal Reflection:

Depending on the lesson plans available within the collection selected, write your responses in the form of reflections and questions in your journal. Where relevant, see if you can identify ways to bring elements into your home

Taking a Systems Level Perspective

Systems take many forms. They can be very large (Earth itself is a system) and very small (e.g. a cell). Systems may be physically tangible (like a house) or abstract, such as a governmental system or computer network. They can also be a combination of both. What makes a system a system is that it is composed of “an interconnected set of elements that [are] coherently organized in a way that achieves something (function or purpose),” (Meadows).

For today’s activity, you are tasked with creating a Systems Explorer, which is a template for diagramming a system that can help you to illustrate the known and potential interconnections, resources, and sub- and super-systems of a particular design or organism. Doing so in the context of biomimetic design will help you come to a deeper understanding of the situation you are designing for, or the organism or natural model you are looking to for inspiration.

Biomimicry Nature Journal Reflection:

Visit the PDF here for the template on how to use the Systems Explorer tool. In your Biomimicry Nature Journal, you can sketch the diagram modeled in the example — or if your journal is digital, you can fill it in using a PDF editor tool.

Nature’s Unifying Patterns

The intent behind applying nature’s unifying patterns for biomimetic design is to create more regenerative solutions. Nature-inspired design can spur novel ways of thinking and breakthrough ideas, but only by considering nature’s lessons in a systems context can we ensure that our designs will fit in well with life on Earth.

Explore Nature’s Unifying Patterns on the Biomimicry Toolbox. BBC Studios created an amazing selection of Sir David Attenborough’s most astounding clips (which at times will offer a laugh). Watch a few of the short videos after you have an understanding of Nature’s Unifying Patterns. You can also peek at PBS’ Nature episodes for longer nature indulgence.

Biomimicry Nature Journal Reflection:

List three of Nature’s Unifying Patterns that you observe in the videos in your journal. How do these organisms compliment the patterns? What do they mean for their ecosystems?

Reflect with Ologies Podcast

Today we are tapping into our sense of hearing and using our mind to engage with some witty, inspiring content. Humorist and science correspondent Alie Ward asks smart people stupid questions on Ologies, and the answers might change your life. For this activity, pick one of these fascinating podcasts — whichever speaks to you! There are topics everywhere from volcanoes and anxiety busters to bee drama and drunk butterflies.

Biomimicry Nature Journal Reflection:

What drew you to choosing the episode that you listened to? Reflect on a time in your life when you may have had a meaningful experience related to the topic of the episode you listened to. Has learning more about this topic changed your outlook? If so, how?

Multi-Functional Design iSites Activity

Time to go outside again for an iSites activity! If you’re still stuck inside, head over to the California Academy of Sciences: Learn & Explore digital resource. This site has several ways to observe nature — from animal webcams, apps & interactive online tools, to creature close-ups.

As you’re observing the Reef Lagoon or Live Penguin Cams, look for multi-functional design. Study an organism and guess the primary function of its characteristics (for example, ears designed for hearing). Write your thoughts and expand with the Biomimicry Nature Journal Reflection entry shared below.

Biomimicry Nature Journal Reflection:

What is this organism’s primary function of its physical characteristics or behavior seen? Try to think about other functions that the characteristic might serve. Why else is that ear shaped that way? Does it offer any other advantages for the organism? What does this teach us about how our solutions could become more multi-functional? Sketch what you see, and reflect on your observations.

Mindfulness and Meditation for Nature

Science has shown that mindfulness meditation enhances your attention and productivity, emotions and your reactions, and self-awareness. In times of stress, we’re all looking for hope, for ways to cope. This activity is all about taking a moment to reflect, to enjoy, to find peace amidst the chaos.

Ideally you are able to go out into nature, find a quiet place, sit for at least 15 minutes, and reflect. For those of us not as fortunate to go outside, here is a glorious 15 minutes of flowing water and nature sounds to sooth your mind.

Note: When thoughts come up, greet them with kindness and politely let them pass. Return to the present moment.

Further reading: A NATURE MEDITATION: A Guided Practice of Being Mindful in Nature.

We also recommend you visit Sounds True’s Resilience in Challenging Times: A care package that offers free digital tools and teachings to help you navigate the coming days with mindfulness, compassion, and presence.

Biomimicry Nature Journal Reflection:

Before you begin, take a moment to reflect on your current state. Is there tightness in your body where you may be carrying stress? Write down how you feel. After meditating, reflect on the experience. What changed? Can you sketch a story of your experience and what you felt?

