Monday, July 8, 2013

The Prairie Project

by Amy Coffman Phillips

I recently wrote an article on my work with the Prairie Project, a Biomimicry Chicago AskPlace initiative, for the Metropolis blog. I have republished it here, and visit the Metropolis site for the full article.

Have you ever sat in your home or office and wondered what your part of the world looked like before your community was there? What ecosystems and organisms sat where you do now and how did they adapt and thrive through the same challenges that we face today?

Our built environment faces many challenges in adapting to a changing climate, from storm water management and drought tolerance to energy use optimization and eliminating waste. By recognizing that our communities and cities have been built on, and in most cases destroyed, land that was previously occupied we can we learn from our native ecosystems to design more resilient, well-adapted communities.

Biomimicry is the practice of drawing inspiration from nature to solve the sustainable design challenges we face.  This practice is especially relevant when we are challenged with adapting to regional and changing climate conditions.  The Global Biomimicry Network, of which Biomimicry Chicago is a regional node, is co-creating a framework to assist designers, planners, and municipalities with making communities that are well adapted to the climatic and cultural place in which we live. We call this learning from the “Genius of Place.”
Biomimicry Chicago’s “Prairie Project,” named for the city’s native tall grass prairie ecosystem, is dedicated to providing the information and tools necessary for everyone from individual gardeners to businesses and municipal governments to (Re)Connect with nature and our sense of place,(Re)Learn the wisdom of our ancestors, and (Re)Think how we live and design in our bioregion.