I am a tree person; I love forests and can sit for hours just listening to the sound of the wind going through the leaves.
I’d always hoped that my daughter would have the same special connection to nature that I have. I did not really know what I could do to foster this besides going out into nature with her whenever possible.
Recently, I saw a TED talk that opened my eyes and provided another great way to teach her to love nature.
Pharadon “Opor” Phonamnuai, a musician from Chiang Mai, talked about his travels and how he feared that people of his city were increasingly disconnected from nature, resulting in air pollution and the like. After talking to a chief of a nearby hill tribe who was able to manage the protection of their forest resources, he realized that he wanted to do something to better the situation in his own community.
When he asked the chief for advice, he only told him one thing: “Plant some trees right where you are!”
Pharadon started to work with his community and kicked off a social media campaign to encourage people to plant trees in their vicinity and to take care of them. The movement got picked up by Travel Massive, a community of travel professionals who advocate for responsible tourism. On Saturday the 18th of June they will hold the Tree Planting Challenge.
My daughter and I will take part in the challenge and each plant a native tree right in front of our house. By planting it and caring for it I am sure she will connect with nature on a different level. She will see her tree grow every day, will water it and weed around it and develop a relationship with it. Watching the tree grow up together will give me a multitude of chances to talk with her about conservation, reforestation and our responsibility.
But most importantly, she will hopefully feel empowered and feel like she can actually contribute to making our world—and in particular our community—a better place. She will see that with one little gesture, she can change the way she sees nature and our environment and develop a long lasting connection.
Many young people tend to be overwhelmed by the threat of climate change and environmental pollution, but focusing on the positive and seeing how many people will participate in the Tree Planting Challenge will make her feel strong and confident to fight in this uphill battle. Furthermore she will see that even as a child she can take over a meaningful role in our community and do her part.
Imagine what would happen if we all planted a tree on Saturday with our children? We would all rediscover our connection to nature, which can be lost so easily in today’s busy world.
We could all teach our children to take some responsibility, and transform our community, one tree at a time.
Author: Eva Wieners
Image: Alex Holt / Unsplash
Editor: Sara Kärpänen; Catherine Monkman