October 23, 2013

Opportunity > Problem

If you’ve tuned into the world lately, you might have heard about all the problems and challenges facing humanity today.

There’s something weird happening with our climate, plenty of examples of environmental degradation and pollution, not to mention all the news about geo-political conflicts and looming global economic collapse. With all this dialogue about seemingly insurmountable problems plaguing our world today, it’s understandably a challenge to get out of bed some mornings. Negativity will inevitably breed more negativity and it seems we might be stuck in a bit of a vicious cycle here. Imagine what our world might look like if we saw our problems as opportunities.

It turns out we’ve got all kinds of solutions. I’m focusing this year on figuring out how we can use nature-inspired design to solve problems. I’ve stopped seeing problems, all I see is opportunities now. Every problem is a solution in disguise. The way I think about it is that nature’s got 4.6 billion years of experience adapting to a very dynamic world. She’s been around the block a few times; she knows things we can’t even begin to think about comprehending. Nature produces zero waste, she’s regenerative, self-regulating and her status quo is continual abundance for all. What if we spent some time observing how nature does its thing and applied it to our predicaments?

There’s actually a number of different fields embracing this perspective including things like permaculture design, biomimicry, earthships, bio-dynamic farming and mycology (to name a few). The unifying link is that each of these different practices produces solutions that work with the natural flow of Mother Earth. This results in systems that are constantly in a state of re-creation and generosity. For example, permaculture is a design science that seeks to create arrangements maximizing the highest possible system functionality and yield, for the lowest possible energy input required to produce and maintain it. What does this translate to?

A well designed permaculture system could…

Remediate barren landscapes by greening the desert

Help an urban family live self-sufficiently on 1/10th of an acre

Create an opportunity to grow citrus trees in the Austrian Alps

And oh so much more. These are just a few examples of what’s possible coming from regular folks that chose to see things differently. We’re just on the tip of the iceberg here, there remains plenty to be explored, discovered, experimented and implemented. A very real opportunity for citizen scientists to help make the world a better place. We’ll never stop learning from nature’s experience and that’s a beautiful thing. Permaculture isn’t the only thing, there’s so many related solutions embracing the nature-inspired design attitude and there’s a great opportunity to connect the dots between them all.

It’s important to understand problems and to talk about them because this can help fuel solutions and provide context. I’ve learned that empathizing the problem is only part of the process though. When you start focusing on opportunities and solutions, it becomes evident that the problem are actually much smaller than they’re made out to be. Our society has become crippled by problems, yet we live in a world of opportunity. I invite you to move past the problems and refocus your energy on the opportunities created by them. It’s solution time!

What opportunity do you see?

The Spark You’ve Been Looking For

Visit our store to find award-winning education tools used by individuals and teams around the world.