Category Archives: nature

Going Wild for 30 Days

From 1st – 30th June 2016. The UK WildLife Trusts are running a month-long nature challenge.

Reconnecting with nature through campaigns such as #30DaysWild can be seen as part of the secret sauce for sustainability behaviour. We spend 90% of our time inside buildings, and as our relationship with nature disconnects, then our tolerance for respecting the environment and behaving sustainably will diminish.

Rewilding Nature, Rewilding Buildings and Rewilding People is a key aspect in addressing sustainability, health and building performance gaps.

 

Here, then are my #30DaysWild plans …

  1. Stop to appreciate nature, birds and wildlife when cycling
  2. Spread the word about biophilia and rewilding within construction circles
  3. Sleep out under stars
  4. Climb a tree
  5. Re Read Feral
  6. List all the trees in our garden
  7. Visit Brockholes Nature Reserve
  8. Garden with bare hands
  9. Plant trees
  10. Turn off technology for a day
  11. Identify 10 ‘weeds’
  12. Support Curedon Valley Park visitor centre project
  13. Present at least once on Living Building Challenge
  14. Walk in the rain
  15. Bivy or Bothy by Bike
  16. Create log pile
  17. Take time to identify dawn chorus birds by birdsong
  18. Capture nature, wildlife, birds,  with GoPro
  19. Catch a sunset from a Bowland Fell
  20. Add a twibbon to twitter account
  21. Brew coffee on a hill, mountain top
  22. Share extracts from FutuREstorative
  23. Capture nature in images for future presentations
  24. Reinvigorate our compost heap
  25. Take time to site and tune into nature
  26. Stargazing – become familiar with a new constellation or cluster
  27. Read Wild – An Elemental Journey’ has been on reading list too long!
  28. Shop by bike, not car
  29. Bring pond back to life
  30. Watch sunrise from Bleasdale Woodhenge

Join in & do something wild every day for a month and share with #30DaysWild

 

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Ecologically Rethinking Construction

Jonathan Dawson, head of economics at Schumacher College, writing on Guardian Sustainable Business asked “How do we redesign a new economic theory framed by ecological systems?”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA question we need to ask and start addressing within the built environment.

We are seeing a new vocabulary emerging with concepts such as biomimicry, zero or net energy, water and environmental impact, Living Buildings, biophillia, circular economy … and more … As the interest and importance of these concepts influence in the way we design, build and use buildings, do we need a new paradigm?  Some 15 years after Egan, do we need to again rethink construction to address these emergent sustainability themes. approaches and skills that once again the sector is lacking, engaging the economists, surveyors and accountants? As Jonathan Dawson comments:

Ecology offers the insight that the economy is best understood as a complex adaptive system, more a garden to be lovingly observed and tended than a machine to be regulated by mathematically calculable formulae.

A comment that makes a nice resonance with the Living Building Challenge philosophy

And of course a key element in this new thinking is the internet, web 2.0 and the power of social media.

Enabled by the growing power of information technology, whole new ways of doing business and organising society are emerging, whose strength lies not in economies of scale but in economies of co-operation and symbiosis

Over the weekend , via twitter I caught a slide via Rachel Armstrong illustrating the difference and need to move from 20th century Cartesian or Newtonian thinking into 21st complexity, emergent thinking …

screenshot.32

Jonathan Dawson: “This moment of history calls on us to rewrite the dictionary and create new stories, much as the generations following on from Copernicus did to reflect the new world-view that emerged from his astronomical insights”

Are we so oblivious to the ways of nature?

“After 10 generations of industrial society, and with most people in the west removed from a world of soil and sweat, we are so oblivious to the ways of nature that we cannot bring ourselves properly to absorb its vital importance”

Mark Cocker author of Crow Country reviewing the excellent What Has Nature Ever Done For Us? by Tony Juniper “How environmentalists now put money at the centre of their argument”  (For example, read the book/review to understand why the total bill for India’s programme of removing its flock of vulture scavengers has been calculated at $34 billion)

Mark Cocker, based in Norfolk and written extensively on modern responses to nature.  Crow Country is a fascinating look at the life of crows, on the state of country life in Britain, and on the relationship between ourselves and nature.

Related: Re-Connecting – the 3R’s for rethinking built environment sustainability

So, what have we done for nature?

Having listened to Tony Jupiter’s “What has nature done for us” podcast talk at the RSA over the weekend, my son Tom brought this simply brilliant animation to my attention – “what have we done to nature” …

MAN from Steve Cutts on Vimeo.

Related:

The world may not be ending today, but does the construction industry continue to waste as though there is no tomorrow?

3 R’s for rethinking built environment sustainability

Sustainability: Closing the Circle: Barry Commoner

Heros and Texts for a future Built Environment based on #CSR

“suddenly the air smells much greener now”

Listening to ‘These Streets’, lyrics by Paolo Nutini summed up the brilliant, inspiring Green Vision conference in Leeds – exploring CSR within the built environment.

