Sunday, February 19, 2012

Ask Nature

Four Questions for Missoula’s Biomimicry 3.8 Institute, sponsor of YERT: Your Environmental Roadtrip. The Biomimicry 3.8 Institute is a non-profit that promotes the study and imitation of nature’s remarkably efficient designs, bringing people together to create sustainable technologies.

BSDFF: The work of the Biomimicry 3.8 Institute is awesomely innovative and exciting. How does the institute envision itself as a part of the Missoula community?

BIOMIMICRY INSTITUTE: Biomimicry is about looking to nature for inspiration, so we feel pretty lucky to call Missoula our hometown. We get an amazing dose of nature simply walking out our front door. Not only is it easy to access wilderness and experience Montana’s incredible biodiversity, the Missoula community itself is also filled with innovative and progressive businesses, organizations, and leaders that inspire us. In fact, we plan to begin a conversation this year with community leaders, conservationists, and educators around what we can learn from our local ecosystem, and how that information might make Missoula a more sustainable community. We definitely have hometown pride.

BSDFF: Are there any local or statewide examples of biomimicry utilization and success that you wouldn't mind mentioning?

BI: One Montana-made biomimetic product comes from Floating Island International (FII), based in Shepherd, Montana. Bruce Kania, founder and inventor, knew that wetlands contribute to healthy ecosystems, both above and below the water line, and that the destruction of these wetlands has adverse effects on plant and animal life. He decided to mimic how natural wetlands filter sediments and nutrients out of the water by creating floating islands using recycled plastic drink bottles. The concept has been implemented around the world.

BSDFF: Why does the Institute support the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival and the film YERT?

BI: First off, it’s a world-class festival that showcases films on topics relevant to issues we care about, like conservation, sustainability, and environmental justice. Secondly, they have great taste! Last year, BSDFF selected our documentary Second Nature: The Biomimicry Evolution to screen, and this year, they chose to feature YERT, in which our co-founder, Janine Benyus, plays a role. We love YERT’s hopeful message about living lightly on the planet. It really resonates with our own view that sustainable solutions to environmental challenges exist.

BSDFF: What can we look forward to from the Biomimicry 3.8 Institute in 2012?

BI: Last year, we joined together with our sister company The Biomimicry Guild to form the social enterprise Biomimicry 3.8. We’re excited about the new opportunities to come out of this transition, including the first online course that Missoulians (and others around the globe) can take to learn the fundamentals of biomimicry. Missoulians can also take a road trip to Portland June 22-24 for our annual Biomimicry Education Summit. The Summit brings together biomimicry educators, practitioners, and students for three days of discussion, networking, and sharing of best practices. The best way to stay informed is to sign up for our monthly e-newsletter at

YERT screens Monday, February 20th at the Wilma, 3:10 pm. Directors and Co-Producer in attendance.

Article by BSDFF Promo Team writer Cecile Berberat