“Find your place on the planet, dig in, and take responsibility from there.”
– Gary Snyder
With summer now in full swing, all of us at NWEI are making sure to get outside with our friends and families, connecting with nature as a way to feed our passion for protecting this beautiful place we call home. Wherever you are, we invite you to join us in cultivating a sense of place and reconnecting with earth this summer.
Here are our 5 tips for cultivating a sense of place:
1. Take time to reflect on what makes your immediate place unique. What do you love? What do you want to protect? Consider beginning a nature journal or simply take 5-15 minutes to write about what you love about your place and what makes it different from other places you’ve visited or lived. Invite friends or family to discuss your place and share about favorite places and activities. What is inspiring or beautiful about where you live? You might also draw a simple map of your place or neighborhood, paying attention to the natural features.
2. Start a new routine that involves getting outside and connecting with nature. Consider a weekly hike or walk, either in your neighborhood or at a nearby trail or park. Or, set aside time daily to sit outside and observe the rhythms of your place. Where does the sun rise and set? What animals or birds do you encounter? Ideally, your new routine will remind you of your connection to your natural surroundings.
3. Actively engage your senses. With so much time often spent indoors or interfacing with technology, actively engaging our senses is a refreshing way to awaken connection and appreciation for our place. Notice the sounds, smells, and sights. The next time you are near the flowers or trees that grow in your place, take a moment to touch and smell. Notice the textures and colors. Pay attention to detail.
4. Play in the Dirt. If you already have a garden, spend time playing in the dirt while tending it. And, you don’t have to garden to get your hands dirty! Consider growing something new – indoors or out. Not only does gardening or playing in the dirt connect you with nature – it also improves the immune system and is linked to improving mental health by relieving stress and boosting mental clarity.
5. Take note of a natural event every day. Make a practice of observing the natural events occurring around you. Are there summer rain showers each afternoon? Are the sugar snap peas ready to pick? You might take note of when the sunflowers begin to bloom, or when the grasshoppers are in full swing. If you choose to keep a nature journal, record your observations.
*Want a deeper dive? Check out NW Earth Institute’s Reconnecting With Earth discussion course, which is full of inspiring reflections and ideas on how to live in greater connection with our place. Happy summer!