If you've been reading my blog lately, you've no doubt noticed my involvement with the construction of a native plant garden at Easley Elementary School. I thought I'd take a few minutes to describe why the Duke Gardens is involved with this project.
I think that most of us would agree that our nation has collectively moved away from an intimate understanding of mother nature and how she works. We don't know where our food comes from (before it gets to Food Lion), where our water comes from (before it gets into our pipes) or how a forest is more than a green backdrop for a golf course. This disconnect has created an alarming level of apathy on the part of the average citizen. We watch impassively as the woods and streams of our childhood disappear, to be replaced by concrete, asphalt and two-by-four monocultures.
Have we truly forgotten the lessons we learned watching leaves turn to rich soil as we grew, or was nature just an abstract backdrop to us even in our early years? Whatever is at the root of our disaffection with mother nature is, it's up to us to prune it and start anew.
Anyone who has children will tell you that having kids around you opens your eyes. They see everything, and their sense of wonder and curiosity is infectious. If we want to re-connect our societies with the natural world, I believe we must start young, before those open eyes begin to close. For that reason, the Duke Gardens has embraced the idea of bringing nature back into the schoolyard. If we can create spaces where children can experience the beautiful diversity of their local wild environments right outside their classrooms, and if we can design those spaces to meet the needs of teachers, I think that we will have a great start toward fostering a much more profound understanding and appreciation among young people of the beauty and wonder of our remaining wild spaces. To learn more about what's happening with our current project at Easley Elementary, please visit the project website. Until next time, "Enjoy the Wild"!