We took a break from nature this week and drove to Denver for Kerry to run her first full marathon (which she did great on and you can read about it on her blog). So I have no new wild playgrounds to report on, but I can plug one of my favorite nature authors. I had heard that Richard Louv was going to be giving a talk at the University of Denver prior to the race as part of a conference on human-animal connections. Officially, attendees were required to register for the conference and pay a $200 fee. We just put on our best college kid appearance and strolled into the lecture hall. Some choose to sneak into movies or concerts, we go for academic conferences.
Louv’s most famous book, Last Child in the Woods, focused on the lack of exposure to nature that the most recent generation of children have had. He calls this state nature deficit disorder. Louv spends most of the book going over stories from people across the country and current research demonstrating nature deficit disorder and its consequences. He links nature deficit disorder with many health problems on the rise in children such as obesity, depression, and ADD. It’s a good book with some pretty compelling arguments that will change the way you think about the role of nature in our lives. I would especially recommend it to anybody that has or is planning to have children. His second book, The Nature Principle, extends his argument to adults and explains the benefits that spending time in nature can have on all of us.
The content of the talk followed his books closely with the addition of some new stories particularly focusing on the impact that experiences with pets and wildlife can have (the theme if the conference). He’s a good speaker and kept the audience engaged. He’s also a great person. Since the success of his book, he has started the Children and Nature network, a charity that works to get more kids outdoors. He spoke of a school in Atlanta, having been directly inspired by his books , that made all of their teachers read Last Child and has completely transformed its program to get students outside as much as possible.
It’s important to realize that even if you don’t have kids or even like them, they are the future of our world. If they have no appreciation for nature, then you can say goodbye to funding for parks and laws that favor conservation. So read Louv’s books, listen to his talks, support his charity, and heed his words.