eyes4earth.org is a portal into meaningful nature experience and connectedness with nature. It draws on scientific research and experiential insight to explore implications for sustainability education, health and well-being as well as individual and collective consciousness.
eyes4earth.org takes an integrated and transdisciplinary approach. This means that we recognize that there are many different perspectives, approaches and knowledge which can be brought to bear on any particular topic or ecological or societal ‘problem’. eyes4earth.org aims to explore these issues from various angles and we therefore consider it important to include rational and reasoned scientifically-derived knowledge as well as the more creative, intuitive, spiritual and cross-cultural ways of knowing. eyes4earth.org focuses on diverse forms of experience as it relates to nature and discovering our humanness and place in the world.
We value interaction and participation. So, please, feel welcome to share your relevant experiences, poetry and images in the spaces provided on eyes4earth.org. We will also be launching an online survey soon and your responses can help us further research and understanding in this field.
The term ‘eyes4earth’ has been conceived with the following philosophy in mind:
1. The human disconnect from nature is fundamentally one of perception and consciousness. Consciousness is a product of our accumulated experiences and our experiences are formed by what we perceive, which is usually what we pay attention to. Therefore, ‘eyes for earth’ is really about intentionally re-orienting our attention to be directed toward earth and its essential life-giving nature.
2. In the early years, the slogan for eyes4earth.org was: “Information, Inspiration, Innovation, Integration”. These four “I’s” for earth were equally aspirations which the eyes4earth.org initiative aimed to uphold.
eyes4earth.org was founded in 2006 by Matthew Zylstra as an early initiative of the EarthCollective Network. At that time, the focus was primarily on perceptions of ecosystem services and how the growing body of research concerning the diverse tangible and intangible benefits that people receive from nature could be better valued and communicated to the public.
In 2009, eyes4earth.org adapted its aims and interface to act as a communication and outreach portal for Matthew’s doctoral research on meaningful nature experience (and which his past research had identified as a vital ecosystem service). This work was funded (2009 – 2011) by the DST-NRF Centre of Excellence for Invasion Biology (C•I•B) and housed within Stellenbosch University’s Transdisciplinary Doctoral Programme in Sustainability (TsamaHUB).
In 2014, and marking the completion of Matthew’s PhD dissertation, eyes4earth.org has been re-designed to act as an optimal portal for dissemination and discussion of key themes arising out of this research on meaningful nature experience, connectedness with nature and its implications for sustainability education and environmental responsible behaviour.
eyes4earth.org is largely a collaboration between brother’s Matthew and Andrew Zylstra. Matthew is primarily responsible for content whilst Andrew takes the lead on creative design and audio-visual media. eyes4earth.org partners with EarthCollective.
Information, stories and opinions contained on eyes4earth.org do not necessarily represent the views of the C•I•B, TsamaHUB, Stellenbosch University, EarthCollective or other collaborators associated with the past and present research underpinning eyes4earth.org.
Matthew Zylstra is a free-range writer, researcher and educator with a focus on human-nature relationships and interactions. Within an integral ecology context, he has expertise and interests in conservation psychology, naturalist field skills, traditional knowledge, coastal social-ecology and sustainability education. Matthew’s recently completed PhD research on meaningful nature experience and connectedness with nature is now available for download here.
Andrew Zylstra is photographer, holistic thinker, unassuming artist, pixel maker, soundscape designer, brother, nature lover, spiral seeker, bokeh, bass liner, web weaver, wave rider, herb carer, earth inspirer, dubwiser, traveller, filmmaker, esponja, easy-going, light, barefooted and eagle-eyed. Through the EarthCollective Network, he supports various international environmental projects with his audiovisual skills. Andrew designs, customizes and maintains eyes4earth.org.