Innovate Successfully With UrbaNatural Thinking

Updated: Nov 4, 2021

A higher and broader truth provides a template for innovation in multiple areas

By Lynn Hinderaker, innovation expert and business visionary

When I co-created the first Value Menu for Taco Bell in 1987-90, the marketplace winds were shifting. The Yuppie 'status-trend' had peaked and the pendulum was swinging the other direction toward Value. By 1991 everyone had figured out that we were experiencing a 'postmodern' trend, the 'Value Revolution.'

Today we have another revolution - a macro-trend driven by what the late Ebenezer Howard said in 1928: "Until we bring town and country together, we cannot reach our potential." UrbaNaturalism™ is a combination word that helps us look at the world in two ways, simultaneously. This word - UrbaNatural™ - blends the dynamic perspective of a city dweller with the organic, natural perspective of a rural citizen.

It reminds us of the Zen saying, "True wisdom only emerges when you hold two opposing ideas in your mind at the same time."

UrbaNaturalism defines America today. President Joe Biden should be using it to explain America's true identity. 'UrbaNatural' symbolizes a higher and broader truth - socially and economically. The word itself moves us toward innovation, unity and greater sensitivity to Mother Earth. It helps us understand how one-plus-one-can equal three.

UrbaNaturalism is an architectural style that places building materials that are opposites (organic next to synthetic) next to each other on the outside of a building. Primal wood next to steel, glass or acrylic. This high contrast visual imagery has been proven to stimulate the release of dopamine into the brain via the visual cortex. Result? Homes, offices and retail spaces that evoke positive emotion! Good vibes!

What could more 'good vibes' do for your community or company? It's like 'law of attraction' on steroids.

UrbaNaturalism is a powerful grassroots movement that is addressing with conviction and creativity many of the challenges confronting economic developers, planners, chamber officials, architects and business owners.

UrbaNaturalism offers tools for rewriting the development assumptions we’ve inherited and the stories we’ve been born into. We now see that 'same as the rest' cannot serve innovation as well as diversity and otherness, whether it refers to people or buildings.

UrbaNatural thinking fosters the creative process because of the struggle between two opposite brain functions - right brain is the natural part, left brain is the urban part.

Urban thinking on the left, natural, holistic thinking on the right.

UrbaNaturalism is about the power of contrast. This principle (which can describe people, places and things) also extends into psychology. For instance, until one has felt deep sadness, it is difficult to know brilliant joy.

Because it is really about opposites, UrbaNatural thinking pushes us out of our comfort zone. For instance, consider the question: "Could harmony exist if there wasn’t disharmony?" This level of thought is why UrbaNatural design commanded the attention of scholars and students at the New York School of Design for an entire week.

A final thought: Every time there is economic turbulence or a change in human thinking (such as the pandemic and economic downturn), there is an accompanying tension of uncertainty - a tension that gets its energy by vacillating between aggressive conquest (focusing on opportunities outside of us) and redefining our identity (looking inside). We find our way by balancing the tension between our longing for victory and accolades – (the “urban” part of us) and transcending life’s conditions and finding our deepest identity within the earth community that sustains us (the “natural” part of us).

Author Lynn Hinderaker and his Growth Dynamix Consulting team provide keynotes and workshops to community leaders, academic institutions and business trade groups.


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