#bioPGH Blog: Celebrating Nature in 2019
A resource of Biophilia: Pittsburgh, #bi oPGH is a weekly blog and social media series that aims to encourage both children and adults to reconnect with nature and enjoy what each of our distinctive seasons has to offer.
Happy New Year!
This year, let’s all challenge ourselves to celebrate nature on a regular basis. From an anthropocentric perspective, we know that spending time outdoors can lower our blood pressure, reduce physiological indicators of stress, and increase feelings of happiness and well-being. Plus, our busy, tech-driven world is so distracting and fast-paced, we often forget how much we rely on nature for everything from the pollinators for our food to our drinking water to the very air we breathe. So for 2019, here are six ways to help all of us more fully celebrate the natural world.
Our schedules fill up so quickly! The best way to ensure you leave time for the outdoors is to be intentional and plan specifically to make sure nature gets a spot in the planner. Whether you have to map out a block on the calendar that says “Hiking on Saturday” or jot down on the kitchen whiteboard “Observe bird feeder for ten minutes Tuesday morning,” being intentional is one way to promise time to unplug your phone and recharge yourself.
Be Realistic and Kind to Yourself
If you know that you have a busy schedule, don’t stress yourself out if a few minutes of nature each day is all you can add in. Go for a short walk in a greenspace, smell the air after a rain, listen to birds calling from your front porch. Enjoy your time with nature however you can, and remember you can always increase the amount of time you spend outside.
Get Involved in your Community
Learning can be more fun in groups! Here in Pittsburgh, we have a plethora of resources and organizations dedicated to nature interests, and the best part is that many activities (such as guided nature walks and speaker series) are free. Also, most of these organizations also conduct citizen science efforts—ways that you can get involved in meaningful scientific research, even if you don’t have a background in science.
- Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania
- Western PA Mushroom Club
- Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy
- Kate St. John bird-themed walks (Outside My Window blogger)
- Allegheny Land Trust
- Phipps’ monthly Biophilia meet-ups (free) or a variety of fee-based classes
- Learn your Land
One of Kate St John's bird walks at Duck Hollow.
Do Some Proverbial Digging
An important part of celebrating nature is understanding our human impact on it. Many of us unintentionally take natural processes for granted, and we can only take positive steps to properly care for the world around us once we understand the negative impacts we may leave behind. In 2019, challenge yourself to research conservation topics in your local community or beyond. For example, what river or stream does your drinking water come from? What are some local air quality concerns in your area? Are there land use issues near you? How can you reduce your use of single-use plastic or reduce your carbon footprint? Being aware of important issues is a key step in celebrating nature by protecting it. (Important note: as you research, always be sure to use reliable, trustworthy sources)
Sometimes the best way to appreciate something is to work for it—so why not use your time and energy giving back to nature? You can help pull invasive plants, maintain trails, pick up litter, share knowledge, play educational games with families, etc., and all in the name of celebrating nature! Phipps maintains a list of organizations that are a part of the Biophilic Network, and all of these organizations can use the use the help of volunteers.
The best thing we can all do to celebrate nature is to continue learning and keep exploring our beautiful planet in whatever way makes the most sense for each of us. That may mean hiking, watching a bird feeder, reading books, or taking classes—any way to keep exploring is an effort well-worth the time investment.
And if you have been reading along here as one way to keep exploring nature, thank you! It’s a pleasure learning new things with you every week. And feel free to submit a suggestion for a 2019 post in the comment section below.
Have a wonderful new year!