A Field Guide to the New Nature Movement
Applying the Nature Principle to Your Life and the Lives of Others
Resources and Ideas for Creating a Restorative Home & Garden
- The Therapeutic Landscapes Network. Links the international community of gardeners, academics, designers, health and human services providers. "Our primary emphasis is on evidence-based design in healthcare settings."
- North American Native Plant Society. Launched in 1984 in Canada and now serving the continent, NANPS is a volunteer-operated charitable organization concerned with preserving native plant habitat in wild areas and restoring indigenous flora to developed areas.
- Audubon at Home. A program to convert yards and other urban and suburban properties to encourage wildlife and native species.
- The Pollinator Partnership. This nonprofit collaborates with scientists, researchers, government officials and others to "support the health of pollinating animals and the plants and habitat they support." This includes the food we eat and flowers we enjoy.
- The Community Wildlife Habitats program, National Wildlife Federation. Shows how to safely encourage wildlife in public and private spaces.
- Total Habitat is one of many firms that create chlorine-free "natural swimming ponds." A sampling of others: Whole Water Systems, LLC, based in Idaho; Spring Creek Aquatic Concepts; or Clear Water Revival, a British firm.
- Nedlaw Living Walls is a Canadian company that produces indoor "living walls" of ficus, hibiscus, orchids, and other plants. A sampling of others in the vertical garden business includes: ELT, Plant Wall Design, and Green Fortune. Other sources are listed in New York Times' May 5, 2010 article.
- The Building Materials Reuse Association (BMRA). Their Web site includes a searchable directory for places across the U.S. that sell re-purposed building materials, or salvage unwanted building materials from your home or business. A Web search for "salvaged building materials" in your area should reveal a number of sources.
- Help create a Neighborhood Butterfly Zone or Homegrown National Park: Create a neighborhood butterfly zone by giving seeds or starts of butterfly-attracting plants to your neighbors during the holidays. That's one way to build what Doug Tallamy, chair of the Department of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology at the University of Delaware, suggests: a "Homegrown National Park" made up of tens of thousands of miles of semi-contiguous back yards that would serve as a new kind of wildlife corridor.
- The Living Building Challenge: a new standard for new buildings, incorporating biophilic design.
Creating a Natural Health Care System for Your Family and Community
- International Community for Ecopsychology (ICE) serves as a link for those interested in this topic. The organization's journal, Gatherings, is a good starting point.
- The National Environmental Health Association is the leading U.S. organization focused on "providing a healthful environment for all," and serves as a forum for discussion of environmental health issues worldwide.
- National Environmental Education Foundation, provides a forum for environmental educators. "Our strategy is to reach the public through a powerful network of trusted professionals who can help Americans make everyday choices for a healthy life and healthy environment."
- Prescription Trails program [PDF] was launched in Santa Fe, New Mexico, in an effort to fight the high rate of diabetes there, and is partially funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
- The U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Services has a how-and-why Web site devoted to science-based Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans.
- BTCV Green Gyms sponsor environmental conservation volunteering throughout the UK and around the world. Participants boost their physical strength and stamina as they tackle useful outdoor projects under the guidance of experienced leaders.
- Casting for Recovery, founded in 1966, is a nonprofit that teaches fly-casting to breast-cancer survivors. Among the goals: physical and emotional benefits, with a focus on wellness and empowerment, while enjoying beautiful surroundings and the healing force of nature.
Be a Citizen Naturalist
- Volunteer at a wildlife rehabilitation center or other wildlife care facility. Help restore habitat and monitor endangered species under the guidance of natural history museums, state and national parks, and wildlife protection groups.
- Join a Master Naturalist or Wild Ones chapter in your state or region.
- The Cornell Lab of Ornithology offers the Celebrate Urban Birds program in English and Spanish, focusing on species often found in urban neighborhoods. Participate in the Great Backyard Bird Count or Project FeederWatch. You can post bird sightings onto satellite maps and track bird populations in your own neighborhoods .
- Promote native species. Many communities now have local plant nurseries that specialize in native species. All nurseries, including chains such as Home Depot, could do the same, and also distribute information, either through tags on the plants, or material at the checkout stand, that promotes bioregional species and identity, outdoor play for kids and families, and ideas for designing, planting, and growing wild places.
