Ecocentricity Blog: Nature Is Calling

Aug 30, 2017 11:30 AM ET
Campaign: Ecocentricity Blog

Ecocentricity Blog: Nature is Calling

NDD. As an acronym, it stands for quite a few things. Options include “no designated driver” and “narcotics detection dog” according to my Google search. For my purposes though, NDD stands for “nature-deficit disorder.”

Richard Louv coined the term in 2005 with his book Last Child in the Woods. Before I dive into this topic, I should say that NDD is not a medical diagnosis, and Louv has never claimed that it is. Rather NDD is what I would call an observable trend, and a bad trend at that.

Let’s see if you think this trend exists as well. Do you think people are spending more time indoors? Are we turning to electronics for more of our entertainment? Are parents more fearful of their kids playing outside? Are kids therefore more afraid of nature? Are attention disorders and depression more common in society, especially for children? Is childhood obesity more common?

My answer is “yes” to all of these, and I think they are related. As a species, we evolved in nature. It was our home long before drywall and stucco were created. It’s still our home whether we acknowledge it or not, and I believe that we benefit physically, emotionally and spiritually from returning to it frequently.

Fortunately, there are some great folks working on reconnecting people (children in particular) with the natural world. One such person is Steve Nygren, a good friend and mentor of mine, and I want to sing his praises a bit.   With respect to nature-deficit disorder, Steve is doing his part (and then some) by chairing the Children & Nature Network, a nonprofit that was co-founded by Louv after publishing Last Child in the Woods. Their vision is beautiful for its clarity and substance: they work to create a world in which all children play, learn and grow with nature in their everyday lives. That’s about as unobjectionable as apple pie and puppies.   Steve is also the founder of Serenbe, a remarkable community about a half-hour’s drive south of Atlanta. With a focus on human wellbeing and environmental stewardship, Serenbe integrates the arts, healthy food, small businesses, and a neighborly culture in a nature-centric locale. I can’t describe Serenbe any better than by saying my soul recharges when I’m there.   Steve is also kind enough to serve on our Foundation’s advisory board, having been a close friend of my grandfather’s. His counsel is always greatly appreciated, and his hospitality goes above and beyond. Specifically, Steve has been kind to host our Foundation’s annual event, RayDay, at Serenbe the last four years. He will be our host once again for this year’s event, scheduled for the afternoon of Sunday, October 15.   If you’ve been feeling disconnected from nature, I urge you to do something about it. Heck, come to RayDay! We’d love to have you, and it’s free for you and your family. Come and learn about amazing environmental organizations in our community, all while enjoying the natural beauty of Serenbe. With everything from food trucks to hot air balloons, I promise you’ll enjoy yourself. You can register for the event here.    Even if you can’t come to RayDay, find some time to get outside. Stick your face in a flower and feel the rough bark of a tree. Hug that tree, if you feel so moved. Breathe deeply and feel the sun on your face. Nature is calling you, calling all of us, and we owe it to ourselves to enjoy her company once in a while.