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Perspectives on “Stories from the trenches” Jamie Miller & Michael Helms

The “Stories from the Trenches“ series followed several examples of biomimetic innovation from ideation and proof-ofconcept ( docs/zqissue21_final/38), through business model generation and market entry ( zq_issue_22_final/8), and across the Valley of Death to commercialization and scale-up (

docs/zq_issue_23_final/22). We wanted to include other voices on engaging the business community and ‘making biom* real’. Dr. Pete Foley, Margo Farnsworth, and Dr. Arndt Pechstein provided their insights in ZQ24 ( docs/zq_issue_24/40). This issue brings the unique perspectives of Jamie Miller and Dr. Michael Helms. - Ryan Church, Rachel Hahs, and Norbert Hoeller

“Where Do We Want to Be When We Grow Up?” By Jamie Miller I want to see biomimicry as the governing paradigm in design. Tapping into biomimicry thinking can help us create urban infrastructure that is in harmony with nature, breaking down the barriers we have created between natural and built environments. In ten years, I picture buildings that breathe like lungs, in cities that fully implement circular pathways to eliminate waste and reduce raw material inputs, that are built from the bottom up, implement distributed governance, and incorporate technology that strives to mimic and integrate with natural processes. And with today’s creativity and tomorrow’s technologies, I have little doubt that these ideas could become real.

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What Stands in Our Way? We fear the unknown, and for much of our history, we feared the complexity of nature. Even when new knowledge becomes available, it can be hard to integrate it with our existing knowledge. We have become comfortable with the status quo and can unconsciously block information that might be counter to our beliefs. Plus, it is difficult to inspire change when our lives are good. We project our past technological successes into the future without recognizing the undesirable consequences. We repeatedly use the same thinking to solve problems, an approach Einstein tells us is futile. We have created artificial environments which protect us from uncertainty by isolating ourselves from nature.

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