Restoring nature, re-imagining our choices

Family bike transportation in the NetherlandsI spent the first part of last week in a town near Amsterdam presenting at Bioneers Global, the first Bioneers conference to take place outside the U.S. The theme was biomimicry, or "innovation inspired by nature."

TreePeople helps nature heal our cities. We bring the forest, and forest-inspired technologies into the city landscape. Our work is biomimicry at a systems level.

Los Angeles has broken many of nature's systems in the way we've developed and managed the region. TreePeople's goal of creating functioning community forests in every neighborhood of L.A. is a way of restoring the gifts of nature and community to our local landscapes. Our work equips and inspires people to restore and care for trees, soil, and plants, so they can do all the jobs they've been designed to do in our ecosystem. In the process they make our urban environments healthy and thriving.

But for this to happen on a wide scale we must re-imagine our roles as city dwellers.

Whether we like it or not, we are all ecosystems managers now, and the choices we make - whether in caring for trees, harvesting rainwater, or getting around sustainably - matter.

We can plug into the depths of pain, frustration and anger at the ruin in the Gulf of Mexico that we see on our screens. We can also make new and better choices. We have as individuals the ability to unplug from fossil fuels, to reduce our demand as consumers, and create a market for new policy choices from our elected officials

It's inspiring to see the choices that city dwellers in Amsterdam are making to unplug from cars and yet meet their transportation needs on bicycles that are functional, fun, family friendly, and easy to park. I'm so impressed with how they've created bicycle versions of the minivan and station wagon. And even in rainy weather, families are out in these low-impact vehicles, shopping, doing local commuting...and having fun living their engaged urban lives.