preventing Nature Deficit Disorder

Richard Louv characterized disconnection from nature as Nature Deficiency Disorder. In his book The Last Child in the Woods he argues that exposure to natural materials and spaces boosts imagination and creativity and helps with problems such as attention deficit disorder and childhood obesity.

Past generations of city children wandered the streets, played in vacant blocks and felt free and unafraid. Now many parents have fears about stranger danger, and local councils have fears about litigation if play equipment does not meet stringent safety standards.

Yet there are signs that things are changing for the better. Community gardens are recognized as a good thing and planners and the public are starting to think about how to plan public natural spaces that allow for interactivity, such as beds for growing and harvesting flowers and vegetables.

People are starting to think up creative ways to incorporate natural spaces in cities, such as rooftop gardens. These have the advantage of cooling the building below, as well as resolving the problem of lack of space.

Yet many people who are able to live on decent sized blocks of land still seem to choose to cover their land with large mansions and a minute token garden. It’s as if they see a garden as an unproductive waste of space. I hope they hear about Nature Deficiency Disorder and change their ways.


  1. Oh the joys, and responsibilites fo being a grandma! I love seeing you? and the little one enjoying nature. I thought this post was going to be about winter, and the lack of nature we have being stuck inside the house. Probably not that way where you live, but we are suffering from a lack of nature here! Soon to be remedied with the coming of spring. :-)

  2. Think of the huge homes on the postage stamp sized lot. When we built our house, I made sure that we purchased the largest lot available so that I would have lots of outside space for my garden and children to play in. What a wonderful post!

  3. Hi Frances, we are lucky here, we can be outdoors most days. I often think how strange it must be to live where it is dark all day for part of the year. (And yes!!! it's me).

    Hi Noelle, we are fortunate to have lots of outside space. I am aware that I no longer have grass and space to run around and kick a ball. Grandchildren will have to go to the park for that stuff.

    cheers, catmint

  4. Catmint, I don't think certain types of people want to go outside. There are bugs. And dirt. And birds. And wild animals. Maybe if the estate has a well-enclosed swimming pool [surrounded by heat-radiating cement, of course] the inhabitants might venture out for a few hours.

    Gardening and outdoor pursuits are big time activities in my neck of the woods, thank God. No mansions or estates to speak of. :)

  5. I also think society has dipped down and is somewhat in recovery from nature deficit disorder (is that the most clever and apt title or what?!).

    I also ditto Grace's comments, but in all serious , in the summer, it's difficult times for me and my 2 kids. We are also super sensitive to mosquito, gnat, other insect bites. A mosquito bite on a "normal" person would amount to a tiny red bump if that, but for us, a single mosquito bite will swell up and become a large welt(and if on an elbow or knee - can seriously make it painful to walk!). Each mosquito bite will remain and be itchy for several days. And this happens every time we step out thedoor! We have to douse ourselves with bug spray and that's not healthy or fun, but a survival tactic (and if I cover my daughter's body with it, she'll get a bite on her eyelid and her eye will swell and close! it's that bad) Once a mosquito must have made it's way up my pant leg b/c I got like 10 bites up my leg and on my butt. But I digress...

    Yeah, true. Nature deficit disorder. Adorable babe in your photos who obviously loves being outside!

  6. What a lovely time with your grandchild on a discovery tour in the garden.

  7. Catmint, I grew up on a farm (can't get much closer to mature, lol). My brothers and sister were outside from sunrise to sunset, exploring for miles and miles, never worrying about a thing. The only things my parents worried about was us falling in the river. Now all of us feel a real affinity for nature (and still want to be outside).

  8. It makes me think of a song Cat Stevens wrote years ago called "Where Do the Children Play?"

    "I know we've come a long way
    We're changing day to day
    But tell me, where do the children play?"


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