Environment

Richard Louv wants you to get outside — and to take your kids with you. The author’s three books —“Last Child in the Woods,” “The Nature Principle” and “Vitamin N: The Essential Guide to the Nature-Rich Life”— focus on reconnecting children with nature: an essential bond that he says is being lost.

Louv will be in Louisville for several events this weekend, but first, he spoke with WFPL about the consequences of what he calls “nature deficit disorder,” and how to rectify it.

Listen in the player above.

On how raising children who aren’t familiar with and appreciative of nature could have long-term consequences for the planet:

“We can’t love something if we don’t know it. We can’t know something if we never experience it directly, not indirectly, not in an abstract way, but directly. Hands dirty and feet wet: that’s the way we truly get to know the natural world. So the disconnect, nature deficit disorder, the disconnect from nature, has real implications for the environment, itself. Who will be the future stewards of the earth if kids aren’t going out and connecting to nature now?”

On what steps cities can take to facilitate the connections between children and nature:

“I’ve been challenging cities to challenge themselves, for instance, Louisville to become the best city in America for children in nature. To define some goals, for five years, two years,
number of parks added, number of trails added, number of pediatricians prescribing nature, number of family nature clubs established. Whatever goals those are for Louisville, name them, meet them, and then give yourself an award as the best city in America for children in nature. And if some other city, some other mayor, objects, that’s good. We need to see this as a competitive thing. We need to see cities changing.”

Some of those solutions are small — and doable for most families and individuals:

“One of the items in ‘Vitamin N’ is to get a small truckload of dirt — you can buy dirt — and dump it in your yard and make a mound out of it and let the kids go, let them dig. And that mound of dirt actually costs less than a video game. And it will last a lot longer in terms of play.”

Louv will be in Louisville this Saturday for free events at Iroquois Amphitheater and Bernheim Forest. His visit is coordinated by a coalition including Compassionate Louisville, Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest, ChooseWell Communities, Cultivating Connections, the Institute for Healthy Air, Water and Soil and Metro Parks and Recreation.

The Iroquois Park Amphitheater event is Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to noon, and is meant for parents, educators, healthcare providers and outdoor enthusiasts. It features a presentation by Louv followed by breakout sessions discussing ideas on connecting children with nature. Advance registration is required: richardlouviroquois.eventbrite.com

The Bernheim event is Saturday evening. Louv will speak at 7 p.m., but Bernheim will host pre and post-event activities and nature explorations from 5-11 p.m. Advance registration is required: richardlouvbernheim.eventbrite.com

Erica Peterson is WFPL's Director of News and Programming.