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Gregory Moulinet is the co-founder of the Biocentric Society a company that aims at building a floating village on the Tai lake. Learn more about this audacious project that is challenging the way we are considering life on earth and our place in the world

 

Can you explain us the meaning of Biocentric, which is the core value of your company?

 

The ‘Biocentric’ outlook is usually opposed to the ‘Anthropocentric’ outlook. Human centered VS Life centered.

 

Anthropocentric societies see the world as a pyramid with humans, usually male with alpha status, at the very top. Everything around and below is considered “resources” belonging to men by rights, might or bribe. Each resource is hierarchically valued: commercial, vital, therapeutical, nutritional, functional or just rare and magical. The concept of civilization, demonstrated by urban life, cities divorced from nature, kingdoms, empires, colonies and nation states are direct results of anthropocentric thinking.

 

Biocentric societies, on the other end, sees animals, including humans, plants, insects and microbes as “earthlings” with equal rights to life, each occupying an ecological niche with vital functions supporting a vast interconnected ecosystem we call nature. No hierarchy, no ownership, just an absolute respect for all life forms and their ecological boundaries. Indigenous tribes are usually biocentric communities and have a polar opposite “lifeview” when compared to our “civilized world”.

 

你能给我们解释一下贵公司的核心价值“生物中心”(Biocentric)的含义吗?

 

生物中心的观点通常与人类中心的观点相反。以人为本vs以生命为中心。以人类为中心的社会认为世界是一个金字塔,通常男性占优势地位,甚至是最高等的地位。周围和下面的一切都被认为是属于男性的资源,无论是因为权利、力量或是贿赂。每一种资源都是等级分明的:商业的、必要的、治疗的、营养的、功能性的或仅仅是稀有的和不可思议的。由城市生活诠释的文明的概念即是城市脱离自然,王国,帝国,殖民地和民族国家。这是人类中心思想的直接结果。

 

以生物为中心社会,在社会的另一端,将动物,包括人类、植物、昆虫和微生物,看作是地球人,拥有平等的生命权利,每一个都占据着一个生态位,有着至关重要的功能,支撑着一个我们称之为自然的巨大相互联系的生态系统。没有等级制度,没有所有权,只是对所有生命形式及其生态边界的绝对尊重。土著部落通常是生物群落,与我们的文明世界相比,他们的生活观截然相反。

 

 

So what is the Biocentric Society? What’s its mission and goals?

 

The Biocentric Society is the name we chose for an organization we founded and registered early 2017. It’s an umbrella company, which hold or support biocentric businesses, initiatives and activities.

 

 The mission: Re-wild the earth, Restore/Inter-connect natural habitats and Sway the human species to adopt a biocentric outlook and a matching lifestyle. Goals are many. The flagship goal is to establish a biocentric floating village on the Tai lake (Taihu).

 

 那么什么是生物中心社会呢?它的使命和目是什么? 

 

“生物中心社会”是我们在2017年初创建并注册的组织的名字。它是一家拥有并支持生物中心业务、提出提案和组织活动的伞型公司。它的任务是:让地球回归原始,恢复或连接自然栖息地,并影响人类以践行生物中心的观点和匹配的生活方式。目标有很多首要的目标是在太湖建立一个生物中心漂浮的村庄.

 

 

 

Biomimicry seems to be an important aspect of the project; can you explain a bit more about this innovative approach and its application within the Biocentric Society?

 

Biomimicry is for us a tool to do the right biocentric thing when moral choices have to be made and when smart, elegant, sustainable technological solutions have to be found. Biocentric Society is guided by 3 core principles developed in the 70’s by deep ecologists such as Paul Watson and scientists such as Carl Sagan: Biodiversity, Interdependence and Finite Resources. These principles encapsulate how nature works and the foundation of Janine Benyus’ concept of biomimicry.

 

仿生学似乎是这个项目的一个重要方面;你能解释一下这种创新方法及其在生物中心社会中的应用吗 ?

