Summertime and the Great OutdoorsJuly 22, 2022
Featured artwork: “Spring of Life” by Kayte Yanez, Texas
It’s summer here in the Northern Hemisphere, which means a few things for the Bow Seat team:
- We are enjoying the warm weather after another cold and snowy New England winter
- We are in the midst of judging your submissions from the 2022 Ocean Awareness Contest: The Funny Thing About Climate Change
- We are preparing for the launch of the 2023 Ocean Awareness Contest this fall
Even though we are hard at work, we recognize that the warmer weather brings more opportunities to surround ourselves in nature. Being outside reminds us of what we are fighting to protect. And, just as important, being outside does wonders for our mental health. Researchers have found that exposing ourselves to nature improves our memories, helps our concentration, and reduces stress. There is also evidence that nature is associated with happiness, well-being, and a sense of purpose in life.
“There is mounting evidence, from dozens and dozens of researchers, that nature has benefits for both physical and psychological human well being”
– Dr. Lisa Nisbet, Trent University
For many of us, though, “conventional” nature is harder to reach. These studies, recognizing the importance of urban parks for their cognitive and emotional benefits, are driving efforts to increase green space in lower socioeconomic areas. This green infrastructure makes the mental health benefits more accessible and provides other advantages, like improved air quality, affordable fruits and vegetables, and reduced energy costs.
Urban green spaces offer many mental health benefits. (Boston Public Garden by Rick Harris)
There are organizations all across the United States working to make nature and the outdoors more equitable, ensuring that everyone has access to the social and emotional benefits of nature. In Bow Seat’s hometown, All Inclusive Boston shares parks, trails, and other outdoor experiences that celebrate Boston’s multiculturalism. Black Outside, Inc., in Texas, aims to reconnect Black and African-American youth with the outdoors through summer camps and other outdoor activities. Get Out Stay Out/Vamos Afuera runs outdoor programming to develop community among Indigenous Migrant youth in Central California. Wild Diversity is working in Washington to create a sense of belonging in nature with BIPOC and LGBTQ+ teens.
We encourage you to look for similar organizations in your local community, if you are interested in learning more. Please share any organizations that we have not mentioned in the comments below.
The fight for climate justice can be exhausting, so it’s important to remember to take breaks and have fun–and try to do it outdoors! Whether that is going to a local park, going to the beach, or taking a walk in your neighborhood, we must give ourselves space to recharge in order to continue advocating for positive change.