Create a Sound Map

We return to our sensory exploration. For today’s activity, you will develop or strengthen your nature observations skills. Ideally you can find a place to sit outside, but if you’re confined to your home, you can still do this activity!

Tip: This is an interesting exercise to do at night when some organisms become more active!

Biomimicry Nature Journal Reflection:

With your journal or paper in front of you, mark and “X” at the center of the page to represent yourself. Then close your eyes and listen. Create a symbol on your page to represent each sound that you hear. Make a map of the sounds you hear all around you, in all directions, and whether created by humans or not. Are the sounds related or responsive to each other? What do you think they mean? Reflect on what you observe.

Biodiversity and Ecosystem Regeneration

The health of both humans and our planet rely upon resilient ecosystems, which need strong biodiversity to thrive. The interactions among all parts of the system keep things in balance, which as we’re seeing now, can have major repercussions for both people and planet.

Today we’ll learn all about biodiversity. How did it originate through evolution? Why is it important, how is it threatened, and how can we protect it? Explore the California Academy of Sciences world of biodiversity through Khan Academy for today’s activity. Work through all the modules (don’t worry – in typical Khan style, they are short, easy to understand, and fun!).

*Bonus footage to get you inspired: Watch this short video with WWF Expedition Leader Drew Hamilton on his life as a guide among the brown bears of Alaska.

Biomimicry Nature Journal Reflection:

After learning all about biodiversity, write a few sentences on what value you see for ecosystem regeneration. Next, can you think of a champion organism that aids in keeping one of your favorite ecosystems resilient? What is their role that makes it so important for the rest of the community? Sketch a drawing of your ecosystem and the organism in it, or if you prefer, write down some ways in a word map that visualizes the value you see.

Emulate: What Will You Create?

In order to apply the biomimicry lens, we must develop an ability to identify how the functional strategies used by creatures parallel our own needs. In this exercise, we will practice this important step.

Biomimicry Nature Journal Reflection:

After you have identified one or more intriguing functions and strategies of your creature, identify people, disciplines, or industries that have similar functional needs, and write them down. Come up with an application idea and then, in your put together one of the following options:

  • a one-minute sales pitch on behalf of your invention (We love videos!)
  • a one-page magazine advertisement
  • a guest article for an industry newsletter
  • a diagram or sketch of your idea that has an illustrated story

You get to choose your audience and tailor the story for them. Be sure to write down in your journal who your audience will be. Your story should try to convince that audience that emulating this creature’s strategy (or strategies) would provide great social or environmental benefits, so be sure to describe your design in some detail. Play with this and have fun!

Discover Biological Lenses

The “Biological Lenses” offer perspectives for thinking about the different ways we can search for biological strategies and assess their usefulness as inspiration for a design solution. View this PDF (Discovering Biological Lenses) and learn more about the biomimicry lenses we use.

After you’re familiar, visit the Biomimicry Nature Journal Reflection below for the activity. You can either take this outside or use one of these resources below (or another that you’ve liked over the course of these last 24 days!):

Biomimicry Nature Journal Reflection:

Choose a resource to observe: perhaps it’s an organism outside, an ecosystem from the virtual resources listed above, or another recorded object in nature. Pick one lens to view from and spend some time observing it. Sketch a diagram with your object at the center and your observations radiating out around it. For each observation, also try to identify relationships to contextual factors (abiotic or biotic) that may influence them.

For example, if you’re viewing through the local lens, think about the organism’s needs related to shelter, food, water, communication, mating, predators, etc. Then sketch this out with the observations surrounding your object in the center of the page.

Antenna – Signal – Response iSites Activity

Ready to head back outside for an iSites activity? Tune your own antenna for nature’s strategies for communicating and reflect on the Biomimicry Nature Journal entry below.

Looking for a natural resource to view from inside? Learn about wolves in this short clip with NatGeo Wild, visit the Cincinnati Zoo’s Home Safari and meet Fiona the hippo, or see what the cheetah cubs are up to on the live cam at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo & Conservation Biology Institute. If you have Netflix, you can also check out Our Planet and any of the other nature and ecology documentaries that are available to experience living creatures living in their natural ecosystems and observe how they communicate with each other.

Biomimicry Nature Journal Reflection:

What is an example of communication in nature? Why is this communication necessary? What are the important elements of that communication? What could we learn from nature’s most effective communication strategies and techniques?