 

生物仿生是一种工具,当我们必须做出道德选择,必须找到智慧、优雅、可持续的技术解决方案的时候,我们就可以做正确的生物中心的事情。20世纪70年代,由保罗·沃森和卡尔·萨根等科学家所开发的3个核心原则指导了生物中心社会:生物多样性、相互依存和有限资源。这些原则概括了大自然是如何运作的,以及Janine Benyus的生物仿生概念的基础。

 

 

That’s a very holistic project; can you give us concrete examples of direct implications & impacts it will have on the people and the nature surrounding the floating village?

 

The most direct impact will be the drinkable water quality 30 Million people are suppose to depend on. Since 2007 first major algae bloom, drinking water directly from the lake would be deadly. If the Biocentric Society village is allowed to be established and expand significantly nearby the city of Wuxi or Suzhou, we could realistically clean-up 1% of the lake surface, within 2 years. 1% seems very small, but if this 1% or 225 hectares of water surface are visibly limpid from the shores near by these economically important cities, you can easily imagine the positive financial impact it could have on local real estate, touristic industry and lotus root productions. Most importantly for us, we would be able to stem out the dwindling biodiversity and by involving the surrounding population, families coming over the weekend to build floating islands capable to support life and filter the waters, we would inspire a generation of Chinese urbanites to respect nature and better understand that water is a finite resources worth caring about, not a commodity as it is perceived right now.

 

 

这是一个非常全面的项目;你能给我们具体的例子来说明它对人们和漂浮村庄周围的人的影响吗?

 

最直接的影响将是3000万的人都应该可以依靠的饮用水的质量。自2007年第一次主要的海藻爆发以来,直接饮用湖水将是致命的。如果允许在无锡或苏州附近的生物中心村落建立和扩展,我们可以在2年内实际清理湖面的1%。这1%看起来非常小,但如果这1%225公顷的清澈水面明显地可以从这些经济上重要的城市附近的海岸看到,你可以很容易地想象到它对当地房地产、旅游产业和莲藕产品的积极的经济影响。对我们而言最重要的是,我们能够阻止生物多样性减少。如果使周围的人口,家庭周末来帮助建立能够支持生命和过滤水的浮动岛屿,我们会激励一代中国城市居民尊重自然,并更好地理解水是一个值得关心的有限资源,不像现在被认为一种商品

 

 

 

What’s your personal background and what led you to start a project addressing such a big challenge as redesigning human mindset and its relationship with its habitat and other forms of life?

 

The “biocentric outlook” has profoundly changed how I live, how I work, how I read world’s events and how, me, my family and friends are planning to spend the rest of our lives. It did not take a dramatic crisis in my life, but I definitely felt reaching a tipping point when scientific facts, put together, did not match with any mainstream narratives, any ideologies, philosophies or religions I have ever heard or learned about. My slow realization is akin to discern the shores of an island in the haze, to emerge as a continent of concepts and ideas I am now exploring.

 

My personal background, brand designer, or finding efficient ways to sell more things at more expensive price points, seems very much the opposite to biocentric principles… and it is. But my position allows me to be in direct discussions with leaders of industries and brand owners. While my impact is very limited, I found myself able, more than once, to change the course of a company’s behavior onto a more sustainable path.

 

Many times I found out that it was the deep desire of some leaders, but they could not articulate it properly to their shareholders or were bounded by stupid protocols and conventions. When you properly show them the escape route… they take it. Now, this project seems super ambitious, super difficult to achieve and it is, but I don’t see my role in it as the one who will make it happen. Other people, with expertise, with connections, with wealth, will make it happen.

 

My role, here, is to sell an idea. I am pitching a project I truly believe in. It is my way of using my skills and expertise to generate what I hope to be maximum impact possible from my stand point.

 

 

你的个人背景是什么?是什么让你开始着手一个项目来解决如此大的挑战,比如颠覆人类的思维方式以及它与栖息地和其他形式的生活的关系?

