Susan Jones’ renovated interior of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Seattle captures the feeling of a forest, which inspired the architect. Image © Lara Swimmer
This article was originally published on Common Edge.
There are extraordinary connections between the natural world and the capacity for creativity in human beings. In his book Last Child in the Woods, journalist and author Richard Louv observes: “Nature inspires creativity in a child by demanding visualization and the full use of the senses. Given a chance, a child will bring the confusion of the world to the woods, wash it in a creek, turn it over to see what lives on the unseen side of that confusion.” He concludes that in nature, “a child finds freedom, fantasy, and privacy: a place distant from the adult world, a separate peace.” The architect Frank Harmon likewise wrote touchingly about the outdoors, woods, and water as perfect settings for cultivating a thirst for learning and discovery: “Children raised by creeks are never bored. Creek children don’t know about learning by rote, neither are they conditioned to working nine to five. Berries are their first discoveries, and birds’ nests, and watching the stars come out. Later they discover books. To creek children, learning is discovery, not instruction.”