APOCALYPSE NO: Something large and hopeful is forming out there. You’re already creating it.

About the Author

Richard Louv is Co-Founder and Chairman Emeritus of the Children & Nature Network, an organization supporting the international movement to connect children, their families and their communities to the natural world. He is the author of nine books, including "Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder" and "The Nature Principle." His newest book, "Vitamin N," offers 500 ways to build a nature-rich life. In 2008, he was awarded the Audubon Medal.

Why is the future so often portrayed as a post-apocalyptic dystopia, filled with human brutality and stripped of nature?

For decades, our culture has struggled with two addictions: to oil and to despair. But what if our lives were as immersed in nature as they are in technology every day? What if we not only conserved nature, but created it where we live, work, learn and play? What if something large and hopeful is already forming out there; what if we’re part of it?

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Despite the glum economic and environmental trends (and in some cases because of those trends), new currents are on the move, ones that often transcend political, religious, racial, economic and geographic barriers.

Among them: the Slow Food and simplicity movements; organic gardening, urban agriculture, vanguard ranching and other forms of the new agrarianism.

And pediatricians who are partnering with parks to prescribe nature to children and their families; the growing popularity of ecopsychology and other forms of nature therapy; citizen naturalists of all ages who are finding a deeper sense of personal identity by learning about and caring for the species of their bioregions and salvaging threatened natural habitats and creating new ones; the growing backyard revolution of urban and suburban dwellers who are replacing their traditional yards with native gardens (and potentially linking them to create Neighborhood Butterfly Zones or even a Homegrown National Park) …

And the growing number of nature-based schools igniting students’ imaginations and raising tests scores; “natural teachers” and other educators, reigniting enthusiasm and love for their profession; law enforcement officials who view the encouragement of natural urban places as a key to safer communities and lower recidivism …

What if these currents grew stronger, and quickened their speed, and joined with many others?

Including: bioimagineers who are working nationwide to build “human-nature social capital” by safely bringing more wildlife into our cities; residential developers and urban redevelopers who are, during a profound economic pause, reconsidering the nature of future neighborhoods; pioneering biophilic designers who, in architecture and urban design, are taking traditional green design to the next level, transforming our homes, workplaces, neighborhoods and potentially whole cities into places that not only conserve fuel, but produce human energy …

And of course, the children and nature movement, which helps power, and in return is made stronger by, all of these currents; and the racially and economically diverse young new leaders of that movement, who know that connecting adults to the natural world is as important as connecting children, that we are not separate from the natural world, and that the merging of all of these streams and tributaries will create a greater river: a new nature movement.

Recently, the filmmaker Camilla Rockwell kindly sent me a clip from her film Mother Nature’s Child: Growing Outdoors in the Media Age and suggested we might want to share it with others. Here’s a link to the interview clip. The topic is our culture’s need for an image of a different future. What if we were to ignore the odds, reject despair and seek a newer world? What if we’re already doing that?


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Richard Louv is founding chairman of the Children and Nature Network. He is the author of “The Nature Principle: Human Restoration and the End of Nature-Deficit Disorder,” and “Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder.”


  1. Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul. John Muir

  2. I’d like Mr. Louv and Camilla Rockwell to meet Connie Nelson, creator of the Bark Buddie Trees…they share so much common ground and they’re not just talking about their mission, they are creating it – reconnecting kids with the marvelous intelligence of nature! They share this mission but are using their own individual talents and gifts to bring it to fruition in their own unique ways…so cool!

  3. So glad last night to play board games and read by candlelight with the kids. Hope you write something about the need to be ready to live without tech.

  4. Rich,
    Thank you for reminding us all that we have a choice about what we focus on. We have a choice about where we put our time and attention and energies. We have a choice about what we emphasize as important to our children. We have a choice about what we ask of our community leaders, our teachers, our physicians, and ourselves as parents. We CAN make a difference in our world. Thanks for being an ongoing inspiration!

  5. Ron Swaisgood

    Thanks Rich for this insightful and inspiring blog. And here’s yet another reason: conservation psychologists (yes, there is now a nascent discipline devoted to understanding how best to engage people in conservation action) have found that we have no other choice. Despair leads to conservation fatigue. Even rationale gloom and doom is de-motivating and will rally few to the cause. How we in the field of conservation/environmentalism make our case will determine whether we will help people change their course of action.

    Case in point. The American Psychological Association recently created a task force to address how the discipline of psychology can offer assistance to one of today’s defining environmental issues—climate change. What did this prestigious think tank have to say about our communications with the public? “Well-meaning attempts to create urgency about climate change by appealing to fear of disasters or health risks frequently lead to the exact opposite of the desired response: denial, paralysis, apathy, or actions that can create greater risks than the one being mitigated.”

    Thanks for giving us a few more real reasons to cling to hope!

  6. The true inspiration of this movement, and others like it, is that it demonstrates we are NOT as forlorn and desperate as policy makers seem to believe.

    In one of my son’s favorite book series, “How to Train Your Dragon” by Cressida Cowell–there is an oft repeated mantra: “Nothing is impossible, only improbable.” I challenge all of us to shift our paradigms and not only become possibility thinkers…but also speak with the confidence that misery actually does NOT love company.

    Things might seem dark and impossible, but–as a species–we are coded for resilience and strength. No longer should questions be framed: what are the challenges? Our questions should ask: what are the opportunities?

    Thank you for your optimism and motivation.

  7. Do you mind if I quote a couple of your articles as long as I provide credit
    and sources back to your blog? My website is in the exact same area of interest as yours and my visitors would truly benefit from
    a lot of the information you present here. Please let me know if this ok with you.
    Thanks a lot!

    • Richard Louv

      Sure, and please do link to C&NN. Thanks.



  1. Granola Talk: September 28, 2011 » - [...] The movement is building…APOCALYPSE NO: Something large and hopeful is forming out there. You’re already creating it. (CN&#... [...]

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