It’s not every day that you get to meet a personal idol. And it’s definitely not every day that you get to spend two days with them, being regaled by their stories and experiences, studying their characteristics and body language, admiring the massive body of work they’ve created, and even sharing a moment revelling in the natural beauty of a magical chameleon on an apple tree.

So it wasn’t too difficult a decision for me to cancel my slot performing at Rocking the Daisies this year as a “VJ” (someone who projects live visuals onto massive screens in sync with a musical performance).

I had to cancel. Dr. John Todd, from Todd Ecological, was giving a two day workshop at Spier that was, quite literally, the opportunity of a lifetime for me.

Dr. Todd has been actively involved in Ecological Engineering for the past 30 odd years, and in that time has worked on an absolutely incredible amount of projects that have had massive impacts on the environment as well on people’s perceptions of how to deal with environmental challenges.

He is world renowned for his application of nature’s principles in solving human design challenges- most often around the purification of water in innovative ways. Essentially, John’s work (supported by a vertible legion of students, scientists and experts) utilises the properties of earth’s 6 kingdoms in dealing with all sorts of toxins, pathogens, and dangerous chemicals, from endochrine disruptors to hydrocarbon molecules, from heavy metals to nitrified waters.

John is well known for his design of a living technology called the Eco Machine – an ecologically engineered technology developed to restore, conserve, or remediate sewage or other polluted water, by replicating and accelerating the natural purification processes of streams, ponds & marshes. Eco-Machines have the ability to self-organize and self-design, as well as self-repair and can operate for long periods of time. They function primarily on sunlight and can be carbon neutral.

I appreciate the value of John’s work so deeply because it goes against the industrial revolution mentality that has shaped our world today and proves, effectively, economically and robustly, that nature has the power and ability to heal herself. By deeply understanding the way in which our natural world works, we can overcome the pollutants and contaminants that we so liberally disperse as a human species.

John encourages thinking in circles, not straight lines, and has developed systems that are so productive and effective that they eclipse expensive, energy intensive, chemically laden treatments.

Listening to Dr. Todd talk during the Spier workshop was inspirational and motivating. He’s not a young man by any means, but that doesn’t slow him down much. These days he spends 100 days a year touring the world and spreading the messages of the work he has catalysed globally.

His passion is obvious, but refreshingly spiced up with an easy going humour and anything-is-possible approach.
Where I tend to see depressing statistics, overwhelming destruction and a sense of hopelessness, John, who’s been exposed to a lot more of the reality of human destructiveness than me, sees hope, potential and solutions.

Dr. John Todd, and his wife Nancy, will be touring South Africa over the next few weeks as part of an annual intent to host experts in the field of regenerative thinking and action and will bring together members of Government, Institution, Civil Society and the Corporate Realm in an effort to address our pressing water issues. The tour, organised by Biomimicry SA, will hopefully spark conversations of the potential regenerative and restorative ecological engineering technology in South Africa.

Some of the tour details include addressing:
• The WRC symposium in Pretoria, Golder and Associates
• Students from WITS University’s chemical engineering research on the use of Eco Machines for acid mine drainage
• The Western Cape Government’s 110% Green Biomimicry Genius of Place Project, for exploration of solutions to the Berg River
• The National Business Initiative & Endangered Wildlife Trust, exploring biodiversity & business
• Spier: on the practical application of Eco Machines for water treatment and the challenges of the Eerste River
• Cambridge Program for Sustainability Leadership
• Clients of South African Bunker & Trading
• Knysna Municipality on options for water management challenges
• Hilton College
• Members of a biomimicry expedition in the Okavango Delta.

Have a look at one of John Todd’s eco machines below:

Grafton Final Copyright from Kristin Alexander on Vimeo.

For more information on Dr. John Todd’s work visit this website