 

“生物中心的观点”根生蒂固地改变了我的生活方式,我的工作方式,以及我如何看待世界上的事件,以及我,我的家人和朋友们计划如何度过我们的余生。在我的生活中,这并没有发生什么戏剧性的危机,但当科学事实被放在一起时,我确实感到到了一个转折点,它与任何我所听到或了解到的主流叙事、任何意识形态、哲学或宗教都不相符。我缓慢的领悟,就像在薄雾中分辨一个岛屿的海岸,成为我现在正在探索的概念和思想的大陆。我的个人背景是品牌设计师,或者说寻找有效的方法来销售以更贵的价格更多的东西,似乎与生物中心背道而驰……确实是这样。但我的立场让我可以直接与行业领袖和品牌所有者进行讨论。虽然我的影响力是有限的,但我发现自己不止一次能够改变公司的发展方向,走向一条更可持续的道路。很多时候,我发现这是一些领导者的强烈愿望,但他们不能正确地表达给股东,或者被愚蠢的协议和惯例束缚。当你正确地给他们退路……他们就会采用它。现在,这个项目看起来雄心勃勃,很难实现,但我不认为我在其中扮演的角色会让它发生。其他人,有专业知识,有人脉,有财富,就会成功。我在这里的角色是推销一个想法。我正在推销一个我真正相信的项目。我的方法是利用我的技能和专业知识,从我的立场出发,创造出我希望最大的影响。

 

 

Can we find similar projects in other places of the world?

 

The Eden Project in UK and Biosphere 2 in the US are probably the closest to what we are trying to do technically. Ethically: Auroville in India, Earthship Biotecture in New Mexico and Telaithrion in Greece. I would add the Green School in Bali.

 

我们能在世界其他地方找到类似的项目吗?

 

英国的伊甸园计划和美国的生物圈二号可能是我们在技术上最接近的项目。从伦理上讲:在印度的Auroville,新墨西哥的Earthship Biotecture和希腊的Telaithrion。还有巴厘的Green School.

 

 

It’s a project that requires lots of specific expertise. Are you surrounded by professionals, from different backgrounds, helping you get the project off the ground?

 

I wish we were “surrounded” but it’s not the case. We have, however, several individuals, whoms have already brought invaluable expertise. Most notably a guy from Biosphere 2. But we also have several “volunteers”, mostly ladies, I have to say, helping in many ways that are very difficult to repay. If there is one thing positive that this adventure has brought up, is the connection with people I probably would have never met or never talk to otherwise. When money or financial returns are out of the equation, you end-up with vastly different quality of relationships and a sense of fulfillment that make you regret to haven’t started earlier.

 

这个项目需要很多专业知识。是否因为你身边是来自不同背景的不同专业人士,这能帮助你推进项目落实?

 

我希望我们被“包围”,但事实并非如此。然而,我们有几个人已经带来了宝贵的专业知识。最著名的是生物圈二号的一个家伙。但是我们也有几个“志愿者”, 大多数是女士。 我不得不说,她们在很多方面极困难的地方帮助了我们,不知如何报答。如果有一件事是积极的,那就是这次冒险所带来的是与我可能从未见过或从未交谈过的人的联系。当金钱或财务回报超出你的想象时,你就会拥有截然不同的人际关系和成就感,这让你后悔没有早点开始。

 

 

It also probably requires enormous funding. Do you already have a plan to find initial funding and a business model to make it financially viable on a long-term basis?  

 

Funding size is very relative. If I was framing this project as a school, which is my hope to materialize at some point, 60 Million RMB is a very small cost compared to conventional projects. And we planned the execution for 6 years. That’s 10 Million a year. Biocentric Society is registered as a conventional commercial company, but we operate like an NGO. If there is a “business model”, Sea Shepherd, founded by Paul Watson, is the model. They rely on volunteers, wealthy/famous donors and syndication money from a very successful TV show, Whale War. It took them 40 years to get there. And I am fine with that. Not sure I have 40 years and we do have a timeline to measure our progress, but we do not set deadlines… we are playing the long game.

