Today we are continuing our celebration of Earth Day with the second installment in Richard Louv’s month long series on “Applying The Nature Principle to Your Life”. You can read the first post in the series here. Each week we will be publishing a post from Richard Louv and giving away a $150 gift certificate to The North Face to one lucky reader. Read Louv’s piece on Nature-Smart Jobs for the Future below. Leave a comment to be entered in the gift certificate drawing, and click here to learn more about his latest book The Nature Principle. (Comments must be posted by midnight on Tuesday, May 2, to be eligible.)
Nature-Smart Jobs for the Future (and Right Now), Part I
Want to make a decent living and a better life? Here’s one way. Get a job – a nature-smart job. Or better yet, be a nature-smart entrepreneur. By that, I don’t mean a career devoted only to energy efficiency. That’s important, but there’s a whole new category of green jobs coming. These careers and avocations will help children and adults become happier, healthier, and smarter, by truly greening where people live, work, learn, and play. Here are a few examples.
• Nature-smart workplace architects and designers. Studies of workplaces that have been created or retrofitted through biophilic (love of nature) design show improved product quality, customer satisfaction, and innovation. Successful models include the Herman Miller headquarters building, designed for abundant natural light, indoor plants, and outdoor views, including views of a restored wetlands and prairie on company grounds. After moving into the building, 75 percent of day-shift office workers said they considered the building healthier, and 38 percent said their job satisfaction had improved.
• Restorative employee health and productivity specialists. To reduce employee stress and boost morale, companies such as Google, Yahoo, and Sunset magazine promote on-site organic vegetable gardens. The aircraft manufacturer Airbus now uses wilderness retreats as a reflective catalyst for leadership training. At least one company offers weeklong nature camps for adults who need to recharge their physical, emotional, and intellectual batteries.
• Nature-smart residential builders. They’ll specialize in window appeal (the view of nature from inside the home)—not just curb appeal. They’ll know how to place a new house in sync with the sun’s movements, use local materials to reflect the nature and history of the region, install a super insulated green roof that can last eighty years, design for natural air-conditioning, and weave nature in homes and offices in even the most crowded urban neighborhoods.
• Nature-smart yard and garden specialists will help homeowners and businesses reduce traditional lawns and replace them with bird-attracting native vegetation, butterfly gardens, chlorine-free natural swimming ponds, organic vegetable gardens, beehives, and places to raise chickens and ducks and gather eggs. As local governments continue to loosen regulations on yard farming, and as nearby production of food becomes more important, this specialty will become more popular.
• Urban wildscapers. Urban designers and other professionals who create or redevelop neighborhoods that connect people to nature through the creation of biophilically-designed buildings and preservation of natural land will be increasingly in demand. They will design and establish biodiverse parks, urban forests and community gardens, wildlife corridors and other wild lands.Seattle recently announced plans for a massive urban forest that will produce free food.
• Outside In decorators will bring the outside in, creating or improving our homes to nurture health and well-being through nature: “living walls” of vegetation that purify air; indoor vertical vegetable gardens with automatic drip-irrigation systems; biophilic decorations such as twig furniture; fluorescent lights that adjust throughout the day via light sensors at the windows; bird-warning elements for windows; indoor water gardens and other living features. So will individual homeowners decorating their own homes. This goes way beyond feng shui.
The list of possible careers can go on. Stream restorers, law-enforcement officials who use nature for crime prevention and improved prison recidivism, specialists in nature-based geriatric services. Once the entrepreneurial spirit kicks in, it’s easy to start thinking of products and services. And when people begin to consider the career possibilities of human restoration through nature, their eyes light up: here is a positive, hopeful view of the human relationship with the Earth, a way to make a living and a life.
Richard Louv is the author of “THE NATURE PRINCIPLE: Reconnecting with Life in a Virtual Age,” now available in paperback, from which this piece is adapted. He is Chairman Emeritus of The Children and Nature Network and 2012 spokesperson for the CLIF Kid Backyard Game of the Year. For more information on his books, visit RichardLouv.com. Or click here for a free online Field Guide to the New Nature Movement.