Over the course of the past year, a number of people have found themselves needing to work remotely for the first time in their lives. This kind of change can be jarring to anybody, especially when it happens so suddenly. On top of not having everything you're used to having while at work, you have to deal with a plethora of new details that were never present while at the office. Things like the distractions from children learning remotely and dealing with the noise of neighbors if you're living with a community of people. Things like finding that balance of when to step away from work when the home is your office. And, of course, having to keep in communication with colleagues through primarily digital means.
One aspect that I've found a surprising number of people talk about, however is less of a new obstacle and more of a new benefit: being more readily near a natural environment. When most of us think of our home, we aren't thinking about our closed off rooms with grid-system ceiling tiles and white fluorescent lighting. We typically surround ourselves in windows letting in the natural light and we're often just a few steps from the outdoors. To that extent, a not insignificant number of people found themselves engaging with their natural surroundings more often. Myself included!
I'd like to take a look at this aspect of having worked remotely, of being closer to the outdoors. While statistics I mention throughout this post are from scientific studies and analysis of those studies, a lot of this will be my own experience, so bear that in mind as we press onward. With that said, let's dive in!
I started volunteering with my local arboretum over 2 years ago after wanting to take a more active role in my understanding of our home. I won't reminisce about this since I've done that at length in my first Human Nature blog post, but this volunteering was also my first foray into environmental stewardship. That is to say, the kind of volunteering I was doing (and still do) revolved around learning about plants and animals so I can actively participate in caring for the environment. This involves work like seed collection, seed propagation, monitoring, and aggressive species removal.
In my case, I have an intrinsic motivation to understand the environment around me. I like knowing about plants and animals that I see because it makes me feel more like a part of this world rather than an observer. Knowing what something is, when it's active, and what it can be used for is a fun skill to have and work on. While my immediate friends and family aren't as interested in the topic as me, it does occasionally provide some insight or a fun fact for them to take with them.
Though, arguably, knowing what something is used for isn't actively helpful to me in modern life. I will not likely need to know medicinal or crafting properties of plants to make it through my life because I can depend on a society of people where someone else is using that knowledge to make things for me. What is helpful, however, is looking past the individual value of something and knowing how it interacts with other plants and animals in its local environment. These properties of life are still important, in my opinion, for everyone to have some knowledge of. If we see that an environment degrades so much that an entire species is suddenly gone, knowing how that species fit into the system lets us know what will be impacted next and how that could impact the larger system. When enough of these larger systems ripple into each other, they eventually hit humanity, so having a base knowledge of this interconnectedness keeps us, at a minimum, aware of when things are going to change and why.
It's here that I find value in my environmental stewardship. I build an appreciation for the complex connectivity of everything on Earth. I'll never know it all, but by actively working to maintain and restore natural areas, I get to learn about my local community. Not just the human one, but the one of all living and non-living things.
Let's dive in.
Prismatic Planet wants to get excited for the planet, raise awareness of its inhabitants, and get smarter about Earth.