THE BUILDING THAT GAVE BIRTH — and the Class that Couldn’t See the Future

What if a city could create life and nurture health? Can you see that future on the horizon?

A few years ago, I spoke in Charlottesville, Virginia. Michael Braungart was in the audience. Braungart, the German business partner of the famous designer William McDonough, invited me to McDonough’s office the next day. I had never met McDonough, but had long admired his work. Designer McDonough and chemist Braungart co-authored the book, Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things, in which they argued against the old “cradle to grave” manufacturing model that casts off most of the materials it uses as (often) toxic waste. Why not follow nature’s example?  A tree blossoms and spreads seeds. No one ever calls a tree blossom waste. Don’t just recycle — reuse, replant, rebirth everything — cradle to cradle. Rather than doing more with less, do more with more. (One of McDonough’s slogans is, “Being less bad is not being good.”)

Just how do we do that? It’s complicated.

Controversial in some circles, McDonough likes to provoke. He told me: “Environmentalists (and McDonough is one) lecture us about our carbon footprints, but here’s a different way to think about footprints.” Wherever we humans step, why not create wetlands in our footprints? He was speaking metaphorically, of course. And literally. Because a majority of human beings now live in cities, conservation is no longer enough. Now we need to create nature where we live, work, learn and play.

As we walked around the office, a large architectural drawing on a table captured my imagination... Read the full story here, at the Children & Nature Network.


About The Author

Richard Louv is Co-Founder and Chairman Emeritus of the Children & Nature Network, an organization supporting the international movement to connect children, their families and their communities to the natural world. He is the author of nine books, including "Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder" and "The Nature Principle." His newest book, "Vitamin N," offers 500 ways to build a nature-rich life. In 2008, he was awarded the Audubon Medal.

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