Ecological Design: Inventing the Future
A film about integrating nature, technology and humanity
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With each second of everyday there is a child born,
and he shall be nourished so that he may grow;
so that he may learn;
so that he may teach;
so that he may replenish the source sustaining his life
in whatever way he can;
so that he may help those less fortunate than he.
And, if not, so that he may draw what he will from his earth
without one thought of giving back—until the day he dies.
© 1981 by Christine Young
“For thousands of years humans have adapted to their environments through the process of design; weaving local materials to meet their needs and intertwining nature’s patterns with their lives. Indigenous communities live within the limits of their local ecosystem; nature, technology and culture maintain a dynamic balance. The designs of the industrialized world have developed beyond the limits of local ecosystems. Today our global technologies are depleting the earth’s resources; darkening the skies and waters with waste and endangering much of life’s diversity. Can we invent a more comprehensive way of designing which will integrate the built world with our larger ecosystem, the biosphere? Can we find a way of life which will create a harmony between nature, technology and humanity?”
—from the film, Ecological Design
Ecological Design: Inventing the Future
, narrated by actress Linda Hunt and produced by Brian Danitz and Chris Zelov, is about this built world of ours. It’s about the spirit of invention from many vantage points in relation to preserving the earth’s natural resources. It has been put together with much care and insight and is perhaps the icing on the cake of environmental awareness, which has been baked by the expert design outlaws it features, from a recipe R. Buckminster Fuller (Bucky) devoted his lifetime to. Bucky’s recipe is simple: “Optimize the way we use the world’s resources. Do more with less. Don’t wait for the politicians. See what needs to be done and do it.”
Enhanced by the peaceful sounds of Some Songs to the Stars
by David Darling and Annie Haslam, the film delivers its message in neither a condescending nor technical tone of voice. It speaks to all people in all places—but its message is clearly meant for the industrialized countries of the world, where industry and technology have a tendency to destroy rather than nourish, and where too often greed drives government and government ignores the scientific evidence that proves our ecosystem is walking a tightrope of vulnerability.
In the first segment, “Design Revolution: the Outlaw Perspective,” we are introduced to Bucky’s ideology and some of his innovative designs. We hear from innovative professionals who speak about their predecessor with admiration. These are the design outlaws and environmentalists who have been influenced by Bucky in all the ways that matter. As software designer Ted Nelson
explains, “The responsibility of the designer is the outlaw, and the outlaw thinker is certainly to try to reach forward beyond the restrictions of today, beyond the stupidities of the current political situation—whatever that may be, of the current way things are done and say ‘God, how shall we really be doing this?’” With this driving force and our current technological expertise, today’s pioneers in environmental design are making their own headway; each in his or her own time and each within his or her particular field of science. What they are doing—some on a large scale and others on a small scale—is extraordinary.
Perhaps one of the most noted design outlaws is industrial designer, inventor and technical educator Jay Baldwin, who spent more than thirty years alongside Bucky as a student, employee and colleague, and was fortunate to have been with him during pivotal moments of experimentation and prototype. Baldwin was a central participant in the formation and construction of the strongest and most economical structure ever designed, the Geodesic Dome. The depth to which he was influenced by Bucky can be found in his own life’s work and in the pages of his book, Bucky Works: Buckminster Fuller’s Ideas for Today
, and as editor of The Whole Earth Catalog
(1968-1998), devoted a lot of time to the accuracy of the technical information within its pages.
Originally conceived by Stewart Brand
, The Whole Earth Catalog
provided readers with the tools and inspiration necessary to proceed competently with their own innovative ideas. There was an ecological consciousness to this periodical that manifested throughout its tenure, which had been Brand’s intention. The Whole Earth Catalog
was a forerunner of the Information Super Highway, only with a more precise and focused mind-set, and it was one example of Bucky’s synergetic ideology—of what can be produced by collective efforts for the benefit of mankind.
In the segments, “Design With Nature: Learning from the Earth” and “Designing for Prosperity: Giving Back More Than We Take,” Ecological Design: Inventing the Future
highlights the accomplishments of the design outlaws, covering each aspect of ecological design as it relates to a specific area of concern, and illustrating our potential to work with nature in a positive way—to blend our living, working and playing into the surrounding landscape. We’re shown how life around us replenishes without fail. Some of us are already in tune with Mother Nature and respect Her natural environment. We gain energy from being in Her living room (the outdoors) and intuitively know what She needs from us in return. Individually we achieve the necessary balance in our living, our working and our playing.