Design with Nature

There is so much beauty, elegance and grace in the patterns of nature - so much inspiration for good design that works with nature and that creates wellbeing with least effort. You can feel or sense when a design works - there is a sense of ease, of peace, of connection.  There is simplicity and beauty in designing with nature.

Patterns in nature: spirals, waves, branching, lobes, star, scatter ...

I am participating in the inaugural online course on
The Systems View of Life with Fritjof Capra - Austrian born, American physicist (bestselling author of the Tao of Physics, Uncommon Wisdom  The Turning Point, The Web of Life, The Hidden Connections and more). Tonight's lecture was about understanding patterns in nature and how life begins. 

Pattern understanding and pattern thinking is the basis of good permaculture design too - designing with nature.  One of permaculture design principles is to "design from pattern to detail" (Holmgren) - to see the connections and relationships and explore the bigger picture. Often, in our excitement or impatience, we are tempted to race in a start doing something without considering how this connects to and impacts the whole. Pattern thinking is about slowing down, taking time to see the bigger picture, consider things more fully and then choosing the simplest and most elegant design or action to implement change. 

Fritjof discussed in this weeks lecture about how all life is creative and that creativity is actually a key criteria of all life. Every animal, plant, even every microorganism is creative and in a constant state of flow. Change happens when something disrupts the balance and a new state of balance is reached - another state of being emerges. This process of emergence is how life evolves and remains in a state of dynamic self-organisation.

The late Brian Goodwin - visionary mathematician, biologist, teacher, philosopher and system theorist who was Scholar in Residence at Schumacher College for many years discusses beauty in nature, emergence, and how nature works to have least effort and natural grace - and how this is obviously a system which has good health and vitality. (4 minute youtube)

Fritjof also talked about how patterns of nature, the patterns which connect, stay stable while materials flow through. He gave the example of a vortex. The pattern, the spiral, remains constant even while water is flowing through it continuously.  You can even disturb the pattern and it will return to the vortex.

Things are stable but they change all the time. 

We often resist change, because change can bring uncertainty. But change is actually the only thing we can be truly certain of.  The patterns which connect remain stable - the relationships between living things, from cells to large organisms - but the actual living thing responds creatively, learns and changes. 

And for something different ... a great song about Patterns (click to play) by a group of creative Australian permaculture musicians, the Formidable Vegetable Sound SystemEnjoy! 

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