Scientific Reports: Associations Between Green/Blue Spaces and Mental Health Across 18 countries

Authors: Mathew P. White, Lewis R. Elliott, James Grellier, Theo Economou, Simon Bell, Gregory N. Bratman, Marta Cirach, Mireia Gascon, Maria L. Lima, Mare Lõhmus, Mark Nieuwenhuijsen, Ann Ojala, Anne Roiko, P. Wesley Schultz, Matilda van den Bosch & Lora E. Fleming publish a new article in Scientific Reports.

Living near, recreating in, and feeling psychologically connected to, the natural world are all associated with better mental health, but many exposure-related questions remain.


Memory and Brain Wellness Center: A Memory Garden is Growing

Inspired by the continuing interest in nature and garden experiences in our community, the Memory and Brain Wellness Center is creating a memory garden for people living with dementia. This garden will be located at the Memory Hub, located beside the Frye Art Museum. The botanical garden is uniquely designed to enhance the lives of people living with dementia, as well as provide a relaxing, restorative space for all. The garden will serve as a spot for drop-in gardening, relaxation, and nature-based activities, such as horticultural therapy.

The garden design process is ongoing and incorporates feedback from community members living with memory loss and care partners, as well as lessons learned from the Garden Discovery Walks program of the MBWC/Seattle Parks and Recreation and a visit to our friends at the Portland Memory Garden.

TEAM

Genevieve Wanucha, MS, Memory Hub Green Space Project Lead, MBWC

Laura Rumpf, HTR, Healing Garden Consultant

Margaret (Peach) Jack, MA, CC, GRS, HTS, Landscape Designer and Therapeutic Horticulturalist

Marigrace Becker, MSW, Program Manager of Community Education and Impact, MBWC

INTERESTED

  • The memory garden team is interested in hearing from individuals, home gardeners, businesses, or organizations who may be able to donate certain perennial plants and herbs, compost, or mulch. Please email gwanucha@uw.edu.
  • To sign up for occasional updates about new and ongoing volunteer gardening and garden maintenance opportunities, please email gwanucha@uw.edu.
  • Financial donations will help support the ongoing development of the healing garden. For donation inquiries, please contact mbecker1@uw.edu.

Check out their Garden Discovery Walks!


Spring talks: Health equity and nature during COVID-19

You are invited to participate in Nature and Health’s Spring Talks on April 28th with Dr. Jennifer D. Roberts and Dr. Gail C. Christopher.

We will discuss structural racism at the intersections of #BlackLivesMatter and COVID-19 to build this ongoing conversation about health equity and nature.

10 AM Pacific Time

“The Health of the Country Depends Upon the Health of Negroes:” Nature of Pandemics and Protests in the 20th and 21st Centuries by Dr. Jennifer D. Roberts, Assistant Professor, Department of Kinesiology, School of Public Health at the University of Maryland College Park

In 1906, W. E. Burghardt DuBois said “The health of the whole country depends in no little degree upon the health of Negroes” in an effort to discredit theories of biological racial inferiority and perpetuate an understanding that African American health was “largely due to the condition of living, rather than to marked racial weaknesses.” Read more and register here.

Noon Pacific Time

“Racial Hierarchy, Race Narrative, and the Institutions that Sustain Them”

Dr. Gail Christopher will speak on achieving equity through getting rid of the fallacy people have in the belief in the hierarchy of human value and on the modern structures of racial healing as outlined in the TRHT model. Read more and register here.

The University of Washington is committed to providing access and reasonable accommodation in its services, programs, and activities. Accommodation requests related to a disability should be made by April 13, 2021, to natureandhealth@uw.edu.


Planetary Health: Protecting Nature to Protect Ourselves (Book)

Edited by Samuel Myers and Howard Frumkin, 2020 Two young people look toward a mountain embraced. The text reads PLANETARY HEALTH Protecting Nature to Protect Ourselves.

Human health depends on the health of the planet. Earth’s natural systems—the air, the water, the biodiversity, the climate—are our life support systems. Yet climate change, biodiversity loss, scarcity of land and freshwater, pollution and other threats are degrading these systems. The emerging field of planetary health aims to understand how these changes threaten our health and how to protect ourselves and the rest of the biosphere.

 


Community Highlight: Wild Grief Virtual Hike Habits

Wild Grief Virtual Hike Habits are an opportunity to come together for grief peer support and nature connection from the comfort of your own home.

