The natural world has always been my comfort zone. Birds and bugs. Facts and figures. I followed my left brain through school and various science-based jobs that involved quiet study, number crunching, and technical writing.
Then one day I found myself on the staff of a small western land trust on the brink of expanding its horizons. This was a launching pad for what some folks call “community conservation.” And my safe science nut was about to crack.
This is a new spin on the web of life. Here’s how it works:
Introduce a group of troubled children to the healing effects of nature. Do so in a safe environment with adults they can trust. Let them be touched by the wonder of the woods on their own terms. You will have planted a tiny seed of compassion and familiarity, one that will serve as a reminder of the significance of that place and that will grow throughout their lives.
Try this: Walk alongside a medical practitioner who is prescribing outdoor activity to combat chronic illness. Now a new population is discovering the surprising health benefits of being outdoors and moving. The land has the capacity to heal. And if land can heal us, what better argument for protecting it?
These are just two programs that have been built at my little land trust over the past year.
It’s not difficult to begin. Listen for the struggles and frustrations in your community. Isolate one small voice at a time from the commotion of the crowd, and then extend an invitation to walk together on the land.
Perhaps we land folks hadn’t realized that we hold the key to so many puzzles completely unrelated to land protection. Or are they?
Regan Plumb is land protection specialist at the accredited Kaniksu Land Trust in Idaho