Regional Movement and Network
Inspired by Richard Louv’s book Last Child in the Woods, the San Francisco Bay Area children and nature movement began shortly after the national movement emerged to reconnect children with nature. The national movement has now grown to over a hundred initiatives across the US and Canada with an international movement gaining momentum.
The Children in Nature Collaborative is made up of members of the community engaged in connecting children with the natural world – health professionals, environmentalists, teachers, parents, farmers, businesses, civic partners and community activists.
Currently at a critical milestone, the Children in Nature Collaborative is developing capacities for long-term change through network development and open source approaches – giving visibility to the web of relationships and actions that are moving us toward a cultural shift and world in which all children play, learn, and grow with nature in their everyday lives.
Our current focus on network development is aligned with our original intention of a grassroots movement to create more effective strategies, leadership, and resources by cultivating broad leadership, developing relationships across organizations, and supporting self-organizing. Paul Hawken, author of Blessed Unrest, offers a similar perspective:
“To succeed requires ubiquity, a network of informants, a conspiracy of social imaginaries, groups that cultivate new knowledge, share it, seek information elsewhere, and provide it to agencies and citizens who need it.”
The obstacles in connecting with nature are the same as those that separate us from each other and our deeper selves. Increasingly our work demands an inner shift to lead collaboratively, cooperatively and collectively — both inside and outside of organizational structures.
Bay Area Leadership Group
The Bay Area Children in Nature Leadership Group formed in 2011 to convene and facilitate connections and develop larger collective initiatives for effective and meaningful change. Members of the group are:
- Avery Cleary, Children & Nature Network
- Sharon Danks, Bay Tree Design
- Kyle MacDonald, The Outdoors Empowered Network
- Chris Overington, Hidden Villa
- Damien Raffa, Presidio Trust
- Nooshin Razani, Children’s Hospital and Research Center at Oakland
- Jose Gonzalez, Latino Outdoors
- Dave Room, BALANCE Edutainment
- Mary Roscoe, Children in Nature Collaborative
- Carolyn Verheyen, MIG
People, relationships, and shared values are fundamental in building trust, developing capacities, and working as peers.
Through network mapping we are creating more awareness and visibility of the patterns of our relationships. In our developing practice of ‘network weaving’, we are developing ways to support our network to increase the flow of connections and resources.
Partners self-organize in response to opportunities – like artists, partners recombine the talents and expertise in the network in new ways to collaborate on emerging projects. Actions ripple across the network, with experiments and smaller projects offering practice fields for larger work and collaboration on higher leverage points or long-term development.