Girl Guides of Canada asked me to give the keynote address on Eco-Day, part of their 100th anniversary celebration. I was to speak on an outdoor stage to 1,800 girls between the ages of eight and 12, at 8:30 a.m. Really.
Other than a thin connection to Twilight (that vampire movie) — I know a makeup artist that worked on set — I wasn't immediately sure what I was going to say.
I decided to pull out the "when I was your age" card. At nine I'd said, "One day David Suzuki and I will be like this" and crossed my fingers.
I didn't really know what David Suzuki did for a living. I just knew, from watching The Nature of Things that he liked animals and was passionate about saving the planet. And I loved spending time in nature.
As a kid, I spent weekends and summer vacations on my grandparent's farm. I lived to do chores like milking cows and took breaks by the creek catching frogs which meant plucking blood suckers off my legs when I decided rubber boots only got in the way. But did you know that today most kids can name 1,000 corporate logos but can't identify 10 plants and animals found in their own backyards? Very sad, because kids who spend time in nature grow into adults that care about protecting it.
In fact, Richard Louv's book Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder links the lack of nature in the lives of children to a rise in obesity, attention deficit disorder and depression. It's an enlightening read.
But I didn't want my message to all those Girl Guides from 15 different countries to be doom and gloom. These exceptional ladies spend time in nature. I wanted them to know that taking action for a better world can be a lot of fun, very rewarding and that they have the power to inspire others.
This is where you come in. In our busy lives we often forget that we are part of and surrounded by nature. The "environment" is everywhere.
This summer the David Suzuki Foundation is asking you to grab your camera, step outside, and focus. Enter our Nature in the City Photo Contest on Flickr. Twelve winners will be featured in our 2011 calendar and one lucky person will win the grand prize — the coveted cover shot and a Canon EOS Digital Rebel XS camera with 18-55IS lens kit!
It's summer. Get outside!
Lindsay Coulter, Queen of Green