Location: Minneapolis, MN
Local Conditions: 50 degrees
Be — Close your eyes. Spend a full 10 minutes just sitting there, “being”, with your eyes closed, sensing the place around you. Don’t try to notice anything in particular, or process what you are observing. Do use all of your senses (besides sight!), perhaps focusing on one sense at a time. Include senses like sense of gravity, sense of direction, and sense of well-being.
Getting slightly colder in Minneapolis. Sitting by the river. I can hear the movement in the water in front of me and birds communicating with another. The wind is subtle, allowing the leaves on the tree to replicate a “wind chime” effect. The footsteps of people walking by, biked passing by and Kayaks rowing by. I can feel the sun being covered and uncovers by the clouds are they are shifting in the sky.
Contemplate — Notice the wide variety of different (and unique and beautiful!) functional strategies there are at your natural spot.
The leaves are changing colors. Specific tree leaves earlier than others. Getting ready for fall + winter.
The Process of Leaf Color Change: “Leaves change color during the autumn because the amounts of pigments change as the leaves prepare to fall from the trees. All leaves gradually lose chlorophyll during the growing season, and this loss accelerates before leaf fall. Under optimal conditions this process of chlorophyll loss is very orderly and allows the plants to resorb much of the nitrogen in the structure of the pigment molecule. Carotenoid pigments are also lost from the plastids during aging, but some of them are retained in the plastids after the chlorophyll is removed; this produces autumn leaves with yellow colors” (https://harvardforest.fas.harvard.edu/leaves/process)
Ducks maintaining community and helping one another. Cooperative herding behavior by the American white pelican catches more food by concentrating prey. “One strategy that these pelicans can use to increase their catch is cooperative feeding. In cooperative feeding behavior, groups of pelicans (usually less than 20) work together while swimming to herd small schooling fish into a dense ball or toward shallow water, where it’s difficult to escape. This behavior can start when the presence of pelicans attracts more pelicans to the area and a group forms. The pelicans then form a line or semicircle on one side of the schooling fish and begin to swim toward each other, closing in on the school.” https://asknature.org/strategy/cooperative-herding-catches-more-food/
Imagine — How you might use 4-5 of these strategies as the basis to a radically innovative new product design? You don't have to sketch the design (unless you want to); the focus here is on imagining how you can apply these functions to the world.
Developing modular clothing (example: spring/summer shifting to fall/winter clothing)
Adaptability within a space (example: office space / desk - increasing the size based on activity, painting requires more surface area vs. reading a book)
Pigments Changing (using color as a way to detect change)
Building a community around interests / passions to positively impact everyone participating
Cooperation in community required a feedback loop / communication in an approachable hierarchy