- Follow Aldo Leopold's example and put your money where your ideals are: buy a piece of worn-out agricultural or industrial land, preferably in a wildlife corridor, remove invasive junk and species, plant native species, encourage native wildlife. Love it to life.
- Be a plant salvager. The Native Plant Salvage Program, run by the King County Department of Water, in Washington, has "saved tens of thousands of plants in the path of commercial and residential development" by enlisting hundreds of volunteers, many of them graduates of nature-scaping classes that encourage the use of native plants. Additional information: The Tucson Succulent Society, the King County Native Plant Salvage Program, or the Wild Ones. See also "Last Ditch Efforts" in Audobon magazine.
- Overcome sky blindness. Good resources include: For Spacious Skies, a sky-awareness program; Dark Sky Initiative preserves and protects the nighttime environment; Cloud Appreciation Society, aims to foster understanding and appreciation of clouds.
- Bay Area Ant Survey recruits citizen naturalists to help document more than a hundred distinct types of ant species in the eleven-county Bay Area. Does this give you ideas?
- Hooked on Nature offers educational materials and workshops to help connect children to the natural world.
- Center for Humans and Nature endeavors, through words and film, to expand public conversation regarding cultural values and the natural world.
Know Who You Are by Knowing Where You Are
- Exploring a Sense of Place provides the means by which people anywhere on Earth can reconnect to the natural world where they live. ESP began in 2001, inspired by Wendell Berry's observation, "You can't know who you are until you know where you are." ESP helps people know where they are through its leadership training and local courses in several bioregions. ESP publishes the Exploring a Sense of Place guidebook.
- Close to Home, a San Francisco Bay Area effort, organizes yearlong monthly talks and field trips. The organizers of Close to Home explain their purpose by quoting the great nature photographer Galen Rowell, who confessed in his book, "Bay Area Wild": "Though I had spent decades celebrating the grand design of natural areas around the world in words and photographs, I had looked right past the extraordinarily rich and varied wild hills, valleys, delta, bay, ocean, islands and mountains in my own backyard."
- Inner City Outings, a Sierra Club-sponsored volunteer program, organizes people in inner-city neighborhoods; on their first outing, young people, with backpacks, take a five-mile hike in their own neighborhood in order to identify patches of nearby nature--parks, back alleys, community gardens, vacant lots.
- Springwatch invites viewers and listeners to help map climate changes in the British Isles.
- NatureFind, one of the best resources for finding natural history museums, parks, national forests, and other nature areas in your own ZIP code.
- Planet Drum Foundation, sponsors publications, speakers, and workshops to help start new bioregional groups and encourages local organizations and individuals to find ways to live within the natural confines of bioregions.
Creating Restorative Neighborhoods and Cities
- Biophilic Cities Project. "The Biophilic Cities Project is an international research initiative organized by Professor Tim Beatley at the University of Virginia's School of Architecture. Its principal aim is to advance the theory and practice of planning for biophilic cities, through a combination of collaborative research, dialogue and exchange, and teaching."
- Visit or learn about a nature-based neighborhood or restorative suburb, including Serenbe, outside Atlanta, Ga., Village Homes, near Sacramento, Earthson Eco-Neighborhood, Auckland, New Zealand , or The Village, in Cloughjordan, Ireland. More information.
- Engage and challenge major planning organizations and government agencies, including Urban and Community Forestry, American Planning Association, the main professional organization of urban/city planners in the U.S. . The American Society of Landscape Architects is a powerful group that could have an enormous impact on the natural future of cities.
- The Natural Learning Initiative works to naturalize early childhood neighborhood play and learning environments, as part of the Institute of Medicine Task Force policy strategy on preventing childhood obesity.
- Green Roofs for Healthy Cities.
- National Recreation and Park Association, the leading advocacy organization dedicated to the advancement of public parks and recreation opportunities.
- Urban Greenspaces Institute promotes urban greenspace efforts nationally and internationally; the Urban Resources Initiative through the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, has a number of programs and partnerships.
