Friday, September 16, 2016

9/16 Creation Col.: Nature's Value to Us, Convicts, Ex-0ffenders

The Value of Nature for Ourselves, Prisoners, Ex-offenders

"He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.  He restoreth my soul."
from Psalm 23

Where would we be without nature, our environment, God's creation?  A loss of experiencing the "outdoors" has been documented ("nature-deficit disorder").

So what are the advantages for us of having a relationship with natural settings, fresh air and sunshine, walking in forests, parks, and along shorelines, and eyeing green landscape aesthetics?

In "The healing power of nature" by Alexandra Sifferlin, these healthful effects can include the lowering of blood pressure; stress reduction; the increasing of awe, energy and a sense of rejuvenation or purpose; the promotion of cancer-fighting cells; potential help with ADHD (attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder) symptoms; and may aid with mental health (mood uplifts, less depression and anxiety).

Some studies propose that even the images, sounds and smells of nature within the built environment can offer benefits (source: TIME magazine, 7/25/'16, pgs. 24-26).

And just as time spent in the natural environment has therapeutic value for everyone from at-risk youth (Outward Bound programs) to veterans, new research suggests it can help ex-convicts, those who have spent years cut off from the outdoors, according to an article by Brian Mockenhaupt, "The Great Escape" (OUTSIDE magazine, 9/16).

Might nature be a key to their rehabilitation?  Relearning life beyond prison after incarceration is hard (the challenge of a job search, finding a place to live, breaking the cycle of bad habits and friends that can lead to more prison time).  "Sponsors", a mentorship group in Eugene OR (Lane County) tries to implement a program demonstrating what science confirms, that nature is good for us.

So, the thinking goes, combine the restorative power of nature and outdoor activities (horseback riding, rock climbing, confidence-building challenge courses, extended wilderness trips, bicycling, fishing excursions, etc.) with individual/group therapy.

Studies show that such, especially among young offenders, reduces the recidivism, and improves judgment and decision-making.

"Bringing offenders into the outdoors---even while they're still locked up---may vent just enough steam from the pressure cooker to get them back on track."

"Sponsors" is holistic, offering many re-integration services beyond the "back-to-nature" program.  Founded 43 years ago by Catholic nuns and community activists, its outdoor therapy program is now six years old, and the "graduates" are 80% less likely to re-offend after two years compared with other former inmates.

Within prison, inmates may have "yard time", fresh air but not much nature.  At the Snake River (OR) Correctional Institution, an experimental "Blue Room" effort by Nalini Nadkarni is the "first-of-its-kind effort to connect the most isolated prisoners with the natural world."

Research in other institutional settings (hospitals, nursing homes, public housing, etc.) showed that people respond favorably (physiologically, psychologically, emotionally)  to nature imagery.  Exposure to the projected nature imagery in the "Blue Room" had salutary effects (calming, resisting worst impulses) and thus fewer disciplinary issues.

Thus the healing power of nature for ourselves, and prisoners, and ex-offenders.  Inspiring models to emulate

