In today’s world, we go shopping in supermarkets, drive to work by car or public transport, and spend a great amount of time indoors, working in airconditioned offices. Furthermore, in our leisure time, many of us enjoy watching a movie or series, cook, handcraft, or simply hang out with friends. Conclusively, all in our own routines, the dependency and connection to the natural world around us is often forgotten, or even lost in the business of our lives.
With this blog post we would like to take you with us on a journey, sharing with you our experiences of the past Value Creators semester. Therefore, we would like to ask you to please take a moment, lean back, and imagine a beautiful scenery.
Think of a bonfire and how you can observe sparks flying up and dying in the dark night. Lift your head and look at the sky full of stars. Imagine walking through a light spring beech forest, the sun shines through the leaves, and old branches crack beneath your feet; you hear birds singing and smell fresh, clean air. Close to you, water twirls out of the ground and creates a squelch. What do you feel?
We started our journey this semester with a common passion for the outdoors and a feeling of safety, belonging, happiness, and calmness when embracing and interacting with nature. We therefore decided to focus and learn more about the effects of nature on us humans.
First, we started to collect stories by contacting people who have a very deep connection to nature. We thereby talked to climate activists, outdoor educators, green parties, educators in sustainability, NGOs protecting natural habitats and biodiversity, and scientists who investigate the connection between humans and nature. No matter with whom we spoke, everyone perceived and confirmed a lack of mindfulness and caring relation to the natural world around us. Moreover, they taught us more about the positive effects on our physical and mental health and well-being, as well as our high dependency and level of responsibility. Thanks to the shared personal and first-hand examples, we listened to beautiful experiences, making us realize that the step from awareness to sustainable actions needs to be bridged.
“I know that many people are aware of the issues around nature, but it does not motivate them to change. It is crucial to know about and engage in nature, to feel it. Because you can only protect what you love.”
- Georg Schmitz, Outdoor Educator and representative of the European Ropes Course Association and German Alpine Club (DAV)
Thus, based on our findings, we started to dig deeper into the topic, trying to determine the motivational factors of taking personal responsibility and actions. One of our central questions thereby explored the different societal factors and influences that cause a common disconnection and carelessness.
During our exploration phase, we read about five dimensions in which one can interact with nature:
Our collective research efforts led us to the conclusion that participating in nature activities and mindfully interacting with the natural world around us, is the best way to establish a connection and caring relation.
Brainstorming over our shared findings, we suddenly thought of Nature Festivals!
We thereby particularly thought of the social group with the lowest average on nature connectedness, mainly high school, and university students. With the intention and wish of showing them the beauty and value of the outdoors, we developed the idea of a cheerful and interactive event. Naturally also the previously mentioned five dimensions shall be integrated and explored to the best extend possible.
Dreaming of the ideal setup of a Nature Festival, we envision circus tents, spots to eat, nature walks, tree climbing possibilities, hammocks, swings, and bonfires in the evening. We also like the idea of an outdoor movie night, followed by a panel discussion about the connection to nature, and nature art. Welcoming everyone, we imagine an event bringing together a diverse group of people, curiously wandering around, collecting lifelong memories with and in nature.
Unfortunately, with limited time and means available, we, as a student team, didn’t have the chance to organize such an event ourselves. Hence, we needed to rethink and look around for different options. So, continuously working on our idea, we ended up creating a guidebook summarizing and presenting our inspirations.
The final handbook is accessible to everyone, and free to download under the following link:
Now it’s up to you to decide if, how, and with whom, you would like to dream and translate our ideas into actions. Whether small-scale with friends, or large-scale with a company or organization, we are more than happy to support and inspire your own Nature Festival!
For the near future, we have started a cooperation with NMO (Natuur&Milieu Overijssel), helping them to turn our ideas to a tangible project. Also, throughout the semester we collaborated closely with “Komorebi”, a German outdoor education organization that will use the guidebook in the future.
Does the idea of a Nature Festival sound like something you want to do?
Well, you are welcome to use our guidebook and contact us with questions!
Mirre Timmers: email@example.com
Vanissia-Elena Tzarvenkova: firstname.lastname@example.org
Marnix de Heer: email@example.com