Back to nature! Even if we live in the city

There is a dispute in biology and other sciences: nurture vs. nature. Which one is more important in our lives? Are we determined by our genes? Or is it our upbringing that forms us the most? 

# Roots

Myself, I grew up in the countryside, in a village of 50 people. Basically, us and the brown bears, we lived in the same neighborhood.

In these days, I live in the city of Ljubljana, in an apartment block of 50 people. And I get to ask myself the same questions as my parents did. How to raise kids in this environment?  

 # Observe

As the little ones are brought into this world, we hold them close. We take care of their needs, meanwhile we have to take care of our own needs. It helps to take a walk, to clear our heads, to bring some fresh air into our thoughts and body.

Forest Kindergarten in Ljubljana?   © Urša Plešnar

# Explore

When they leave our arms, they are ready to explore. They want to do everything by themselves. To touch, to smell, to feel. To explore on their own and at the same time, they want to know we are close.

For a small child, there is no schedule. Only this moment in time. For them, it is only here and now.

Urban Forest Rožnik, Ljubljana.    © Urša Plešnar

# Create

In a few years, they enter into the pearls and perils of formal education – school. Life there is structured, often competitive (knowledge) and under peer presure (looks, clothes). But let’s not forget: under all this demands, there is a kid – that just wants to BE.

A kid that just wants to be appreciated for being him or her. To feel safe, to be loved and to learn. And kids do love to learn!

Sometimes we hear that kids nowadays don’t know how to make a fire, how to cook their own meal and how to make it through a week without their iPhone.

A week without iPhone? Yes, we can!  © Manca Dostal

But I have seen those kids. I know them. And I know where you can find them. In the woods. With their scout friends.

Where each kid can contribute with what he or she knows best. Either cooking, crafting a fork from a stick or encouraging and comforting a friend.

Scout festival, Ljubljana    © Manca Dostal

And they grow up into responsible adults. Responsible to themselves, others and nature. When these kids grow up, they give back to the environment.

And when we give back to our environment – we give back to ourselves.

Author of blog post for #EFUF2016 blog competition is Laura Žižek Kulovec, forestry engineer, researcher, who likes to walk in and learn about urban forests.


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