We arrive on Earth. We do not choose when or where but are alive and surrounded by other invisible and visible forms of life, many of which are in our very DNA. Biophilia comes from the Greek word, ‘Philia,’ or Love of life and living things. The invisible forms of life include ecosystems we cannot see but whose complex cycles and processes are the basis for our life on Earth. Look at Universal Scales to 'see’ forms of life that are invisible or watch the Scales of the Universe to better understand what is too small for us to see but yet, powerfully part of the reason we are living. Amazingly, the invisible forms of life outnumber all the species of plants, animals, and insects combined! We hear, see, touch, feel, taste, and sense the world around us. We only need to look, listen, observe, document, and connect. Humans are part of nature, and today, more than ever, they need to be in contact with and take care of the natural world.
Activity 1 – Biophilic Pioneers
Human civilization generated Naturalist Philosophers from the beginning of recorded time. Indigenous, Chinese, Indian, African, European, American, etc. all connected with the eco systems of nature in affiliating improved life for people. Thales, form Ionia, in the 7th century BCE is credited as the first Naturalist and grandfather of Naturalism. Look at the History of Naturalists and make a time chart of key contributors from ancient times to the present. In the recent past, Aldo Leopold wrote
The Sand County Almanac, about the biodiversity of life month by month during the calendar year. E.O. Wilson, Founder of the Half-Earth Project, was interested in ants as a young boy. He constantly studied how they lived, collaborated, and worked! His book, Biophilia, explains why connecting to ants changed his life. Another scientist/environmentalist, Dr. Jane Goodall, lived in the Tanzanian Jungle studying chimpanzees and their communities. Others, Like Jacques Cousteau and Phillipe Cousteau and [Wyland]( study marine life and ecosystems.
Deyrolle published a French Encyclopedia of life forms. Later Audobon would record the beauty and diversity of bird types. Aldo Leopold wrote The Sand County Almanac, carefully writing about the biodiversity of life month by month during the calendar year. E.O. Wilson, [Founder of the Half-Earth Project](was interested in ants as a young boy. He constantly studied how they lived, collaborated, and worked! In his book, Biophilia, he explains why connecting to ants changed his life. Another scientist/environmentalist, Dr. Jane Goodall, lived in the Tanzanian Jungle studying chimpanzees and their communities. Others like Jacques Cousteau and Wyland study marine life and ecosystems. Visit the 22 Scientists.
Make a timeline of key naturalists through the century.
Activity 2 – Spend Time in Nature
We, humans, are alive, and we live in a world full of incredible and always-evolving forms of life. How well do we know other life forms? How do we connect with them? How do we coexist with them? Biophilia is a term that describes our affinity for and association with life in all of its forms.
Find a place in your community that is surrounded by nature. It could be a nature preserve, a park, or a river edge. Collect your supplies- a camera, pencils, sketchbook, etc. and find a place to sit without interruption. Visit this site at different times of the day, as the presence of wildlife will vary from morning to noon to late afternoon. Add your nature notes and drawings to your journal. Think about spending more time in and with nature.
Draw, photograph, and take notes on what you see at three different times of the day.
Activity 3 – Listen for Life
Wherever you are, close your eyes and listen. Once you get past the sound of your body, let your ears reach out in other directions. What do you hear? Can you hear non-human life forms? Who makes sounds? What sounds do they make? Listen to the movement of leaves on trees, breezes through a pine forest, ripple or roar of a water wave, the flow of a river, and life in a wetland. The study of Acoustic Ecology is an exercise in opening our ears to life around us. Look at NEXT.cc SOUND, SOUND MAPPING, SOUND SCAPES to expand listening from wherever you are. Draw a picture of your ear and non-human things that you hear. We must be quiet to learn to listen. Listening puts us in the background as we reach out with our senses to absorb the world around us.
Make a word map of the sounds that you hear around you.Upload it to the gallery!
Activity 4 – Look Down for Life
Study how things coexist and affect the characteristics of the soil.
It might be a ground cover of small or large leaves. You might find violets and clover, sedges and grasses. Look at all the different plant types, grasses, bushes, flowers, and trees. Make drawings or take pictures of everything you see and label them. Then dig a little area in the ground. What do you find? Are there worms, ants, insects, or roots? Document them all! Observe your ground patch for the on-top-of-the-earth activity of animals. Squirrels, chipmunks, bunny rabbits, and birds are common land animals in the Midwest. Complete your drawing with the above-ground biodiversity, on-the-ground, and below-the-ground circle of life.
