Do you ever stop and closely look at your surroundings? Do you ever notice the small flowers growing next to the bench, the bird flying and sitting on your balcony, or even the rock that has been standing next to your parked bike for months now? If the answers were no, we are not surprised, given the fast-paced lives we live and the abundance of superficiality we are accustomed to...
“We cannot protect something we do not love; we cannot love what we do not know; we cannot know what we do not see, hear, or sense; notice, experience, appreciate, feel, and be friends with”
The disconnection between humans and nature
As a team we had a feeling that as a society we are deeply disconnected from our natural surroundings. In western society, we live a fast-paced lifestyle, where we seem to have no space to slow down. We are continuously growing, consuming, and slowly destroying our ecosystem. So how come us humans - the most intelligent living species on earth - continue to do this to our home? Through our research, and various conversations with different networks, we discovered more about topics like de-growth, regenerative systems, biomimicry, ecopsychology, among others, helping us understand the deep disconnection between humans and the natural world.
We are three students, all from different backgrounds with the one purpose of exploring what drives the disconnection between humans and nature and what consequences this disconnection has. We all have different understandings of what connection to nature means, yet we all worked together to explore the possibilities this topic could bring,
Realizing our own disconnection
When we started our journey, we found ourselves immersed in the topic, searching for supportive literature. We got so caught up in the academic side of this exploration, that we barely found a moment to stop and actually ask ourselves “Are we ourselves connected to nature, to our surroundings, and to the natural world?” That is when we realized that ironically, we too had fallen into the precise trap we were attempting to address. Understanding this irony, let us to further explore our personal connection to nature aside from the academic context. We decided to engage in nature connectedness activities, such as caring for a plant, going out for walks in the forest, and keeping a journal on our daily observations of nature. These activities made us realize the importance of allowing yourself to stop, take a break, reflect and tap into your senses.
The importance of our topic
However, we keep talking about the need to stop and notice little things around us, but why is this important? Why should we even care about connecting to nature? Various literature has evidenced that experiences in nature benefit humans in many ways. Spending time in nature enhances health and well-being, reduces stress, improves attention, increases happiness, enhances educational outcomes, and on top of all, increases pro-environmental behaviors. For this reason, to address the current climate crisis, it is important to address the urgency tied to reconnecting with the natural world.
In this way, the simple act of recognizing and noticing aspects of our surroundings positively contributes to nature connectedness.
We talked to many professionals about this topic and their opinions on how to address it. Take for example researchers at Radboud University’s Centre Connecting Humans and Nature, Nature-Inspired mentor and leadership coach Tigrilla Gardenia, biomimicry architect Lydia Fraaije, program coordinator of Bio-Inspired Innovation at Universiteit Utrecht Jaco Appelman, Katharine Hone from Permaculture Zwolle, people from IVN Natuur Educatie and Nooterhof Zwolle, along with many more.
The creation of a card game
Having gained lots of knowledge, we want to inspire others to become more in touch with their own connection to nature. This is why we decided to ideate an engaging fantasy world card game. Our game Echoes of Nature: Guardians of Arindale, aims to spark awareness and appreciation for people's natural surroundings and overall increase peoples’ connection to nature. The essence of the game is to take on different worldviews in relation to nature and collaborate with each other to stop an overconsuming force. By playing this game, reflection on the players’ own human-nature relationship is encouraged, while also trying to find common ground with differing worldviews. We believe that a game which prompts people to reflect on their relationship with nature, others and themselves, while also encouraging them to go outside, is an effective tool for people to begin noticing nature more consciously, increase their connection to nature and help build more pro-environmental behaviors, which are desperately needed during these pressing times.
Our game is perfect to be played in educational settings both with children aged 12 and up, and adults. Our game can also be a suitable addition to workshops related to nature connectedness. Therefore, if you would like to know more, get a printable or physical version or have ideas of additional contests where our card game could be played and bring forth positive change, please do not hesitate to reach out.
We hope that sharing our experiences and motivations has provided some insights into this topic and the next time you find yourself walking or cycling down the street, we encourage you to take a moment to notice the little things around you. You'll be amazed at how this simple act brings about positive changes in your connection to nature. It's time to open our eyes and connect!
Do you have further questions or want to get in contact with us or our network? Feel free to connect!
Olivia Efroon Pool https://www.linkedin.com/in/olivia-effron-pool-aa5aa0255
Bart Wessels https://www.linkedin.com/in/bart-wessels-080874278
Anapaula Diaz www.linkedin.com/in/anapaula-diaz-08b5b5198
The BAO team: