I was explaining the meaning of Build It Forward to somebody and they pointed out that the Native American Indians have a similar theory. Theirs is the understanding that our actions today will impact future generations, seven generations to be exact.
I did some research and could not find any reference to this. The best I found was the natural products company called “Seventh Generation.” I always liked their products and was intrigued.
So when their General Manager for Digital Strategy, Robin Kamen, contacted me to do some web work for them (I used to produce web sites and my name is still floating around) I immediately asked him (or her?) about the meaning of their company name.
The name comes from the Iroquois– “In our every deliberation, we must consider the impact of our decisions on the next seven generations.” from the Great Law of the Iroquois Confederacy.
I deeply respect any company that names themselves after such an ideal. To buy their products it to buy into that ideal and that is something I can believe in.
Build It Forward is very similar to that. Even though I coined the term Build It Forward (and copyrighted it) I have no illusions that the concept is universal.
Build it Forward applies it to the building process so it is a little more focused. Builders who build it forward are carrying on a conversation with past and future generations. Often nobody else even hears the conversation.
When we open up a wall that was built a hundred years ago, the builders from a century ago speak to us through what is there. It is like they left us a note by how they built the inside of the wall. Almost always it is a beautiful note, like a gift in the form of good craftsmanship and a respect for the materials, the future inhabitants and even the future builders.
We in turn build on top of what they left us and reseal the wall, like we are wrapping a present for future builders. Nobody will know what we left for them until a hundred years from now when the next builders inherit our gift when they open up the wall again.
This conversation is what connects us to the past and the future. It is what makes a green builder feel part of the world. To think how your actions will effect a builder a hundred years from now is a meaningful and beautiful thing.
That is why, as a green builder in Brooklyn, I love the concept of Build It Forward. The Brownstones are so well built, so rich in craftsmanship and long lasting intelligent building that Building It Forward is a really great experience.
Like going to a party where everyone is giving each other great gifts.