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

8/16 Creation Corner: Summer Enviro. Books


After Nature: A Politics for the Anthropocene. Jedediah Purdy.
Atmosphere of Hope: Solutions to the Climate Crisis.  Tim Flannery.
Baptized with the Soil: Christian Agrarians and the Crusade for Rural America.  Kevin   M. Lowe
The Big Ratchet: How Humanity Thrives in the Face of Natural Crisis/ A Biography of an Ingenious Species.  Ruth DeFries.
Blue Skies over Beijing: Economic Growth and the Environment in China.  Matthew E. Kahn and Siqi Zheng.
Climate Shock: The Economic Consequences of a Hotter Planet.  Gernor Wagner and Martin Weitzman.
The Color of Food: Stories of Race, Resilience & Farming, by Natasha Bowens.
Contemporary Moral and Social Issues: An Introduction Through Original Fiction, Discussion, and Readings.  Thomas D. Davis and Wiley Blackwell.
Countdown: Our Last, Best Hope for a Future on Earth?  Alan Weisman.
Degrowth: A Vocabulary for a New Era.  Giacomo D'Alisa, Federico Demaria, and Giorgos Kallis.
Designing Our Way to a Better World.  Thomas Fisher.
Eating Earth: Environmental Ethics and Dietary Choice.  Lisa Kemmerer.
The Ecological Rift.  John Bellamy Foster, Brett Clark, and Richard York.
The End of Plenty: The Race to Feed a Crowded World.  Joel K. Bourne Jr.
The Fabulous Future?  America and the World in 2040.  Gary Saul Morson and Morton Schapiro, editors.
Facing the Anthropocene: Fossil Capitalism and the Crisis of the Earth System.  Ian Angus (Angus edits the web journal .
Famine, Affluence, and Morality.  Peter Singer.
Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer.  Novella Carpenter.
Foodopoly: The Battle Over the Future of Food and Farming in America.  Wenonah Hunter.
For Love of Animals: Christian Ethics, Consistent Action.  Charles Camosy (a member of the Faith Advisory Council  of the Humane Society of the United States.)
Frackopoly: The Battle for the Future of Energy and the Environment.  Wenonah Hunter.
Freegans: Diving into the Wealth of Food Waste in America.  Alex V. Barnard.
From Field to Fork: Food Ethics for Everyone.  Paul Thompson.
The Gene: An Intimate History.  Siddhartha Mukherjee.
Getting to Green: Saving Nature, a Bipartisan Solution.  Frederic C. Rich.
The Glamour of Strangeness: Artists and the Last Age of the Exotic.  Jamie James.
Good and Cheap: Eat Well on $4/Day.  Leanne Brown.
The Great Transition Today: A Report from the Future.  Paul D. Raskin.
Green, American Style: Becoming Earth-Friendly and Reaping the Benefits.  Anna M. Clark.
Greening the Global Economy.  Robert Pollin.
Hands: What We Do With Them---and Why.  Darian Leader.
Hope on Earth: A Conversation.  Paul R. Ehrlich and Michael Charles Tobias.
HOT: Living Through the Next Fifty Years on Earth.  Mark Hertsgaard.
Imperial Ecology.  Peder Anker.
Keepers of the Green World: Traditional Ecological Knowledge and Sustainability, edited by Melissa K. Nelson and Dan Shilling (2016).
Lethal but Legal: Corporations, Consumption and Protecting Public Health, by Nicholas Freudenberg.
Leviathan or, the Whale.  Philip Hoare.
Natural Capital: Valuing the Planet.  Dieter Helm.
Nature's Fortune:  How Business and Society Thrive by Investing in Nature.  Mark R. Tercek and Jonathan S. Adams.
Not Natural: The Production of Disasters and the Rush to Resilience.  Stan Cox and Paul Cox (2016).
Olmsted: Writings on Landscape, Culture, and Society (re: Frederick Law Olmsted). Charles E. Beveridge, ed.
The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information.  Daniel J. Levitin.
Panic at the Pump:  The Energy Crisis and the Transformation of American Politics in the 1970s.  Meg Jacobs.
Plan B 4.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization (Substantively Revised Edition).  Lester R. Brown.
Plentitude: The New Economics of True Wealth.  Juliet Schor.
Prairie Crossing: Creating an American Conservation Community.  John Scott Watson.
Prosperity Without Growth: Economics for a Finite Planet.  Tim Jackson.
Public Faith in Action: How to Think Carefully, Engage Wisely, and Vote with Integrity.  Miroslav Volf and Ryan McAnnally-Linz.
Reason in a Dark Time: Why the Struggle Against Climate Change Failed---And What it Means for Our Future, by     Dale Jamieson.
Rightful Heritage: Franklin D. Roosevelt and the Land of America.  Douglas Brinkley.
The Seventh Decade: The New Shape of Nuclear Danger.  Jonathan Schell.
Something New Under the Sun: An Environmental History of the Twentieth-Century World.  J.R. McNeill.
Soul of an Octopus.  Sy Montgomery.
Spirituality and the State: Managing Nature and Experience in America's National Parks.  Kerry Mitchell.
Strangers Drowning: Grappling With Impossible Idealism, Drastic Choices, and the Overpowering Urge to Help.  Larissa MacFarquhar.
Stuffed and Starved, by Raj Patel.
There is Still Time: To Look at the Big Picture...And Act!  Peter Seidel.
Think Like a Commoner: A Short Introduction to the Life of the Commons, by David Bollier.
Thirst for Power: Energy, Water and Human Survival.  Michael E. Webber.
Too Many People?  Population, Immigration, and the Environmental Crisis.  Ian Angus.
The Tragedy of the Commodity: Oceans, Fisheries, and Aquaculture. Stefano B. Longo, Rebecca Clausen, and Brett Clark.Tropic of Chaos: Climate Change and the New Geography of Violence.  Christian Parenti.
The Truth in Small Doses: Why We're Losing the War on Cancer and How to Win It, by Clifton Leaf.
Two Percent Solutions for the Planet:  50 Low-Cost, Low-Tech, Nature-Based Practices for Combatting Hunger, Drought, and Climate Change.  Courtney White.
Unstoppable: Harnessing Science to Change the World.  Bill Nye.
Utopia Drive: A Road Trip Through America's Most Radical Idea.  Erik Reece.
Waste:  Uncovering the Global Food Scandal.  Tristram Stuart.
Waste Free Kitchen Handbook: A guide to eating well and saving money by wasting less food.  Dana Gunders.
Water 4.0: The Past, Present, and Future of the World's Most Vital Resource.  David Sedlak.
Wattana: An Orangutan in Paris.  Chris Herzfeld.
The Weather Makers:  How Man is Changing the Climate and What It Means for Life on Earth.  Tim Flannery.
What Every Environmentalist Needs to Know About Capitalism.  Fred Magdoff and John Bellamy Foster.
What We're Fighting for Now Is Each Other: Dispatches From the Front Lines of Climate Justice.  Wen Stephenson.
Who Rules the Earth?: How Social Rules Shape Our Planet and Our Lives.  Paul F. Steinberg.
Whole Earth Discipline: Why Dense Cities, Nuclear Power, Transgenic Crops, Restored  Wildlands, and  Geoengineering are Necessary.  Stewart Brand.
Why Are We Waiting?  The Logic, Urgency and Promise of Tackling Climate Change.          Nicholas Stern.
Wonders of the National Parks: A Geology of North America.  Ford Cochran.
The Wood for the Trees: The Long View of Nature from a Small Wood.  Richard Fortey.

