Roanoke Outside. Roanoke Outside.
Roanoke, VA
° F,

Blog Archives                             Weekly Newsletter                                     RSS Feed

New Movement Is About Going to Nature

Elmwood Park Roanoke VirginiaBy Richard Louv,

For many people, thinking about the future conjures images from movies like Blade Runner or Mad Max: a post-apocalyptic dystopia stripped of nature and human kindness. We seem drawn to that flame, but it’s a dangerous fixation.

There are many reasons for the attraction – global threats to the environment, economic hard times, decades of disconnection between children and nature – but there’s a fundamental problem with it. Martin Luther King Jr. taught us that any movement – any culture – will fail if it cannot paint a picture of a world people will want to go to.

Despite undeniable successes, environmentalism is in trouble: Many recent polls describe a public with diminishing regard for environmental concerns. What we need now is a new nature movement, one that includes but goes beyond the good practices of traditional environmentalism and sustainability, and paints a compelling, inspiring portrait of a society better than the one we live in – not just a survivable world, but a nature-rich world in which our children and grandchildren thrive.

This new nature movement, inchoate and self-organizing, is already emerging.

It revives old concepts in health and urban planning. It also adds new ones, based on research showing the power of nearby wilderness and natural areas to improve our psychological and physical health, cognitive functioning and economic and social well-being. Colorado University professor Louise Chawla describes the basis of the movement as “the idea that as humans we can not only make our ecological footprints as light as possible, but we can actually leave places better than when we came to them, making them places of delight.”

Among the movement’s tenets, which I suggested in my book, The Nature Principle, are that the more high-tech our lives become, the more nature we need. Cities must become engines of biodiversity. Natural history is as important as human history to our regional and personal identities. Conservation is no longer enough; now we must “create” nature where we live, work, learn and play. Nor is energy efficiency enough; now we must create human energy – in the form of better physical and psychological health, higher mental acuity and creativity – by making our cities truly green.

This movement isn’t about “going back to nature,” but going forward to nature.

Participants include: traditional conservationists; proponents and producers of alternative energy; physicians who prescribe time in natural areas and green exercise to patients; ecopsychologists and wilderness therapy professionals; park professionals who help families fulfill their “park prescriptions;” public health professionals and urban designers who work to increase the number of natural amenities near where we live.

Other participants are citizen naturalists salvaging threatened natural habitats and creating new ones; community gardeners and urban farmers; organic farmers and “vanguard ranchers” who restore as they harvest; urban wildscapers replacing suburban yards with native species; nature-aware champions of walkable cities and active living; deep green design professionals, including biophilic architects, developers, urban planners and therapeutic landscapers who transform homes, workplaces, suburbs and city neighborhoods – potentially whole cities and their transportation systems – into restorative regions that reconnect us to nature.

You can read more from Richard Louv at Louv is author of “The Nature Principle: Reconnecting with Life in a Virtual Age” and “Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder.” He is chairman emeritus of the Children & Nature Network.

Share | Share on Facebook! Share on Twitter! Share via Email!

Share | Share on Facebook! Share on Twitter! Share via Email!