I must admit, I absolutely love nature. I was a Boy Scout, and I spent many a weekend camping out in some forgotten corner of the woods. My family owns a boat, and as a child I spent huge sections of my summer vacation sailing in the islands and bays of Massachusetts and Rhode Island. I visited Alaska, and I spent time journeying through the wilderness on the Alaska Railroad, looking for whales in the North Pacific Ocean off Valdez, and admiring the view of the highest mountain on the continent in Denali National Park. Some of my fondest memories are of sailing, camping, and rafting down glacial rivers.
So why don’t I do that anymore?
David Bond felt similar to me, but about his children. He felt that his kids spent too much time inside watching telly and playing on iPads and not enough time in the great outdoors. So, he decided to become the self-appointed “Marketing Director for Nature”, and use modern branding techniques to sell nature. He made posters, a catchy jingle, viral videos, and even a smart phone app. He plastered London Underground stations with adverts of his daughter kissing a frog, proclaiming people to go explore nature. He even went and spoke at Speaker’s Corner in Hyde Park, and yelled at people in front of an Apple store to, “Stop buying iPads! You have enough ipads! Go outside!”
Project Wild Thing is, at its core, a critique of why modern Western culture doesn’t seem to care about nature. Bond brings in everyone from marketing heads of major corporations to child-developmental neurologists to the children themselves to analyze the reasons nature has seemed to slip out of our lives. Sure, this film has the problems of cherry-picking its interviewees and gives off an “old people complaining about kids these days” vibe, but you get that in virtually every documentary film. Still, it really is compelling, because it really is a good question: why don’t we go outside anymore?
The problem, he asserts, has just as much, if not more, to do with parents and society at large than with the kids. He laments the fact that consumerism has reduced the lure of the outdoors, and how paranoid parents are so afraid their children may hurt themselves that they don’t let them have fun. I have to agree with him. I may not be a radical environmentalist, but I think most people can agree that nature is healthy and, just as importantly, fun. I for one know that I’m going to out and spend some time in the forest near my house tomorrow, so I congratulate you, David Bond, on convincing me; or rather, congratulations on selling me nature.