Do you suffer from nature-deficit disorder?

Author and nature enthusiast Richard Louv, who is speaking at IU Bloomington on Friday, sees a future in which people are as immersed in nature as they are in technology – and I don’t think a man cave is what he has in mind.

The Nature Principle book cover“The future will belong to the nature-smart – those individuals, families, businesses and political leaders who develop a deeper understanding of the transformative power of the natural world and who balance the virtual with the real,” said Louv, author of such books as “Last Child in the Woods” and “The Nature Principle.” “The more high-tech we become, the more nature we need.”

Louv is delivering the IU School of Public Health’s Reynold E. Carlson Lecture at 1 p.m. Friday in the Whittenberger Auditorium at the Indiana Memorial Union. The event is free and open to the public.

Louv coined the phrase nature-deficit disorder to characterize the growing gulf between children and nature and now people of all ages and nature. He claims the restorative powers of nature can “boost mental acuity and creativity; promote health and wellness; build smarter and more sustainable businesses, communities and economies; and strengthen human bonds.”

He links nature-deficit to such childhood trends as obesity, attention disorders and depression.

His website includes resource guides with links to many organizations and to suggestions for nature activities, such as a daily “green” hour for kids to play and interact in an unstructured way with nature; or installing birdhouses, native plants and other things to invite nature into backyards.

Louv takes the mind-body connection one dimension further, referring to the mind-body-nature connection, which he also calls “vitamin N (for nature).” This and other important components are described in the introduction to “The Nature Principle.”

Bryan McCormick, chair of the Department of Recreation, Park and Tourism Studies, said Louv’s 2008 book “Last Child in the Woods” has had a significant impact on the way child development specialists and educators have thought about children and their opportunity to experience natural environments. The book resulted in a number of states adopting “children’s outdoor bills of rights,” including Indiana.

He said Louv argues that connections to natural environments can be made in the heart of most urban areas, too, and “The Nature Principle” devotes a chapter to this concept, exploring how nature can exist on very small scales on one’s own property, home or apartment.

I suffer from nature-deficit disorder, despite my best intentions. In my home, a natural environment hides out in my bathroom, in what I think of as my “she cove.” Earthy colors, a Jacuzzi, an app that provides a nice selection of nature sounds. Inexplicably, I have trouble finding time to take advantage of it.

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