Say you take a field and plow it up completely. The first species that come in – called “type one” – are weeds…Type-one species are pioneers, and we humans have been a pioneer species, going from open field to open field instead of learning how to live in one place, recycle everything, and develop symbiotic relationships.
Biomimicry expert Janine Benyus, The Sun, Sept. 09
Nestling into Saturday breakfast and coffee on the deck this morning, I read The Sun’s interview with Benyus, founder of the Biomimicry Institute whose mission is to promote imitating nature as we solve human design problems. They run Ask Nature.org where you can query How would Nature (fill in your action statement describing what you want to do) – I asked about making cement and learned about protozoans that produce and use a protein cement to stick to rocks.
What really struck a spark for me in this article, since I’m coaching humans and not just now resolving engineering design problems, is what she says about humans shifting their strategies for ecosystem participation. We’ve been following the weed strategy with shallow roots and seeds that blow all over, colonizing every opportunistic nook and cranny. Benyus advises us to shift to a “type-two plant” strategy that perennials such as members of the berry family use i.e. “put down roots and hook up with other species.” My personal strategy since the “weedy” 60s and 70s (when we who differed from tradition blew all over trying to find the utopia in which to root) has been to develop my “portable roots” – friends, skills, spiritual connection, talents, inner joy, wisdom – that sustain and are infinitely transferable. Benyus inspires me to think of this as a transitional strategy somewhere between weed and berry bush. And I realize that in the past year, when times have been tough in some ways, the weed in me wants to pull up those roots and blow away. But I haven’t. I have become part of an ecosystem that I’m unwilling, and perhaps unable, to surrender. There’s mutuality of sustenance that can’t be done without.
What does it mean to be a human berry bush? Visibility. Commitment. Humility. Honesty. Interdependence. Generosity. Willingness to receive. Resourcefulness. Roots that go down deep and find hidden resources even in dry spells.
Oh. Now I’ve made myself hungry for cobbler and not a berry in the house.
Later on in the day…
Another downsizing action “in the field” (yes, they continue) – I went to my storage unit:
- sorted through everything
- identified boxes of paper to be shredded and put them in my car
- tagged a bunch of stuff to go in next non-profit donation pickup
- found my basket of musical instruments!
- decided to use my son’s old metal headboard as a trellis in the garden
- filled out all the paperwork and moved to a smaller storage room (savings $25 per month – wahoo!)
Came home absolutely filthy and reveled in a hot soapy shower (during which I washed two bras and a pair of pants). I’m squeaky clean but still sense that I inhaled tons of industrial motes mingled with dirt and pigeon droppings. I’m not convinced that my Neti Pot did the trick.
Visiting my storage room reminded me that I have 6 more chairs for the dining room table that I use as a desk in my cottage. What am I saving them for? I still have a vision of living in a bigger house shared with other good folks where this beautiful wood table and chairs will be the center of community gatherings. So, once again, I committed to keeping it until then.
iGoogle tells me that the waning gibbous moon is now only 98% full. Time for the food whose smell is wafting up from the kitchen and a well-earned class of wine.