I’m making up for nearly five months of no blog posts, so in addition to How the mulch stole my purpose, posted this evening, here is the first in a series of guest posts from people I feel very lucky to be connected to. The first is Sam Rye. Sam is a Connector at Bucky Box & Enspiral, dabbles in communications and is an ‘excited-amateur’ when it comes to photography. Sam has played a key role in helping me establish the seed group of New Zealand regional biomimicry network here at Peka Peka, in fact his support has been invaluable. So, without further ado, I’ll pass you onto the wonderful Sam and his wonderful world…
I feel very lucky to be part of a small group with big plans.
About two years ago I was introduced to the wonderful Tink through a mutual friend. We both liked coffee, called ourselves connectors (in the absence of knowing how to describe our ability to make ideas, people & resource smoosh together at the right time), and seemed to have a bit of a reverence for the natural world.
We kept in touch, carried on drinking coffee, and after awhile we kept circulating around this idea of Biomimicry. We knew other people who were interested, and we convinced Tink to take us out for a stroll to introduce us to the skills she’d picked up in Costa Rica at the Biomimicry Institute training she’d attended.
Biomimicry (from bios, meaning life, and mimesis, meaning to imitate) is a new discipline that studies nature’s best ideas and then imitates these designs and processes to solve human problems. Studying a leaf to invent a better solar cell is an example. I think of it as “innovation inspired by nature.”
We began gathering at Tink’s beautiful home in Peka Peka, where a sense of perspective pervades your thoughts at every turn, and time seems elastic. Slowly these have built over the last few months, and it’s become a monthly gathering with people ebbing in and out depending on their availability, but always with biomimicry on the table as the reason – that and the chance to break bread and share a meal.
Sunday was our last gathering before Christmas, where a small but perfectly formed group came together to spend a day dabbling with the process of the early stages of design challenges where we identified a function (e.g. temperature regulation), and then spent some time thinking about examples in nature that we knew of, as well as seeking out new ones around us. Peering closely at leaves, watching the soft yet abrasive tongues of the dogs, observing the root structures across rocky forest floors, and breaking down seed pods to understand their biology. As you might be able to tell – I am extremely happy in this space.
We progressed onto the most pressing and interesting design challenge – the future of Tink’s place in Peka Peka. With a vision of creating a world class biomimicry experience where people could come together to engage in cross-disciplinary workshops to create, challenge and invent, we roamed the perimeter observing slopes, microclimates, water flow, and a host of other elements which we aim to map for future sessions of visioning & design.
Coming together at the end of the day, we threw around ideas and feelings of what this place meant to us, what it held in possibility and perspective. I tried to explain the magnetism I feel toward Kapiti Island – how it’s presence is always with me, and whether it’s the seismic lines from the South Island which run through the area, or whether there’s ‘something else’ at play. I realised quickly that I don’t have the language for this, I never grew up with people talking about the Land, energy, or anything remotely spiritual. I grew up in London, a predominantly built environment, in a society which largely shunned the non-Scientific. Having spent a lot of time in areas with virgin or mostly intact ecosystems, I’ve become intrigued in what I don’t know – not taxonomy or scientific explanations, so much as that which I have no language for. I’m lucky that some people I know here are open to talking about that, and I am slowly indulging in seeking out and listening to some gems of ‘indigenous wisdom’ – to people who’ve lived & survived with the land or those that have listened to stories passed down.
I headed back to Paekakariki with a warm & tired glow, and after the previous day’s allergic reaction to our Christmas tree (who knew pine trees & pine nuts would give similar reactions?), I just hoped to get some wedding planning done and enjoy the sunshine. Still, a further bout of hay fever began to take hold, so I figured it was time for some saline therapy before bed. I threw on my togs and took to the beach.
I arrived as the sun blazed it’s final golden rays out across the water to the beach, the sea wall, and glinted back off the windows of houses along the parade.
The water was luke warm – not so cold as to make me recoil as I waded in and dived under the quicksilver waves. I swam out away from the shore, loving the opportunity to be suspended in the gentle lilt of the Tasman Sea.
The sun, still a bright orange, flamed back at me as a paddleboarder made their way across the near horizon.
As the golds slowly gave way to myriad hues of yellows, oranges, greens, reds and pinks, the South Island silhouetted against the sunset, and Kapiti Island slunk low in the waters out to the west.
Fire seemingly burned in the clouds, and I couldn’t help but be grateful this is the special place I call home.