Beautiful Dawn Chorus. 29 April, 2000, Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky. © Lang Elliott.
OUR MISSION is to celebrate and illuminate the wonder and beauty of nature, and help foster a deep and intimate connection to the natural world, especially nature near at hand.
We will accomplish our mission by producing world class, inspirational and educational multimedia resources for nature enthusiasts of all ages … beginner naturalists, parents, children, and teachers alike … anyone who desires a greater appreciation and understanding of nature.
Our primary goal is to convey the essence or “quality of being” of our native animals and plants. As such, we will rely heavily on high definition video to give viewers an intimate view of life in motion. Our style of delivery will be light-hearted, engaging, and poetic, yet always scientifically accurate. Believing that it is more important to feel connected to nature than it is to know everything about it, we will focus on helping people form an affective connection, an intimate lifelong bond with their natural surroundings.
Initially, the thrust of our effort will be establishing a comprehensive, expanding website that is free for all. Later, we will test our concepts “on the ground” through local, regional, and national workshops involving children of all ages. We’re in this for the long-haul. We are a dedicated crew and realize that nothing of value will happen overnight.
GEOGRAPHICAL AREA: At first we will focus on nature themes or phenomena commonly encountered in eastern and central US and Canada. Eventually we will expand to include all of North America, with occasional forays further afield.
MORE ABOUT OUR MISSION
In the belief that immersion in nature enriches the spirit and promotes health of the body and mind, our mission is to celebrate nature, especially “nature near at hand,” and provide inspiration and resources for:
• Children and parents exploring nature together
• Beginner and advanced naturalists of all ages
• Adults wanting to recover their “sense of wonder”
• Outdoor educators, homeschoolers, and other teachers
• Anyone who enjoys “just being in nature”
Our initial focus is on commonplace plants and animals that are native to the United States and Canada. Our emphasis is on species that are easily found and observed in the diverse habitats that lie at our doorsteps — cities and parks, fields and forests, ponds and streams, marshes and swamps, prairies and potholes, deserts and mountains, seashores and islands.
We need but take the time to look carefully at our surroundings and discover the miracles that abound. Why concentrate on exotic animals and plants in faraway places when amazing creatures inhabit our own backyards?
WHAT IS THE “MIRACLE” OF NATURE?
The “miracle” is what senses or feels when one is fully immersed in nature, fully awed by what one is observing. It embodies all of experience … sights, sounds, smells, taste, the intimate feel of things. Behold the singing birds, croaking frogs, bursting buds, courting salamanders, crawling insects, falling leaves, butterflies in flight, tiny wriggling creatures in a pool. There is no end to the magic that one senses and feels inside, when one is attuned to and in harmony with the natural world.
The goal of old-miracle.mystagingwebsite.com is to focus and amplify the myriad forms of nature to help people tune-in to their natural surroundings. If we are successful at what we do, our web site will be infused with rich multimedia content that is not only scientifically accurate and educational, but also:
• Beautiful, Inspirational, Uplifting, Enlightening
• Art-Full, Heart-Full, Joy-Full, Spirit-Full
• Light-hearted, Whimsical, Childlike, Magical
• Personal, Moving, Relaxing, Rejeuvenating
We want to help our audience fall in love with nature, in all its manifestations, especially the natural world that lies at our doorstep, that is accessible to all who take the time to go outdoors to look, listen, smell, touch, taste, and FEEL.
Ignite your sense of wonder and explore your surroundings as if you are a child and you will be astonished at what you find. The play of light on leaves, a wildflower unfurling, the blinking of a firefly, the sound of raindrops splashing, the ethereal song of a thrush – miracles of nature one and all.
NATURE ABSORPTION versus NATURE FACTS
When it comes to introducing children (or adults) to nature, we believe that “lecturing at” is to be avoided. Too many facts and too much detailed scientific knowledge can overwhelm a person and draw attention away from direct experience of the miracle at hand.
We believe that the emphasis should be on helping a person “connect” or “bond” with nature. This is more about igniting the spirit than it is about filling the mind. It is about helping a person come into intimate contact with nature, and make a connection of the heart.
We focus on the process of discovering nature, of tuning-in to its magnificence. This is about exploring, finding, observing, and documenting, for the sheer joy of it. The goal is not to convey a set of facts – the goal is to improve the quality of a person’s life and to increase the depth of their experience of the natural world.
Becoming absorbed in nature, letting nature fully excite one’s senses, is central to the process. Perhaps we should call the activity “Nature Absorption” rather than Nature Study, Nature Education, or Natural History, all of which imply an academic approach to things.
Rachel Carson, author of Silent Spring, emphasizes that feelings and emotions are central: “I sincerely believe that for the child, and for the parent seeking to guide him, it is not half so important to know as to feel. If facts are the seeds that later produce knowledge and wisdom, then the emotions and the impressions of the senses are fertile soil in which the seeds must grow.”
Liberty Hyde Bailey, an eminent botanist at Cornell University and one of the founding fathers of the Nature Study Movement of the early 1900s, expressed similar ideals: “Nature study is not a science. It is not knowledge. It is not facts. It is spirit. It is concerned with the child’s outlook on the world … one’s happiness depends less on what one knows that on what one feels.”
More recently, David Sobel, in his book Childhood and Nature: Design Principles for Educators, makes the point that “One transcendent experience in nature is worth a thousand nature facts.” We agree, because such powerful experiences in nature will ignite a child’s spirit and foster an intimate connection to nature and the earth.
All these authors are concerned about how we introduce children to nature, but why not take the same approach with adults who have never experienced childhood wonder? Shouldn’t the process of nature absorption be applied more universally, such that no matter who the audience is, the goal is not primarily to educate or inform but rather to encourage an absorption in nature and a loving and caring attitude toward all living things?
We believe that spending time in nature, enjoying her wonders, is our natural birthright. Blessed with acute senses, we are literally made to receive. Opening fully to nature is not only good for our spirits and souls, it is good for our earth, and will help us in countless ways untold as we face the many challenges that lie ahead.
CLICK THIS LINK for additional essays that expand upon our mission.