Lichen

A portal to the wisdom nature holds.

“When we Ask Nature, first we quiet our human cleverness.
Then we ask, and then we listen.
The answer is the echo that bounces off of the land herself.
With the solution in hand, we always end the circle by saying thank you.”

––Janine Benyus

Tree seedling growing in moss

Why Ask Nature now?

Because we can’t afford not to. We have the innate potential to create a world that is harmonious, regenerative, and supports the well-being of all Life. As a young species, we are fortunate enough to have guidance to help us rise to this challenge. Our planet-mates, the fantastic meshwork of plants, animals, and microbes, have done billions of years of research and development. The time is now to collaborate globally to design this world for the future of all species. It begins by Asking Nature.

A triple spiral form carved in stone
Image: Hans Braxmeier / Public Domain ‑ No restrictions

What are the 3 essential elements to Asking Nature?

This practice involves three interdependent elements:

  1. (Re)Connect: The increasing awareness that humans, individually and as a species, are part of nature, not separate from it, through a deepening connection that honors the reciprocal relationship between all living beings.
  2. Emulate: The scientific, research-based practice of learning from and then replicating nature’s forms, processes, and ecosystems to create more regenerative designs.
  3. Ethos: The realization that humans have a responsibility to conserve and protect that which they are learning from, as well as abiding by the planetary boundaries and principles for all nature-inspired innovation.
Dots coalesce into a cosmic pattern

Is Asking Nature new?

Biomimicry is a modern practice, but asking nature has ancient roots in the indigenous communities that have passed on their observations and insights from the natural world throughout generations.

The Biomimicry Institute acknowledges that the lands we inhabit, work in, and travel to are the beloved homelands of peoples too often displaced from their ancestral heritage. We are dedicating ourselves to recognizing, learning from, reconciling, and working with the world’s indigenous cultures to help preserve and share their knowledge of the natural world in self-determined and culturally appropriate ways. As an organization, we are also addressing how we need to decolonize our internal practices to ensure our space is inclusive, diverse, and equitable.

Explorer in a cave looking towards the outside light

Who Asks Nature?

We exist to encourage everyone, everywhere to have a direct experience with nature that is founded on respect and curiosity. We have designed this tool to provide guidance to students, educators, engineers, scientists, designers, artists, naturalists, and those from yet to be defined disciplines. Our hope is that this is a homecoming for anyone on a journey to make the future better for all of our planetary neighbors.

Mossy stones line a forest path

How do you Ask Nature?

Quiet your cleverness

We seek to rightsize our place on the planet by quieting our cleverness, so we can collaborate with Life on solutions.

Ask Nature a question

Attune to the question that you seek the answer to, and Ask Nature how it would solve this challenge.

Observe and listen deeply

Heighten the senses and see where an organism, living system, or universal pattern has adapted a strategy that inspires a model for emulation.

Apply wisdom to create a regenerative world

Design with the principles of Life in mind and heart, so the solution is additive and inventive while staying within planetary boundaries.

Give thanks

Always end each interaction with reverence and gratitude to the natural world.

Ripples and rocks in a river

How do you use this site?

You are the explorer of your own experience. This is a field guide to help you find your way.

For a more in-depth explanation on how to use this site and what you will find, visit our Field Guide to the Field Guide.

Staff

Ask Nature is a project of the Biomimicry Institute, a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the practice of looking to nature for inspiration to solve design problems in a regenerative way.

Contact Us

Please use the form below to submit questions, support issues, partner or sponsorship inquiries, feedback, and ideas related to AskNature.

If your inquiry is related to other Biomimicry Institute programs, media coverage, includes general questions about biomimicry, or if you’re seeking a phone number or mailing address, please refer to the Biomimicry Institute central contact information.

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