A mix of talks, presentations, round table discussions and pecha kuchas from Mel Starrs, Eden Brukman, Tamara Bergkamp, Eddie Murphy, Martin Brown, Faye Jenkins, Claire Walker, Rick Hamilton, Mark Warner, Pedro Pablo Cardoso-Castro, Andy Ainsworth, Paula Widdowson and many others showed that there is real emergence and a future for a Built Environment founded on social responsibility principles.

The air smells much greener …

We heard of excellent progress being made by individuals, projects and organisations on the CSR journey, and how behind these are great influential thinkers, often outside of the sector, many, unsurprisingly, related to the ‘outdoor’ sector.

Many of the speakers were enthusiastic in sharing CSR heros and recommended CSR reading. So here, as a summary, or reading list are those mentioned during the day. I wonder how many of these are on the reading list within design, construction and fm education? (Book titles link to Amazon)

Yvon Chouinard

Rock climber, environmentalist and outdoor industry businessman, noted for his contributions to climbing, climbing equipment and the outdoor gear business. His company @Patagonia is widely acclaimed for its environmental and social focus. According to Fortune magazine, Chouinard is arguably the most successful outdoor industry businessman alive today.

The Responsible Company What we have learnt in the first 40 years at Patagonia by Yvon Chouinard and Vincent Stanley (see my blog)

Let My People Go Surfing Yvon Chouinard – Probably the ‘must read book’ to understand CSR in Business

(On my blog: How can construction learn from Patagonia?)

Ray Anderson

Founder of Interface Inc., one of the world’s largest manufacturers of modular carpet for commercial and residential applications and a leading producer of commercial broadloom and commercial fabrics. He was known in environmental circles for his advanced and progressive stance on industrial ecology and sustainability.

Ray was was posthumously awarded an Outstanding Achievement award at this year’s Guardian Sustainable Business Awards in 2012. (There is a related, must watch, video here: John Elkington describing the work and legacy of Ray Anderson)

Confessions of a Radical Industrialist: Profits, People, Purpose: Doing Business by Respecting the Earth (2009) Later released in paperback as Business Lessons from a Radical Industrialist in 2011.

Paul Hawken

An environmentalist, entrepreneur, and author. Ray Anderson of Interface credited The Ecology of Commerce with his environmental awakening. He described reading it as a “spear in the chest experience”, after which Anderson started crisscrossing the country with a near-evangelical fervor, telling fellow executives about the need to reduce waste and carbon emissions.

Hawken’s book, Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution (1999) coauthored with Amory Lovins and Hunter Lovins, popularized the now-standard idea of natural capital and direct accounting for ecosystem services, a theme revisited by Rio +20 and likely to become more mainstream across the built environment.

Janine Benyus

Her 1997 book Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature defines Biomimry as a “new science that studies nature’s models and then imitates or takes inspiration from these designs and processes to solve human problems”. Benyus suggests looking to Nature as a “Model, Measure, and Mentor” and emphasizes sustainability as an objective of biomimicry. Key thinking in the Living Building Challenge principles, as is

E O Wilson

Edward Osborne Wilson an American biologist, researcher, theorist, naturalist and author. In the mid 80’s developed the concept of Biophilia, the connection between humans and nature, which translates into architecture and the built environment as comfort, well being and productivity through exposure to natural light and natural surrondings or imagry.

Anita Roddick

Dame Anita Roddick, human rights activist and environmental campaigner, best known as the founder of The Body Shop, a cosmetics company producing and retailing beauty products that shaped ethical consumerism The company was one of the first to prohibit the use of ingredients tested on animals and one of the first to promote fair trade with third world countries. Roddick was involved in activism and campaigning for environmental and social issues, including involvement with Greenpeace andThe Big Issue.

John Elkington

John Elkington @volansjohn is a world authority on corporate responsibility and sustainable development. He is currently the Founding Partner & Executive Chairman of Volans, a future-focused business working at the intersection of the sustainability, entrepreneurship and innovation movements

His latest book The Zeronauts, Breaking the Sustainability Barrier describes many of todays inspirational leaders : “Just as our species broke the Sound Barrier during the 1940s and 1950s, a new breed of innovator, entrepreneur, and investor is lining up to break the Sustainability Barrier”

Jorgen Randers

2052: What will the world look like in 2052

Jeff Hollender,

Jeffrey Hollender is an American businessperson, entrepreneur, author, and activist. He was well known for his roles as CEO, co-founder, and later Chief Inspired Protagonist and Executive Chairperson of Seventh Generation Inc., the country’s largest distributor of non-toxic, all-natural cleaning, paper and personal care products. www.jeffhollender.com/

Gary Hirshberg,

Gary Hirshberg is chairman and former president and CEO of Stonyfield Farm, an organic yogurt producer, based in Londonderry, New Hampshire. Now part of the Danone group.

Published in January 2008, Stirring It Up: How to Make Money and Save the World is a book about socially minded business that calls on individuals to realize their power to make a difference in the marketplace, while doing business in ways that adhere to a multiple bottom line – one that takes into consideration not only finance, but the environment and health as well.

