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Wiser Living

Finding a natural solution

Green Architecture: Connect Your Home to Nature

by Bill Hutchins, AIA, principal of Helicon Works, an ecologically responsive architecture and building collaborative

Tags: Bill Hutchins, green architecture, nature, natural rhythms,

A tree or our beautiful garden is not nature until it’s integrated and understood as part of an ecosystem. While we have a natural world all around and within us, we are increasingly removed from the deeper rhythms and cycles and flow of our source. To note a few ways:

• Food is created in chemistry labs, and the meat we eat is only a commodity with no thought given to the animal’s lives. How can that possibly nurture us? 

• Many of us and our children especially spend almost no time outdoors, let alone in deep woods without the presence or sound of machines or glow of digital contraptions. 

• We take so many supplements and prescriptions our bodies are medical experiments. 

• We get in touch with nature through our screensavers and calendars without ever being in such places to listen to the animal’s calls or learn the names of the trees. We don’t notice the daily activities of the birds or recognize our shared ways of living with roaming creatures. 

• We seek continuous perfection and go to great efforts to create a highly ordered home rather than working with nature’s process of decay and new life. 

• We long ago ceased surrendering to nature, to move through life as a sailboat, flowing freely on calm days and pummeled in storms. Our technologies allow us to live removed from the world around us. 

• We go to great expense to keep our ailing ageing loved ones alive rather than let them pass on to their next place gracefully.

This litany doesn’t stop.

What are we afraid of?

The irony is we’re so attached to the material world and closed from the spiritual realm— following a religion doesn’t mean we’re engaged with the deeper layers of our world—that we’re destroying the natural world to serve our short-sighted fears. 

Perhaps we’re centrally afraid of death with no belief that there’s something deeper we’re a part of. Or perhaps it’s this: The world can be terrifying—it’s not Eden—and now we have more advanced ways to protect ourselves.

But we can provide security and refuge while being in open dialogue with the natural world. Again ironically, home is a more profound experience as the world gets scarier
(that dynamic is another article).

What is clear is we are barely any longer a part of the natural world. We have created a sub-atmosphere or existence which has disengaged us from our source. What is it we’re becoming?

Is our condition bad and our slow death?   

We can’t pretend to know anything about our evolutionary imperative, or know if we have one. None of that matters. But what does?

What matters is up to us to determine, with an open mind and body and soul—all parts of ourselves engaged with the world around us.

We’ll explore such ways in Part 2.