James Gurney: A Visionary and Inventive Artist

I’m sorry for the delay in posting this week. I’ll see to it that the next posts are on Friday as planned.

One of my favorite books as a child was Dinotopia by James Gurney. I love the alphabet that the dinosaurs created using footprints. I love the intricate pictures of the machines. I love seeing human beings riding pterodactyls through the sky. I love that Gurney played with biomimicry (before it became a buzzword), tree houses, flight, language, romance, adventure, an island, and dinosaurs all within the same series.

Perhaps one of the aspects that appeals to me from the books is that human beings and dinosaurs seem to be working mutualistically with each other, and with their environment. Together, they create beautiful and sustainable cities, like this one.

Part of the trouble for western countries is the seductive ease of using fossil fuels and disposable products, in spite of the hidden toll it’s taking. Global warming aside, hydrocarbons and other compounds get into the water and muck up our fish and shellfish. Oysters and scallops and clams were once a national treasure. Now there are few places in the U.S. where you can get an abundant amount of shellfish that are safe to eat right away. It takes a concerted effort to decide the trajectory of our cities now and into the future, and how our cities and towns mesh with the environment.

How can we live in such a way that we are conscious of what we take out, and what we put back in?

Look at the lights above your head. Look at your computer screen. Where does the electricity come from? Where do the minerals and the parts come from? What is the factory like where the pieces are assembled? In too many factories, the workers suffer poor health from breathing stale air, doing repetitive work for long hours that leaves the mind and body aching. Everyone benefits from range of motion. People can’t live truly rich lives when they don’t have access to fresh food, fresh air, or wild places like mountains, streams, rivers, lakes, the ocean, plains, or forests.

I’m not advocated for ditching technology. We can do great things with it, and connect, and make change happen.

Can we do better? We can advocate for better working conditions, and we can better respect the products by remembering where the parts come from. Which minerals? Which mine? Which forest? We should also keep in mind where the products go when we’re done with them, and how well the local landfills can, or can’t, keep them separate from the farms, schools, houses, and conservation areas nearby. Yes, we can do better.