Activity 5 – Take Care of a Plant
Go outside and look down. There is a wealth of life underneath our feet. It may be sand, soil, dirt, mud, loam, clay, or rock. It may be covered with moss or lichen. It may be plants that flower. Make a drawing of the many forms of life that you encounter when you look down. Every plant you see helps clean your air so that you can breathe. What can you do for plants? Look up the insects, invertebrates, and vertebrates in the soil beneath your feet. There are so many types of seeds and plants! Most plants start with seeds, and most roots grow in soil. Review NEXT.cc’s SEED JOURNEY Find a source or seeds that interest you. They could be a flower, a vegetable, or a tree seed. Plant it and water it, making sure it has access to sunshine. You can plant a lemon seed, an avocado seed, a tomato, or lettuce seeds. Find an acorn. Plant it. It will grow into a mighty tree. Provide for it. Taking care of something living is essential. It helps us realize that our actions affect living things.
Take a photo of your plant or plants and upload them to the gallery!
Activity 6 – Take Care of an Animal
What wildlife lives around you? All you need to do is to look down at the ground, ahead, behind, around, and up. Use the NEXT.cc Worksheet to document what other forms of life you see: insects, invertebrates, worms, birds, butterflies, chipmunks, squirrels, rabbits, snakes, turkeys, raccoons, coyotes, deer, etc. What life lives in your yard or your building’s yard? How do you take care of animals in your life? Do you know their names and what they need to live?
What animal are you interested in learning more about? Pick an animal and draw it, its habitat, and how it adapts. Keep in touch with it. Take a photo and upload it to the gallery!
Activity 7 – Befriend Nature
You can connect with nature every day in some way. You may have a history of walking to school or to work. You could pick up trash on the sidewalk or at the river’s edge, helping to spare garbage in our waterways. Maybe you find yourself helping a wild turkey cross the street, tiptoeing beside a bird’s nest with a mother sitting on her eggs, or planting a pollinator garden for bees and butterflies. As part of nature, people are asked to contribute positive actions to conserve all aspects of the biodiversity of life and the gifts of fresh air, fresh water, and rich topsoil to grow food. The EU is attempting to pass a Nature Law in which any new development must replace the biodiversity of flora and fauna that it removes to build streets and buildings. This charge to replenish nature is just beginning for more and more humans who recognize that human impact has changed the world of nature.
Each day, every day, ask yourself, what can I do today to take care of the Earth?
Activity 8 – Biophilic BENEFITS
Nature was here before us. We are here because it offers places to live, air to breathe, water to drink, and food to eat. Becoming stewards of nature begins with experiences in nature early on. When was the first time you sat in the grass? Have you climbed a tree? Planted a vegetable garden? Raised chickens? Had plants inside your house? Raised a kitten or a puppy? List the benefits of having experiences in and with nature. Scientists and evidence-based researchers study human responses to nature and report that walking in nature is relaxing, reduces stress, and improves mental well-being. Looking at a tree is calming; sitting or walking underneath trees is even more mentally and emotionally balanced. As we spend time outside in natural settings, we observe the changes during morning, noon, and night and over time. We begin to assimilate the presence of migratory birds with changes in seasons. We become in tune with the everchanging weather patterns, the sun’s movement, the feel of the Earth under our feet, and the friendship of life around us.
Make a list of the benefits of spending time in and with nature. Upload it to the gallery! SHare it with your friends!
- 14 Patterns of Biophilic Design
- 22 Environmental Scientists
- Ancient Greek Naturalists
- Biomimicry Foundation
- Biophilic Cities
- China's Greatest Naturalist Li-Shih Chen
- Cousteau Foundation
- E.O. Wilson
- History of Ecology WIKIPedia
- History of Naturalism
- Linnean Classification System
- Renaissance Naturalists
- South African Naturalists
- Stanford Renaissance Natural Philosophers
- Wyland Foundation
- Xunzi and Early Chinee Naturaliim
- Biophilic Architecture
- Experience Design
- Green Roofs
- Life Cycles
- Place Exploration
- Pocket Parks
- Rain Gardens
- Solar Energy
- Sound Mapping
- Well Being