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Our Implicit Connections With Nature

When we think of nature, we think of lakes, rivers, oceans, forests, savannas and other ecosystems, each with their corresponding plants and animals. We often see ourselves as being outside of that realm, existing primarily in our built environment. There is some truth to this notion—most people living in urban or suburban areas in North America spend most of their time indoors or in a vehicle traveling to some other indoor space, without taking time to connect with nature. And yet, whether or not we are consciously aware of it, we are constantly connected to, and interacting with, nature and the environment.

With every breath, we take in air enriched with oxygen produced through photosynthesis by trees and other plants, phytoplankton, cyanobacteria and algae. We exhale a mixture of gases depleted in oxygen and enriched in the carbon dioxide that sustains those same organisms. We drink water from deep under the ground, a local lake or a natural spring. We eat food grown from the Earth. We schedule our lives around the natural phenomena of sunrise and sunset, caused by the rotation of the Earth. We interact with nature through every breath, every sip of water and every bite of food.

We also interact with nature when we brush our teeth, wash our hair, wash the dishes, do our laundry or take out the trash. The products we use don’t disappear when they go down the drain, nor does our trash disappear when it gets picked up at the curb. We benefit immensely from the services provided by nature, but at the same time, what we do to nature we do to ourselves. When we put contaminates down the drain or into the atmosphere, it enters the same water system that provides our drinking water and the same atmosphere that comprises the air we breathe.

Connecting Purposefully With Nature

One of the best things we can do to shift our relationship with nature from parasitic to symbiotic is to get outside and enjoy it. When we spend time enjoying and appreciating nature we are far more likely to make choices that protect rather than harm it. Spending time surrounded by nature has measurable benefits to our physical and mental health. It lowers blood pressure, reduces stress levels, improves mood and sleep, increases ability to focus and even speeds recovery from surgery or illness.

In Halton we are fortunate to have beautiful green spaces in municipal, regional, and provincial parks, and even in walking and cycling trails that weave throughout the residential areas. Connecting with nature in a purposeful way can be as simple as heading out to any of these to walk, hike, cycle, picnic, camp, skate, go tobogganing, and so much more. Integrating nature into our day-to-day lives allows us to nurture that connection even on the days when we don’t have time to go hiking or camping.

Connecting With Nature When Life Gets in the Way

Life can get hectic. We sometimes have more on the go than we really have time for, which makes it difficult to find time for anything that isn’t essential. When this happens, we can still connect with nature in little ways by integrating nature into our daily lives: eat a meal outside, bike or walk for those short trips, or simply take a break to look out a window for a minute every half hour or so. Even looking at pictures of trees have some of the same health benefits as being outside in nature, although the benefits are less pronounced.

If you go to the gym, consider replacing some of your workouts with a workout in the woods or a bike ride. If you have children, include elements of nature even in their indoor play areas and crafts. If you commute, take notice of the trees and wildlife you see—especially if you take public transit and don’t need to watch the road.

Even when time permits, there are still times when you may just not want to be outdoors—perhaps it is pouring rain or there is a wind chill of -30. In times like these, film can be a great medium by which we can foster a connection with nature.

Connecting With Nature Through Film

Halton Green Screens uses film to inspire environmental stewardship. Environmental films, whether they are documentaries or works of fiction, provide us with a glimpse of the world through the eyes of others.  They allow us to connect with people and the environment in ways that we might otherwise never have the opportunity to experience. They play on our empathy and emotions, allowing us to access the most human parts of ourselves. A skillfully made film can take us to the other side of the world, the depths of the ocean, or even deep into our own backyard, offering us a new perspective on our local community.

In February we are showing “Jane”, which offers an intimate portrait of Jane Goodall, drawing on actual, never-before-seen footage from Jane Goodall’s life. When we see Jane interacting with chimpanzees in the wilderness of Africa, we are right there with her and have the rare opportunity to see these beautiful and deeply intelligent animals through the eyes of the person who arguably loves them most out of anyone on the planet.

In March we are showing “Chasing Coral”, which carries us to the depths of the ocean, where most of us will never go in real life. When the magnificence and mysteries of the underwater worlds are laid before us on the big screen, we are there with the filmmakers, experiencing it along with them. We observe the incredible beauty of complex underwater ecosystems, and perceive the urgency of coral bleaching.

For just an hour or two, we are transported out of our own lives to experience a hint of another reality. By the end, we are left feeling happy, sad, haunted, uplifted, concerned or any number of other emotions. We may even feel inspired to take actions to either protect or change the reality we have just glimpsed. This is the power of a good film and the basis for our mission at Halton Green Screens. We hope you will join us sometime to experience it along with us!

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Last modified: January 25, 2018

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