Nature’s Business: Connecting The Dots
From the Galapagos to the Amazon, Biomimicry Communicator Anjan Prakash travels the world to be inspired by Nature’s designs. In this 10-part column, Nature’s Business, she shares her adventures and learnings.
Courtesy: Anjan Prakash.
If Earth is a gallery, then Nature is art and each creation a dot in the pointillist painting. Each of these dots is an essential part of the whole.
I am Nature, and have always considered myself to be an integral part of it. Frolicking through childhood, everything in me always felt alive when outdoors. Collecting pebbles, searching for ant hills, running through the vast openness, chasing butterflies, plucking flowers, playing hide and seek behind trees, I grew up in a simple middle class neighborhood in Bangalore that was surrounded by abundant Nature. When not outdoors, I still occupied an imaginative world of exotic creatures and forests through the books I immersed myself in.
Branching out as an adolescent, hiking and trekking the hills and mountains in nearby villages, hopping onto friends bikes to ride to lakes and waterfalls, walking endlessly through the rolling tea estates in summers, catching the sound of the birds and the trail of the wind, I soaked up Nature like a sponge. When not doing this, I still occupied myself with the adventures of Gerald Durrell, and dreamt of becoming an explorer.
As I entered adulthood, this very essence of wanting to travel and explore places and culture made me choose a career in making advertising films. But right through my fifteen years of advertising, Nature was integral to my rejuvenation and my go-to place to seek answers to life’s deepest questions.
When travelling the Borneo Rainforests to study orangutans with Dr. Biruté Galdikas, the inner whisper of wanting to commit more deeply to working with Nature grew stronger. As the following years took me to the Galapagos, where I snorkeled the cold Pacific waters with green turtles, and to the Amazon rainforest, where I spent time with the indigenous people, this whisper turned into an assertive voice.
So even as I enjoyed running my own business as a filmmaker, I began to pay more attention to the other growing voice. In 2012, I stepped out of advertising to immerse myself in studying and understanding Nature more deeply. A workshop and volunteer program at the Durrell Wildlife Institute, a conservation program in Seychelles for the hawksbill turtle, and several small collaborations later, I began the journey of connecting the dots. Janine Benyus’ TED talk on Biomimicry, and her book, `Biomimicry- Innovation Inspired by Nature’ had already had a tremendous impact on how I had begun to conceive Nature and Business.
Life doesn’t bring such childhood, experiences, books, travels and learning without a purpose. As I stepped back to make sense of it all, I recognised three recurring patterns in my life – Business. Leadership. Nature. I was passionate about all three, and biomimicry revealed to me that the three can not only co-exist, but might be the only way forward in creating sustainable solutions for human design challenges.
Courtesy: Anjan Prakash.
Just a few days after stepping back and connecting these dots, I had written to the Biomimicry Institute asking them if they had any workshop or online course for non-science students like me. As I kept my fingers and toes crossed, I received a prompt reply from the team that biomimicry is multidisciplinary and the online study program is open to people across disciplines. The Universe had filled the gap between the dots.
Frolicking back into childhood, the journey of curiosity, awe and wonder started with my Master of Science in Biomimicry Program in 2015 with Arizona State University. Both as an upcoming biomimic, and as a part of the Biomimicry Professional Program wherein the Institute selects only 18 people from across the world to be trained as Biomimicry leaders for two years (2016-2018), I entered a responsible space of learning how to design as Nature has been doing for 3.8 billion years.
Biomimicry - `bios’ meaning `life’ and `mimesis’ meaning to `imitate’, is the conscious emulation of life’s genius. Life on earth has been conducting business for 3.8 billion years – building, storing, creating energy, manufacturing, and everything that the human design aspires to do, and is doing so without leaving any harmful waste.
All of Life creates conditions conducive to life, and learning from Nature and then emulating its forms, processes or systems to create more sustainable designs is the essence of Biomimicry (Janine Benyus).
It is with joy that in each of my writings over the following months, I hold the intention of infecting you all, slowly but surely, with this growing meme, biomimicry.
Anjan Prakash is a Biomimicry Communicator, and a Mumbai-based entrepreneur.
Author: Anjan Prakash