Why “I Can’t Breathe” Will Be the Meme of the Decade

Eric Garner’s cry “I can’t breathe!” taps the zeitgeist of our age: a sense of suffocating helplessness in the face of injustice and unrelenting intrusion, not only by the police.

The Revival and Rejuvenation of Conservationists

What's happening to nature depresses many of us. One evening, wildlife biologist Bob Peart told a story about a friend and fellow conservationist, overwhelmed in part by a relentless sense of loss, took his own life. As Bob told this story, he wept. In his despair, he was not alone. But Peart found a path back, a way to revive his hope. So can the rest of us.

Restoring Peace

The natural world does have the power to heal human hearts and prevent violence. That statement isn’t based on modern Romanticism, but on a growing body of scientific evidence.

Do Early Outdoor Experiences Help Build Healthier Brains?

A growing body of evidence suggests that early childhood experiences in nature can soften the blow of toxic stress and stimulate learning. The impact of more natural environments could be a neglected key to developing healthy brain architecture in young children — and adults, too.

Smart Pills vs. Nature Smart

For many children with ADHD symptoms – but not all children -- research suggests that more experiences in nature can help. Unfortunately, our society seems to look everywhere but more natural environments for the enhancement of intelligence.

Going on a Tech Fast

My wife and I committed to four days away from beeping gadgets, ringing phones, sawing neighbors, the on-demand life.

The Lady Across the Lake

Creativity comes through personal ecstatic experience, play, and a kind of osmosis: “Research conducted at the University of Kansas concludes that people from all walks of life show startling cognitive improvement — for instance, a 50 percent boost in creativity — after living for a few days steeped in nature.”

Facebook Wants Your Kids

A fast train is coming, and it’s headed for this generation of children, and the next. Multi-billionaire Mark Zuckerberg, the young founder of Facebook, wants to launch an under-13 social networking service. Here's one way to resist — not by trashing technology, but by offering a balance to it; not by just saying no, but by saying yes to...

Advice from the Late Great Ray Bradbury: Be an "Optimalist"

So you don't like to be thought of as a science-fiction writer, said the reporter to the great writer. "No," said Ray Bradbury, who called back after the fax had rolled in. The fax machine is one of his only concessions to post-modern technology. "Have you noticed that we have all these machines but no one calls anymore?" he added.

If You Liked No Child Left Behind, You'll Love What's Coming Next—Without National Debate

Thanks to artificial intelligence, according to Monthly's reporters, the need for standardized testing will fade away, replaced by what proponents call "stealth assessment"—nonstop electronic monitoring of students, employing systems similar to ones grocery chain stores now use to track inventory.

20 Ways to Create a Naturally Restorative Home and Garden

Want to improve your family's mental and physical health, and increase their creativity and learning abilities? Research suggests that a more natural environment can help.

It's Time to Redefine Green Jobs

A new world of potential businesses, careers and roles: psychologists, educators, architects and health professionals who employ nature-based programs and biophilic design to increase health, learning and productivity; urban designers and others who transform cities into engines of biodiversity and human health...

Every Child Needs Nature: 12 Questions About Equity and Capacity

Psychologically, physically, spiritually, human beings, particularly children in poor communities, suffer from the absence of nature’s intrinsic benefits. "Natural cultural capacity" is a key to providing families with what they need. Every child needs nature. Not just the ones with parents who appreciate nature.

Stuck Inside Apocalypse with Dystopic Blues Again

Despair is fashionable but ultimately boring. We’re in a post-apocalyptic rut, and it’s becoming tiresome and possibly self-fulfilling. It's time to escape from dystopia.“

The Sirens of Technology

I recognize the benefits of technology, otherwise I wouldn’t be using the Internet or refrigerating my food. But consider a few recent findings about how gadgets can affect our mental health, reported here in the Twitter tradition of 140 characters, more or less...

A New Breed of Green Careers in Health

On Monday, April 16, the first-ever White House Summit on Environmental Education was held in Washington. This summit came at a precarious moment for environmental education and an economy that depends more than ever on environmental literacy—and, I would add, ecopsychological health.

HOLIDAY LOVE LETTERS: a lifetime gift that doesn't cost a cent

A way for family and friends to add meaning to the season, and an alternative to last minute shopping panic.

