Book Review - The Nature Fix - Explore! Book Review - The Nature Fix - Explore!

Book Review – The Nature Fix

The Nature Fix

There are many ways that nature benefits us.  These benefits go to the basis for the existence of EXPLORE! as explained on our Welcome page. We have written about some of these benefits in blog posts including:

The Nature Fix – Why Nature Makes Us Happier, Healthier, and More Creative by Florence Williams takes a new and broad look at many of these benefits of nature.  To do this, she gets into the realities of the research associated with this topic.  Not in the clinical way of the research reports themselves, but in an experiential way.

GardeningFor the most part we have highlighted research in these areas and applications of the research based upon many reports we have found.  Ms Williams bases her book on much of the same research, but weaves it all into her story of meeting with the various researchers and experiencing their methods.  She has also met and experienced the efforts of many organizations applying this research to the benefit of their clients.  It is this personal approach to the science that makes her book both readable and enlightening.

In her own words:

This book explores the science behind what poets and philosophers have known for eons: place matters.  Aristotle believed walks in the open air clarified the mind.  Darwin, Tesla and Einstein walked in gardens and groves to help them think.  Teddy Roosevelt, one of the most hyper productive presidents of all time, would escape for months to the open country.  On some level they all fought a tendency to be “tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people” as hiker-philosopher John Muir put it in 1901.  

The story begins with Williams growing up in New York City and appreciating the work of Frederick Law Olmsted that offered her the daily opportunity to enjoy Central Park.  A fast forward gets us to the point where her husband accepts a job in Washington, D.C. and they leave their home and outdoor lifestyle in Boulder, Colorado for the big city life.  Having lost her outdoor ‘tonic’ she appreciated it more than ever.

eExperiencing the classic symptoms of Nature Deficit Disorder in D.C., Williams decided to explore what she needed and how she might find it from her new abode in the city.  This book is the result.  In it she explores two angles:

  • the idea of feeling most at home in nature, because we evolved there – the Biophilia Hypotheses.
  • the idea that nature improves cognition and general brain function

She then looks at how various doses of nature of different types affect our lives.  In the process she leads us on a world tour into leading edge research on the human relationship with nature.

In summary, she examines the ways humans can interact with nature then the amount of nature that has the best results.  The current state of the art is best represented by “The Nature Pyramid” developed by Tim Beatley and Tanya Denckla-Cobb at the University of Virginia. Essentially, the idea is that local or neighborhood-scale nature should be enjoyed hourly.  Regional-scale, like a large area park, might be visited weekly.  A national park or remote area of national significance might be visited monthly.  An international, longer duration, or more intense contact with nature should be undertaken once or twice a year.  The concept is presented in this similar graphic, specifically oriented toward kids, from the Nature Kids Institute:

Nature Pyramid

Williams’ book puts all these ideas into an understandable context.  It is highly recommended.

 

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