Looking towards that magic moment

A recent article In Sunday’s New York Times reported a study showing a 69 percent decrease in time spent in outdoor activities and games on days off from school. These concerns and others related to children’s lack of connection to the natural world are part of a complex picture. Despite the extraordinary efforts of the movement, time spent outdoors by children across the globe continues to decline at an alarming rate.

Studies of movements show that even with solid work, movements may show relatively little change for a number of years. Yet when the conditions are ripe, the movement accelerates and manifests on a larger scale. Malcolm Gladwell described the tipping point — that magic moment when an idea, trend, or social behavior crosses a threshold, tips, and spreads like wildfire. 

Recently we're seeing changes in attitudes toward play, evident in the National Public Radio’s Play & Learning Series. Is this a sign that we are nearing a cultural shift — a new understanding of the importance of play and nature (and even risk) as essential to children's well-being?

Here are the titles and links to the five featured NPR stories: One of the stories, Where the Wild Things Play, features Berkeley’s Adventure Playground, one of a few "wild playgrounds" in this country that sees unstructured play as vital for children. Dr. Stuart Brown, from the National Institute for Play believes children need an environment with "the opportunity to engage in open, free play where they're allowed to self-organize". He sees this as a central part of being human and developing into competent adulthood. 

In the NPR segment Scientists Say Child’s Play Helps Build a Better Brain, researcher Sergio Pellis talks about play and brain development. Pellis sees play as preparing children for life, love, and even schoolwork. Listen and learn more from the Play & Learning Series by clicking on the titles and links to the above featured stories.


The Natural Teacher, Back to School 

10 Ways You Can Add Vitamin N to Classrooms & Beyond

With the start of school, Richard Louv’s latest blog encourages us to join and help lead the children and nature movement, starting in our own school and beyond.

Louv outlines ten ways to lead the movement in schools:
  1. Get to know the research
  2. Join the Natural Teachers Network
  3. Teach the teachers — and the principals, superintendents, and school board members
  4. Create a Natural Teachers Club
  5. Green your schoolyard
  6. Bring nature to the classroom
  7. Create nature-based community and family classrooms
  8. Help start a nature-based preschool or charter school
  9. Establish an eco club
  10. Help grow the children and nature movement
Some of the heavy lifting has been done for us. Richard Louv provides plenty of resources in his blog to help us take a lead, including 200 studies and research, a Natural Teachers eGuide, U.S Fish and Wildlife Service's Schoolyard Habitat Project Guide. and the Nature Club for Families Tool Kit. Read more


Living Schoolyards for California

Exciting New State Resolution Will Bring More Children Outside at Public Schools

Read Sharon Danks guest blog from the Children & Nature Network for some exciting news - we've included some excerpts from Sharon's blog here.

While students were enjoying their summer vacation this year, the movement to green school grounds and connect children with nature took an important leap forward with the adoption of a new California state resolution that encourages school districts to design and construct schoolyard green spaces and use them to teach academic curricula outdoors.

Authored by Assemblymember Phil Ting of San Francisco (D), the Living Schoolyard Month resolution (ACR-128) adopted on June 16, 2014 also establishes an annual, statewide celebration of school grounds to be held each year in May.

The new Living Schoolyard Month resolution is an important milestone in California’s approach to promoting outdoor green spaces for all children in K-12 public schools and for the state’s thriving green schoolyard movement. Building on the success of previous school garden programs, it expands the depth and breadth of outdoor education beyond horticulture and nutrition to connect schoolyard greening to the health of urban ecosystems, child development needs, and the quality of life for students and their school communities. Learn more


Update: Healthy Parks, Healthy People

Earlier this year, we published an interview with Nooshin Razani, a practicing pediatrician and Nature Champion. Nooshin and Dayna Long (pediatrician at UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital Oakland) wrote the blog Healing by Being Together in Nature for the Institute at the Golden Gate. The following is an excerpt from their blog about Healthy Parks Healthy People.
UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland Primary Care Clinic has partnered with the East Bay Regional Park District to bring families to nature for health. The result has been, in a word, magical.
Through the generosity of the Regional Parks Foundation, a Nature Shuttle takes patients, their families, and accompanying clinic staff to a variety of East Bay Regional Parks on the first Saturday of each month. The first two trips have been to Healthy Parks Healthy People programming at Crab Cove Visitor Center at Crown Memorial State Beach on the Alameda Shoreline where we were greeted by a naturalist, participated in guided activities exploring the outdoors, and enjoyed a meal together.
One family was recruited to the Nature Shuttle during a busy clinic morning when a single mother and two toddlers had come in for vaccines and asthma. During the course of the visit, the doctor learned that the family was struggling with housing. Among other more urgent topics, the provider was able to suggest this specific nature activity as a way to relax and recuperate. Once at the tide pools, with her boots covered in mud, this mother said: “This is my last pair of shoes.” She laughed and said that she had to wait until next month to have enough funds to buy a replacement pair, but that it was worth it. Read more

10 Ways to Create Community in a Suburban Hood
From Shareable

In his recent blog, Richard Louv gave 10 ways to lead the children and nature movement in our schools. Let's take another step closer to home. Shareable and PocketNeighborhoods share 10 suggestions to create community starting in our own yard and neighborhood:
  1. Move your picnic table to the front yard
  2. Plant a front yard vegetable garde
  3. Build a room size porch
  4. Add layers of privacy
  5. Take down your backyard fence
  6. Put up a book-lending cupboard
  7. Organize summer potluck street parties
  8. Build resilience together
  9. Create an on-line network for near-by neighbors
  10. Be a good neighbor 
Read the full article here. For starters, divvy up the list of ten with your neighbors. 

Go to the Little Free Library to put your neighborhood book-lending cupboard on the map. If you need inspiration to transform your front yard, check-out Playborhood.

