During our recent eight day stay in the Kalu Yala Valley, I realized one of the most powerful gifts in the work we are doing. Of course there is the obvious reward of the manual labor; there is something inherently soul-satisfying in seeing hard-work come to fruition in form and function to serve a true and long-lasting purpose. However, I noticed that there is something much less tangible that I find to be spiritually healing and heart-healing in the work we are doing, and that is the opportunity to unplug and reconnect with each other and nature. Free of emails, text messages, facebook, et cetera, we work in unison with the land and each other- creating meaningful relationships and mutual respect with both.
Richard Louv, award winning writer of national bestseller Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder and The Nature Principle: Human Restoration and the End of Nature-Deficit Disorder, recently wrote an article entitled “The Age of Emptiness or the Coming of Creativity?” in which he describes that feeling I feel and the mentality of Kalu Yala wonderfully. In this article Louv describes how technology has left humans so overloaded with information that we are actually becoming emptier and less creative. He calls for a shift in the way we live and interact with other species and nature itself. It is his belief that if humans reconnect with each other and these things, then innovation and healthy living are inevitable by-products of those interactions. This is what Kalu Yala strives to do- provide the places where this can happen, and it is already happening for us interns. We are working on not only creating the physical structures that provide shelter but also building the culture and community that will influence how citizens live at Kalu Yala.
Some important things to keep in mind when forming this culture can be found in The Nature Principle where Louv describes the benefit of returning to nature:
• The more high-tech our lives become, the more nature we need to achieve natural balance.
• The mind/body/nature connection, also called vitamin N (for nature), will enhance physical and mental health.
• Utilizing both technology and nature experience will increase our intelligence, creative thinking, and productivity, giving birth to the hybrid mind.
• Human/nature social capital will enrich and redefine community to include all living things.
• In the new purposeful place, natural history will be as important as human history to regional and personal identity.
• Through biophilic design, our homes, workplaces, neighborhoods, and towns will not only conserve watts, but also produce
• In relationship with nature, an expanded ecological consciousness in the high-performance human will conserve and create
natural habitat—and new economic potential— where we live, learn, work, and play.