Sunday, May 04, 2008

Comprehensive Design for a Carbon Neutral World

John Todd is the quintessential ecological design scientist. With wife Nancy Jack and fellow marine biologist Bill McLarney (his "visionaries-in-crime) he founded the New Alchemy Institute in 1969 on the eve of the first nationally observed Earth Day.

During those initial heady days of the environmental movement, New Alchemy immediately set itself apart from the most of the environmental organizations that were established during the 70s and 80s by focusing on designing real solutions to the problems that inspired the movement.

Equally important, John and his colleagues eschewed conventional linear/mechanistic approaches to design based. Instead he embraced and validated the practice of ecological design that placed primary emphasis on Nature's principles and strategies ("
doing more with less").

On June 4, 1982, Bucky visited New Alchemy to christen an innovative Pillow-Dome that was designed by his lifelong friend and Jay Baldwin who had taken up residence at the Institute. He marveled at what he called the New Alchemists' "marvelous achievements in combining advanced physics and engineering principles with a thorough and alert awareness of biological systems."

Bucky concluded by acknowledging the "historic importance of this work at a time when the continuance of human civilization needs us (design scientists) more than ever."

John continues to design and inspire these days at Ocean Arks International. (GW)

First Annual Buckminster Fuller Challenge Winner Announced.

Buckminster Fuller Institute
May 1, 2008

The Buckminster Fuller Institute is pleased to announce that Comprehensive Design for a Carbon Neutral World: The Challenge of Appalachia submitted by Dr. John Todd has been selected as the winner of the 2008 Buckminster Fuller Challenge.

“Dr. John Todd’s comprehensive design strategy to bring about a carbon neutral world, in the opinion of this jury, best embodies the bold, visionary approach to large scale societal transformation pioneered by Buckminster Fuller. Dr. Todd’s proposal sets forth a profound vision to heal the environmental and economic scars of the Appalachian region and a detailed strategy to build a dynamic sustainable economic basis for lasting renewal,” said the Buckminster Fuller Challenge jurors in a statement about their decision.

“Dr. Todd’s vision sets forth a new theory of ecological design weaving together a set of processes - from restoration of land to geo-sequestration of carbon, to community involvement, to long-term economic vitality - to create a blueprint for a future for Appalachia that envisions a harmonious self-sustaining community. This is one of the only true whole systems projects that is place based but widely applicable.” Click here to download the full statement from the jury [pdf].

Allegra Fuller Snyder, Fuller’s daughter, remarked, “My father identified himself as a Comprehensive Anticipatory Design Scientist. Each word is essential to understanding in what way he felt an individual must be competent to be effective in fully implementing constructive visions for our collective planetary future. John Todd’s response meets that Challenge, literally and figuratively. My father, who knew, and admired, Dr. Todd’s work in the 1970s, would certainly agree.”

“The selection by the jury of Dr. Todd’s project sets the bar for the Challenge for years to come. We are thrilled the jury selected a courageous and truly integrated vision that sets forth a detailed strategy to bring about a vibrant and life-sustaining future. The depth and breadth of this vision is stunning and I hope it becomes a catalyst for reflection and lively discussion across disciplines about contemporary approaches to solving the major issues facing us today,” said Elizabeth Thompson, Executive Director of the Buckminster Fuller Institute.

In addition to selecting the winner, the jury also identified two runners-up for their innovative work. The Barefoot College submitted by Bunker Roy was selected as the first runner-up and Promoting Biogas and Training Bedouin Women submitted by Kevin Leopold was selected as the second runner-up.

The winner will receive a $100,000 prize at a press conference and conferring ceremony June 23rd, 2008 at 2pm at The Center for Architecture, 536 LaGuardia Place in New York City.

Nancy Jack Todd, Liz Fial, Bucky, Jay Baldwin, John Todd (New Alchemy Institute, 1982)


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