Restoration and Isolation: The Role of Nature during Social Distancing

Today marks the beginning of April—and the middle of the third week since Save the Sound’s whole team began working remotely. While we are deeply grateful to all of our supporters who make our continued work possible, it’s also challenging to be apart, interacting almost exclusively through computer screens. These are difficult, uncertain, and unusual times to say the least.

And yet, one only has to look up from the screen and out the window for a reminder that beauty and tranquility still exist. There are buds on the trees, and the songbirds are reprising their loquacious gatherings. As I write this the sky is blue, the weather is warming, and the fragrance of spring is settling over the city. Nature, it seems, is reminding us that in spite of everything that seems upside-down right now, there is life, connection, and growth to be found all around us.

The way our team has adapted is truly encouraging, and we all remain devoted to ensuring that the protection and restoration of natural ecosystems in the Long Island Sound region aren’t forgotten during these challenging times. Given all that nature can provide for us during our time of social distancing—health, space, perspective, calm—we ought to be protecting these places more diligently and ardently than ever.

To that end, our Ecological Restoration Team has developed new protocols so that we can continue the critical work of caring for our green and blue spaces in ways that increase the health and resiliency of communities and ecosystems alike. We are cleaning trash and leaves out of bioswales so they are ready to keep stormwater off of the streets and out of the drains. We are moving forward on a fish passage project to ensure that more of this year’s fish run will have access to their historical habitat. And we are preparing for the rain garden planting season, albeit without volunteers (for now).

We are fortunate to have work that takes us outdoors while observing strict social distancing. Here are four ways you too can experience the benefits and beauty of nature during this time:

  1. Find a solitary spot in your favorite park or beneath your favorite tree…and connect to the internet! Comcast has made all of its hotspots free for everyone in response to COVID-19, and it’s a good bet that there’s one that will allow you to spend some productive alone time outdoors. Check out the map here.
  2. Become a “porch participant” in your next webinar or conference. Some incredible conferences are going fully online, making their content either free or much more accessible, and webinars are everywhere right now (including Save the Sound’s own series). So why not take your laptop to the porch? If you’ve never tried it before, you might be surprised how far your Wi-Fi will reach!
  3. Take a solo stroll to the nearest green space in your community, and let your mind relax and wander. If the public parks and trails near you are still open (check here if you live in NY and here if you live in CT), you might want to take a bit longer and go for a hike—just remember to stay at least six feet away from other hikers. Stay tuned for some favorite spot recommendations from our team.
  4. Dig into your springtime gardening. If you’ve never gardened before, now might be the perfect time to start—you’ll be growing your own food and reaping all of the health benefits of being outdoors at the same time. You might even consider installing your own rain garden!

We are all in this together. By staying safe and staying home, you contribute to our continued ability to protect and restore the natural places we all depend on—and it doesn’t mean that you can’t go outside. I hope that you find safe ways to be in nature and join us in respect and gratitude for all it provides. After all, for as hard as our team works to restore health to natural systems, we know that they do even more to restore us—and that has never been more true than it is now.

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