- The Sacramento Tree Foundation, aims to grow healthy, livable communities in the Sacramento region by empowering people to plant, protect, and learn about trees.
- Neighbourwoods, headquartered in British Columbia, trains homeowners to identify, plant, and care for trees in their neighborhoods and on their own properties.
- Learn about and replicate major wildlife corridors and greenway parks, such as Catawba Lands Conservancy—Carolina Thread Trail, a regional network of greenways and trails that will reach 15 counties and 2.3 million citizens.
- Intertwine Alliance, a broad coalition of strong and independent organizations, works to preserve land, water and habitat in the Portland/Vancouver Metropolitan Region and to create opportunities for residents to connect with nature.
- Walkable and Livable Communities Institute, works to create healthy, connected communities that support active living and that advance opportunities for all.
- Center for Whole Communities aims to create a more just, balanced and healthy world by exploring, honoring, and deepening the connections among land, people and community.
- Trust for Public Land, conserves land for people to enjoy as parks, gardens and other natural places, ensuring livable communities for generations to come.
- Noise Pollution Clearinghouse, reducing noise pollution and increasing natural quiet.
- Sustainable South Bronx, works for green spaces to improve the quality of air in urban communities.
- Majora Carter Group LLC. Based on research in the South Bronx and other findings from cities and universities worldwide, MCG offers pioneering solutions to concentrated environmental problems.
- The Citistates Group, a journalist team focuses on metropolitan regions and how they position themselves to cope with the demanding economic, environmental, social challenges of the 21st century.
- Memorial Ecosystems, Inc., a leader in "conservation burial." In South Carolina's Ramsey Creek preserve in 1998, the company opened the first "green cemetery" in the United States to "harness the funeral industry for land protection and restoration." The company "aspires to protect, restore and permanently endow one million acres of wild-lands over the coming decades" with "the cooperation and assistance of non-profit organizations."
Urban Agriculture and the New Agrarians
- The Quivira Coaltion: The mission of the Quivira Coalition is to build resilience by fostering ecological, economic and social health on western landscapes through education, collaboration, and progressive public and private land stewardship.
- Oregon's Portland, Gresham, Lake Oswego and Milwaukie areas. Since March of 2006, Your Backyard Farmer—an innovative approach to community supported agriculture through urban backyard farming. "We create small sustainable organic method farms at your backdoor and provide fresh, in-season produce from your farm to your backdoor."
- Appalachian Sustainable Development, a non-profit working in southwest Virginia and northeast Tennessee to educate communities and connect farmers, forest landowners, and those who make food and forest products with markets and other resources in the region.
- Woodland Trust, the UK's leading woodland conservation charity.
- Farm Stay U.S. connects guests with farm and ranch stays throughout the United States, providing opportunities to connect with all a rural life has to offer.
- National Young Farmer Coalition is a farmer-led partnership focused on policy change, community, online sharing of ideas and resources, includes links to intriguing farmhack projects.
- The Greenhorns: This non-profit organization is a resource-rich gathering place for young farmers across the U.S. who are hungry for new ideas, yet respect tradition--especially pride in work.
Natural Teachers and Restorative Schools
- Join the Natural Teachers Network. As a member of this network, you will join other teachers and members of the Children & Nature Network, with access to regularly updated research, tools, activities and resources.
- Learn more about research connecting nature to education; download the C&NN report, Children's Contact With the Outdoors and Nature: A Focus on Educators and Educational Settings. [PDF]
- Green Teacher magazine, available in English, Spanish, and French, and the Learning with Nature Idea Book, published by the Arbor Day Foundation.
- The Nature-Deficit Disorder survey, for students and teachers. Created by Dave Wood, an eighth-grade teacher at Sidwell Friends School in Washington, D.C., for his students and for National Environmental Education Week.
- Professional resource programs, among them Project Learning Tree and Project WILD, tie nature-oriented concepts to all major school subjects, requirements, and skill areas. The National Environmental Education and Training Foundation's Classroom Earth maintains a directory of environmental education programs and resources for K-12 teachers, parents, and students.
- National Wildlife Refuge offers teacher training and other educational opportunities.
