“How would nature do it?” That disarmingly simple question has been a North Star for Bioneers since our founding nearly 30 years ago. Then in 1997 when naturalist and author Janine Benyus first spoke at Bioneers, she crowned this nascent field of inquiry with a name in her landmark book, Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature (For Indigenous people, it’s an ancient inquiry!).
It has been thrilling to participate in biomimicry’s emergence over these decades, punctuated by Janine’s frequent visits to Bioneers (get inspired all over again and again and again). Our vision moving forward together is to keep growing biomimicry and biomimetic thinking as the default position for design, industry, economy and culture. Now we’re honored and delighted to keep deepening our partnership with Janine and the Biomimicry Institute team in two ways.
First, we’ll co-host and convene a Bay Area professional mini-conference on Biomimicry in education in the summer of 2018. Education is fundamental to changing how we see the world and how we can change the world. California is now the first state in the nation to require environmental literacy education from K-12. Because what happens in California doesn’t stay in California, the world will be watching this model.
In fact, through a connection made at the Bioneers Conference, Ten Strands – a leading California environmental education policy group – hooked up with the Biomimicry Institute and invited Janine Benyus for a keynote to the California State Board of Education Science Collaboration Committee, which includes State officials and County Superintendents. Janine hit it out of the park, opening the way for biomimicry’s deeper engagement at the California state education policy level.
The mini-conference will be designed for educators and education system professionals. It will build bridges with other formal and non-formal education networks to collectively create a vision for a near future where asking, “How would nature do it?” will become the starting gate.
Second, we’re thrilled to announce that for the second year in a row, the Bioneers Conference will serve as the showcase for the Biomimicry Global Design Challenge. Inspired by business leader, Ray C. Anderson, who successfully used biomimicry to retool his exemplary (and profitable) company Interface, the Challenge has inspired thousands of students and professionals from over 50 countries to apply nature’s design to address critical global issues. The Challenge’s Biomimicry Accelerator doubles down on innovation by providing a business incubation process, along with seed capital in the form of the $100,000 Ray C. Anderson Foundation Ray of Hope Prize ™ for finalists to accelerate market-ready, scalable biomimetic solutions to our greatest planetary challenges. Last year’s winning entry was a Chilean team, BioNurse, who designed an ingenious soil restoration “patch” to accelerate nutrient retention and soil regeneration in orchards.
The 2016 awards ceremony on the Bioneers stage rocked the house with an extended standing “o” for all the finalist teams. That high-voltage Bioneers energy field inspired the Ray C. Anderson Foundation staff, including members of Ray’s beloved family, to provide an additional $75,000 in prize money to the other finalists. Call it the magic of Bioneers. Take a look at this year’s finalists, and we hope you’ll join all of us at Bioneers 2017 to give it up for the Ray of Hope Prize this fall.
Education has always been a cornerstone for Bioneers, and it’s insanely exciting to see how far this kind of work has come, and how much further we can now take it. Thanks for your support to keep realizing the vision and turning innovation into action.