culture & community

A Wellington Wonderland

by Tink — August 15, 2011

It is snowing in Wellington. Properly snowing. Which just doesn’t happen here…At least not for the past 40 years. There is snow in the garden. And while it continues to cause transit headaches, the general response from people seems to be wonder.

At the end of my street is the local primary school and this morning, as the first big snow shower rolled in, I heard a collective roar of excitement as the children were let outside to play. Yet it’s not just the children who are filled with wonder, I saw adults today slow down as they walked, put a hand out and look with delight at the tiny snow crystals.

More snow is forecast tomorrow. This will doubtless be more wonder. And yet the thing that makes me wonder is why it takes an extreme weather event for people to feel like this about nature.

Two years ago, I spent time in Costa Rica studying biomimicry, the art and science of emulating nature. The basis of biomimicry as a design discipline is that after 3.85 billion years of research and development, nature has figured out the solutions to many of the design challenges we face today. The underlying philosophy is that as a species, we need to become well adapted and understand that far from being apart from nature we are a part of it.

Fourteen people, from all around the world and ranging in age from early 20s to mid 50s, participated in the workshop in Costa Rica and the most commonly uttered phrase, as someone appeared from the rainforest, was ‘Oh WOW! You have to come and look at this.’ Somehow, even those of us considered ourselves well connected to nature, rediscovered a sense of wonder in its magic, beauty and brilliance.

This past week, I’ve been preparing a number of introductory talks on biomimicry and immersing myself, once again, in all that we can learn from nature. Researching the latest developments in biomimcry but also simply paying more attention to the natural world around me. And so today as I became aware of this snow-induced wonder, I find myself wanting to stop people in the street and say ‘look at that tree, let me tell you about how wondrous that is’…

But I don’t, of course. Instead I find myself hoping that this crazy weather continues for a little while and that the snowflakes continue to work their magic.

(P.S. In case you think I’m exaggerating about the whole Wellington wonder thing, a couple of hours after I submitted this post, I came across this video taken today.

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