Today we continue our month-long celebration of nature with the third installment of Richard Louv‘s “Applying the Nature Principle to Your Life.” Read the previous posts here and here. Each week we will be publishing a post from Richard Louv and giving away a $150 gift certificate to The North Face to one lucky reader. Leave a comment to be entered in the gift certificate drawing, and click here to learn more about his latest book The Nature Principle. (Comments must be posted by midnight on Tuesday, May 8, to be eligible.)
Applying the Nature Principle to Your Life Nature-Smart Jobs for the Future (and Right Now), Part II
Want to make a decent living and a better life? Here’s one way. Get a job – a nature-smart job. Or better yet, be a nature-smart entrepreneur. By that, I don’t mean a career devoted only to energy efficiency. That’s important, but there’s a whole new category of green jobs coming. These careers and avocations will help children and adults become happier, healthier, and smarter, by truly greening where people live, work, learn, and play. Here are a few examples.
• New agrarians. Who are they? Urban farmers who design and operate community gardens. Designers and operators of vertical farms in high-rise buildings. Organic farmers and innovative vanguard ranchers who use sophisticated organic practices to produce food. The focus is on local, family-scale sustainable food, fiber, and fuel production in, near, and beyond cities.
• Natural health service. Ecopsychologists—Wilderness therapy professionals—are going mainstream. Some pediatricians are now prescribing or recommending “green exercise” in parks and other natural settings for their young patients and their families. Hospitals, mental health centers, and nursing home are creating healing gardens. The Portland, Oregon, parks department partners with physicians who send families to local parks, where park rangers serve as health para profesionals. In the U.K., a growing “green care” movement encourages therapeutic horticulture, ecotherapy, and green-care farming.
• Green exercise trainers. Exercising indoors and outdoors seems to produce different results. Even when the same number of calories are burned. Outside exercise appears to have better results, especially for psychological well-being. Green exercise trainers can help individuals and families individually or by organizing “green gyms” and family nature clubs. “People walkers” can help the elderly take a hike.
• Natural teachers. As parents and educators learn more about the brain-stimulating power of learning in natural settings, demand will increase for nature-based schools and nature-based experiential learning, providing new opportunities for natural teachers and natural-playscape and school-garden designers.
• Bioregional guides. We’ll see the emergence of citizen naturalists who, as professionals or volunteers, help people get to know where they live. One organization, Exploring a Sense of Place, in the San Francisco Bay Area, guides groups that want to have a deeper understanding of the life surrounding them. Think of these guides as nature-smart welcome wagons that help us develop a deeper sense of personal and local identity.
The list of possible careers can go on. Stream restorers, law-enforcement officials who use nature for crime prevention and improved prison recidivism, specialists in nature-based geriatric services. Once the entrepreneurial spirit kicks in, it’s easy to start thinking of products and services. And when people begin to consider the career possibilities of human restoration through nature, their eyes light up: here is a positive, hopeful view of the human relationship with the Earth, a way to make a living and a life.
Richard Louv is the author of “THE NATURE PRINCIPLE: Reconnecting with Life in a Virtual Age,” now available in paperback, from which this piece is adapted. He is Chairman Emeritus of The Children and Nature Network and 2012 spokesperson for the CLIF Kid Backyard Game of the Year. For more information on his books, go to http://www.richardlouv.com. For a free online Field Guide to the New Nature Movement, see http://richardlouv.com/books/nature-principle/field-guide/.