The Little Things

The little things are what we remember, what we know, of family life. Of life.

Five Ways Libraries Can Apply the Nature Principle

The Naturebrary: A national library campaign to connect people to the nature of their communities could build the psychological and physical health of children and adults, and in the process expand the public constituency for libraries. 

“HUMMINGBIRD PARENTS”: Seven Actions Parents Can Take To Reduce Risk And Still Get Their Kids Outside

Some parents will be comfortable encouraging their kids to roam freely, but the truth is most won't. So here are seven suggestions for ways to manage our fear, reduce risk, and still get our kids outside.

Grow Outside! A call to pediatricians and others to prescribe nature

Keynote address to the American Academy of Pediatrics National Conference: Along with educators, conservationists, business people and many others, pediatricians and other health professionals are helping lead the movement to connect kids to nature. Here's why -- and how -- to prescribe nature.  

The Bond of Shared Solitude

During these days of solitude, moving clouds and lifting wind would begin to bring voices - of a father and a mother, now gone, and of my wife and children. On the fourth day, Kathy and the boys, Jason and Matthew, arrived for a visit. In solitude, even for a few days, a person changes subtly; the familiar phrases and patterns seem odd, somehow. So our first minutes together felt a little awkward. But this is why taking a retreat, as a husband or wife or parent, is a good thing. Familiar patterns can shield us from true familiarity.

The Criminalization of Natural Play

The criminalization of natural play takes a psychological and physical toll on children and parents. As a powerful deterrent to natural play, fear of liability ranks right behind the bogeyman. So it’s time for a National Conference on Children, Nature and the Law, organized by the legal profession with a little help from insurance companies, educators, health care folks, policy-makers, and others. This conference is a fiction, so far. But somebody needs to step to the plate.  

Nature-Deficit Disorder and Solastalgia Down Under

"We gain life by looking at life.” Those are the words of Dr. Mardie Townsend, a researcher and associate professor in the School of Health and Social Development at Deakin University in Victoria, Australia, and an important thinker about the importance of the natural world to human development. She added, in an interview with the Sydney Morning Herald, “If we see living things we don’t feel as if we’re living in a vacuum.” That sense of aloneness, without kinship in the natural world, is central to the argument that many of us are making these days; that is, if we deny children direct experience with nature, we deny them access to a fundamental part of their humanity.

An Open Letter to James Cameron

 James Cameron explaining Avatar a few weeks ago: "It asks questions about our relationship with each other, from culture to culture, and our relationship with the natural world at a time of nature-deficit disorder.” Within recent decades, a generation of children has disconnected from nature. The widening gap threatens their psychological, physical and spiritual health. If the trend continues, who will be the true stewards of the Earth? Perhaps you're looking for ways to heal the broken bond....

Is There a 'Button Park' in Your Future? Neighborhood Land Trusts Could Improve Psychological and Physical Health

Remember the special place in nature that you had as a child — that wooded lot at the end of the cul de sac, that ravine behind your housing tract, that place of wonder and health? What if adults had cared just as much about that special place as you did, when you were a child? The central organizing principle of nearby-nature trusts will be: do it yourself, do it now. By going through the process of creating "button parks," people will learn about the growing importance of the land trust movement. They will dramatically increase the amount of protected nearby nature, and improve the health and the well-being of their families now -- and families in the future.

The Monster of Mystery Valley

Remember last time?” asked Jason, as he let his line out behind the boat. I did. Here, we had seen the strangest sight: at the very end of the lake, violet hills and green pastures and scattered cattle and a little river running through the willows, a valley that seemed to recede from view as we approached. “The closer we get, the farther away it seems,” I had said to him. His eyes had grown wide.....

America's Best Cities for Nature-Deficit Disorder

In August, CBS’ “The Early Show” recognized the danger of what we’re now informally calling “nature-deficit disorder.” The show featured the 25 best cities in America for raising kids so they live healthy young lives that are connected to – not cut off – from the natural world. As coiner of the “nature deficit disorder” phrase, I couldn’t have been more pleased. But what about the rest of us, who aren’t able or willing to relocate?

Fighting Nature-Deficit Disorder in the Backyard

For the first time in history, Doug Tallamy argues, “Gardening has taken on a role that transcends the needs of the gardener. Like it or not, gardeners have become important layers in the management of our nation’s wildlife."