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Getting Out There

I recently went on a small excursion with a friend to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

There is a place called the Porcupine National Forest, which is a small mountain range near Lake Superior. We started at the Lake of the Clouds and did an 18-mile loop back to it. We camped at the edge of Lake Superior and took in the huge amount of biodiversity on the way. The trees had just began changing color and the fungi were thriving. I was able to hear the songs of so many different bird species and watch some of the most beautiful blue jays I have ever seen.

On the trail, there was a beaver dam and many small waterfalls at which to sit and relax. It was a grounding and humbling experience. I would tell anyone that if they are feeling stressed, overwhelmed, or over-extended, that going out to what feels like nowhere, will be healing. Not only for its meditative purposes, but also for the fact that it brings you closer to what it’s like to be human.

For the majority of the time that humans have been around on this planet, we have been surrounded by nature in a way that would make many today uncomfortable. The ecosystems that surrounded our ancestors is what shaped us, and it is sad to see that many today do not even have the opportunity to be outside. National parks in America are often crowded or very hard to get to. Securing a campsite can be extremely difficult in many parks, and it was for this reason that I camped in a less than legal manner (while still being respectful of the environment and making sure to not leave a trace).

The travel time is also something that can pose an issue. The drive up to the Porcupine mountains took 14 hours there and back — the trip as a whole taking three days. This is a costly sacrifice to make just to experience something that every human needs. It is for this reason that we must begin bringing nature into the places where people live.

Projects that bring nature directly to the people in urban areas won’t only have a positive affect in cities, but they will also help with the crowding occurring in our national parks. Increasing projects that promote larger green spaces, greater biodiversity, and clean, safe places for humans to be humans is not an easy thing to do in America; but it should be.

If our government claims to be for the people, then why are they not providing us with the places that humans need right where they live. Green spaces and healthy ecosystems should not be a luxury; they should be a right. Stay tuned for my next post discussing the inequality in tree canopy distribution in red-lined cities in America.

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