Janani writing on March 08 2016:
Growing up, we moved around a lot. In my 20 years on this planet, I’ve moved 16 times! The shortest we were in one house was five months. But, there was also a period of four and a half years in one house. I was 8 when we got there and 12 when we left. They were good years. We were living in a house Amma(My mother) had designed. The house was made of stabilised soil blocks, blocks made mostly using recycled construction material so the whole thing was a greyish brown colour. We hadn’t bothered painting it and we called it the chocolate house. Our layout only had 2 other houses in it when we got there. The small plot of land adjacent to us belonged to my aunt and was our farmland.
I have many memories of that place but, foremost are the many hours spent toiling in our garden under the sun or the equal number of hours spent simply lazing with the neighbour’s cat watching the breeze move the leaves this way and that. I didn’t realise then, that I was giving myself a healthy dose of Vitamin N. Something that could actually be hard to find or absorb later on.
It would be hard to find people who say we don’t need nature; that nature is bad. The general opinion is that nature relieves stress and is nice to be in. As long as it doesn’t get too dirty or scary. Is that all it is though? This nice thing that you indulge in every now and then… In small quantities… In comfortably distant ways…
What if we say Nature is a necessary nutrient for health and happiness? Let me explain what I mean.
Laying the groundwork.
Before we join the dots, there are three things we need to be sure we agree on.
One, would you agree with me when I say that as a species, human beings were evolved to be in the wild? It is only in the last few decades that we have lived a life mostly within four walls.
Two, every time we have a sensory input, our brain reacts in a certain way. It produces a signal and/or chemical and it is this series of reactions that keeps us healthy and well, us!
Three, there is absolutely no way that one can provide even a fragment of the number of sensory experiences one has in the wild, indoors. The sensory stimuli that we do have are in excess!
We can draw an easy conclusion from this. If our bodies and minds are lacking in experiential nature time, they are malnutritioned. This simple logic (and there is a lot of research to support it) shows us we need to be outdoors. If you would like to read more about science research on this subject, do visit the Children and Nature Research Library.
I would like to point out one more interesting thought. Imagine a world full of human beings who are healthier and happier. Imagine a world where before parliamentary discussions, members spend five minutes peacefully in a garden. Imagine a world where every child knows they want to live sustainably, not out of fear, but out of a meaningful relationship with Earth. This is what we could do if we enable every child to connect to nature.
As GRIN grew and we learnt more about what Richard Louv terms “Nature Deficit Disorder”, we also learnt about the importance of culture, storytelling, and paying attention to what our local history was with Nature Connection. We realised that play is a powerful catalyst for connection. These lessons permeate our work.
If you want our help starting off something in your area, in your neighbourhood, start small. Take our free online course. It is a three-step intro to connecting anyone to nature. and will work anywhere in the world.
Go here to get in touch with us for more ways to collaborate. See you sometime, under a tree, by the side of the river, or maybe just in spirit, in nature together.