The Kids’ Nature Shop: Connecting Families To The Outdoors

Kids' Nature Shop

I’m delighted to announce the launch of The Kids’ Nature Shop.

We all know the importance of getting our children out into nature but today’s busy family life makes it hard to find the time. Not just that, but sometimes parents themselves have lost touch with the outdoors. They long to get outside with their families but don’t know what to do or where to start.

The Kids’ Nature Shop can help. Whether it’s spotting birds, bugs and spiders; growing giant sunflowers; or learning how to stargaze, our carefully-selected products will spark your imagination.

Plus, our Reading Room contains specially-written articles about why nature is good for your kids (and for you!) with tips and tricks to help you get started.

Why Do We Need A Nature Shop For Kids?

Continue reading The Kids’ Nature Shop: Connecting Families To The Outdoors

Vitamin N: The Essential Guide to a Nature-Rich Life. A Technobiophilic Perspective

Vitamin N: The Essential Guide to a Nature-Rich LifeAt a gathering of the Children and Nature Network in 2009, Janet Ady of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service held aloft an outsized pharmacy bottle. It contained, reports Richard Louv in Vitamin N: The Essential Guide to a Nature-Rich Life, a prescription to be used “daily, outdoors in nature”. The following year, Louv raised the same bottle before the American Academy of Pediatrics and suggested doctors consider prescribing “vitamin N” – “N” for nature – as an antidote to ‘nature-deficit disorder’ (NDD).

Continue reading Vitamin N: The Essential Guide to a Nature-Rich Life. A Technobiophilic Perspective

“a tiny glass-bottomed boat” Sarah Boxer reads Proust on her cellphone

I glided through sentence after sentence, volume after volume, on my Android in the nighttime darkness. The experience was remarkably … Proustian.

I was absolutely thrilled to read this wonderful description by Sarah Boxer of her experience of reading on her phone, in bed, in the dark. You can find the whole thing online at The Atlantic.  After explaining her numerous failed attempts to read Proust all the way through, she reports that reading it on her cellphone was like no other reading experience she’s had before or since. This is how she did it:

Make sure no one else is awake. Turn off the lights. Your windows can stay open. Now turn on your phone and begin reading. Repeat as necessary each night. Do not stop until the very last word of the very last volume, Time Regained.

My favourite paragraph of all goes like this:

Your cellphone screen is like a tiny glass-bottomed boat moving slowly over a vast and glowing ocean of words in the night. There is no shore. There is nothing beyond the words in front of you. It’s a voyage for one in the nighttime. Pure romance.

Now, I have to say that although I read stuff on my cellphone all the time, it’s never been my tool of choice for whole books, let alone seven volumes, and I do tend to read with the light on. But maybe Sarah Boxer has changed my mind, because now I really crave her glass-bottomed boat gliding across a glowing ocean.

Do you look for a green space to eat your lunch? 

seeking_parks_plazas_and_spaces.pdf“If you choose to take your lunch break outside rather than sitting at your desk, chances are you prefer a place that has nature or natural elements (pocket park, grassy lawn, views to water, etc.). Biophilia, our innate connection with nature, subconsciously steers us to places that allow us to experience nature and natural elements. This was the idea behind a new Terrapin Bright Green in-depth case study which examined the allure of biophilia in cities,” writes Sam Gochman.

Terrapin surveyed 100 people on their lunch breaks at four sites—two biophilic and two non-biophilic—in lower Manhattan. A large proportion of participants at biophilic sites liked at least one natural or “biophilic” element most about those spaces and cited both convenience and access to nature as the most important factors in choosing those spaces. Surprisingly, at both biophilic and non-biophilic sites, most participants said that they would walk a longer distance to get to a space with more nature. Download the full study.

So, where do you eat your lunch? And why?

Pokémon Go’s Real-World Analogue – The New Yorker

If Pokémon Go has a real-world analogue, it might be bird-watching, which also involves curious souls going outdoors in search of elusive critters, arranged in a detailed taxonomy. What is the Pokédex (where captured Pokémon are stored) if not a newfangled “life list”? With that in mind, a novice birder/Pokémon hunter, going by the avatar MonsieurJavert, set out for Central Park’s Hallett Nature Sanctuary, a four-acre preserve that is rarely open to visitors. Read on…

From The New Yorker, July 25, 2016 p16

 

Biophilic Design – the future of work/life balance

Earlier this week I attended Beyond Balance, a conference about work/life balance organised by the Balance Network at Anglia Ruskin University. We had some great talks and I came away with a notebook full of insights about the way work is changing. Inevitably, there was a lot of talk about the negative impacts of digital life on work/life balance, so I felt it my duty to evangelise a little about technobiophilia and technature balance. It all starts with biophilic design, and this post offers just a brief introduction to some of the ways we could use it to help work/life balance and move towards technature balance.

What is biophilic design?

Professor Stephen Kellert, one of the founding pioneers in this area, writes:

Biophilic Design is an innovative way of designing the places where we live, work, and learn. We need nature in a deep and fundamental fashion, but we have often designed our cities and suburbs in ways that both degrade the environment and alienate us from nature. (biophilicdesign.net)

Watch this video trailer to learn more.

Biophilic Design: The Architecture of Life from Tamarack Media on Vimeo.

Biophilic design in the workplace

You’ve probably seen examples of biophilic design all over the place without realising they’re part of a larger movement. Big corporations are investing huge amounts of money in biophilic workplaces featuring natural materials like plants, stones, wood, and water. Look out for walls festooned with hanging planters, indoor waterfalls, and zen gardens like the one featured in the hit TV series Silicon Valley.

A recent research report by Human Nature says that of the offices they surveyed, 47% had no natural light and 58% had no plants.  How does your workplace compare?

The top five elements that workers most wanted to see in their offices were:

  1. Natural light (44%)
  2. Indoor plants (20%)
  3. Quiet working space (19%)
  4. View of the sea (17%)
  5. Bright colours (15%)

The good news is that you don’t have to be a wealthy company to bring biophilic design into your workplace. Designers like Oliver Heath advise businesses of all size on how to bring nature into offices, homes, public places – anywhere where people spend time.

Technobiophilic Design

The next step beyond getting the relationship between nature and your offline workplace right, is integrating nature with your online life. That’s where technobiophilic design comes in; it connects our digital lives to the natural world so we can feel and perform better. This provides an intriguing challenge for developers, one which I outlined here in some detail. More about that in future posts, but meanwhile check out the growing collection of examples at my Pinterest site.

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