Monday, April 15, 2013

Author's nature book grows up

By David Horst

In 2006, I wrote an unabashed endorsement of Richard Louv’s “The Last Child in the Woods,” an enthusiastic but reasoned look at the healing power of nature and the ills of what he called Nature-Deficit Disorder.

Louv will be here in the Fox Valley April 22-24, speaking six times in multiple locations as a featured author for this year’s Fox Cities Reads and the Fox Cities Book Festival. So I’m calling the virtual Richard Louv Book Club into session right now. (Full disclosure: A grant program I work with in my day job at the Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region is one of the funders of Louv’s appearance.)Your first assignment is to go to to read my 2006 column and to read “Last Child in the Woods” — in that order.Next, we begin our critique and discussion of Louv’s followup book, “The Nature Principle: Reconnecting with Life in a Virtual Age.” In it, he applies to adults the lessons he uncovered in “Last Child.” He proposes there can exist the hybrid mind, enhanced by electronics like iPhones and video games, but calmed and focused by nature.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Cure offered for nature-deficit disorder

This is a repost of a 2006 column on Richard Louv's "Last Child in the Woods." He has been named the featured author for the 2013 Fox Cities Reads and will make multiple appearances for the Fox Cities Book Festival.

By David Horst
A book that finds hope for Earth’s future in treehouses and walks in the woods has been sweeping the nation, or at least the part of it populated by environmental educators and advocates.

As with most things, I caught the back of the wave. Richard Louv’s “Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder” (Algonquin, 2006) was already out in paperback by the time I picked it up.

Louv had me in the introduction. In recounting his childhood, he described mine. Knowing every bend in the creek. Wandering the woods on well-worn paths. Building forts. Catching crayfish with bits of liver tied to string.

My well-worn paths ran along Lincoln Creek (that’s pronounced “crick”) in Milwaukee. The crayfish came from the big lagoon at McGovern Park. The fort was in my friend Richard’s back yard, built with wood from my dad’s job site.

But that was then and now is a world of stranger danger paranoia, videogame hypnosis and league play for anything that would take a child outside.