 

你也许需要大量资金来创立公司。你是否已经有了一个计划来寻找最初的投资资金和商业模式,使其在财务上长期可行?

 

投资规模是非常相对的。如果我把这个项目作为一所学校,这是我希望在未来某时能实现的,与传统项目相比,6000万人民币是一个非常小的成本。我们计划执行6年,每年一千万。“生物中心社会”作为一个传统的商业公司注册,但我们的运作方式就像一个非政府组织。如果有一个“商业模式”,由Paul Watson创立的Sea Shepherd就是这个模型。他们依靠的是志愿者、富有的或是著名的捐赠者以及一个非常成功的电视节目“鲸鱼之战(Whale War)”的银团资金。他们花了40年才得以成功。我对此很满意。我不确定我有40年可以消耗,也不确定我们确实有一个时间表来衡量我们的进步,但我们不设置最后期限……我们是在放长线钓大鱼。

 

 

What is the biggest challenge that you are facing when developing this project?

 

The main issue right now is high level access and local government relations. We have secured some significant key supports in the private sectors, but in China, nothing is possible without governmental support. If anyone reading this has an idea or a connection with the city of Wuxi… I have a pitch ready and fundings are not that far behind us.

 

在开发这个项目时,你面临的最大挑战是什么?

 

目前的主要问题是与高层的接触和与地方政府关系。我们在私营部门获得了一些重要的支持,但在中国,没有政府的支持是不可能的。如果读到这里,读者中有人在无锡这个城市有什么这方面的合作接触或关系……报告展示已经准备好了,经费也不会落后太多。    

 

 

 

 At this moment, what is the reason you have to feel optimistic?

 

I am very confident we will achieve some of the things we have planned, but I am not optimistic for the planet overwhelmed by human greed and stupidity. This dread is my drive. I wish a bright future on the horizon was pulling me. In some way I envy the naïvety of the 50-60’s modernists. But it was the fear of the soviets that made the US send a man to the moon.

 

此时此刻,你为什么要感到乐观?

 

我很有信心实现我们计划的一些事情,但我对这个被人类的贪婪和愚蠢淹没的星球并不乐观。这种恐惧是我的动力。我对地球有一个光明的未来的希望是我前进的力量。在某种程度上,我羡慕50-60年代的现代人的天真。但正是由于对苏联的恐惧,美国才把一个人送上了月球。

 

 

How can people get involved or help you if they are interested to contribute?

 

Anyone can contribute, if one understand what biocentrism means. Contact us, talk to us, or introduce us to people who may be able to help.

 

如果人们有兴趣做一些贡献,他们怎么能参与或者帮助你呢?

 

任何人都可以做出贡献。如果你了解生物中心主义意味着什么,联系我们,和我们交流,介绍给我们你认识的、或许对我们有帮助的人。

 

 

Which person or which project has been or is a great source of inspiration in your job or in your life?

 

Parley for the Ocean. Its founder, Cyrill Gutsch has a similar background as mine. He also got inspired by Paul Watson. He is already making a significant impact both in terms of conservation and communication, which are exactly our aims in a slightly different way and different context.

 

在你的工作或生活中,哪个人或哪个项目是灵感的重要来源?

 

谈判的海洋(Parley for the Ocean)。它的创始人,Cyrill Gutsch有着和我相似的背景。他也受到了保罗·沃森的启发。他已经在保护和沟通方面产生了巨大的影响。这正是我们的目标,除了一些稍微不同的方式和不同的背景。

 

Gregory Moulinet and his wife and co-founder Grace Min Zhou

 

info@biocentricsociety.org for more info

 www.biocentricsociety.org (their website is temporarly not available)

 

Chinese Version: Wei Yichen

 

 

 

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