Sharon Gamson Danks (author); ASPHALT TO ECOSYSTEMS; New Village Press (Nature) $39.95 ISBN: 9780976605485
Byline: Marlene Y. Satter
"One of the more dramatic shifts in modern childhood . . . is the loss of freedom," laments Cam Collyer in the foreword to this wondrous, book. Collyer tells of a survey in the UK that documented the area roamed by each generation within the same family as a child. The great-grandfather, in 1919, would walk "up to six miles away from his home," while in 2007, "little Ed" was only allowed to the end of his block. "Wow," says Collyer, quoting Richard Louv's description of modern childhood as "virtual house arrest."
Readers might wonder what this has to do with green schoolyards, but the answer is everything, as the author points out. Children no longer allowed to roam through meadows and woodlands, fields and farms have no connection with nature, and further, have no idea where food comes from. The book cites additional alarming statistics: 35 percent of children eat no fruit, and 20 percent don't eat vegetables. For most of the kids who do eat vegetables, French fries are the mainstay. Danks, who is an environmental planner by profession, has put together an extraordinary guide to creating, or re-creating, a portion of the natural world to teach children all those connections that used to be a natural part of growing up.
Self-generated and passive power sources, beekeeping, vegetable gardening...