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Biomimicry - Learning from the Natural World

Discussion about innovations inspired by nature to be presented at the MACC.

August 9, 2012
The Maui Weekly

On Thursday, Aug. 16, the Maui Arts & Cultural Center and Ala Kukui Hana Retreat will present the third conversation in their Man/Woman and Nature Series: Biomimicry - Learning from the Natural World. This program features a conversation between two guest speakers, who will discuss innovations in our daily lives that are inspired by nature. It begins at 7 p.m. in the McCoy Studio Theater.

The term "biomimicry" was coined in 1997 by Janine Benyus, who co-founded the Biomimicry Institute with Bryony Schwan in 2005. Guest speaker Schwan, executive director of the Biomimicry Institute, which focuses on academic and public education, training and forums, will share her insights on innovative design solutions to solve human problems.

For example, in 1941, George de Mestral looked under a high-powered microscope at the burrs that stuck to his pants after a walk in the forest and noticed tiny hooks on the burrs that caught on anything with a loop. As a result, he invented Velcro.

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Dr. Sam ‘Ohukani‘ohia Gon, senior scientist/cultural advisor for The Nature Conservancy of Hawai‘i, will discuss the connections between the natural world and the indigenous culture of Hawai‘i.

Today, architects, designers and planners are studying nature to create processes and products based on hundreds of thousands of years of evolution in nature. The results are design elegance, the utilization of fewer resources and the reduction of our ecological footprint.

Sharing the stage with Schwan is Dr. Sam 'Ohukani'ohia Gon, senior scientist/cultural advisor for The Nature Conservancy of Hawai'i. He has dedicated 30 years of his professional life to the conservation of native biological diversity, and the connections between the natural world and indigenous culture of Hawai'i. He also studied oli (chant) and hula with Kumu John Lake. Sam strives to blend the rich tapestry of Hawai'i's ecosystems with the equally rich Hawaiian culture.

Tickets are on sale for $10; call the MACC Box Office at 242-SHOW (7469) or go online to To learn more about biomimicry, visit



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