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The Nature Principle: Reconnecting with Life in a Virtual Age Paperback – April 17, 2012
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From Publishers Weekly
In this sanguine, wide-ranging study of how humans can thrive through the "renaturing of everyday life," Louv takes nature deficit disorder, introduced in his seminal Last Child in the Woods, a step further, to argue that adults need nature, too. "A reconnection to the natural world is fundamental to human health," he writes, asking, "What would our lives be like if our days and nights were as immersed in nature as they are in electronics?" Louv's "Nature Principle" consists of seven precepts, including balancing technology excess with time in nature; a mind/body/nature connection, which Louv calls "vitamin N," that enhances physical and mental health; expanding our sense of community to include all living things; and purposefully developing a spiritual, psychological, physical attachment to a region and its natural history. The book presents examples of these precepts, from studies of how exposure to a common soil bacteria increases production of serotonin in the brain to designing shopping malls inspired by termite mounds. Although lightweight for longtime nature lovers, the book may be just what our high-tech, urban culture needs to bring us down to earth. (May)
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To support this bold claim, he uncovers what is an extremely persuasive body of evidence – theoretical, anecdotal and empirical – that nature really does have a significant power to restore, heal and energize.
If you weren’t already aware of the healing power of nature, you will be even after reading just the first few chapters of this book. The book is based on what Louv has defined in his earlier books as the concept of Nature Deficit Disorder – the gap between people and nature. To restore this gap requires a transformation; a reunion of humans with the rest of nature. Louv seems to be happily devoting his life to helping people identify this gap, and giving them practical ideas how to bridge it.
He asks what our lives would be like if we were as fully immersed in nature as we are in technology. Not that he ever comes across as a 21st century Luddite. On the contrary, Louv is as keen to make optimal use of technological advances as anyone else. But he argues that there has to be more than technology filling our lives, even going as far as saying that “the future will belong to the nature-smart – those individuals, families, businesses and political leaders who develop a deeper understanding of nature, and who balance the virtual with the real.”
The Nature Principle is an extremely well-researched book. The author’s thoughts are well-arranged, and he communicates in an easy and persuasive manner. But it’s no “pie in the sky” approach. He is extremely practical about how people can connect with nature, and is particularly passionate about how nature can be introduced into school and college curricula. He would also like to see “time in nature” prescribed by doctors and psychologists, which clearly makes sense.
In my own experience, I fully agree with Louv: “Nature can help us feel fully alive.” Reading this book may be your first step towards agreeing too.
I would recommend this book for anyone who loves nature, for anyone who feels trapped in a big city, and for parents of young children. It's important for kids to have unstructured, imaginative play time outside, and to do this, they must get unplugged from digital devices. This book provides a long list of ways for you and your family to get involved with outdoor activities, and this list would be perfect to present to the family and have each member choose the activity they want to do to get more active outside.
An inspiring book for almost anyone.
A group of people who give public seminars to our community is using the nature principle, Vitamin N, as a basis for improving the instruction in these classes. It is our goal to encourage more people to participate in outdoor gardening activities and this book has given us the evidence we need to make it a factual based series, instead of just opinions.
The book is not an especially "easy read" and sometimes the author goes off on tangents that are more touchy/feely than scientific (the reasons for the 4 stars rather than 5.) But he has done an excellent job of pulling together the evidence for his theories regarding our need for time in nature. I especially appreciate the references he has included so further research is much easier for anyone needing scientific basis for the information.