Author: Florence Williams
Total Pages: 260
So, I have a confession to make. I moved out of San Francisco to the suburbs of the Peninsula. The city is still a small hop, skip and a jump away, but my environment has completely changed. My fiance and I were offered a sweet deal to live at work, and we have acquired a much larger apartment, for half of what we were paying for downtown… so, can you blame us? 😉
The Bay Area rent is no joke. Anyways… I digress.
This book was a part of my work bookclub starting at the exact same time as our transition out of The City. Quite timely really. It was inspiring reading the facts and research in this book. The author explains the metaphysical properties nature has on our brains and emotions; and being reintroduced to nature during this new phase, I knew exactly what she was describing… a certain calibration our body subconciously craves. It was the perfect transition book because, being city folks, we were having some withdrawals for sure. Reading this and smelling freshly cut grass for the first time in 11 years, and discovering some of the best hiking trails in our new neighborhood, made the positves radiate all the more.
Back Cover Summary:
From forest trails in Korea, to islands in Finland, to eucalyptus groves in California, Florence Williams investigates the science behind nature’s positive effects on the brain. Delving into brand-new research, she uncovers the powers of the natural world to improve health, promote reflection and innovation, and strenthen our relationships. As our modern lives shift dramatically indoors, these ideas — and the answers they yield — are more urgent than ever.
Where I read this and how long did it take:
I read this at home, during my lunch break. It took me about 3 months, but with breaks in between each reading session. I would cram in most of the reading the week of each book club meeting, which was held once a month, for 3 months.
Stand Out Facts and Quotes:
“A 2014 study estimated that trees in the United States remove 17.4 million tons of air pollution per year, providing 6.8 billion dollars in human health benefits (Page 75).”
“Nineteen percent of Americans live near “high-volume” roads (referring to air pollution from vehicles and other urban air pollutants), and most cities don’t monitor these corridors for air quality. Regardless of your income, the closer you live to these roads, the higher your risk of autism, stroke and cognitive decline in aging…Many scientists suspect it has smomething to do with the fine particles causing tissue inflammation and altering gene expression in the brain’s immune cells… (Page 76).”
“In one study, participants cleaned their lunch area more assiduously if they smelled citrus. Even with the pungent cleaner expressed a greater willingness to volunteer and donate money to a cause than participants in a neutral smelling room. The hypothesis is that the smell of “cleanliness” makes us aspirational. Who knew: Windex is the smell of virtue (Page 76).”
“We interact with our environment through our senses, so any pollution not only affects the fabric of our lives but our connections to everything else. (Page 93)”.
On exposing kids to nature — “The philosophy of this research is simple, time spent in the forest is not more interesting than video games, like fruit is not more delicious than junk food. We cannot make them (kids) stop playing games. As we get older, we have a tipping point in judgement that we need more fruits than junk food. As far as some time in forest, they can’t play games during that time. As long as playing in forest is just fun itself, it can make that tipping point come earlier…(Page 81).”
Williams does an exquisite job of laying out the facts and research to persuade and encourage the fight to improve access to nature in urban areas, and to those of all income levels. The argument is clear and sound and makes you reconsider what you think you need, especially as an urbanite.
This is a must read in a sense that it is educational and necessary, especially in a world where we turn to our phones and technology as the cure-all remedy. But in terms of keeping my interest, I did find it hard to push through till the end. I finished the book because I was 200% about the cause and what the facts where telling me, but the APA style towards the end was running too dry and predictable for me.
But I would still call it a must read. So add this one to your list.