“Life’s Operating Manual”: Why does ecological literacy matter? Where do we go to ignite the spark?

Dayna Baumeister is co-founder, with Janine Benyus, of the Biomimicry Institute and Biomimicry 3.8. Her half-hour presentation at the 2011 Bioneers conference, “Life’s Operating Manual,” is spell-binding and one of the most artful presentations I’ve seen in a long time. And very accessible to a wide age-range. She weaves together her 11-year old son’s passion for fantasy fiction (yes, he’s in the audience) with her own quest to understand where solutions lie to our person-planet dilemma. Her narrative takes the viewer on a condensed history of life on Earth; she imagines telescoping it into a single year, marking the major evolutionary breakthroughs as the “year” marches on.

In that imaginary year, which begins January 1st 4.5 billion years ago, life first emerges on February 25th…and human life appears…well, you’ll have to watch the video to find out. Baumeister communicates her fascination with nature’s design and her belief in the human potential to learn from nature so powerfully that it left me in a trance.

The video seems to me a wonderful gift of inspiration for teachers of environmental education—indeed for all teachers. It is about life and hope and curiosity and where we can find solutions to our unsustainable way of living.

Perhaps over the holidays you will find 31 minutes to pause long enough to have a look!

– E.D.

P.S. Do any of you see this video as a teaching tool? What age group could appreciate some or all of what she’s saying? What kind of context would you prepare?  Where might it help you to connect to curriculum as you energize your students’ learning? If you are inspired, please write back!

P.P.S. Danya is introduced by the Executive Director of the Biomimicry Institute. Be sure to get to Danya herself (4:33 minutes into the video) before deciding whether to keep watching.

Additional Resource: Janine Benyus is clearly the source for Baumeister’s inspired work, covering much of the same content that she makes so compelling in the video. The sidebar “food for thought” pieces are absolute gems! Check it out.


3 thoughts on ““Life’s Operating Manual”: Why does ecological literacy matter? Where do we go to ignite the spark?

  1. Pingback: Ecological literacy and biophilia: loving the world | Ecoliteracy in EcoSchools

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