Biomimicry

On the day before my birthday I had the pleasure of taking a nature walk with the wife and our boys. The nicest thing about our house is the land itself.  As nature takes back over its nice to see all the little plants turning tan dirt into a green carpet. It is so special to just walk around and visually explore.  Our land is basically about a half-dozen meadows visually separated by trees that perfectly frame views.  We’re starting to enter the cool rainy season of Fall here in Ohio.  Summer is finally losing its grip and the plants have run their course. Leaves ease from greens into yellows and browns.  Some are even turning red on certain bushes.  The wild flowers hold on adding spicy blues, pinks and purples to the mix.  It is a most wonderful time of year.  And the cool seventy degree evenings are perfect for taking a walk.

We should get our cedar clear coated yet this Fall and as I said the porches are painted.  I’m going to forego the screens for now and save some money; we’re basically broke for now.  Next week the plumber comes in to straighten the upstairs studio pipes which will allow me to get the task of finishing Christine’s cabinets installed complete.  The garage doors still need their weather-stripping trim caulked and nailed into place.  Plants have been planted, though some boxwoods up front need their bed expanded with top soil before I can plant them…need to remember to do this as they’ve sat patiently for weeks now.  I also need to dig around the cistern and lay some drainage pipe.

With Fall in the air my hibernation instincts are kicking in.  Wrapping up everything outside for the next few months will be good.  Hopefully I can force my ass back into the studio and get painting.  I have dozens of canvases waiting for paint.   I really need to get some paintings done and start whoring my wares to make a few bucks.  We need to refill our coffers before winter….unplanned expenses such as snow removal and putting cleats on the metal roof are looming, not to mention the clear coating of the cedar this year still.  We’ve nixed getting any trees this year including the nine apple trees.

One good thing is that we actually refinanced our mortgage; with rates so low we’re saving  around $150 plus, per month (I have to look).  I highly recommend you look into it yourself. The process was long and drawn out but worth it in the end.  Only down side is the appraisal.  Our banking models are really outdated…their only means of accessing a value on a home is via comparable sales.  Based on their assessment we’ve already lost hundreds of thousands of dollars of value on our property, but I’d contend that the house and property is incomparable to other properties.  The system is set up to evaluate homes in bubble markets in cookie cutter neighborhoods.  It’s really a shame but not surprising when one considers most of our modern business and social models are out of date.  Hopefully our kids will have a better time of it, but I’m not sure how successful our generation will be at changing things.

I went to hear Janine Benyus speak in Akron the other night.  I’ve heard her a few times previously and even met her / sat in on a round table discussion with her before.  Janine literally wrote the book on Biomimicry.  If you don’t know what that is, in a nut shell it’s the science of asking nature how to solve problems.  As we bring biologists to the design table we gain access to a tool box of materials and tactics that can solve the most challenging of problems in an effective and environmentally sustainable manner.  If you want true innovation for business look no further than the 3.8 billion years of R&D that mother nature has performed.  Man has only been around for 200,000 years; to think that we can’t learn something from nature is being just plain stupid.  I was inspired by her talk as I always am.  Ohio is doing a lot of great research in this field and turning out great solutions such as colors that don’t require chemical pigments, super materials made from the same stuff spiders make their webs from and adhesive free tape that is inspired by geckos.

As we live in a world where it is requisite to “heat, beat and treat” everything and dump chemicals all over ourselves until we inexplicably get cancer or our sperm no longer work, it’s refreshing and hope filling to realized there are better ways, that can also benefit our bottom line and leave the world a better place.  For 150 years we’ve been convincing ourselves it’s in our best interest to see how quickly we can kill ourselves and our children by destroying the natural world.  In the end it is so much less expensive to go with the flow of nature than to fight it.  Nature does so many wonderful things with just a small set of tools and operating rules.  I implore you to learn more for your own sanity and to restore some sense of “humanity” back into your soul.  I know it inspires me.  Just two examples of how kickass cool nature is: Nature uses water as a solvent, people have to rely on nasty chemicals.  And nature only uses a handful of the elements on the periodic table to make everything we see around us, man feels the need to use them all (we’re like small children in that regard). One more major fact, in nature there is no concept of waste.

As I think about Biomimicry, I naturally think about our house and land.  Our house in some regards is virtually invisible to nature.  For example, as I listen to the rain outside…we collect nearly all the water that hits impervious surfaces on our property.  What we “keep” or “use” goes into the cistern or rain barrel.  What we don’t harvest goes through pipes and they empty out into a series of pools where nature naturally filters the water through native grasses and plants.  The water we harvest is filtered, albeit with help of chlorine and a filter to make it potable, and then we use it.  We drink some and use some for washing.  We’re working towards using natural soaps and detergents, but regardless because of the septic we’re not using anything too too bad.  The water goes through our washers and showers and us and it all goes into the septic system.  The septic is a man-made way to treat the water, with forced micro organisms, so it’s not really too natural but it is treatment no less.  The treated stuff is then pumped up to the leech field where it bubbles up and returns to nature as water and treated by products that in turn nourish the north meadow.  So it’s pretty neat that our water “cycle” literally can be seen completely if you stand in the yard of our house.  All of the water that hits our property nourishes us but more importantly is dealt with on site.  This is the polar opposite to how it is typically handled in this region, state and country.  It amazes me and I find it to be one of the neatest aspects of the house.  Water is handled in a very natural way, and in the end it really doesn’t cost any more than the typical way, or at least all the costs are accounted for on site, not hidden somewhere in the form of environmental degradation or social inequality.

If you want to know more, read the book or stop on out here and let talk and go for a walk, I’ve got a dozen other examples for you on site I bet.

Here are today’s pics, enjoy and do something remarkable this week.

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