When I was in college, Fritjof Capra’s Tao of Physics blew my young gourd. It and a few related books — for some reason I always think of Robert Anton Wilson’s Illuminatus! Trilogy — shaped my thinking in ways that persist today. I wouldn’t have known then to call it ecological thinking. In those days it was more of a quasi-hippie, psychotropic, see-molecules kind of thing, but the basic principles — interconnection, self-organizing systems — are straightforwardly drawn from nature.

It turns out much to my delight that Capra is still around, lively as ever, teaching university, and doing a couple of interviews with Transition Culture on localization, biomimesis, and eco-literacy. It’s like Christmas came early!

Here’s a sample:

If the approach that you propose were to come to fruition, and you woke up 30 years from now, in that reality, what would it look like, smell like, feel like, talk us through it!

We would use Nature as a model and a mentor, and we would have designed societies and communities that are in harmony with the basic principles of organization that Nature has evolved to sustain life. Nature contains ecosystems as sustainable communities; communities of animals, plants, and microorganisms that have evolved over billions of years so as to maximize their long-term survival or sustainability. So, we would have patterned our communities after those natural communities, which means that we would use solar energy as our main energy source, including wind, biomass, and so on. We would have arranged our industries and our systems of production in such a way that matter cycles continuously, that all materials cycle between producers and consumers.

We would recognize that diversity enhances resilience in an ecosystem as well as in a human community. So, we would have diverse communities; culturally, intellectually, ethnically, and so on. We would grow our food organically, and we would shorten the distance between the farm and the table, which is now thousands of miles, and we would shorten that, produce food mainly locally. We would also shorten the distance between the home and the workplace, so that we don’t need to use cars to go to work, we can bicycle or we can use public transportation, we can walk to work. All of this would combine to create a world that has dramatically reduced pollution, where climate change has been brought under control, where there would be plenty of jobs, because these various designs are labour-intensive, and as an overall effect there will be no waste, and the quality of life would increase dramatically.