This month the winner of the 2014 Buckminster Fuller Challenge was announced: Living Breakwaters. The Living Breakwaters project designed a comprehensive way to manage extreme storm surges and the impact of sea level rise in the region around Staten Island, New York with applications to many other coastal communities.
As jury member Bill Browning pointed out, "Living Breakwaters is about dissipating and working with natural energy rather than fighting it. It is on the one hand an engineering and infrastructure-related intervention, but it also has a unique biological function as well. The project team understand that you cannot keep back coastal flooding in the context of climate change, but what you can do is ameliorate the force and impact of 100 and 500 year storm surges to diminish the damage through ecological interventions, while simultaneously catalyzing dialog to nurture future stewards of the built environment."
I had the opportunity to work with Bill Browning and the rest of the BFI team in the selection of the BFI winner and finalists. Living Breakwaters and the other finalists demonstrated incredibly creative approaches to solving many problems ranging from a sustainable development in the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, to protecting the Bonobos in the Congo Basin rainforest, to a floating health clinic in Lake Tanganyika, Africa, among others.
I hope these inspiring projects get the attention in the mainstream press that they deserve. They are making positive changes and represent important initiatives for a building a better world.