You do not need to look far these days to see mention of the words: “reconnecting with nature”. If it is not emblazoned on any number of ‘eco’-tourism websites or outdoor-based courses then it is certainly to be found in the scientific and popular literature which calls for new understandings of a conservation ethic.
“Reconnecting” has seemingly become the mantra for overcoming humanity’s separation from nature and the ‘more-than-human’ world – the collective schism which characterizes the ecological and, by default, social crisis of today’s world.
But there is relative silence on what ‘reconnecting’ actually means.
eyes4earth.org seeks to break that silence and is offering a little cash prize to those who would like to share their voice. Keep reading below for more details.
‘Reconnecting’ is not an only child. She exists with her brother and sisters: namely, ‘disconnected’, ‘connect’, and ‘interconnectedness’. Together this cohort is increasingly defining how individuals and society perceive their relationships with their environment and each other. For a family of words carrying such intrinsic importance to the human-nature condition and, in the case of ‘reconnecting’, increasingly cited as an aspiration for a sustainable society, one would expect to find sustained scientific, public and policy dialogue on their implications for how we (should) think and behave. Or least some pointers on what we are aiming for. Somewhat surprisingly, this does seem to be the case.
So if everyone is looking for ‘reconnecting’, has anyone told the masses what she actually looks like? How does she feel? How do we know when we have found her? Will we wake one morning and suddenly feel her presence? How do we measure the strength of our relationship to her? Is it connecting Facebook style? Or is it not as deep as that? Is it too individually subjective – in fact, can any of this even be put into words?
eyes4earth.org feels we need to give it a go.
So we are offering cash prizes to the value of R500 (50 Euros or 70 Australian dollars) for the best answers to:
1. What do you understand by the phrase ‘(re)connecting with nature’?
Please include in your answer:
a) What the experience of being (re)connected with nature looks/feels like (i.e. the what);
b) What you think people need to do to (re)connect with nature (i.e. the ‘how’);
Winning entry receives: R300 (30 Euros or 40 Australian dollars)
2. What criteria or indicators can we use to know if we are (re)connected with nature?
(i.e. How do you think we can ‘measure’ or gauge your or anyone’s level of connectedness with nature?)
Winning entry receives: R200 (20 Euros or 30 Australian dollars)
Email your answers to firstname.lastname@example.org
[please include name and preferred email address, if different from your sending address]
Entries close 22nd July, 2011. Winners will be announced by the 7th August, 2011.
Entries will be reviewed by three independent judges in consultation with eyes4earth.org. Obviously, there is no one ‘best’ answer for such a subjective topic but the judges will judge according to what resonates with them and what they know from professional experience. The judges’ decision is final. (I’ve always wanted a chance to say that!)
Important: The cash prize can only be paid out to winners who hold a South African, Dutch or Australian bank account. If the winner does not have a personal bank account in one of these countries then eyes4earth.org will donate the equivalent amount to support community-based landscape restoration (through spekboom planting) in the Baviaanskloof, South Africa (see http://elementalequity.org). We hope you are cool with that idea.
The answers from this contest will be used to support PhD research currently being lead by Matthew Zylstra at Stellenbosch University in partnership with the TsamaHUB. The theme of ‘reconnecting with nature’ is central to this research and part of the text above has been extracted from a forthcoming article to be published on this topic [Citation: Zylstra, M.J et al, in prep. “Reconnecting with Nature: What is it and how do we do it?”]
NOTE: Prize money (or, rather, the thanks-for-your-time-and-creativity-in-submitting-a-great-response-money) is provided out of personal funds…and not by official research funders or listed partners.
Thanks for your support.