This Virtual Hike Habit will start with an opening circle via video chat, similar to the opening circle on our in-person hikes. We will introduce ourselves, share who we are carrying in our hearts, and offer some activities for your individual walk/hike. We will then ask everyone to find a place close by to be in nature for 30-45 minutes. This could be a walk around your neighborhood, a sit spot in your yard, or even just opening a window to feel the fresh air and see the sky. After our time in nature, we will reconvene for a closing circle.

February Hike Habit (virtual)
Saturday, February 13, 2021
11:00 AM  1:00 PM

This event is free and open for anyone to participate. Please register below!

This event is at 8AM HAST/10AM AKDT/ 11AM PST/12PM MDT/1PM CDT/2PM EST. Wild Grief is located in Olympia, Washington, but love it when folks join from other time zones!


Nature and Health Announces New Annual Award

The Nature and Health Wins award recognizes individuals, communities, and organizations for their commitment to anti-racism, equity, nature, and health. Through the generosity of a donor, there will be funds to support future awardees. Congratulations to our 2020 Winners: Angela Hughes and Marisol Morales!

Angela Hughs and Marisol Morales' photos over a photo of a nature rich pathway with the words Nature and Health Wins Autumn 2020.


Black Lives Matter

The attack on Christian Cooper while birding in Central Park so painfully reminds us how inequitable our access to nature is. The recent killings by vigilantes of Ahmaud Arbery (1994-2020). The killings by police of Breonna Taylor (1993-2020), George Floyd (1976-2020), and Tony McDade (1982-2020) a Black transgender man, remind us yet again that this inequity is driven by deep-seated systemic racism. Previous killings and examples of institutionalized violence are countless and have been ongoing[1]. Other police killings include Amadou Diallo (1975-1999) and Eric Garner (1970 – 2014) who was a horticulturist at the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. Manuel Ellis (1986-2020) was killed by the police and loved by many. Manuel was from Tacoma, and he was a young father who loved his daughter and was a talented musician at his church.

We mourn with the nation and stand with the protestors to cry out against the ceaseless injustice.

Nature and Health (N&H) is committed to the institutional practice of diversity and equity. We honor, value, and strive to embrace diverse and equitable learning environments, promote access, justice, and opportunity for all. Diversity and equity expand our collective perspective.

N&H acknowledges the Coast Salish peoples of this land, the land which touches the shared waters of all tribes and bands within the Suquamish, Tulalip and Muckleshoot nations. We have a responsibility to acknowledge our Indigenous connections, as well as, histories of dispossession and forced removal that have allowed for the growth and survival of this institution. We recognize that the social construction of ableism, institutional racism and cisgender shape history and society. We engage with community partners with multiple systems of knowledge, activities, experiences, and ideas. N&H actively weaves our commitment to diversity into education, organization, outreach, practices, policy, and research approaches.

  1. Note: this does not intend to convey a comprehensive list of police brutality and killings.

#BlackLivesMatter #NatureandHealth

NYT article ‘Running while Black’ by Kurt Streeter


Publication in Press

Focusing Attention on Reciprocity between Nature and Humans

Can be the Key to Reinvigorating Planetary Health

Usha Varanasi
Usha Varanasi

Usha Varanasi, Ph.D., College of the Environment, University of Washington

In Press, Ecopsychology Journal, https://home.liebertpub.com/publications/ecopsychology/300/overview
Mary Ann Liebert Inc., Publishers

This timely essay raises the importance of shifting individual and societal attention to preventive and precautionary measures to maintain human and ecological health. These measures require strategic rather than reactive approaches to human health and ecological crises. This essay points to the growing body of research that nature (wilderness to green and blue space) is necessary for people’s physical, mental, and emotional health. Such evidence should persuade the public and policymakers to proactively conserve ecosystems, reducing the need to rescue depleted species or repair and restore their degraded habitats. It concludes with a plea for focused attention on reciprocal healing of both nature and humans, which can occur only if our interaction with nature–be it wilderness, an urban park, a garden–is frequent and respectful. The author suggests that the nature-and-health paradigm may be the game-changing strategy needed to sustain grassroots awareness for halting, and hopefully, reversing the trajectory of decline in planetary health. Our very survival depends on redefining our relationship with nature with deep reverence and empathy. In summary, purposeful attention and respect for nature across all parts of society can reinvigorate planetary health.

Nature and people in wilderness, green, and blue spaces
Photo by Su Kim

Seattle Times: Tranquility in nature