Week 2 Blog

In the past two lectures, the main topics we discussed were a need for different thinking in order to make a change in our world and biomimicry – another sector that also teaches us to think differently in order to help our environment. In the first lecture, we first touched on what a paradigm is in order to start to understand our current way of thinking. Paradigm was defined as a collective mental mode made up of our values, beliefs, and assumptions and as a lens through which we perceive the world. It was helpful learning what this term was because it really helped me get into the mindset of determining why we as a society thinks the way we do. My favorite part of that particular slide what the quote “to change a paradigm, requires something transformative.” It really makes me think of the quote from Einstein where he defines insanity as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. If we think about it, we have the mindset of insanity when we are going about living our lives unsustainably. We have been doing the same (wrong) things over and over and honestly are expecting the world to just magically get better on its own. If Einstein was right, no wonder nothing is changing without environment! We haven’t done anything transformative to cause any type of change in the way we handle our resources, such as viewing nature as income rather than an asset. We also discussed the three articles, Titanistad, Futurist, and Cartoonist, but I will discuss those in more detail later in this blog.

For the last stage of the Wild Things activity, we were given the task to come up with a realistic plan to make one of the “dreamers” solutions reality. The solution that we decided to pick was making reusable bags easier to get and use. In order to make it even more sustainable as a product, we decided to make the bags out of recycled fabric/clothing. Our plan was to have the community turn in old clothing or even leftover fabric from projects to a bin on campus or other locations around Stillwater. For however much fabric they turned in, they were given a free reusable bag made from other donated fabrics. We were also going sell the bags at local grocery stores and other stores and whatever profit we made, a portion would be donated to a local food bank to further help the community of Stillwater. On Tuesday, we also did an in-class meditation exercise. Not only was this supposed to relax us, but I believe it was also to help us get more future-oriented with our thinking. The questions Professor Jayadas were making us think through were all based in the future – 20 years ahead. This exercise helped us to get in this future-oriented way of thinking not only for everyday things in life, but also to help us visualize what we want our world and environment to look like in the future and also help us to see ways to attain a happy, well-off future for our environment.

For the lecture on Thursday, we solely focused on biomimicry, which in our PowerPoint was defined as an approach to innovation that seeks sustainable solutions to human challenges by emulating nature’s time-tested patterns and strategies, with the goal of creating products, processes, and policies that are well-adapted to life on earth overtime. Before the lecture, my own definition of biomimicry was using nature as inspiration instead of income in order to better the way we design and go about our everyday lives to thus become more sustainable and less dependent on natural resources. We also were given some time to go onto asknature.org and see how nature naturally cooperates with problems that we deal with all the time. One thing that my learning community and I found was an article about ground hogs and their natural way of filtering air. Since my group is filled with interior designers, one issue that we are well aware of is indoor air quality. This article was super interesting to us because we saw how seemingly simple animals came up with the idea to dig holes under their mounds to filter out the air, whereas us humans are still dealing with poor indoor air quality. We may not be able to literally dig holes under our buildings due to structural issues, but we can definitely use these ground hogs as inspiration to come up with an idea to help alleviate the problems associated with indoor air quality – which in essence is whole idea of biomimicry!

Along with the lecture on Thursday, we also watched a TED talk on biomimicry that was done by Janine Benyus. In this video, she further touched on the points that we discussed in our own class lecture. I just really enjoyed all of the examples that she gave to show that we really can draw inspiration from nature, such as the seashells – how they only reach a certain size and don’t surpass it for all sorts of reasons – and how people like engineers (so unrelated from sea life) would be able to draw inspiration from the shells to determine how to scale down the size of pipes to conserve materials and energy. The article that we read before class also helped me prep to get in the mindset of biomimicry thinking and be open-minded to the sort of “out there” ideas to combat the issues we face with sustainability, such as the shell example she gave us in the video.

In my learning community, we also brainstormed for specific problems in the interior design world, such as indoor air quality again, who the key catalysts would be to really start the movement of change to a more sustainable world. For this example, we decided that key catalysts would be first and foremost the government to create laws requiring buildings to have codes – such as designated smoking rooms – to lessen poor indoor air quality, and then the interior designers to enforce the laws. We decided that if the government was there to make the laws a requirement for businesses and companies, people might obey them more than just a sign on the wall that may just pose as a suggestion rather than a requirement, such as a no smoking sign. Once the laws are in place, then the designers, such as myself, could create spaces such as the designated smoking rooms to lessen the poor indoor air quality in the majority of the building, as well as keep providing the appropriate signage necessary to inform people of what was and wasn’t allowed in a certain space of a building.

Now onto the articles that I mentioned earlier. All three were all focusing on different ways of thinking, or attempts at changing our paradigm. The first was Titanistad, which compared to our way of living to the downward spiral of the Titanic and Amistad. In my opinion, it really just had a pessimistic view of our way of living and didn’t really give any suggestions at how to change our way of living to become more sustainable. To me, this sort of reminded me of the 11th hour movie, where it almost had a scare factor in order to make people see that there is a major problem with the way we are living and stated all of our flaws, but never gave ways to solve or lessen the problems we face. The second article was called “Looking at the Future through a Cartoonist’s Eyes.” This article, while not 100% directed at sustainability problems, really gave “out there” examples of how to change our mindset in order to get different results in the way we live our lifestyles. In this article, Steven Johnson, a cartoonist, was able to always keep the “what if” mindset to turn simple imaginative ideas into a serious way of thinking in future terms. What I took away from this article was that if we don’t have a future-oriented way of thinking, there is no way for us to move on from our current way of living. I also began to realize that we truly need to let our imaginations free in order to come up with innovative ways of thinking. All of the options under DHM are quite creative in my opinion and I know we could all come up with such creative ideas that not everyone has the ability to even think of. We can take this creativity and run with it to come up with ways to live that no one has ever thought of before. The final article was called “Thinking Ahead: The Value of Future Consciousness.” This way of thinking was closely related to that of the cartoonist article in the idea that we need to think in future terms in order to move on from our current situation.

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