Facing declining visitors and uncertainty about what to do about it, library administrators in the new town of Almere in the Netherlands did something extraordinary. They redesigned their libraries based on the changing needs and desires of library users and, in 2010, opened the Nieuwe Bibliotheek (New Library), a thriving community hub that looks more like a bookstore than a library.
“We do not have a new story yet. Each of us is aware of some of its threads, for example in most of the things we call alternative, holistic, or ecological today. Here and there we see patterns, designs, emerging parts of the fabric. But the new mythos has not yet emerged. We will abide for a time in the space between stories.” ~ Charles Eisenstein
” What gives me tremendous confidence in the future is the fact that we are now more empowered as individuals to take on the grand challenges of this planet. We have the tools with exponential technology. We have the passion of the DIY innovator. We have the capital of the techno-philanthropist and we have 3 billion new minds coming online to work with us, to solve the grand challenges .. to do that which we must do. We are living into extraordinary decades ahead. ”
~ Peter Diamandis
The first guiding principle of the Center for Ecoliteracy’s framework for schooling for sustainability ~ Smart by Nature ~ is “nature is our teacher.”
Taking nature as our teacher requires thinking in terms of systems, one of nature’s basic patterns. Systems can be incredibly complex, but the concept is quite straightforward. The American Association for the Advancement of Science, for example, defines a “system” as “any collection of things that have some influence on one another.” Individual things ~ like plants, people, schools, communities, and watersheds ~ are all systems of interrelated elements. At the same time, they can’t be fully understood apart from the larger systems in which they exist.
A beautiful conversation with Michael Pollan discussing plants as the symbol of modernity and they’re strategies of coping with the world. They’re redundant in their structure, they’re modular, they’re networked.. all of which are qualities that we’ve now discovered are the basis for things like the world wide web. We can learn by how they organize information as well as for resilience.
i.e.. The trees amongst a Fir Forrest are connected by a mycelium fungi which is used as a network to send warnings of attack, to send nutrients to their offspring because they recognize their kin as well as trade nutrients with other species like birch trees. It’s an entire economy going on under the soil that requires no outside source.. so much to learn from these creatures.
~ Listen ~