Connecting With Animals As Teachers with Richard Louv

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Have you ever looked into the eyes of a wild animal? If so, you know how its gaze unnerves us and we’re struck with awe and wonder in its presence. It can be described as a sacred experience. Even in urban areas there are many opportunities to encounter the wild but we have to actually make an effort to get out of the confines of our homes and immerse ourselves in the natural landscape. This program explores a pervasive ailment of our age which is Nature Deficit Disorder. He encourages us to follow the suggestion of Jon Young of 8 Shields and find a “sit spot”, which can be in your yard, rooftop garden, or the edge of a creek. “[Y]ou pick one spot in nature (for me it was the edge of the creek). Go there frequently, sitting in the same spot. The frogs would, of course, jump in the creek as I approached. I'd sit down and very slowly pop, pop, pop, you'd see their heads coming up. And then you could feel what it was like to be a frog. As Jon says, if you do this [over time] you can hear a kind of language that nature uses. You can observe, smell, and use all the senses, some of which have atrophied in us. [However,] they're still there.” Louv says that he is not anti-technology but shares the thought that, “The more high-tech our lives become, the more nature we need.” He also adds, “Conservation is no longer enough. For everything we receive from nature, we need to give back, we need to nurture nature, as much as it nurtures us. We need to do this in a thousand ways until the species loneliness passes away.” (hosted by Justine Willis Toms) 


Richard Louv’s writings and books have helped launch an international movement to connect children, families, and communities to nature. He is cofounder and chair emeritus of the nonprofit Children & Nature Network. In 2008 he was awarded the Audubon Medal which he shares with such notables as Rachel Carson, E.O. Wilson, and Sir David Attenborough. 

Richard Louv is the author of many books including: 

  • Last Child in the Woods (Algonquin Books 2008)
  • The Nature Principle: Reconnecting with Life in a Virtual Age (Algonquin Books 2012)
  • Our Wild Calling: How Connecting with Animals Can Transform Our Lives—and Save Theirs (Algonquin Books 2019) 

To learn more about Richard Louv go to:

Topics explored in this dialogue: 

  • What is Nature Deficit Disorder and how is society suffering from generational amnesia and shifting baselines
  • What is meant by the Symbiocene Era
  • Who was Thomas Berry and how did he influence Louv
  • How architects are re-thinking how we create natural environments in urban landscapes
  • How architect William McDonough added raising butterflies for the entrance to a hospital in Spain
  • How Homegrown National Parks are about replanting our yards, gardens, rooftops, window boxes in native species
  • What is the benefit and how can we incorporate “sit spots” in our everyday life
  • Humans may have many more senses than five. They have atrophied from lack of use
  • What are the neophiles like crows, coyotes, foxes, raccoons that are attracted to novelty and are residing in urban areas
  • What does he mean by the need to establish wildlife corridors
  • How the coronavirus pandemic is related to our mistreatment of wild animals
  • How did a spider in the sink change Justine’s view of spiders
  • How species loneliness is setting up children to be lonelier than the oldest people
  • What is the extraordinary story of an oceanographer’s encounter with a giant octopus
  • Louv describes two habitats: the physical habitat we work hard to protect and nurture and the habitat of the heart which exists between us and all livingness
  • How conservation is no longer enough. For everything we receive from nature, we need to give back, we need to nurture nature, as much as it nurtures us.
  • When humans are living their best selves in community they are imitating the ethics of wolves 

Host: Justine Willis Toms   Interview Date: 10/8/2020   Program Number: 3716

Music Playlist

From Album: Common Ground
Artist: Paul Winter

Opening Essay: Track 09 – Wolf Eyes
Music Break 1: Track 02 - Eagle
Music Break 2: Track 06 - Trio
Music Break 3: Track 09 – Wolf Eyes (reprise)