Wild spaces in National Parks and remote forests get a lot of attention when discussions about preserving open space and nature come up — as they should. But what about the open spaces that don’t get as much attention? I’m talking about open spaces right within our communities and even surrounding our own homes.
When I started working as a brand communications and social marketing director for an up and coming agri-community in Utah, open-space and how to best utilize and preserve it became a major area of interest for me. Our team knew that preserving half of our property as open space was a priority and would be a unique and desirable attribute to future residents. But to me, it felt more important than market positioning. So I began learning and really understanding why open spaces are so important on a community level.
According to research open spaces and exposure to nature in general have a profound impact on individual and community wellbeing. Everything from our mood and physical health to social satisfaction can be impacted by our access to the great outdoors. And in my opinion, everyone should have some access to those benefits, whether they live in a major city or have access to trails and forest within their backyard.
As women who love to explore, we know this. We feel a sense of replenishment after immersing ourselves and adventuring in the great outdoors, and therefore we respect and love wild spaces. It is just easy to sometimes forget that those spaces can be found all around us.
Something else that stood out to me as very interesting in my research was the lack of regard for preserving open space within most community developments (in the United States anyway). However, according to some more research I stumbled upon, the good news is that it is estimated that more than half of the population would like the preservation of open space be a top priority.
So what can we do about it? How can we reap the benefits of nature at home and actively promote open space within our own communities? I don’t have all of the answers, but here are a few ways you can enjoy and protect nature locally. If you have more ideas feel free to add them in the comments.
1. Get involved with a local land trust or nature reserve – Land trusts actively work to protect local ecology and land. They are an excellent resource to learn more about what is going on in your area.
2. Continue to do your part – Keep recycling, conserving water, picking up trash when you see it, etc. Each small contribution can help keep our communities healthy and clean.
3. Take on a project – Do you own empty land or know of a vacant lot nearby? If you have the time and resources, ensuring these spaces are utilized for the benefit of the community could be a very beneficial task to take on. A small park or community garden are typically welcomed shared open spaces to add to a community.
4. Bring nature inside – For your own benefit, bringing some plants and landscape or nature oriented art into the home is a great way to boost mood and energy according to several studies.
5. Utilize your own space – If you have a home with land you can ensure that those spaces are utilized. Thoughtfully landscaping with native and drought resistant landscaping is a great place to start. Even converting small spaces over time to meet environmental standards can help. Gardens and flower beds are fun uses of space and motivators to spend some more time outside yourself. All-in-all, just make sure you appreciate and use any space you do have in whatever way makes you happy.
6. Support local agriculture – Small-scale farms, garden markets and community gardens are all beneficial elements to communities where open space is typically being thoughtfully utilized. Not only is the open space maintained and looked after, it is also giving something very important back to the community – local produce, flowers and herbs.
7. Respect the space around you – Treat open areas, even if they look uncared for and deserted, just as you would a wild environment. Don’t contribute to pollution or litter by leaving things behind.
8. Spread the word– Raise awareness within your community. If you hear about a development going in nearby, contact the developer or county representatives and suggest that open space be implemented. The more awareness is raised on the subject the more likely it will start becoming more of a priority in the future.
Have some other ideas? Share in the comments below!