Richard Louv and the North Face

We are celebrating Earth Week by kicking off our first post by Richard Louv, author of The Nature Principle, in a month long series.  For the next four weeks, Richard will write a post each Wednesday and, each week, one lucky reader will win a $150 gift certificate to the North Face.  Read Louv’s piece on “21 Ways to Start Creating a Restorative Neighborhood or City” today and leave a comment to be entered in the gift certificate drawing!

Applying the Nature Principle:

21 Ways to Start Creating a Restorative Neighborhood or City

As of 2008, more than half of the world’s population lived in cities. That’s a huge moment in human history. By 2030, that proportion will likely jump to two-thirds. This transformation will produce one of two outcomes: the end of meaningful daily experience in nature, or the beginning of a new kind of city. Here are some ideas, adapted from The Nature Principle, that I believe can help us understand what it means to create and live in a restorative city, beginning with your neighborhood. Right now.

  1. Reimagine your city as an engine of biodiversity and human health.
  2. Restore nearby nature and create new habitat; rebuild local food webs; and encourage urban wildlife.
  3. Recognize and increase human-nature social capital, thereby creating healthier habitat for humans and other animals.
  4. Plant native species in your yard; create butterfly zones in your neighborhood; help build a Homegrown National Park.
  5. Create a De-central Park in every city. Button Parks, too.
  6. Establish new human-nature networks, including family nature clubs and green gyms.
  7. Connect the region with wildlife and humanlife corridors.
  8. Establish restorative transportation systems, including naturalized bike and pedestrian paths; quieter, more efficient public transit; and shade parking areas with green roofs and/or solar panels.
  9. Challenge neighborhood CC&Rs and other barriers of law, regulation, and rules.
  10. Adopt development policies favorable to green roofs, green walls, etc.
  11. Replace decaying shopping malls with urban ecovillages and natural park space.
  12. Create or retrofit homes as restorative habitats for humans and other species.
  13. Design and retrofit schools and libraries with biophilic design; and green every schoolyard.
  14. Apply biophilic design to new housing and commercial developments.
  15. Weave nature into communities for older people, including assisted living homes.
  16. Create restorative workplaces that produce human energy.
  17. Encourage urban and suburban agriculture, from community gardens to vertical farms.
  18. Recognize and celebrate your urban bioregion’s natural identity.
  19. Establish a regional scorecard that includes the economic benefits of truly greening your city.
  20. Support a regional children and nature campaign; and help build the New Nature Movement.
  21. Focus your city’s future envisioning process through the prism of nature: consider how planting the restorative city could reshape healthcare, education, law enforcement, redevelopment, tourism, and other businesses.

Richard Louv is the author of  THE NATURE PRINCIPLE: Reconnecting with Life in a Virtual Age,  now available in paperback. He is chairman emeritus of the Children and Nature Network and 2012 spokesperson for the CLIF Kid Backyard Game of the Year. For more information on his books, go to For a free online Field Guide to the New Nature Movement, see


21 Comments On This Post:

April 18, 2012
5:09 pm
Simone says...

It would be wonderful to make everyone aware of the positive effects to green living. Public transportation is a wonderful alternative to driving anyday. And if possible walking and/or biking, besides polluting less air, having a healthier body is an added bonus.

April 18, 2012
5:19 pm
Amanda says...

I love #8 and #13. OOoo and number #11. Now we just need to get everyone on board. I am still shocked when I see people who don’t recycle.

April 18, 2012
5:57 pm
Mary Reynolds says...

Here in Tucson, our neighborhood encourages xeriscaping to save water and provide Sonoran Desert habitat for native creatures including hummingbirds, javelina, rabbits, and Harris Hawks. All within the city limits! #18!

April 18, 2012
7:34 pm
Annie Scavone says...

#1 really emphasizes all of the other points! It’s a great jumping off point for all the other ideas!

April 18, 2012
7:59 pm
millie says...

All great suggestions and we all need to incorporate them. I am partial to number fifteen, especially.

April 18, 2012
8:12 pm
Kyle says...

but for real though, nature rules! All we need is a central park in every city. I mean let’s face it, that’s the best part of NYC!

April 18, 2012
11:32 pm
Spencer says...

The goal of making a more restorative, less damaging city is absolutely necessary in order to protect Earth and humanity with it, but I think the real question these days is not WHAT we can do to improve society; but rather, HOW we can convince people to make the changes. Without incentivizing and working these principles into the various political fields, there will always be a rift between progress and good intentions.

April 19, 2012
2:08 am
Kristen M. says...

I love the idea of a Homegrown National Park. I’m lucky to live in a rural suburb of Seattle where we still have wildlife corridors and a lot of native vegetation. Yet there are people moving to the area and immediately taking down a majority of the trees on their property and tearing out brush and replacing it with wood chips. It’s a shame to see this — and to see animals like coyotes walking around in the middle of the day, looking for food. I certainly need to make more of an effort to make my property that much more inviting to wildlife!

April 19, 2012
3:39 am
Gerry says...

Great ideas! #11 and #15 would be wonderful changes to see.

April 19, 2012
11:23 am
Tallulah Scribbles says...

I like the idea: Design and retrofit schools and libraries with biophilic design; and green every schoolyard. My county is in the planning stages of building two new libraries and renovating three others. I need to investigate more and get involved.

April 19, 2012
11:33 pm
Louise says...

Long-term planning is the key… We have to be pro-active with respect to managing, building, protecting, and coordinating. It all begins with a feeling of personal responsibility for our surroundings, which includes other people.

April 23, 2012
8:46 am
Carson says...

Go green! I especially like numbers 13 and 14!

April 25, 2012
9:35 am
Jeanne says...

Wonderful ideas. I am starting a bee hive this year in the side yard and I’m thinking about a vertical garden of succulents for the front entry.

April 25, 2012
4:00 pm
Nature-Smart Jobs for the Future from Richard Louv, and enter to win a $150 Gift Card from The North Face! | Algonquin Books Blog says...

[…] Richard Louv’s month long series on “Applying The Nature Principle to Your Life”. You can read the first post in the series here. Each week we will be publishing a post from Richard Louv and giving away a $150 gift certificate […]

April 26, 2012
7:37 pm
Karen says...

As a teacher in an urban school, I appreciate all these ideas! All kids need access to nature!

April 28, 2012
7:25 am
Janice Friedman says...

I’m encouraged, as a nature photographer traveling around the U.S., to find increasing numbers of places to shoot beautiful and natural scenes within city limits everywhere I go. It is clear that there is a great desire for and love of natural elements in both indoor and outdoor design in the 21st century. About time!

April 29, 2012
11:58 am
Dolly says...

So glad the movement to get back to nature is again in motion. Our nature center is dedicated to helping folks make that connection. Thanks for all you do to spread the word!

May 3, 2012
12:01 am
Geri P says...

I saw you speak at Framingham State University in MA and it changed my life to hear your perspectives! Thank you — I will do good work for my son and for the earth!!

May 3, 2012
12:43 am
Jake Olson says...

These are really great suggestions. As a father of a 4 year old and a 2 year old, I really need to be applying the lessons of Louv’s books before my kids area all grown up.

May 8, 2012
11:01 am
Melissa W. says...

This is very insightful, and shows the importance of planning for the future, and for others that will follow.

May 14, 2012
4:08 am
Marc says...

I love the book! How insightful and it rellay hits home. Every chapter has pieces of gems that resonate with me and situations I have experienced or am going through now. Great advice and wisdom is packed in this book for all to enjoy!

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