April’s Earthy spirit began for me on the sunny afternoon of April 5th when my friend and I drove to Newtown, CT, to hear Richard Louv speak alongside a panel of CT outdoor educators who work with children. Louv, a journalist and author, originated the concept of ‘nature deficit disorder’ in his book, Last Child in the Woods (2005) and extended the concept in The Nature Principle (2012).I had not been to Newtown in recent years; my friend had lived in Newtown for a couple decades. In driving me by her former home, we passed a small side road that wound through a stand of trees back to a school, an otherwise nondescript small town road noticeable in the row of orange cones declaring it closed with no indication of re-opening.In listening to Richard Louv speak in the historic town assembly room in Newtown, CT, I found myself awash in memories of my own childhood filled with outdoor play and adventure. I believed him that day—and always will: we humans need nature, however we define it, and our need for nature is part of our dignity as human beings, that somehow violence is one of the human responses to nature deficit. I am inspired by Louv’s reflections on ways nature in our lives can reduce the violence in our world.
And the Birds…The pain arising from the Newtown trip was underscored a week later when The Hartford Courant ran a piece about dwindling populations of Connecticut birds written by Milan Bull, senior director of science and conservation at the Connecticut Audubon Society. You likely have a similar story in your part of the country. Here’s hoping you may also be witnessing successes, such as CT shoreline platforms that support nesting osprey!However any of us thinks about the natural world and finds ways to enjoy the bounty and beauty of Earth, we are more who we want to be as people when we appreciate and revere the ground, the flow, the spark, the breath of our being. Our nature deficit is costly in too many ways. And Getting a healthy dose of Vitamin N is never more alluring than in spring!
Here is hoping you find one or more treasures below to inspire you at home, on the trail, with the grandkids, and on your own:
Jack Carman, through his Design for Generations business, is a leader in demonstrating how natural areas contribute substantially to the health and well-being of humans at all ages—and how accessible natural areas can be even in congested areas. His latest newsletter will inspire you to put a spring in your step as you “Take a walk in nature – and feel better!”
For the kids, grandkids, and other young ones in your life, E Magazine suggests you take them on forays to the garden and soak up doses of delight in the wondrous world of flowers and bugs popping out at just the right level for young eyes. Whether you wander in the backyard, to the pocket park or to the community garden, this time of year is easy on the eyes of all ages. Check out Dawn Publications for resources to help create a ‘buzz’ with the youngsters.
Wherever you wander in the springtime, you might find yourself crossing, hopping or stone-stepping over one or more of the small spring streams that are a highlight of the season. Read about our federal EPA’s work focused on the welfare of those streams and add to your appreciation of the bounty you encounter in your springtime meandering.
Back home again, if you tend a garden area around your house, neighborhood, or community, consider alternatives to lawn with all the benefits. As you expand your view with habitat areas, rain gardens, herbs, flowers and vegetables, a smaller patch of lawn can still accommodate a space for outdoor play. Finally, we hope you enjoy a Gray Is Green exclusive essay on The Gaia Theory by guest columnist Martin Ogle.
Those who dwell among the beauties and mysteries of Earth are never alone or weary of life. –Rachel Carson
On Apr. 16, 2013, H.R. Moody (Board President, Gray Is Green) gave a presentation on “Environment and Aging” at Mankato State University in Mankato, Minnesota.
On April 18, 2013, Kath Schomaker (Executive Director, Gray Is Green) attended the Promoting Enduring Peace event at which Bill McKibben was recognized with the Gandhi Peace Award in Hamden, CT.
On April 24-26, Kath Schomaker will represent Gray Is Green at Connect4Community, an international networking conference in Cincinnati, OH.
On May 5-7, 2013, H.R. Moody will be participating in a retreat program on “Ecological Health Across the Lifespan” to be held May 7-9 at Commonweal in Bolinas, CA. The retreat will develop strategies on how to integrate environmental health science into the policy and program work of organizations including those focusing on aging, smart growth, the built environment, health programs and research, specific diseases, the creative arts and others.