Never mind that research shows walking in nature improves your mood, increases overall fitness, reduces stress, and connects you to the huge world we are a part of: the eco-psychologist in you already knows. My guess is that you are somewhat familiar with Seattle Parks, and frequent at least one. But how many have you visited overall?
Seattle Parks and Recreation has over four hundred parks and open areas, and over six thousand acres of park land. As summer approaches, why not check out a new park for something fun to do? Pack some snacks and water, wear good shoes, and invite a friend. Or bring a library book! Better yet, visit the nearest library branch to your chosen park (and extra points if you’ve never been to that branch before – check out our Hours & Locations map). You might even consider attending a Parks program, either for recreation, or to learn ecology. Seattle Parks offers all kinds of classes for all ages, many free or low cost (check out SPARC to find class types and dates).
There is another way you can get involved with parks that may sound like dirty work, but can reap you great physical benefits while helping to take care of the environment. The nonprofit Green Seattle Partnership hosts restoration work parties in parks all over Seattle. Perhaps you’ve seen people digging, planting, and carrying buckets of mulch before, when you’ve been out walking your favorite park? Could you see yourself helping to remove invasive plant species and planting native ones instead while meeting awesome people? All supplies are provided and training, too – if you are totally new to the field. But don’t worry, it’s not all work: you may even have fun!
Every day is a new opportunity to become acquainted with our environments, to understand how everything really fits together – and to know how our choices impact our environments and what is needed to sustain beautiful, healthy communities.
If you are going to venture out to a new park, try on these books for size:
Nature in the City: Seattle by Maria Dolan
An excellent guide book to explore new areas in Seattle, or within the broader Puget Sound, while learning natural history. This book will guide you to see the area you already tread with new eyes. How many tourist books have you seen include information about salmon life cycles, invasive animal species and plant identification? You will also learn odd facts, like Woodland Park is Seattle’s most popular dumping ground for domestic bunnies, where more than thirty breeds can be found. There is plenty of fun to discover in these pages.
Seattle and the Roots of Urban Sustainability: Inventing Ecotopia by Jeffrey C. Sanders
You may have heard the inspirational quote “know where you came from to know where you are going.” In this book you will read stories of Seattle through development, political resistance, social and environmental change, and democracy. You can read about how Pike Place Market came to be, the Model Cities initiative, bioregionalism, community gardens, and Seattle’s P-Patch program. You can learn more about Discovery Park, Daybreak Star Cultural Center and the formation of United Indians of All Tribes through their battle over Fort Lawton. There is way too much information in this book for me to summarize here!
Edens Lost & Found: How Ordinary Citizens Are Restoring Our Great Cities by Harry Wiland
Seattle is featured in its own chapter, and you can read about what is happening in other cities, too. Did you know we have green roofs atop our Department of Justice building and City Hall? Did you know City of Seattle has an Office of Sustainability? They began in 2000 by ordinance, following on the heels of the City’s 1997 Environmental Management Plan. Through the support of city government, citizen groups are able to make strides toward sustainable fisheries, green storm water infrastructure, green building, transportation, and urban forestry. This book will help you understand the environmental health of our city in the context of other cities, and within historical context. Make sure to check out the resource directory in the back of the book.
-posted by Nicole S.