Interview with Andres Edwards, author of Renewal: How Nature Awakens Our Creativity, Compassion, and Joy

by: Sara on 04/25/2019

Today we speak with Andres Edwards, author of Renewal: How Nature Awakens Our Creativity, Compassion, and Joyin which he explores our emotional bond with nature, and how it has the capacity to heal us and the natural world.

Our winning book giveaway questions was: What was the most significant thing you learned while writing this book? Look for the answer below.

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How do you think our bond with nature has become so severed over the years?

When I think about our disconnect with nature, three factors come to mind: The first is that the majority of the planet’s population is living in urban settings; secondly, we are immersed in technological world; and thirdly, the pace of life continues to accelerate, making it difficult for us to make time to spend in nature.

Since over half of the world’s population lives in urban metropolitan areas, the availability of access to nature has been greatly reduced. Urban parks provide some relief where residents can take a break from the daily routines, and these parks play a critical role in having access to nature, but many cities have limited access to green spaces. Secondly, Americans spend about 90 percent of their time indoors and much of that time is spent inside cars, homes, and offices working with technology and usually looking at screens. Finally, the fast-paced, demanding schedule of modern day life as parents and workers leave us with less time to spend outdoors enjoying the natural world. Perhaps identifying these factors will help us to devise creative ways to make changes that will make it easier for us to spend more time in nature.

Do you feel that it is imperative to human survival to reconnect with nature on an emotional, physical and intellectual level to avert environmental and social collapse?

andres-edwards-photo

Author Andres Edwards

For our survival and well-being, it's important for us to discover our pathway for connecting with nature. For some of us the path is rooted in our intellectual curiosity where we wonder how nature works; for others it may be an artistic pathway where we feel invigorated through journaling while outdoors or doing environmental art projects; and for others simply taking a walk in nature helps us to reconnect.

Whatever the pathway, nurturing an emotional connection with nature makes us care about the environment and often compels us to take actions to protect it. The natural world not only sustains us through the air, water and crops that keep us alive, but also provides a powerful way for us to thrive and grow emotionally and spiritually. Learning and falling in love with the natural world makes us aware that our lives are interdependent with the life support systems of the earth and all of its species.

What are some easy ways people can begin the reconnection process?

Reconnecting with nature can take many forms. At a simple level it may involve scheduling regular walks outdoors, or doing an outdoor sport such as golf, kayaking, swimming, fishing, etc.  Joining an environmental group in some of their outings is another way to get outdoors and reconnect with nature. Starting a new hobby such as photography or painting is also a great way to spend time outside. Developing a contemplative practice such as meditating outdoors is yet another way to connect with nature and ourselves.

When we’re indoors, we can have a closer connection with nature by having indoor plants or a water fountain that reminds us of the sound of flowing water. We may also make a point of allowing as much natural light into our indoor spaces and making a point of looking out through our windows to the views of trees or other natural landscapes. Many of these actions have been proven to improve our health and well-being.

Winning Giveaway Question

What was the most significant thing you learned while writing this book? 

Spending time in nature

In writing Renewal, I came across some fascinating research regarding the numerous benefits of spending time in nature, including the health benefits, the joy, creativity and awe that we derive from being in nature. But in addition to the gifts we receive from nature, I learned about the importance of developing a reciprocal relationship with nature--- what I refer to in the book as an ecocentric ethic.

The seed of this reciprocal relationship comes from how we decide to integrate nature in our lives. So rather than looking at how we “take” from the natural world in terms of exploiting natural resources, we also look at how we “give back” to nature. This may take the form of doing a local project that regenerates the landscape, or volunteering for an environmental cause, or bringing awareness about our interdependence with the natural world. One of the goals in writing Renewal was to provide readers with examples of ways to integrate nature into their daily lives and see the power of creating a reciprocal relationship with the natural world.

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