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Nature isn’t just nice… it’s necessary

Spending time in nature offers us an opportunity to reclaim something that many of us don’t even realize we have lost.  The science on this is extremely clear: the modern world, and the culture that built it, makes so many demands on our time and attention that many of us exist in a constant state of fight-or-flight.

We are permanently triggered – on a knife edge waiting to jump on…something.  We are surrounded by strangers, flashing lights, loud and unexpected noises – all the hustle and bustle of modern life, and our brains and hearts cannot possibly keep up or successfully process all of that information.  As a result, we deaden ourselves in one way or another, and seek constant distraction.

The life we evolved and adapted to lead was very different – we lived in forests and grasslands, deserts and river valleys, islands and mountains.  The loudest sound was a clap of thunder, and most everyone we saw each day was part of our family or well-known member of our tribe. It is for such environments that our senses are optimized and our bodies and mind responsive.

Over the last 40 years, a huge body of evidence has begun to accumulate that spending time in nature isn’t a luxury or just a nice diversion; it is a vital part of maintaining a healthy body and healthy emotions.  There are links to various scholarly articles below, but here are just a few of the well-documented benefits that you can expect from spending a few hours in a wild place:

    • Decreased stress
    • Improved immune response
    • Enhanced Creativity
    • Greater emotional resiliency
    • Stronger social connections

Below are links to articles in reputable periodicals and scientific journals that document and explain the huge impact that nature (and, more importantly, the lack of nature) has on us.   These articles and others like them are why we have made Nature our partner in our work at Acceptance.

Enhancing Creativity and Cognition
Doctor’s Explain how Hiking Actually Changes Our Brains
The Cognitive Benefits of Interacting with Nature
At Home With Nature: Effects of “Greeness” on Children’s Cognitive Functioning
Creativity in the Wild:  Improving Creative Reasoning Through Immersion in Natural Settings

Lowering Stress
The Restorative Effects of Natural Environment Experiences
Preference for Nature in Urbanized Societies: Stress, Restoration, and the Pursuit of Sustainability
The Restorative Benefits of Nature: Towards an Integrative Framework

Improving Mood and Connection
We Know Nature Makes Us Happier. Now Science Says It Makes Us Kinder Too
The Effects of Wilderness Therapy on the Clinical Concerns of Troubled Adolescents
The Effects of Wilderness Settings on Organized Groups.

About The Author

Seth MacNeely

Seth MacNeely

While never diagnosed with Asperger's (there wasn't a word for it in those days), Seth was one of the first generation of kids to be treated pharmaceutically for "hyperactivity." With two of his own three children labeled as ADD and ADHD, he is keenly aware of the challenges that we all face. Seth has spent the last 20 years working in leadership roles within corporate America and the last 10 doing large-scale project management for a company with revenues in excess of 10 billion annually. While successful, his greatest love has been for Nature and the healing connections it can bring to people. In addition to graduate work in organizational dynamics and human resources, Seth is a classically-trained actor who spent 10 pre-corporate years working professionally in San Diego - feel free to ask for help with Shakespeare homework! Seth enjoys camping with his family, horseback riding, scuba diving, long motorcycle trips - any excuse to be outside, really!

Newest Articles

How Movement Heals The Nervous System

By Titus Kahoutek | March 27, 2018

Movement is a primary characteristic of the Animal Kingdom, and a powerful asset in life. Humans are the only species that exclusively walks on two legs. This upright posture offers us unique gifts and challenges. On one hand, we have an incredible capacity to adapt. No other animal on the…

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It’s all fake, and all I want is for it to be real

By Danny Raede | March 4, 2018

It’s rare that I have a genuine, real human connection. To me, 99% of the time, it seems fake. People ask how are you, but they don’t actually want to know. They are afraid of expressing their actual humanity, and push you down when you try to express yours. They…

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Connection: On Feeling Seen, Heard & Accepted

By James Lee Gibbs | March 2, 2018

Not many would dispute social connections can bring happiness and help us live longer and more fulfilling lives. There are numerous studies looking into just how big of an effect they can have.  One meta-analysis across 148 studies (308,849 participants) found benefits comparable to giving up smoking 15 cigarettes a…

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Help Us Build Permanent Facilities

During the summer of 2017, we held camping & volunteer weekends at a location provided free-of-charge to Acceptance.  Over 100 individuals, primarily families, participated in those weekends, and the results that came to the participants were often profound.

We heard kids say things like "When I'm out here, I don't feel like I have Autism".

This year, we're continuing to offer camping activities at our temporary location in Centralia, WA, while we work to raise money to purchase a 20 acre parcel literally next to our current location so we can start building our permanent facilities. 

One of the big things we think that is missing in the current conversation around people that don't fit into the world (such as those on the autistic spectrum) is how the physical environment and space can affect them. I'm sure you've heard how restaurants and other public places are designed to maximize certain objectives (McDonalds uses bright colors to encourage you not to linger, Jazz music in bars increases tips, etc).

We're using those same principles, but optimizing for healing, space & relaxation. For example, according to the book "Welcome To Your World: How The Built Environment Shapes Our Lives", "One recent study of the learning progress of 751 pupils in classrooms in thirty-four different British schools identified six design parameters - color, choice, complexity, flexibility, light and connectivity - that significantly affect learning, and demonstrated that on average, built environmental factors impact a students learning by an astonishing 25%. The difference in learning between a student in the best designed classroom and one in the worst designed classroom was equal to the progress that a typical student makes over an entire academic year." 

We need your help to raise the $250,000 necessary to purchase the land and start to build our permanent facilities. Having permanent facilities will allow us to start conducting programs for children, teenagers & young adults, as well as weekend and week long programs for families. It will also allow for longer term stays, which means that we can start to offer internship programs to young adults & others that are looking to find their place in the world, as well as those that need a bit more time to relax, recharge and reconnect.

We'll also be able to offer employment, housing & a built-in sense of community to the people we serve. They'll work in the various parts of the retreat center, learning valuable skills, making friends, and contributing to the growth, relaxation and healing of our weekly participants.

Land Campaign

$4,680 of $250,000 raised
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Acceptance: A Transformational Place is a Washington State 501(c)(3) pending non-profit. Please consult with a tax professional if you have any questions about deducting your donation.