Biomimicry Fireside Chat

We’ve hosted various Biomimicry Fireside Chats covering a ride array of topics. These 1-hour virtual meetups bring together special guests, including thought leaders, researchers, authors, consultants in the field, and Biomimicry Global Network innovators to explore topics relevant to biomimicry. We come together to talk about finding our place in nature, learning from nature’s wisdom, and designing a regenerative society. For today’s activity, first read the section on the Three Essential Elements on What is Biomimicry? Then choose a Biomimicry Fireside Chat to watch and reflect on the prompt below.

Biomimicry Nature Journal Reflection:

After watching the Fireside Chat, name an example of how Ethos, Emulate, and (Re)connect elements were each illustrated during the conversation. What did you learn about the elements in this way? Was there something else during the discussion that inspired you or that you found surprising? 

A New World

Before COVID-19, we had never had such a moment with this kind of forced pause, where business literally stopped in its tracks. We fully recognize the pain, suffering, anxiety, and loss of lives and health, and it has been a challenging month for everyone. Somehow we remain optimistic. This is because we believe this pause in “business as usual” will have a deep impact on the future of the design of our entire built environment, stated beautifully here by ArchDaily.

We turn to a new opportunity for design — one in which we put regenerative, resilient principles at the forefront. The world’s largest lesson, and the framework within which we design can be found in the Sustainable Development Goals. When we look at this kind of sustainable framework, we are reminded how we are all interconnected—and how we all have the responsibility to act.

Today’s activity is about exploring the solutions that connect us, and how we can contribute to a regenerative future. The Drawdown Ecochallenge is a fun and social way to take measurable action on the top solutions to global warming.

Since it’s so relevant to us all (especially right now), let’s begin with food. After registering (it’s free), begin to learn about regenerative agriculture, how to keep track of wasted food, and other ways to nurture sustainable food. After you explore a few resources and actions (do at least three), reflect in your journal on the questions below.

Biomimicry Nature Journal Reflection:

Continuing on from your reflection from Day 28, what new ideas have you learned from Drawdown in acting in this new world? What will you contribute to the collective ecosystem we all live in on Earth? What challenges are most important to you to bring into your daily life and work—and why?

What Does Biomimicry Mean to You?

Today we get to hear from some of the humans out there finding inspiration from nature. Take a look at this short video of people reflecting on biomimicry, and what it means to them.

Want to see the full 1-2 minute reflections? Check out this YouTube playlist for the 12 biomimicry advocates featured in this video.

Biomimicry Nature Journal Reflection:
Now it’s your turn! For 29 days (and likely more for many of you), you’ve tapped into nature’s wisdom in various ways. Take a moment once again to quiet your mind. What does biomimicry mean to you? Write down some thoughts in your Biomimicry Nature Journal — or better yet, send us a 1-minute video of your reflection! You can send it to us through Instagram using the hashtag #MyBiomimicryJournal.

Embracing a Regenerative Now

Here we are: Day 30 of our 30 Days of Reconnection. Over the past month, we’ve read about what “regenerative” means to people from around the world; and in the past few days, we’ve started to think about how we want to act on new intentions, inspired by the biomimicry lens. Refer back to your Biomimicry Nature Journal Reflection on Day 1, and reflect on the prompt below.

Biomimicry Nature Journal Reflection:

Define what it means to be regenerative again. Has your definition changed at all in the past month? If so, how has it changed? Paint a picture, tell a story, sketch a diagram, or record a reflection on what you think the future should look like. How will you make a difference? What do you hope to see for industry, for your kids, for the educational system, for the way we interact together, for the way in which we design our products and services?

#30daysofreconnection #mybiomimicryjournal

More Biomimicry Activities

What Lands Do You Touch?

For today’s reflection, consider what lands you touch. We are all part of connected systems and make an impact on them. Where does your food come from? What is your home built upon? What decisions in your life affect the life around you? Who lived here before you? When we have an understanding of the impact we make, we can begin to make more educated choices so that we are leaving a positive impact. Sketch a diagram of all the lands you touch and begin to make associations for what impact your decisions make on the world around you. “The first step is to imagine it… to envision this symbiotic world… a world in which we are a welcome species — a nature contributor.” — Janine Benyus

Ask a Biologist

One of the best ways to learn is to play. Visit Arizona State University’s ‘Ask a Biologist’ activity page, and pick one to explore. You can try a biology experiment at home, test your knowledge with puzzles, or sketch an organism.

Identifying Operating Conditions

Today’s exercise will help develop your skills in describing operating conditions, both in your designs and in the natural world. For every design challenge you face you will need to:1. Identify the operating conditions that the design has to manage in its environment, and 2. Identify organisms that have to deal with these same operating conditions in the natural world.

