Connect with Thomas on LinkedIn
How did you first become interested in biomimicry?
I think the strong connection to nature I was raised with pointed me towards biomimicry. Growing up in a very rural area, it seems obvious to look to nature for guidance.
What is your favorite way to engage with nature?
Hiking, and I don’t feel I get to go often enough. I love quieting my “city” energy and allowing myself to be fully enveloped by the trees and plants, the wind, the sound of birds, insects, and other animals, and feel the ground beneath my feet.
What new topic or skill are you exploring this month?
Right now I am focusing on exploring different models of collaborative leadership and stakeholder engagement. Sustainability has stagnated for many organizations at sustaining business as usual. Yet these organizations fail to see that they are not reaping the benefits they otherwise might with a more inclusive and comprehensive stakeholder engagement process. I am curious to see how more collaborative leadership models manifest themselves in a variety of organizations—for profit, non profit, communities, and potentially even at the state or national level.
Biomimicry encourages us to value different functions in an ecosystem. What functional roles do you enjoy playing in your own ‘habitat’?
I’ve always been a “big picture” person so I’d have to say two roles: an integrator and coordinator between and within systems. I have always been able to see the inter-relatedness of seemingly disparate issues; a skill that has served me well working on sustainability strategy. Academia’s split of disciplines always struck me as artificial. Although we’re seeing more interdisciplinary studies, the interdependency and interconnectedness of so much is still ignored. I think that’s our journey as a species right now. The sooner we recognize the artificial divisions and break them down, the better we and the planet will be.
Fast forward to the year 2050, when you’re an instructor at Future University. What’s the theme of your class?
Assuming I’m still teaching at 81, it would be “The Anthropocene Redux: looking back to look forward”—examining the shift from mere sustainability to building a regenerative economy (sustainability 3.0), when companies and countries looked to biomimicry and Cradle to Cradle as inspiration for policies, business models, organizational structure and culture. Where is humanity now? Where is the planet? What did we learn? What do we still have to learn? How do we get there?
Thanks for being such a keystone connector in this community, Thomas.