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Good Life Blog - Nature
Written by Bernadette Noll   
Wednesday, 19 November 2008 07:30

noll-bernadetteChildren and Nature Network and Westcave Preserve held a small symposium last week at the Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center on the subject of, well, children and nature. It was facilitated by Alexis Sanford, a local social movement marketer. In attendance were approximately twenty-five people from the local "outdoor" community such as Texas Parks and Wildlife, Campfire USA, The Wildflower Center, Westcave Preserve, and a few others. Sorely and sadly missing were any representatives from A.I.S.D. who were invited, but who had not responded in a year of queries. Perhaps they were busy grading test papers or something.

The group was presented with the issue of how do we, as a society, get kids outside more in natural and exploratory settings. The whole topic , and in fact the Children and Nature Network, was inspired by the work and writing of Richard Louv who wrote the tome, Last Child in the Woods; saving our kids from nature deficit disorder. It was meaty stuff and everyone there was passionate about the topic. It was in fact why we were invited in the first place.

I was invited to participate because of my involvement with the Slow Family Living Movement, which I started with my good friend and co-creator, Carrie Contey, PhD.  One of the goals of the movement is to help families connect with each other, and we firmly believe that a connection built in nature, outside, is a connection that can be sustained lifelong. It's just easier outside. It's more spacious. There are fewer rules. And there are certainly fewer tasks that need to get accomplished, allowing more possibility for families to simply be with each other. Ta-da. Connection.

By the end of the two-hour session a lot of ground had been covered in a very clear and concise way. At meeting's end the general consensus was that the organization's task should be to inform, educate, fund, support and encourage people on all levels to get kids outside in a natural setting however they could for whatever length of time they could manage.

It was agreed that each organization represented could contribute drops in the bucket and hopefully build up a critical mass of allowing natural experience in natural settings that weren't overly structured or, as I like to call it, full of fact-packing.

Together we envisioned a new norm wherein nature would be the go-to entertainment for families and children everywhere. Where schools had wildlife preserves in their schoolyards. Where hikes were part of the curriculum and where every child, urban, suburban, rural or otherwise, knew what it was like to turn over a rock on the side of trail and explore and discover the world in which we live.

It can happen.

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