Fiction titles (summer beach reading?)

Barkskins.  Annie Proulx.
Beast.  Paul Kingsnorth.
Heat and Light.  Jennifer Haigh (an ecologically minded novel).
The Last Wolf and Herman.  Laszlo Krasznahorkai (translated by George Szirtes and John Batki).

Adventure Narratives by Women (also summer reading potential?).

Climbing Days.  Dorothy Pilley.
Everything Is Teeth.  Evie Wyld. (graphic novel).
Running: A Love Story.  Jen Miller.
This Road I Ride.  Juliana Buhring.
The Valley of the Assassins.  Freya Stark.
Welcome to the Goddamn Ice Cube.  Blair Braverman.
West with the Night.  Beryl Markham.
Wild.  Cheryl Strayed.
Also see other titles by Gretel Ehrlich, Pam Houston, Kira Salak, and Sara Wheeler.

Films by Josh Fox (b. 1972, Wayne County, PA)

2010 Gasland (directed, wrote & produced).
2013 Gasland Part II (directed, wrote & produced).
2016 How to Let Go of the World and Love All the Things Climate Can't Change (directed, wrote & produced).

Nature Writing:  See the Wainwright Prize.

Prior and future issues of this column on environmental issues may be found at .

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

7/16 Creation Col.: July Suggested Readings

A Language Older Than Words: What We Leave Behind / Derrick Jensen.
Adventures in Human Being: A Grand Tour from the Cranium to the Calcaneum / Gavin Francis.
Alaska's Changing Arctic: Ecological Consequences for Tundra, Streams, and Lakes / John E. Hobble and George W. Kling.
Arcadian America: The Death and Life of an Environmental Tradition / Aaron Sachs.
Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are? / Frans de Waal.
Bees: An Up-Close Look at Pollinators Around the World / Sam Droege and Laurence Packer.
Being a Beast: Adventures Across the Species Divide / Charles Foster.
Beyond Words: What Animals Think and Feel / Carl Safina.
Birdology: Adventures with Hip Hop Parrots, Cantankerous Cassowaries, Crabby Crows, Peripatetic Pigeons, Hens, Hawks, and Hummingbirds / Sy Montgomery.
Birdwatching in New York City and on Long Island / Deborah Rivel and Kellye Rosenheim.
Butterflies / Photos by Thomas Marent; text by Ronald Orenstein.
City Creatures: Animal Encounters in the Chicago Wilderness / U. of Chicago Press.
David Brower: The Making of the Environmental Movement / Tom Turner, foreword by Bill McKibben.
Dirt: A Love Story / Fore Edge Books.
Evolution: The Whole Story / Steve Parker, general editor.
Field Guide to the Neighborhood Birds of New York City / Leslie Day; illus. by Trudy Smoke, photos by Beth Bergman, foreword by Don Riepe.
Firefly Encyclopedia of Reptiles and Amphibians, third, expanded edition / Chris Mattinson, editor.
George Washington, Written Upon the Land: Nature, Memory, Myth & Landscape / Philip Levy.
Global Weirding (a Z Reader on the Environment) / Edited by Lydia Sargent.
Goddess / Cleb Cain Marcus. (Ganges shore photographs)
Guide to the Birds of Alaska, 6th edition / Robert Armstrong.
Herbs and the Earth: An Evocative Excursion into the Lure and Legend of Our Common Herbs / Henry Beston.
Home Ground: Language for an American Landscape.
How Animals Grieve / Barbara J. King
Hyper Nature / Photos by Philippe Martin.
Lake Las Vegas/Black Mountain / Michael Light. (aerial photography)
Landmarks / Robert Macfarlane.
Lentil Underground: Renegade Farmers and the Future of Food in America / Liz Carlisle.
Light: A Radiant History from Creation to the Quantum Age / Bruce Watson.
Lions in the Balance: Man-Eaters, Manes, and Men with Guns / Craig Packer.
Mr. Green Jeans / Chris S. McGee (cli-fi, climate fiction).
Nature Wars / Jim Sterba.
North of Hope: Daughter's Arctic Journey / Shannon Huffman Poison.
Nuclear Fear: A History of Images / Spencer Weart.
On the Natural History of Destruction / W.G. Sebald.
Pig Tales: An Omnivore's Search for Sustainable Meat / Barry Estabrook.
