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Can Americans Reconnect With Nature?

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hatrack Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon May-09-05 05:12 PM
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Can Americans Reconnect With Nature?

"For our youth, the formula is spelled out in Richard Louv's "Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder." Historically, Louv notes, kids learned the natural world on farms, in families' gardens, and exploring woods and creeks and ravines, swamps and ponds where they could observe, capture minnows and bugs, collect bird eggs or snake skins or even build elaborate tree houses. There's strong evidence, he reports, that such independent play and exploration builds broad mental, physical and spiritual health.

But today's children, he asserts, are systematically cut off from natural play. "Well-meaning public-school systems, media and parents are effectively scaring children straight out of the woods and fields." The stated reasons seem endless, from Lime's Disease to multiplying park rules to perceived perils of kid-snatching.

With today's superhighways, thick traffic, shopping malls and rigid control by community associations, fewer children get a chance to walk or bike to school. A study of three generations of 9-year-olds found that by 1990, the radius around the home that children were allowed to play had sunk to a ninth of what it had been in 1970. Increasingly, Louv laments, "nature is something to watch, to consume, to wear to ignore." He cites a television ad that depicts an SUV racing along a breathtakingly beautiful mountain stream while two children in the back seat watch a movie on a flip-down video screen, oblivious to the landscape and water beyond the windows.

The irony is that much of parents' hyperawareness of dangers, and all the new restrictive rules, may make children less able to cope with their world. Natural play awakens children's self-confidence and critical skill to judge and cope with perils on their own."

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Name removed Donating Member (0 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon May-09-05 05:13 PM
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InvisibleTouch Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon May-09-05 05:15 PM
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2. I've long been of the mind...
...that part of the soul is missing in those who are completely cut off from the natural world.
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MountainLaurel Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon May-09-05 07:05 PM
Response to Reply #2
7. Fascinating issue
Especially when considered in the context of the rise of neopagan faiths over the past 30 years, which tend to focus on connecting with natural processes, looking at the interconnectedness of everything on the planet, living by the natural rhythms of the seasons, and recognizing the spirituality in all living things.
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The Straight Story Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon May-09-05 05:23 PM
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3. Sure we can, see these two links
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etherealtruth Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon May-09-05 05:32 PM
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4. We spent Mothers Day at a nature center ...
... they had a program titled "Walk Your Mom for Mothers Day." The weather was beautiful and the center was significantly busier than it usually is --- however, it didn't compare to the Sunday brunch crowds we encountered on our way. It's a small thing but we try to make an effort to connect with nature as much as possible.

I will admit though that my children (9 & 11) are not allowed to stray far from home----I would have to agree with the 1/9 estimate.
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LdyGuique Donating Member (610 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon May-09-05 05:54 PM
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5. I'd never looked at growing up from this perspective; however,
it makes a lot of sense. I remember the freedom of my own childhood, even though it was in the highly structured 50s -- getting outside was freedom. While I grew up in a small town (5000), I still had access to bits and pieces of undeveloped land, walks into undisturbed places where one felt completely alone, and even the grander outdoors of mountains and such. Even though being a girl made one succumb to socialization processes, there were ways to escape it on occasion.

I still remember when a group of us girls decided to go swimming on one particularly warm January day -- and we took off after school down over the canyon to reach the American River. Damn! It was snowmelt cold and a long hike back up before dark -- but the memory has never faded about how exhilerating it was.

But, we DID live in a less material time and found things to do that didn't involve spending money. We simply had so little money that it wasn't part of the paradigm for the day-in and day-out free time. I can remember only one name-branded item that was a "must have" during high school -- Pendleton wool reversible pleated skirts -- otherwise, we attempted to cajole our parents into clothing that was "in" but without a brand name. Crinolines were crinolines and white buck shoes were white buck shoes.

