Environment or nature?

When I first had the idea for this blog I was convinced that “environment” was the right word for one of my three circles. After all, I’d studied Environmental Science, and worked in the environmental sector.

I had a nagging feeling, though, that the word environment didn’t work for everyone. This is partly because environment means a lot of different things to different people – quite often when I spoke to people at community events they connected it with problems of dog poo or litter. These were obvious concerns about their local environment, but it wasn’t necessarily what I meant when I talked about environment.

In 2015 I attended a Nature Connections event at the University of Derby. I started wondering if the word I was looking for was really “nature”. Is nature a more meaningful word than environment, and one that gives a fuller picture of what we’re trying to protect when we save energy, save water, or recycle?

It was a fascinating event and I took lots away that I shared with colleagues at Global Action Plan and on the GAP Blog. It made me realise that there are a whole lot of words that have meaning for people, and on different levels. Words like “meadow”, “oceans”, “sharks” are very vivid and provide strong emotional responses in us. Others, like “environment”, “nature” and “climate” are collective terms for lots of things, and don’t generally provoke the same response.

Nature words: climate, nature, bees, wildlife, meadow, gardens, oceans, animals, sharks
Nature words – what means most to you?

That’s why I want to explore words with people through this project:

  • What words make us want to respond to something?
  • How can exploring these words with other people help us to connect and share our motivation to make a difference?
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