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The Nature Fix: Florence Williams on Why Time in Nature Makes Us Happier, Healthier & More Creative

ONSITE | Wednesday, April 12, 6 - 7:30 p.m.

Instructor: Florence Williams

$20 Non-member Adult**

(**Arboretum Members receive a 10% discount on all classes.)

Course Capacity: 80

Spending just five more minutes in nature can have untold benefits. What’s the cure for our modern malaise of stress, distraction, and screen addiction? Nature, of course! Those of us who enjoy walking the Arboretum’s trails, putting our hands in the soil for spring gardening, looking at trees, or listening to birdsong all know the restorative powers of time in nature. But while many people advocate the benefits of getting outside, we are only just beginning to understand what really happens to us physiologically, psychologically and spiritually when we venture out and make connections in nature. Join award-winning author Florence Williams in this golden hour talk set at the Arboretum’s Education Center. Surrounded by cultivated gardens and forested landscapes, we can enjoy a nature fix in good company.

Florence Williams’ most recent book Heartbreak: A Personal and Scientific Journey recently was named winner of this year’s PEN/ E.O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award, among the most prestigious awards for science and nature writing. Copies of Williams’ books will be available for purchase and signing the evening of the program.

This program is presented through Adult & Continuing Education Programs at the Arboretum in collaboration with Reems Creek Nursery and Asheville Wellness Tours.

Florence Williams on The Nature Fix & Frederick Law Olmsted’s Thinking on the Connections between Nature, Health and Greenspaces

Although written well before the pandemic, The Nature Fix was prescient in what it encouraged people to rediscover to regain a sense of balance and safety in unsafe times. Williams said in a recent interview: “Nature makes us want to open our senses… In some ways, it was lucky that the pandemic coincided with the onset of springtime, at least in our region of the world. Springtime is a very dynamic, optimistic season. There's so much going on in the landscape: the birds are flying in, the bugs are coming out, and these cycles of nature are continuing. It’s comforting.

There was also this literal sense that being outside was safe. And for many, many millennia, humans have felt the safety of the natural world; we're programmed to feel that security outdoors. But because so many of us live in cities now, we don't associate nature with safety. With the strange circumstances of this pandemic, we were able to access those innate feelings again.

I recently looked back to the writings of Frederick Law Olmsted and found it remarkable how forward-thinking he was about the connection between nature, health, and city living. But his theories were more intuitive and influenced by Romanticism. He did not really know the science behind it.

I think Olmsted was very perceptive. He talked about nature as being important for convalescence, and he even put up posters at doctors’ offices that said things like “tell your patients to recover in nature.” Olmsted also recognized that these public greenspaces were critical for democracy because people of all walks of life could find restoration in these spaces.”

From McMenamin, Sheila (September 24, 2020). “In Conversation with Author Florence Williams on the Benefits of Nature.” Central Park Conservancy.

Florence Williams is a journalist, author, and podcaster. Her first book, BREASTS: A Natural and Unnatural History received the Los Angeles Times Book Prize in science and technology and the 2013 Audie in general nonfiction. The Nature Fix was an Audible bestseller and was named a top summer read by J.P  Morgan. Her latest book, Heartbreak, was called “show-stopping” and “courageous” by Publisher’s Weekly. She is a contributing editor at Outside Magazine and a freelance writer for the New York Times and numerous other publications. A fellow at the Center for Humans and Nature and a visiting scholar at George Washington University, Florence’s work focuses on the environment, health and science. A certified forest-bathing guide and experienced workshop leader, Florence loves leading groups through nature-immersive experiences and watching the transformation, connection, and healing that results. 

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Item details


April 12, 2023


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