Question - does anyone know what happened to good ol fashioned 'play'? You know the type - perusing parks, bush bashing, outdoor games and having fun in the sun?
Oh that's right. Technology happened.
Yup, ever since technology has been in the mix, there's been a slow decline in outdoor fun. Playgrounds have been left for iPads, bikes are gathering dust in the shed while kids are gathering points on the latest smart phone game and the streets are eerily quiet - because most kids are probably inside and channeling their noise onto a computer game or DVD.
This can't be good. Right? Enter research, which suggests this lack of unstructured play outdoors has serious health/wellbeing/development impacts. Not to mention rising rates of childhood obesity, diabetes and behaviour disorders.
Cue: help. And then cue Nature Play!
Nature Play is the new buzzword in the world of parenting (and noooooo there is no app for it) which champions more nature and play into modern day living. Hurrah!
And blogs like Nature Street are major advocates for this fantastic new movement. Neon Moose caught up with Claire Lock, brains behind Nature Street, for an indepth chat about all things nature, and discovered it really is easy being green.
Tell us about the ethos of Nature Street.
nature // street is about an expedition to bring more nature, simplicity and play into modern living. It’s a call to reconnect, explore and celebrate life in the urban jungle: a fresh view on slowing down, conscious thinking and appreciating the little things in a busy world.
Central to the nature street ethos are concepts such as the “biophilia hypothesis” [i.e. people have an innate tendency to seek connections with the natural world] and that nature in our urban landscape is crucial for connecting many people with the natural environment.
The blog and associated Instagram account also feature strong underlying themes of adventure, discovery, exploration, wonder and play, with nature being a key source of inspiration. And whilst wanderlust is certainly valued, the words of Marcel Proust ring true for nature // street in that “discovery consists not in seeking new lands but in seeing with new eyes”.
There’s a Nature Play movement going on – how does Nature Street contribute to that?
Nature // Street helps to champion the movement by providing a personal and practical account of bringing more nature into one family’s urban lifestyle. Through story-telling and creative writing it explores ways of creating and fostering a greater connection with nature, and the benefits this can have on children, adults, families and communities. Nature // street offers an example of how you can discover what lies in your own backyard, neighbourhood and city, and how building a connection with the natural world can also strengthen our connections with each other.
What do you find most challenging about blogging about your topic?
Finding the time to do so! Given that I’m trying to bring more nature, simplicity and play into our busy family life I’m conscious that I want the blog to be something that adds value to my life rather than something that brings further burden. I’ve therefore opted for a quality over quantity approach and try to be realistic and flexible with what I can achieve at any given point in time. While things are particularly chaotic we’ll still try to get outdoors but I won’t blog on our outings, and I’ll tend to focus any nature//street time on the Instagram account and reading other blogs or related content.
One thing you love about blogging?
I love that the blog has been a catalyst for so many things – getting my kids and family out on regular adventures, discovering a treasure trove of places to explore within our city and beyond; rekindling my passion for nature and the outdoors; and providing countless opportunities to connect with others from near and far. Getting outdoors for a regular dose of Vitamin N [nature] has an addictive quality to it and I love that both kids now ask to go for bushwalks on the weekend, that we’re regularly exploring our city’s greenspaces, and that I can use natural places as a way to unwind and rebalance.
What does “being creative” mean to you?
For me it’s about giving myself the freedom to dream, noticing and wondering about the world around me, letting ideas form and evolve, recognising and rolling with my intuition, and developing things that feels ‘true’ to me. A few months ago I also took up weaving and have been creating hand woven wall hangings which draw inspiration from nature and incorporate textiles such as yarns, rope and recycled materials. I’m interested in exploring the sustainability side of the craft further such as where the materials are sourced from, supporting small business and other artisans, and learning further complimentary techniques such as hand spinning and dying yarns. For me the weaving aligns with the simplicity angle of nature // street and provides a quiet and expressive outlet.
What do you try and give Nature Street readers?
My strategy is to present a fresh, modern look at nature that is positive, playful and full of possibility. My intention is to offer an example of how you can bring more nature, simplicity and play into modern living whilst recognising the practical challenges of trying to do so (i.e. how do you do that when suffering sleep deprivation, runs of illness, work pressures etc). Through my writing I aim to take my readers on adventures with us, to articulate the landscapes we explore, sounds we hear and details we notice. I also highlight a range of activities that can be done outdoors such as bushwalking, geocaching, creek exploration, campfires by the river, farm adventures, vegie gardening, or even playing in a vacant suburban block.
What action do you want your readers to take?
I’d really love for my blog to inspire people to get outdoors and into nature more, and for those with children (or grandchildren) to understand and value the benefits that nature play has for kids, as well as adults and our broader communities. I’ve been really touched when people have let me know that after reading my blog they’ve then gone and tried something like geocaching with their kids and all loved it, or have been inspired to also actively try to bring more nature into their own lifestyles.