Richard Louv

Recipient of the Audubon Medal

Author of the National Bestseller Last Child in the Woods

From the Blog

THE NEW NATURE MOVEMENT, POST 11/8

Photo: Storm over Anza-Borrego Desert, © R.L.

O

ur story – our shared yearning to reconnect children to the natural world – represents one of the few concerns in America that brings people together across partisan and religious lines.

To change a society, as the philosopher Ivan Illich wrote, “you must tell a more powerful tale, one so persuasive that it sweeps away the old myths and becomes the preferred story, one so inclusive that it gathers all the bits of our past and present into a coherent whole, one that even shines some light into our future so that we can take the next step...”
 
So, today, how do we shine that light? We must continue to support the birthright of all children to a healthy environment and a connection to the natural world, and to teach the responsibilities that come with that right.
 
We can work to reduce climate disruption and the biodiversity collapse by opposing policies that destroy people and the rest of nature, and by making the case that human beings protect what they love and love only what they know. More than ever, building a future generation of conservationists will depend on helping children and adults fall in love with the natural world.
 
We can emphasize the healing powers of the natural world: for mental and physical health; for the capacity to learn and create; and for the reduction of violence. We can promote family nature clubs, and similar approaches, as ways to seek meaning and solace in a difficult and alienating time. We can offer Vitamin N for the soul through places of worship. And we can encourage pediatricians, psychologists and other healthcare professionals to prescribe nature.
 
We can pursue “natural cultural capacity,” illuminating the wealth of ways that different cultures connect to nature. We can reach out to people in the food movement, to community organizing groups in urban and rural neighborhoods, to military families and immigrant organizations.
 
We can create and renew nature-rich cities to serve as incubators of biodiversity and habitats of health. Local institutions, such as libraries, zoos, aquaria, and nature centers, can become centers of bioregional awareness and nature-connection for children and families. We can help build a new generation of nature-based schools, increase the number and quality of natural schoolyards, and redouble our efforts to honor Natural Teachers as individual agents of change. With the support of education and business, we can nurture the development of careers that connect people to nature, new jobs irreplaceable by technology.
 
And as the human species continues to urbanize, we can strengthen our international efforts. We can seek solidarity in a movement that will grow, regardless of national politics. Worldwide, we can tell a new story of a nature-rich future to counter the post-apocalyptic vision of the future so widely accepted even before 11/8.
 
Here is what we cannot do: heal every hurt or prevent every tragedy. But surely, in the words of the poet Aeschylus, we can do what we can, in the limited lifetime we have, to “tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of this world.”
 
Politics can destroy the story, or our story can transcend politics.
_______________________
 
Richard Louv is co-founder and chairman emeritus of the Children & Nature Network. His books include VITAMIN N, THE NATURE PRINCIPLE, and LAST CHILD IN THE WOODS. Follow him on Facebook and @RichLouv on Twitter.
 
This essay was first published by the Children & Nature Network.
 
 

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Comments

Great essays and I agree it’s imperative that we start getting more involved.
I’ve been working on a facebook page called time to act https://www.facebook.com/towardsrenewal/?fref=ts
that has some suggestion for action, the latest being starting a community garden.
Also working on a book of gardening through nature connection and still working on getting Dancing With Thoreau out there.
Thanks Richard! Peace & Blessings

Transmutation

If it be descending night,
do not go willingly into the gloom.

“Rage, rage, against the dying of the light”
Post-truth believers dim our collective future
saying, “we have had enough of experts”!
Greedy fools pretend they know a better way.

The human sea pushes against its bounds,
closer to midnight than to dawn.
If it be descending night,
do not go willingly into the gloom.

“Rage, rage, against the dying of the light”

Rage full throated - from the belly!
Stoke the creative furnace white hot,
kindle fires of reason against the murk.
Let conscience drive us forward,
transmuting darkness into light.

J. R. Lince-Hopkins
November 16, 2016

Thanks for the insightful article!

One of the questions that has kept me awake at night is…  How do you foster a steward?  Whose responsibility is this anyway?  Perhaps like a reversed telescope, environmental education is being looked at in the wrong way. Instead of dealing with reactions to problems and trying to solve environmental issues as they arise, it may be worthwhile to consider what sort of citizens should populate the Earth. Or, as Simeon Ogonda, a youth development leader from Kenya, asks: “Many of us often wonder what kind of planet we’re leaving behind for our children. But few ask the opposite: what kind of children are we leaving behind for our planet?” Raising environmentally engaged citizens requires more than just a few educators participating in this work. Rather, it is a collective responsibility: each of us has a stake in fostering the stewards of tomorrow.
In Peterborough Ontario, we are working on a stewardship framework for education, anchored in Indigenous ways of knowing that involves an entire community:  parents, grandparents, educators, schools, organizations, community leaders, health professionals, municipal officials and businesses.  It is called “The Pathway to Stewardship.”
We define stewardship as a sense of connection to, caring about and responsibility for each other and the natural world around us.  Stewardship involves personal action to protect and enhance the health and well-being of both natural and human communities.  Fostering stewardship is about providing children with the right tools and experiences at every age to know, love, respect and protect the very life systems that sustain and nurture us all.  We don’t equate stewardship with a sense of entitlement or power or dominion over the earth.  Rather, we see teaching stewardship as the process of encouraging children to become engaged citizens of and for the earth.
The Pathway to Stewardship emerged out of a conversation between a group of community stakeholders in our region including: educators, professors, indigenous leaders, public health officials and conservationists.  The stakeholders wanted to find ways in which multiple sectors from our community could coordinate their efforts in order to foster stewardship throughout all ages and stages of a child’s development.  We began by conducting a broad range of research into environmental education, indigenous teachings, child development and the factors promoting mental and physical health in children.  Using the model of environmental sensitivity research, we also interviewed more than seventy five community leaders who expressed an interest in environmental issues.  We wanted to explore what formative childhood experiences these leaders had while growing up that helped shape their interest in the environment.  By incorporating both the themes that emerged from these interviews along with the results of our meta-research, we felt these findings could provide a solid foundation for a workable stewardship framework for our community.  We’ve consolidated this in a document called the Pathway to Stewardship which you can find at: http://www.campkawartha.ca/pathway-to-stewardship
We’d be delighted to get your input !

Such a great story that more people should take serious. We can’t keep ignoring it forever. Thanks for sharing this with us!

I also think we can work to reduce climate disruption and the biodiversity collapse…
But how the reduce of violence?

HEY RICHARD,

Your posts always inspired me, Its my 4th visit but i am commented for the 1st time.. Thanks for writing, Keep it up !

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