Written by: Iloe Ariss
Living in the city, it is hard to immerse yourself in nature. The endless concrete sidewalks, roads and buildings, get in your way. It is important, however, that you don’t forget what nature feels like and appreciate the green spaces around you. Although you can’t just walk into a forest off Bloor St., there are ways to appreciate nature in the city. If you are city bound (as most high school students are), then driving somewhere in Southern Ontario isn’t really an option. Instead, it’s a good idea to make use of Toronto’s countless parks. Without question, going to a park doesn’t feel the same as walking through a field or a forest; but there is still some nature to enjoy. To have optimum nature enjoyment while you’re in a park, try to interact with the plants you see. Lay down on the grass and take a deep breath, knowing that however detached you may be, you were born a part of nature. Paying attention to nature just for a few minutes is very relaxing: “…public spaces are used for nothing more than to get away from the frantic pace of everyday life” (Dyer + Ngui, 10). It will help take your mind off the distractions and stresses that come with being a high school student. If while reading this, you think to yourself “I don’t live near any parks,” or “The parks near my house are so small, they hardly have any trees,” then another option would be to seek out a more nature-filled park. You can go on Google Maps, find a cool park, take the TTC, walk or bike to it. Some suggestions would be High Park (the closest thing we have to a forest within the city), Don Valley Brickworks Park and Riverdale Farm. If you’re feeling adventurous, you could even take a trip to the Toronto Islands where there’s a sufficient amount of nature to explore on the waterfront. Getting out in nature is worth it. It’s good for you, gives you a break from homework, and you can go by yourself or with friends.
Not only is being in nature good, it is essential. Ignoring our natural roots is what is killing the environment today. Referring to nature not as nature but as natural resources, condemns it to objects, building blocks in a narrative as we play god (Evernden, 1985). I love nature and I am nature, and I once thought it was ok to argue my beliefs based on the resources we obtain from nature. I have, however, been corrected: “Resourcism is a kind of modern religion which casts all of creation into categories of utility” (Evernden, 23). Ultimately, resourcism is wrong, and objectifying in every sense, when you see a tree, don’t think “oxygen-producing device” (Everndern, 23); rather, think ‘life’, do not deprive the tree of its subjectivity (Evernden, 1985). As we move further into a technological era, nature is being forgotten, certainly more by those who have less easy access to it (city-dwellers). It is very odd, seeing as we are nature, that we are so disconnected from it. That is one of the reasons why in cities, parks are so very important and younger people having a place in public space is crucial. Is nature public? “A true public space is open to all people — whether they live locally or are strangers from afar. Ideally, there is no fee for admission so that anyone can afford to use the space” (Dyer + Ngui, 12). So, technically, if you can find land that isn’t privately owned (which wouldn’t be impossible if you went far enough into Ontario), nature is public, as it ought to be. As mentioned previously, if you cannot venture into Ontario for lack of a vehicle, parks are the next best way. So, I urge you: visit nature, be in nature, be nature.
Evernden, Neil. The Natural Alien. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1985.
Dyer, Hadley + Ngui, Marc. Watch This Space: Designing, Defending and Sharing Public Spaces. Toronto: Kids Can Press, 2010.