Time passes and I see so little that brings that infectious joy of escaping rules and regulations without non-parental adults ratting one out or forgetting about the stuff of being "in."
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murray hill farm Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon May-09-05 06:17 PM
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6. and in the maybe not too distant future...
it will be this very connection that will be the most important survival tool for one to have. If this is lost along with the understanding of ways of connecting with the earth in growing our own food and living without the conveniences that are now taken for granted, then survival..the ability to survive based on that connection and the understanding of that connection will be lost as well. Spritually, emotionally and physically, we really will have lost it all, if we ignore the importance of this connection to who we are in our lives on the earth.
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BearClaws Donating Member (223 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon May-09-05 08:10 PM
Response to Reply #6
Unfortunately people are "connecting" through television, where someone else's agendas and biases control what you see.
I spend a huge amount of my free time in some of America's most wild places, not in a fancy lodge or hotel or from the deck of a cruise ship, but with many miles with a pack on my back.
My family has slept countless nights on mountains approaching 10,000 feet. Spent days gathering food, camping and absorbing the wonders of the natural world.
Mother Nature is my lord, I worship her, She gives me sustenance.
I awaken to her majestic sunrises, her mountains call to me each fall,
I wade into her emerald streams and am awestruck at the aquatic gems that challenge me, the Salmon and Steelhead are much more than just a fish.
I teach this reverence to my children.
I am a hunter and fisherman, and mother nature nourishes my body and soul.
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htuttle Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon May-09-05 08:56 PM
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9. If I allowed my kids to do the things that I did as a boy...
Edited on Mon May-09-05 08:59 PM by htuttle
...I'd worry that I'd be accused of neglect or negligence. Not that there was anything wrong with my parents, but I grew up next to a huge woods and marsh in the 60's and 70's in small-town WI.

I used to spend a lot of time just 'goofing off' in it -- looking for animals and birds, drinking out of a spring, building forts, hitting each other with sticks, attempting to blow stumps up, ie. all the stuff that young primates generally do.

If I let my own sons do those things unsupervised, I could get in trouble nowdays for not knowing where they are and what they are doing.

Has the world really gotten so much more dangerous? Or have parents become more worried? Have they been made that way by elements and currents in society (esp. advertising and the media)?

I think about back then, and in some ways, society itself was less demanding. One could actually almost count on being able to buy a house and support a family if one only had a high school diploma. Then sometime in the 80's, every kid suddenly had to be Mozart. If they weren't, you weren't being a good parent.

However, the source of most of these 'making the world safe' regulations is NOT 'do-gooder liberals', as some on the right would like to say. It's the INSURANCE industry behind 90% of laws intended to protect us from ourselves.

Ultimately, what's been happening is that Americans have been 'molded' via the media into being a better consumer. Shorter attention spans, shorter memories, less impulse control, but ultimately feeling powerless to change their situation. In essence, better cattle.
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murray hill farm Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue May-10-05 06:55 AM
Response to Reply #9
10. Yep!!
i dont believe either that it is more dangerous for children today..i think that we are led to believe that and are taught that fear through the media that so exploits each case of child abduction. It, I believe occured just as often, if not more in the 1950s..we just did not hear about it. i had never thought of the insurance company connection though..and of course that is correct. We have been taught..all of be sooooooooo careful to not get hurt, that we might as well just keep to the underside of our beds..or as u say...see the world and have our entire reality defined by the tv.
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bloom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue May-10-05 03:33 PM
Response to Original message
11. I was hiking
with my 9 & 11 year old niece and nephew over the weekend.

I was glad to be able to be the aunt that can tell them about the maidenhair ferns and the jack-in-the-pulpits. But it did occur to me - what seemingly basic things to learn about that kids don't necessarily learn anywhere.

It also kind of freaked me out - how freaked out they got by little things outside - like flies :shrug: , inch-worms and caterpillars. But I think they learned that from their mom who has always been rather squeamish (but not from their grandmother who liked to play with snakes as a child).
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phantom power Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue May-10-05 04:19 PM
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12. I'm a bit worried that nature is fixing to re-connect with us.
It's going to be a real old-school intervention, with lots of tough love. Maybe more "tough" than "love".
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