What if we started thinking of the land as a health care system?

There is a growing body of scientific evidence confirming the healing powers of being in nature. This science confirms what we’ve always known; it feels good to be outside.

A few weeks back, I participated in the Bay Area Open Space Council’s 2016 Open Space Conference. It’s an event that takes place every year and its mission is to connect folks from around the Bay Area doing similar conservation work. It was an inspiring day of learning and I left with a fresh perspective and excitement about the work we’re doing on the Peninsula.

There was one speaker that day whose message really resonated with me, one message that really stuck.

Stacy Bare, the Director of Sierra Club Outdoors, was one of the speakers in the morning session. Stacy served in the U.S. Army from 2000-2007 and during that time was deployed in both Bosnia and Iraq. He talked mostly about his experience coming home from war, struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder, and his search for effective treatment.

Eventually, he was able to find an effective treatment, but that treatment was not from where he expected.

A friend took him rock climbing in Boulder, Colorado and it changed his life. The experience of being in nature took him out of his head and connected him back into the world, back with something bigger than himself.

From then on, nature, for Stacy, was medicine.

Nature has helped Stacy heal the wounds of war. He’s a living example of the psychological and physiological healing impacts of just going outside. His message that day was simple: “Our open spaces are our best public health and preventative health care system.”

I haven’t been able to stop thinking about his story and the transformation he experienced. I keep asking myself that same question, “What if we started thinking of the land as a health care system?“

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About Post

Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST) protects open space on the Peninsula and in the South Bay for the benefit of all. Since its founding in 1977, POST has been responsible for saving more than 87,000 acres as permanently protected land in San Mateo, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties. Learn more

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