Richard Louv

Recipient of the Audubon Medal

Author of the International Bestseller Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder

From the Blog

Do You Live in a "Restorative City?"

“Nature is not a place to visit, it is home.” -— Gary Snyder

Afew months ago, at the Minnesota Arboretum, several hundred people from a variety of sectors – tourism, housing development, health care, education, and others – came together for a conference focused in part on the Nature Principle.

I was especially intrigued by the remarks of Mary Jo Kreitzer, a nursing professor at the University of Minnesota and director of the university’s Center for Spirituality and Healing. She said the state should make it a goal to become the healthiest state in the country, and that viewing the future through the prism of the Nature Principle could help Minnesota reach that goal.

Getting a handle on the future isn’t easy for cities, regions and states. Civic future-envisioning groups – with names like “Envision San Diego 2020 “(not a real group) – are one way to do that. These earnest efforts to take the long view sometimes accomplish great achievements. But lately they’re running out of ways to frame the future. After all, only so many regions can become the “new Silicon Valley.”

Traditionally, these envisioning groups focus primarily on economic competition (our Silicon Valley is better than yours). What if they tried something new? And asked a different set of questions?

What would a city or state’s health care system look like, if it maximized the benefits of nearby nature and wilderness to the mental and physical health of a region’s human population? What would that region’s future education system look like? Could an investment in creating more nearby nature reduce obesity, save health care costs and improve student testing? Many of us think so.

What about its residential or commercial developments (and redevelopments)? Could incorporating nature into the planning of revived or new communities dramatically increase the quality of life, not to mention property values?

If more nature were woven into everyday life – if natural watersheds were revived, if community gardens and other forms of urban agriculture (including immigrant agriculture and high-rise farms) were encouraged, what would the economy and spirit of the region be in, say, ten or twenty years?

And if natural open space were protected and new parks created, what would the effect be on human civility and the crime rate? A host of new studies suggests the answer would be profoundly positive. What would our homes and yards look like, feel like, were the Nature Principle applied?

What would be the long-term impact of a region-wide campaign that truly greened businesses and workplaces? We’re not talking here about just saving energy costs, but about creating human energy, through biophilic design, which is linked to higher productivity, lower employee turnover, and more creativity in the workplace. How would all of this, and more, shape the natural capacities of children of this generation and the next?

On so many levels, such an envisioning process would be fundamentally different from the usual way that urban regions and states think about their futures. Tired approaches focus on one-upping the next town over, or other states, or on building an economy at the expense of other regions. But a community that applies the Nature Principle nurtures life itself – which helps every species, including humans, everywhere.

Why not envision that future?


Richard Louv is the author of THE NATURE PRINCIPLE and LAST CHILD IN THE WOODS. He is Chairman Emeritus of the Children and Nature Network. Photos: From the Cincinnati Nature Center and EVA-Lanxmeer in Culemberg, The Netherlands. Added perspective: A column by Neal Peirce on greenscaping cities in Nation’s Cities Weekly

Next post: 21 Ways to Plant a Restorative City

Prev post: Saving the Field of Dreams: Building ‘Natural Cultural Capacity’ to Enrich Our Parks and Cities


We must preserve our natural park and build a much better place for the next generation because it will be one of the most wonderful legacy we can give to them.

In the ancient time, nature is treated as the mother of god. But now a days no body cares about nature. All just want to enjoy with the nature. It shouldn’t be. If we will go like this then in future we may have some serious kind of problems.

I like this post. Thank you for sharing such a nice topic! We should all care the nature as it helps us in so many ways. In todays generation there are a lot of people do not care nature anymore, that is the bad side.

Excellent post.  I would add that the food that is grown is also a significant health factor.

Very nice post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to mention that I’ve really enjoyed browsing your blog posts. I am hoping you write again very soon!Thank you sir for this knowledge.

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