Need some local examples? Read about Karen Harwell's garden and yard in What Can One Person Can Do? Better yet, climb on your bike and visit her garden for the September 21st Silicon Valley Tour de Coop. On the tour, also check out Julie and Scott Stanford's chicken coop in Mountain View — ask them about yard sharing and neighborhood summer potluck parties in the backyard. 


Silicon Valley Tour De Coop 2014

Discover the New Agrarianism Movement 

The Silicon Valley Tour De Coop is a free, self-guided bicycle tour of chicken coops, gardens, bee hives, hoop houses, and coolest Silicon Valley urban homesteads. Sign up to get your information for the tour on Sunday, September 21, 2014 from 9AM to 4 PM. 

What is this new agrarianism? Scott Vanderlip (tour organizer) shares Wendell Berry’s definition: “There is another way to live and think: it’s called agrarianism. It is not so much a philosophy as a practice, an attitude, a loyalty and a passion – all based in close connection with the land. It results in a sound local economy in which producers and consumers are neighbors and in which nature herself becomes the standard for work and production.”  Learn more about the tour.


Village Building Convergence in Sebastopol

Sept 12-21 2014

Learn how to step up community building by participating in the Village Building Convergence in Sebastopol and 10-day fall celebration — an annual collaboration and cross pollination of neighbors, groups and civic partnerships to transform their town through village life patterns and educational projects.
The Village Building Convergence is a place-making festival — locals coming together to shape their common spaces in a way that promotes beauty and community.  Projects may take the shape of benches on corners, street painting projects, sharing kiosks, natural building projects and a multitude of other ways to inspire neighbors to gather in public spaces. Learn more


Rock in the Redwoods

Saturday, September 6th from 6-10 pm
500 Coventry Road
Kensington, CA

Join family and friends at Coventry Grove Amphitheater in Kensington, one the most serene backyard locations in the East Bay, on Saturday, September 6th from 6:00 -10:00 pm for Rock in the Redwoods.
Local band Little Marvin & the Gardeners will grace the grove with an eclectic mix of high energy rock and roll and dance covers. With favorites by The Stones and Beatles to Johnny Cash, Blondie, B52's and Talking Heads, there's something for everyone.
All proceeds from the concert will go to YES Nature to Neighborhoods, For the past 15 years, Youth Enrichment Strategies has been making outdoor camp and leadership experiences possible for underserved youth and families. More details


Visions of the Wild

September 3-6, 2014
Vallejo, CA

To celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act, the Visions of the Wild Festival will be held in Vallejo, CA from September 3-6.

Visions of the Wild will include art shows, speakers, films, music, and field trips. The goal is to connect diverse urban communities to the wildness of nature around them. The festival is sponsored by the U.S. Forest Service, the Vallejo Community Arts Foundation, and many other agencies and organizations. Learn more


Rock Balancing Gathering 

Saturday, September 13, 2014 from 11 am to 1 pm 
Crissy Field, San Francisco
Hosted by Bill Dan and Zach Pine 

Meet Bill Dan and Zach Pine at the September 13th Rock Balancing Gathering at Crissy Field in San Francisco. What is rock balancing? Dozens of artists worldwide are part of a global rock sculpture movement.  

Zach Pine shares a perspective about rock balancing as "an art form, a working meditation practice, a tangible connection to Earth, an avenue for self-discovery and personal growth, a playful exploration of the force of gravity and other laws of physics, a paradigm for solo and group empowerment, a form in which to practice equanimity during collapse and rebuilding, and a joyful and moving way to connect with others and with the environment."

This rock balancing gathering is a Samavesha Community Program Event.


Art in Nature Festival

Sunday September 21, 2014 from 11am to 5pm 
Redwood Regional Park
 Oakland, CA

The Art in Nature Festival — the power of nature and art —  brings people closer together, to draw out innate creativity and provide a model for collaborative, innovative action to inspire future generations.  

Stroll along the mile-long Stream Trail of Redwood Regional Park and experience more than 200 artists tucked amongst the meadows, redwoods and oaks in this family, bicycle, and dog friendly festival. See festival details

The festival organizers are looking for more volunteers and donations


Wildlife Associate's Harvest Party

Sunday September 21, 2014 from 11 am to 3 pm 
Half Moon Bay
RSVP Required
— Attendance is Limited 
Wildlife Associate's Harvest Party is a family day with amazing animal experiences, wildlife presentations, pony rides, pumpkin patch, live music, and gourmet lunch.  Meet the animals from the Wildlife Associate’s sanctuary: lynx, porcupine, armadillo, fox, anteater, owl, kestrel, hawk, tortoise, alligator, tarantula, snakes, and lizards.
For 34 years, Wildlife Associates has been caring for non-releasable, abused, abandoned, and injured wildlife. With these animals their educational programs teach thousands of students in the Bay Area each year. They also serve the community with innovative programs for disadvantaged and at-risk youth. 


Family Day at Lazy Foot Chicken Ranch

October 12th
160 West Portala Avenue
Los Altos, CA 

Save the date for the Family Day at the Lazy Foot Chicken Ranch, a fundraising event for Living Classroom with community garden groups, activities for kids, natural surroundings, and food. The Living Classroom inspires children to learn and value our natural world through garden-based education. Funds raised at this event will help grow the program to other school districts.

The pioneer Living Classroom is now serving 16 schools in both the Los Altos and Mountain View Whisman School Districts.  The program will be growing in the 204-15 school year, providing over 900 lessons to students.

Photo Credit: Art in Nature Festival, Samavesha 


Copyright © 2014 Children in Nature Collaborative, All rights reserved.

Earth Island Institute

The Children in Nature Collaborative is a project of the Earth Island Institute a 501(c)3 corporation.

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