back view of a person carrying a baby near the placid lake scenery

Need some New Year entertainment? Go check out the latest Engineering With Nature Podcast, S6 E10: A Conversation With Florence Williams About The Nature Fix. Learn more and listen here.

About the episode

Can nature make us happier, healthier and more creative? The simple answer is yes, . . . and it’s been scientifically proven. In Season 6, Episode 10, hosts Sarah Thorne and Jeff King, Lead of the Engineering With Nature® Program, US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), welcome Florence Williams, a renowned journalist, author, speaker, and podcaster who spent over three years traveling around the world talking with leading scientists about how to quantify the benefits of nature on people’s health and well-being. Florence joins us to talk about her book, The Nature Fix: Why Nature Makes Us Happier, Healthier, and More Creative, and what she has learned on her journey.

As a contributing editor for Outside Magazine, Florence is sometimes assigned stories; but when she was asked to write about the science behind why we feel good in nature, the assignment immediately spoke to her: “I had just moved From the Rocky Mountains, where I had lived for 23 years, to Washington, DC. Although I grew up on the East Coast, the move to DC still felt like a really jarring shift in my psyche after living in the mountains for so long. I was thinking a lot about what I had lost in my daily nature connection.” What started out as a magazine story ended up as a book: “I realized that there was a lot of science happening at that very moment—in some ways a turning point in the science, with lot of new technology enabling different kinds of field experiments, for example, with neuroscience.”

In writing The Nature Fix, Florence was motivated by what she calls our “epidemic dislocation from the outdoors,” which involves the shift to moving to cities and simply spending less time outside. “I believe we’re living in the largest mass migration in human history, that is the shift to indoors.” She notes that children today spend significantly less time outside compared to their parents when they were growing up, who themselves spent less time outside than their parents’ generation. “We aren’t really paying attention to what that might mean for our emotional health and for our physical health.”

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