About

Hello there, and thanks for stopping by!

The benefits of time spent in nature are well-documented, but fewer and fewer people take advantage of natural spaces. These areas are neglected and, in many cases, disappearing. Children are never given the opportunity to develop positive relationships with the natural world, and are even taught to fear what may be lurking there.

When I finished my PhD in Planning on Nature and the Child Friendly City, I didn’t want to stop doing research. However, the research has taken on a more personal note, as I explore the applications in everyday life, with my own family and community.

Right now, I am at home with two young children, and I truly understand the trappings of the “indoor life.” Juggling naps, snacks, laundry, dishes, cooking, school pick ups and extra curriculars is a full-time job. The daily wrestling match with snowsuits, carseats, strollers and whiny children can make time spent in nature seem to be an additional chore. Somehow, though, when we do manage to get outside, and especially into a natural space, we feel better. We argue less. We breathe more. We are calm and at peace. Those daily struggles fade away.

This blog is going to explore ways in which we, as community members, government officials, teachers and parents can help children connect with the natural world and the larger community. In part, I hope this blog serves to remind me of what I know is important for my family, and for my own well-being.

I want to live in a community that favours natural spaces, community, creativity, innovation, playfulness, accessibility and inclusion over development, individualism, tradition, efficiency, standards and control. Don’t you?

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18 Responses to About

  1. Miriam says:

    I really like your blog! Totally agree with your perspective 🙂

  2. Carrie Rubin says:

    This is such an important topic. Time in the outdoors benefits children in so many ways. Plus, it helps them improve their focus for those inside activities like school. Great concept for a blog.

    Thank you for stopping by my site. I appreciate it!

  3. crproductions says:

    Cathy,

    I am always fascinated with how people utilize college studies beyond “to get a job”. Love how you are applying what you have studied to real-life situations. Keep up the great work and thanks for keeping us posted on your blog.

  4. Pingback: Celebrating Ice Storm Tree Arcs at Balsamea | The Balsamean

  5. tpdanen says:

    Good point about children and the natural world.Keep up the good work! And thanks for the recent like.td

  6. I think we’re cut from the same cloth. I read your blog and I love it! When/if the snow disappears, I encourage you to join the people of Central Frederick at our very sweet little park on Brubacher Street. It has 90% tree coverage, including a GIANT black walnut which is tons of fun (and danger) in the fall, a few mixed trees and five beautiful forgiving ash.
    If you were to pick up our park and put it in a field I wouldn’t look twice at it. But those trees, it’s location and our community, have made it something very special.
    It’s location is pretty clandestine. It is on a regular downtown city lot, where a large turn of the century duplex used to stand before it was lost to fire. This makes it extremely ideal for local parents because there are fences on three sides. (it’s also a bit of a secret, you could drive by it and never know it’s there)
    We have been leaving communal toys in the park for almost four years. Engaging children in non proprietary play exposes them to great sharing encounters. Along that line we installed a Little Library (I live beside the park so we installed it on our property) and filled it with lovely books to read and share. We have also recently launched the Fairy Doors movement that we hope to spread throughout Downtown. Again, pretty conveniently, one of the three fences belong to my family, so we will be installing a very special Fairy Door in the park. (http://centralfairies.yolasite.com/).

    Hopefully you come to check it out this summer (and you know where I live so come over and knock)! I’ll be running a Jane’s Walk this spring, just going up and down our street, searching for Fairy Doors, reading stories along, talking about trees and maybe even finding some hidden secrets!

    Laura

    • Nice to meet you Laura! Thanks for connecting, and thanks for reading the blog.

      I love the Fairy Doors idea. Years ago, I bought one for my mother and she now has a “fairy garden” in her front yard that my kids are quite fond of. The idea of having them spread around a neighbourhood is even more fun!

      We will definitely have to come check out your neighbourhood and park! I live in the suburbs, unfortunately, and will soon be losing about 90% of our tree cover to the Emerald Ash Borer. I’m quite jealous of what you’ve described there!

      I will also do my best to make it to your Jane’s Walk. That sounds like a fantastic one! Hopefully we can meet then! Any idea when it will be?

      9 degrees tomorrow….the spring fairies will be coming out of hibernation any day now! We saw three robins yesterday.

      Thanks again for connecting!

  7. Amanda says:

    What a fantastic blog Cathy. I thoroughly enjoy reading your wonderful posts… 🙂

  8. 67merrill says:

    Thanks for your efforts – teaching children to love and respect nature is such an important job, it cannot be overstated. Look forward to your posts.

  9. mallycw says:

    I agree with your perspective too Cathy and I think your research subject matter must have been fascinating. I am going into a Masters in Design which will include urban planning and conservation in Quebec and would be really interested in hearing more about what conclusions you drew in your research ( and if you don’t mind in which city).
    Great blog!

    • Fantastic! My doctorate focused on the city of Waterloo Ontario. I used the UNICEF child friendly city model to examine our community and found some serious gaps. My interviews with kids led me to better understand how they see and navigate their communities. I discussed how the interactions between children, community and greenspaces all needed enhancing (in a Venn diagram). Happy to discuss further if it is relevant. (Is there private messaging on here?)

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