Wednesday, October 29, 2008

What is the Natural History Network ...

... and why have a blog?

Well, my friends, it's like this. Our connection with the other-than-human world--as individuals and as a species--has weakened to the breaking point. Most people spend little time outdoors, have little awareness of the other species that are our neighbors, and have little appreciation for how important our connection to world is. There was a time when people had a purposeful relationship with and awareness of the natural world, and that time has passed.

Two years ago, a group of natural historians founded an organization we call the Natural History Network, whose mission is to promote the values of natural history through discussion and dissemination of ideas and techniques on its successful practice to educators, scientists, artists, writers, the media, and the public at large.

Discussion and dissemination of ideas and techniques ... That's quite a challenge, especially because one's engagement with the natural world is primarily local and personal but the need for a renaissance in natural history is continental (even global) and communal. How can we foster a far-reaching dialog about why natural history matters when for most of us it matters because of what we see, hear, smell, and touch as we live our lives each day? How can we grow a community that promotes a love of the natural world even though we won't be members of the same ecoregions, find inspiration in the same ecosystems, or share an affinity with the same organisms?

One part of the answer is simple. This blog. Our intention is to use this blog as a way for many different authors from around the country to express their ideas and share their experiences with the natural world. Over time, as the posts on this blog grow in number and everyone takes the opportunity to comment on them, our collective exposure to what we see and feel, to what others have learned, and to what tools are available to deeping our awareness will expand.

Tom Fleischner, president of the Natural History Network, has described natural history as "a practice of intentional, focused attentiveness and receptivity to the more-than-human world, guided by honesty and accuracy." Let this blog become part of our practice.

No comments: