Book Reflection: The Nature Principle

The Nature Principle holds that a reconnection to the natural world is fundamental to human health, well-being, spirit, and survival.

I first read Richard Louv’s work when I studied Last Child in the Woods as part of my research for Her Lost Year. In this book, he coined the term “nature-deficit disorder” to describe the growing gap between children and nature. This made a lot of sense to me and influenced my writing. So when I saw that Louv had another book about the human-nature connection, I just had to read it!

The Nature Principle coverThe Nature Principle is the Last Child in the Woods for adults. Indeed, adults also suffer the loss of separation from nature resulting in problems such as depression, ADD, anxiety, and loss of creativity. Many of us remember carefree summer days wandering around in the woods, building huts, collecting insects. There were no iPhones to distract us or Netflix shows to lure us to the living room. The outdoor world was our classroom and playground all in one exquisite package. Now our computer-based jobs keep us inside and in front of screens.

Louv does a wonderful job of weaving anecdotes and personal stories with concrete nature solutions to every aspect of our nature-deprived lives. The book covers simple things such as growing gardens and green exercise and interacting with other species. But it also digs deeper and explores alternative ways to live in this world.

For example, Louv discusses the Transition Town movement. The transition refers to a shift from our current oil-dependent society to the “postpetroleum age.” One of the core aspects of this movement is permaculture, which is “the practice of designing human communities and food systems that mimic sustainable ecologies.” It is a sustainable way of interacting with the planet.

You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete. –Buckminster Fuller

I’ve since spent some time learning more about the Transition Town movement and the new Transition Streets initiative and believe that this is one of the best models currently available to move us toward a brighter future, where we live in harmony with each other and the planet.

Another key point that I want to highlight is what Louv refers to as a “sense of place.” It’s tempting to dream about better, prettier nature elsewhere and think that interacting with nature in one’s own backyard is a lost cause. There is actually an organization, Exploring a Sense of Place, that helps people reconnect to the natural world where they live. Getting to know the local ecosystem can instill a sense of wonder and connection to the place one calls home.

We found that no matter how stressful life gets, or how difficult certain talks can be with your kids, a walk in the woods can change the whole tone of life. –Steve Nygren, founder of Serenbe

There are countless other stories of ecovillages and restoration projects and forest schools. Stories that inspire hope and action!

I hope you will add The Nature Principle to your summer reading list and be inspired as well.