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Natural learning
Wednesday, October 12, 2005
Late yesterday afternoon I returned home from a two-day executive symposium at the Marconi Center on the shore of Tomales Bay. The topic was right: the future of talent. The process worked: scenario learning meets graphic journalism. The people were great: enthusiastic, open, and ready to embrace change. Instead of the routine three bullet-point fare that oversimplifies our messy world, our discussions were ensued with memes of connections, interrelatedness, and complexity. We were inspired.

Being close to nature added magic to our event. Marconi Conference Center, one-time hub of Marconi's Pacific wireless network, hugs the shore of Tomales Bay. The Bay sits atop the San Andreas fault. We were on the western-most edge of the North American plate. The other side is the Pacific plate, which has been sliding rambunctiously up the California coast on its trip to Alaska for eons. Sir Francis Drake dropped by in 1570 (because the Pacific plate portion, Point Reyes, juts out from the mainland).

Walking from the rooms where we slept to our meeting room just up the hill, we passed quail, hare, and wild turkeys. People's repilian brains house Neanderthal-era fight-or-flight responses, so it's easy to imagine other primeval ties to the nature. Our brains connect to the complexity of nature below the surface of our consciousness. Feeling one with nature frees our thinking.

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Nature Deficit, by Richard Louv, presents compelling research that shows that kids taken into the woods to play suffer fewer ADD symptoms than those on playgrounds. In a 2004 study published in the American Journal of Public Health, the laboratory found that children as young as five showed a significant reduction in ADHD symptoms when they engaged with nature.


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