Giving Back Outside (and Getting Back Outside too!)
Lately I’ve been thinking about my art and how it seems to conjure up the theme of the outdoors. The map-like imagery with watery worlds and distant islands, I often create on the canvas encapsulates the outdoors. I paint intuitively, and so this outdoor imagery is what intuitively emerges again and again.
Which is fitting, and maybe not a total accident.
I decided months ago that as my art business starts to grow, I would want it to benefit some sort of greater good, so I thought about what broader issues were important to me. How do I give when I donate money to charity? For me, it is always environmental issues. Usually local or state environmental issues. And for good reason. I love being outside.
Although I also love being inside, and wouldn’t consider myself an “outdoorsy” type of person! However, I discovered sometime in the last ten years or so that I love the way I feel when I am outside, among the trees, walking in the woods, rowing through the water. I love the silence, and the sounds of the birds, the splashy sounds of water, the soft feeling of built up debris and soil beneath my feet. The soil scent of the forest, the heat on the water. And I realize how much I benefit from it – something just comes over me like a wave of air and there is a sense of being uplifted and absolutely calm. I think this feeling comes over anyone if they ‘re paying attention to their senses. I feel like I’ve had an infusion of oxygen, and feel extremely clearheaded. I imagine this must be the trees doing, or my lungs taking in more than I’m used to. It is a heavenly feeling, and my hope is that you feel this, or that if you have this experience to draw from, it is something you know you can come back to again and again. It is our birthright, innate, and unsaid because it’s expected and obvious, just like breathing. That is the hope anyway.
I can tie my love for the outdoors to several very specific “adventure” moments of being outside when I was a kid (this doesn’t include the myriad of times that were “ordinary” but just as impactful). The first time I was 12. And it was profound. I will tell you about it next time I post a blog. I feel it is so important to get kids outside when they’re young. There are a plethora of outdoor preschools and some charter schools that aim to get kids out. But as they get older, and their lives get more stressful, the opportunities are less and less to get them outdoors. Especially if they live in cities.
My hope is that when children get a taste of what being outdoors does to them, how it calms, soothes, invigorates and excites them, they will enjoy and cherish those places and want to protect those outdoor spaces with all their heart. Outdoor schools along with environmental educators and heart-teachers help to create a symbiotic relationship with our children. They feed each other. Technology and growth of urban environments and cultural changes have made it difficult for this symbiosis to occur regularly anymore. But it is still ours and our children’s birthright.
This leads me to the last point of this post. To ensure that as my art business starts to grow it helps create balance in the world, I intend to give 5% of profits to non-profit organizations that get kids outdoors. I’m interested in children seeing the outdoors as a place to protect because they love it and it is a place of refuge for them. Biology is nice, but adventure/fun is more memorable for kids!
So I am looking for the perfect non-profit organization that provides outdoor experiences for kids with the intention of getting them outdoors for fun experiences, healing experiences, or just simply to be together outdoors. I’d love to find something local here in Oregon, but am open to seeing what is happening in other states.
Do you know of any organizations that fit this description? Let me know so I can look them up!
You can contact me here.