I’m so grateful I decided to pick up “The Nature Principle” at a newsroom benefit book sale earlier this year — and took the time to read it, as I don’t consider myself an “outdoorsy” gal.
In late July, when I asked our newsroom to pick a 30-day creativity challenge for the month of August, I was inspired to choose my own project based on reading just a few chapters of this book by Richard Louv.
Citing all kinds of studies, Louv argues that nature can stimulate ideas and boost creativity. He devotes the first part of his book exploring this angle, telling us about great thinkers and writers who use outdoor walks to help open their minds and connect the dots. One particular Danish study showed that outdoor kindergartens stimulated children’s creativity much more than indoor classrooms.
So based on his book, I created my “15 minutes of sunlight” challenge — to spend a minimum of 15 minutes a day outdoors per day throughout August. I’ll write more about the challenge in a separate post.
Now that I’ve finished the book, I’ll note a few specific notes, quotes and questions:
» Overall, the most important takeaway is my new appreciation and curiosity about ancient Appalachia: What’s the geology? Fossil record? Native plants? How might I incorporate more nature in my yard, my home, my daily surroundings?
» “The more high-tech our lives become, the more nature we need.”
» I never realized the Native American word “Shenandoah” meant “daughter of the stars.” (p. 178-179). I think about this during my daily drive down Shenandoah toward the Mill Mountain Star in downtown Roanoke.
» Louv devoted more than a page (p. 148-149) to report about Chip Donahue, a Roanoke dad who was inspired by his previous bestselling book, “Last Child in the Woods.” Donahue (with his wife Ashley, who helped teach me volleyball skills at a Hollins University summer camp many years ago), formed the club Kids in the Valley, Adventuring! (KIVA). The Roanoke Times has reported on this four-year-old family nature group through the years, and KIVA has received national attention on NBC’s “Today” show.
» As for the newspaper’s role in the community, shouldn’t we “own” outdoors recreation / business/ geology / culture / history / policy as a master narrative? How can we organize this knowledge better? What are some existing resources / schools / organizations that we could help connect?
» Besides all of the recreational opportunities, how is our region pursuing “nature therapy,” especially as a medical hub — and with the ancient Blue Ridge Mountains surrounding us.
» In one of the final chapters focusing on nature careers, Louv introduces a pioneer in “vanguard agriculture” — Anthony Flaccavento, an organic farmer and former executive director of Appalachian Sustainable Development (ASD), which created a co-op organic farming program for former tobacco farmers. His name seemed really familiar — and a quick Google search showed me why: Flaccavento is a Democrat running for Congress in the 9th district — against incumbent Morgan Griffith of Salem, where I live.