EXAMPLE
Design Challenge: I need to prevent the metal surfaces of commercial fishing boats from corroding due to salt water exposure.

  • Operating Conditions/non-negotiables: Salt water, high salinity, oxidation, alternating exposure to saltwater and air
  • Organisms: crabs, mammalian cells, nasal (salt) glands in seabirds, tidal pools

YOUR TURN
Design Challenge: I need to build a shelter in my neighborhood.

  • What are the operating conditions in this environment?
  • What organisms are dealing with the same operating conditions in this environment?
  • What organisms are dealing with the same operating conditions in another habitat, or which other regions or habitats might you look to for inspiration?

Resilience iSite

“We’re seeing massive cooperation. We’re seeing what’s possible. Natural selection chooses what works over and over, so when we get back, we have this glorious choice to bring back only what we’ve found to make life worth living.” — Janine Benyus, Biomimicry Fireside Chat

This pause has allowed us to look at our surroundings and set new intentions for what kind of world we want to live in. We’re becoming more and more aware that organisms have learned to adapt after disturbances. You have likely faced unique challenges in your own community during this pandemic. What can your neighboring organisms teach you about how they adapt to disturbances? What might we learn from nature’s response to a functional challenge you face? Review this great resource by Biomimicry 3.8 and perform the Resilience iSite activity based upon a challenge you are facing in your personal or work life. Sketch and add details to help illustrate the lessons you glean in your Biomimicry Nature Journal.

Define the Challenge

Now it’s your turn to find a problem you’d like to try and solve. As you learned yesterday, a well-defined problem is important in deciding what you will make or design — as well as what your design will need to do, and for whom, and in what context. Today we are going to work through defining the challenge. You can stick with our theme and choose a medical-focused challenge or another one relevant to your field or industry. Review the Biomimicry Toolbox resource: Defining the Challenge and complete this worksheet as it relates to finding a solution. Tomorrow, we will return to this activity to “biologize” the challenge you want to solve for so that you can “ask nature” for advice.

Systems Explorer!

Some of you may be familiar with the Systems Explorer, but for those that are not, here is a helpful PDF for you to use for this activity. You can do this activity by yourself, but it’s more fun with a team! First, choose an organism. You can choose a local organism from your neighborhood or perhaps journey to one of Explore.org’s live cams to find a creature you’re interested in studying in their local ecosystem. Diagram a system that can help you to illustrate the known and potential interconnections, resources, and sub- and super-systems of this particular organism.

Create a Biomimicry Poster

After reviewing these five beautiful and engaging posters about biomimicry, create one yourself! There are free platforms with templates for you to create your own biomimicry poster (such as Canva). Get creative!

Creating a Design Solution

The first step in any design challenge is to frame the problem or opportunity that you want to address. At this stage, the goal is not to decide what you will make or design (e.g. “an air conditioner”), but rather to clearly articulate the problem you want to solve and the impact you want to have (e.g. “make a room feel cooler”). That is the function of your design.

Today’s activity is all about creating a good design question. Review the instructions to understand how to find the sweet spot between the broad and the narrow. Identify a challenge you’re experiencing with work, or perhaps problems you have in navigating the world under quarantine, and use this resource to create a design question. This takes practice so after you’ve done one, try another!

Ask Nature Scavenger Hunt

Time for an Ask Nature scavenger hunt! What will you find? For each of the functions below, search on AskNature for a biological champion that does a great job at doing it:

  • Break down living materials
  • Cycle nutrients
  • Sense signals
  • Store resources
  • Move through liquids

Share your findings with us! Bonus: share how they do these functions (the strategy and mechanism!).

How does nature…?

Are you ready to tap into nature’s wisdom? To formulate good research questions, you’ll want to take the needs or functions identified in the design question and rephrase the question so you can more easily find answers in biology. Review the Biologize the Question resource in the Biomimicry Toolbox and complete this worksheet to biologist your design question. Inspired to go further? In the next step of the Design Spiral, Discover, we’ll guide you along the processes of where and how to look for biological models and strategies for inspiration.  As you complete this 3-part Brain Boost series, share your findings with us! Send along sketches, diagrams, and other tools you used in getting clear about a problem worth solving using #BiomimicryBrainBoost on social media.

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of Nature-Inspired Innovators

Imagine a world where everything we make is inspired by the natural world. By supporting the Biomimicry Institute you:

  • Help bring biomimicry education to more students and educators
  • Accelerate the growth of more nature-inspired startups and entrepreneurs
  • Increase the number of biological strategies and resources on AskNature.org and across our entire organization.

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