Rails of the World: A Monograph of the Family Rallidae / S. Dillon Ripley, paintings by J. Fenwick Lansdowne.
Rain: A Natural and Cultural History / Cynthia Barnett.
Righting America at the Creation Museum / Susan L. Trollinger and William Vance Trollinger, Jr.
Satellites in the High Country: Searching for the Wild in the Age of Man / Jason Mark.
Shallow Water Dictionary: A Grounding in Estuary English / John R. Stilgoe.
Technobiophilia: Nature and Cyberspace / Sue Thomas.
That Tree: An iPhone Photo Journal Documenting a Year in the Life of a Lonely Bur Oak / Mark Hirsch.
The Arctic Regions / William Bradford. (illustrated with photographs taken on an art expedition to Greenland)
The Ash Tree / Oliver Rackham.
The Book of Barely Imagined Beings: A 21st Century Bestiary / Casper Henderson.
The Book of Frogs: A Life-Size Guide to Six Hundred Species from around the World / Tim Hallliday
The Cell: A Visual Tour of the Building Block of Life / Jack Challoner.
The Creationists: From Scientific Creationism to Intelligent Design / Ronald L. Numbers.
The Cultural Lives of Whales and Dolphins / Hal Whitehead and Luke Rendell.
The Fabric of Space: Water, Modernity, and the Urban Imagination / Matthew Gandy.
The Fate of the Earth / Jonathan Schell.
The Green Thoreau: America's First Environmentalist on Technology, Possessions, Livelihood, and More / Carol Spenard LaRusso, editor.
The Grid and the River: Philadelphia's Green Places, 1682-1876 / Elizabeth Milroy.
The Hour of Land: A Personal Topography of America's National Parks. Terry Tempest Williams.
The Invention of Nature: Alexander von Humboldt's New World / Andrea Wulf.
The Last Unicorn: A Search For One of Earth's Rarest Creatures / William DeBuys.
The Last Walk: Reflections on Our Pets at the End of Their Lives / Jessica Pierce.
The Living Bird: 100 Years of Listening to Nature / The Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Photos by Gerrit Vyn; foreword by Barbara Kingsolver.
The Myth of Human Supremacy / Derrick Jensen.
The Narrow Edge: A Tiny Bird, An Ancient Crab, An Epic Journey / Deborah Cramer.
The New Bread Basket / Chelsea Green Publications.
The Reason for Flowers: Their History, Culture, and Biology, and How They Change Our Lives / Stephen Buchmann.
The Right to Stay Home / David Bacon.
The Seasons on Henry's Farm / Terra Brockman.
The Sharks of North America / Jose I. Castro.
The Soul of an Octopus: A Surprising Exploration into the Wonder of Consciousness / Sy Montgomery.
The Sound Book: The Science of the Sonic Wonders of the World / Trevor Cox.
Tropical Fruits and Other Edible Plants of the World: An Illustrated Guide / Rolf Blancke.
Unruly Nature: The Landscapes of Theodore Rousseau / Scott Allan and Edouard Kopp.
Voices in the Ocean: A Journey into the Wild and Haunting World of Dolphins / Susan Casey.
Voices of the Wild: Animal Songs, Human Din, and the Call to Save Natural Soundscapes / Bernie Krause.
Walden / Henry D. Thoreau (edited by J. Lyndon Shanley; intro. by John Updike).
We Are as Gods: Back to the Land in the 1970s on the Quest for a New America / Kate Daloz.
Welcome to Subirdia / John M. Marzluff.
Whales, Dolphins, and Porpoises: A Natural History and Species Guide / Annalisa Berta.
What a Fish Knows: The Inner Lives of Our Underwater Cousins / Jonathan Balcombe.
Why Did the Chicken Cross the World? : The Epic Saga of the Bird That Powers Civilization / Andrew Lawler.
Wilderness and the American Mind / Roderick Nash.


Focus here is on The Fight for Beauty: Our Path to a Better Future / Fiona Reynolds. Ms. Reynolds quotes the 19th-century environmentalist John Muir (founder of the Sierra Club) saying: "Everybody needs beauty as well as bread."

And furthermore, for Muir the fight for beauty is "not blind opposition to progress, but opposition to blind progress."


Mr. Ochs writes this column from Williamsport PA.  Thanks to H.Y. for technical assistance.