- Start your own nature club for teachers. Robert Bateman, the celebrated Canadian wildlife artist who is deeply committed to connecting people to nature, suggests that, through such clubs, teachers who are experienced in nature could organize half-day hikes each month with other teachers.
- Other excellent resources for schools that want to get their students outside include the National Audubon Society. To green your schoolyard, look at programs such as Evergreen in Canada, and National Wildlife Federation's Schoolyard Habitats. Check out the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Schoolyard Habitat Project Guide. Use the gained wisdom of programs such as Eco-Schools in Europe.
- Green Ribbon Schools: "Green Ribbon Schools GRS is an award program that recognizes schools participating in activities that promote and encourage a healthy and environmentally friendly learning environment. These activities must fall under the 4 Cornerstones of a Green Ribbon School Eco-Campus, Health & Fitness, Nature Adventure, Natural Classrooms. By participating in these activities a school is providing a healthier, happier and smarter campus for students, teachers and the community."
- National Wildlife Federation Eco-School: Pathways to help schools become an Eco-School.
- Consider initiating or supporting nature-based public, charter, or independent K-12 schools that place community and direct experience in nature at the center of the curriculum. Resources include Antioch's Center for Place-based Education.
Strengthen Family and Community Bonding Through Nature
- Join the Natural Families Network and download the Nature Clubs for Families tool kit, in English or Spanish, which provides inspiration, information, tips and resources for those who are--or who might be--interested in creating a Nature Club for Families, through which multiple families join together to get outside. Individual clubs range from two families to over 600 families.
- This tool kit [PDF] offers a host of family-friendly, age-appropriate suggestions for things to do outdoors in nature to nurture parent-child relationships and support healthy child development.
- Sierra Club's Military Family Outdoor Initiative, provides returning veterans and their families with healing outdoor experiences.
- Nature Rocks, a Web site where parents and teachers can locate nature opportunities in their own ZIP codes, and download a free guide to creating Family Nature Staycations.
- Become a regional leader in the movement to connect children, adults and nature. Regional strategies include: public awareness campaigns and community events; legislation and policy changes; public education and advocacy. Also, download the C&NN Community Action Guide [PDF]
- Become a Young "Natural Leader" of the New Nature Movement
- For families with someone who is disabled, more resources are needed, but one good partial list is provided by Environmental Travel Companions.
- Help organize regional campaigns, or volunteer at nature centers or with such programs as the Sierra Club's Building Bridges to the Outdoors and Inner City Outings, the Student Conservation Association, Outward Bound, and the Service and Conservation Corps. Others who have youth engagement programs are the National Wildlife Federation, Audubon Society, and Nature Conservancy. Faith-based summer camps also offer opportunities for youth.
The Nature Principle in Business
- Biomimicry Institute, promotes learning from and then emulating natural forms, processes, and ecosystems to create more sustainable and healthier human technologies and designs.
- The Natural Capital Project is developing InVEST, "a family of software-based tools for Integrated Valuation of Ecosystem Services and Tradeoffs." The goal: to enable decision-makers to quantify the economic worth of natural capital, assess tradeoffs and to integrate conservation and human development. The partnership includes Stanford University's Woods Institute for the Environment, and the University of Minnesota's Institute on the Environment, among others.
- Green for All, a national organization works to build a green economy strong enough to lift people out of poverty.
- Living with Urban Wildlife. The Portland, Ore./Vancouver, Wash. Metropolitan Region is home to diverse wildlife populations, including more the 200 species of birds. This is a model site for learning about local animals and how you can help wildlife, as well as reduce wildlife hazards and conflicts in your backyard and neighborhood.
- Safety tips in the outdoors, including information on ticks: Centers for Disease Control Web site. A site specific to ticks.
- Information on sun safety: http://www.cdc.gov/cancer/skin/basic_info/children.htm
For a full bibliography of books and papers on creating a new relationship with nature, as well as more extensive lists of resources, see The Nature Principle and Last Child in the Woods printed books.
This list originally posted April 2012, with links viable as of this date.
Safety Note: At any time, when children are outside on their own, or with families and friends, everyone - children and adults - should take safety precautions and be mindful of risks. The author is not responsible for the activities and safeguards associated with Web sites and events scheduled to reconnect with nature.