It’s June – and in Chicago, that means the weather is finally warming up, and we’re ready to get out of the office, our apartments, and shed our winter coats! For Greenheart staff member, Allison Yates, she’s taking this month to reflect on Greenheart’s mission of connecting people and planet – and she says “there is no easier way to embrace this motto than by spending time outdoors, enjoying the Midwestern landscapes.”
Why Should You Get Outside?
As a society, we build walls to nature, box ourselves in offices and transit from one air-conditioned space to another – but we weren’t meant to live this way.
“Our brains aren’t tireless three-pound machines; they’re easily fatigued. When we slow down, stop the busywork, and take in beautiful natural surroundings, not only do we feel restored, but our mental performance improves too,” says University of Utah professor David Strayer in a National Geographic article.
Summer in Chicago is a fun, easy excuse to ditch Netflix and spend more time unwinding outside.
What’s There to Do?
Right out our front door (speaking of – have you heard of Out Our Front Door?) we have accessible nature. Even within the city limits, you can experience bird sanctuaries, botanical garden, kayaking in the Chicago River, and swan boats in Humboldt Park. Venture a bit further and you can hike and camp at Starved Rock, boat and picnic in Busse Woods, and reenergize at the Skokie Lagoons. Just over the Illinois border, Indiana Dunes has 15,000 acres of trails, dunes, and rivers.
If you don’t have time to kayak this month, even simple swaps can have an impact, like opting to commute to work on a bike (hey, bike commuter challenge!) rather than the CTA. You can grab lunch on the go (in Tupperware instead of plastic, preferably!) and eat in the park – Washington Park is a Greenheart favorite. Use your break to take a quick walk rather than scroll through Instagram.
And when you enjoy and appreciate nature, you’ll be moved to protect it. As Greenhearts, we already are. By mid-June, Greenheart staff will have completed 79 hours volunteering in environmental endeavors with the Chicago Park District, Green City Market, and Heartland Alliance Urban Farm. This summer, we’re sending 48 Chicago youth on full scholarships to immerse themselves in nature in Wisconsin and Puerto Rico.
Take a Stand
This month (and every month) we have the chance to make small changes and reconnect with original habitat for a calmer, healthier, more centered day. Here are some suggestions to get you started:
Personal Action: Get outside! Change one of your weekend plans, and instead of hanging out indoors or at a restaurant, go on a hike, hit up a park, or walk along the lakefront.
Collective Action: Gather your friends and coworkers – and hold one another accountable by taking part in the Bike Commuter Challenge from June 14-28!
Greenheart Action: Follow along with our adventures as we embark on our first Camp Greenheart of the season!