Jeffrey Swartz,

Jeffrey Swartz is the former president and CEO of The Timberland Company an organization that believes that doing well and doing good are inextricably linked. Timberland’s commitment is to reducing global warming and preserving the outdoor environment.

David and Claire Hieatt,

Founders of Howies a clothing company based in Cardigan Bay, Wales produces eco-friendly T-shirts, jeans and sportswear, and aims to have ethically correct practices. Howies use natural fabrics as alternatives to petrochemical-derived modern fabrics. Examples include organic cotton, Merino wool and recycled cotton. Howies T-shirts often have images or slogans with political or environmental themes

Dee Hock

Dee Ward Hock is the founder and former CEO of VISA , described systems that are both chaotic and ordered, and used for the first time the term “chard” and chaordic,combining the words chaos and order.

More?

Over to you –

Follow the discussion on twitter with the #GVis2012 hashtag.

Who are your CSR Heros and CSR Texts to add to this Built Environment inspirers list?

What additions or comments would you make to the entries above?

A full record (video, blog, tweets, presentations, storify) of the Building CSR Event is being curated on the be2camp event page here.

chicken in the blasket roof

From a non-conference on virtual worlds in Limerick – to the experience of reconnecting with nature, wildness and remoteness at the edge of Europe …

Last week I had the privilege of once again spending time on the Great Blasket Island, off the Dingle peninsular, Co Kerry Ireland.

This is always a highlight of our annual holiday in Ventry. The marine and bird life never ceases to amaze, this year ticking seals, basking sharks, minke whale, dolphin, gannets, puffins and much much more. The beach on the island is in my mind one of the best beaches in the world, and on a hot suny day the white bright sand can take you to the Caribbean. It really does feel like the end of the land out here, with the walk out over the highest point to the end of the island one of the most dramatic walks anywhere.

The island lies approximately 2 km from the mainland at Dunmore Head, and extends 6 km to the southwest, rising to 292 metres at its highest point (Croaghmore). Despite its close proximity to the mainland, visitors to the Dingle coast can often not see the island through the notorious sea mist.

The island was inhabited until 1953, when the Irish government decided that it could no longer guarantee the safety of the remaining population. It was the home of three noted Irish writers: Tomás Ó Criomhthain, Peig Sayers and Muiris Ó Súilleabháin. Their works were all written in Irish, and have all been translated into English, as well as other languages. The homes of Tomás Ó Criomhthain and Muiris Ó Súilleabháin are now in ruins but the house in which Sayers once lived has been restored, and used to form part of the hostel which previously functioned on the island.

Until 1953, the inhabitants of Great Blasket Island formed the most westerly settlement in Europe. The small fishing community (even at its peak the population was hardly more than 150) mostly lived in primitive cottages perched on the relatively sheltered north-east shore.

Over the ten years or so I have visited the island, the dispute on ownership and planning to restore and create tourist facilities has ebbed and flowed. Initially it seemed the vision was for a World Heritage listing which would mean no construction or restoration. Looking at planning minutes it seems the vision is now a somewhat less grand Irish National Historic Park which it would seem allow some facilities to be built.

This year though I was amazed to see, even upset to see, what was a poorly managed (ie untidy material storage) construction site to restore / extend self catering hostel. In stark comparison to the solid construction of existing buildings, made of solid and local stone, breeze blocks had been flown in, packs split and not restacked, timbers not stacked, (artificial?) slates from Northern Ireland awaited on pallets.

Earlier regulations would not allow any vehicles on to the island in an effort to preserve the pristine nature, now yellow diesel construction plant lay where it had been last used. Concrete and mortar spoils from the mixer hardened on the ground.

What a fantastic opportunity for alternative construction practices and designs – wasted. The creation of an alternative construction technology and education center here would have been a wonderful message, showing we can work within a sense of connectivity to nature and heritage. Instead we have taken the easy route and failed.

Read the account of Tomás Ó Criomhthain’s experiences

The roof of his home was made of a thatch of rushes or reeds and his sisters would climb up to collect eggs from under the hens nesting on top. One amusing episode in An tOileánach describes a neighbour’s family at supper when, to their bewilderment and consternation, young chickens began raining, one by one, onto the table and splashing into a mug of milk. “For God’s sake,” cried the woman of the house, “where are they coming from?” One of the children spied a hole scratched in the roof by a mother hen.

Ó Criomhthain lived in a cottage or stone cabin with a hearth at the kitchen end and sleeping quarters at the other. A feature of island life was the keeping of animals in kitchens at night, including cows, asses, sheep, dogs, cats and hens.

The Blasket Community was in its way sustainable and resilient until moved from the land by the Irish Government, reading the literature really strikes a note of resourcefulness, of reusing and of recycling:

The islanders’ sometimes meagre existence was often supplemented by gifts from the sea when shipwrecks occurred. Timber, copper and brass were salvaged, as well as cargoes of food such as meal and wheat, which helped them to survive lean years. At one time tea was unknown on the island and when a cargo of the stuff floated ashore from a wreck it was used by one woman to dye her flannel petticoats (normally dyed with woad). She also used it to feed pigs.

(facts on Blasket taken from wikipedia)