Love Where You Live by Exploring Nature

Today’s post is the fifth in a series of ten posts over the next few months, taking a “deeper dive” into the concepts at the heart of Melody Warnick’s book, This is Where You Belong. The idea of a deeper dive is the second week in this website’s monthly rotation. The first and third weeks are BookNotes: short excerpts and teasers from great books about hospitality and your neighborhood. The fourth week will develop a tool you can use to become a better neighbor.

Here is Warnick’s list of ten placement behaviors that she developed on the journey to “Love where you live.”

  1. Walk more
  2. Buy local
  3. Get to know your neighbors
  4. Do fun stuff
  5. Explore nature
  6. Volunteer
  7. Eat local
  8. Become more political
  9. Create something new
  10. Stay loyal through hard times

Studies have shown that spending time in green space improves immune system function, lowers blood glucose levels in diabetics, boosts cognitive function and concentration, lengthens attention span, and strengthens impulse control.

Melody Warnick

According to author Melody Warnick, humans are born with an inborn craving for wildness and green, what Harvard biologist E.O. Wilson call “biophilia.” We are, he says, built for nature.

Here’s the rub: Towns and cities usually aren’t.

In addition to the benefits of nature listed above, Warnick also found that green space builds social cohesion, the companion to place attachment that develops in tight-knit neighborhoods. One study showed that when homes are set among trees and plants, neighbors form stronger social ties and a better sense of community. People who live near parks trust each other more and are quicker to aid their neighbors than people who live farther away.

Outcomes like these made Warnick come up with her own hypothesis: that people who lived where they could spend more time in the natural world would feel more enthusiastic about their communities.

Here are a few of the many ideas found in her book:

  • Make a list of your town’s natural assets. If you live in a city, are there parks nearby? Secret gardens? What makes you feel close to nature where you live?
  • Learn the names of the flora and fauna in your area. Check out a book on the subject, or connect with the Master Naturalists or Master Gardeners in your town.
  • Find ways to do the outdoorsy things you love where you live. Even in cities, you can walk through parks, bike greenbelts, or dangle your feet in ponds.
  • Invite friends for a hike, since doing something in nature with people you love creates a happy place anchor.
  • So you’re not outdoorsy.That’s fine. Figure out one beautiful place in your town – a creek, a park a river – and spend some time there. Go for a drive and enjoy the view.

I can’t emphasize this enough: If you like the idea of loving where you live, of being a better neighbor, or anything remotely connected, you MUST check out the work of Melody Warnick. Follow her on social media. Buy the book. Sign up for the newsletter on her website. Peruse the website for other articles she has written. It’s all PURE GOLD.

I’m delighted to report that Melody’s latest book, If You Could Live Anywhere, was just released! I’ve just started reading it, but it is written in the same engaging style, and addresses the question on many people’s minds today:

The future of work is clear: It can happen wherever you are. So where do you really want to be?