News and analysis from The Center for Michigan •
©2015 Bridge Michigan. All Rights Reserved. • Join us online at

Original article URL:

Brunch with Bridge

Welcome to Brunch with Bridge!
Every Sunday, you'll find in this space one or more guest columns by interesting Michigan residents with something interesting to say about life in our state. We hope you'll find it a place to stop by regularly, read, and comment.

Reset the new year, and take a walk outside

Really, folks? How can you prefer whatever’s on your smart phone to this? (Photo by Flickr user Kevin Dooley; used under Creative Commons license)

Really, folks? How can you prefer whatever’s on your smart phone to this? (Photo by Flickr user Kevin Dooley; used under Creative Commons license)

They say 80 percent of those who make New Year’s resolutions have failed to keep them by the end of January. And that would include me. But I have a new proposal, and for anyone else in my boat.

I am going to make April 22 my “new” new year’s resolution day. With spring weather (hopefully) emerging, this date will inspire a resolution that’s better for me, better for others, and more likely to stick. The date is Earth Day, and I invite (beg) you to join me, for everyone’s sake.

My resolution will be to increase my time outside, walk in the woods and bring someone with me each time.

Here’s why: I recently learned an alarming new statistic – the new daily national average for kids is seven hours of “screen time” and 10 minutes outside. We are utterly losing our connection with nature, and with it, the most deeply healing and inspirational source of energy in our lives.

Note that Richard Louv, who wrote about “nature-deficit disorder” in children (“Last Child in the Woods”) has now written a book for adults (“The Nature Principle”). It’s not just the kids I am worried about – it’s all of us.

Could we create a statewide goal to have a much higher average than 10 minutes a day outdoors for our Michigan kids? Adults too? We have so much more to work with than most states to remedy this worrisome trend, and so much opportunity to keep a new year’s resolution.

Three thousand miles of shoreline, over 2,600 miles of developed hiking and biking trails, more than 7 million acres of state and federal working lands and parks that are accessible to the public.

We have an amazing network of wild places, both urban and rural, that are literally right out our door in the vast network of nature preserves assembled by the state’s non-profit land conservancies and nature centers. Find the land conservancy nearest you through Heart of the Lakes’ directory of land conservancies or go to The Nature Conservancy’s website and look up preserves near you.

I am going to create some goals to keep me moving, like walking the shores of every Great Lake around Michigan, from the sand of Lake Michigan’s dunes to the cobblestones of Lake Huron. I’ll pick agates along Lake Superior’s Keweenaw Peninsula and wade in the marshes on Lake Erie. I will go to the Michigan trails website to map out my hikes and bike rides; and go here for water trails to plan a canoe or kayak route; or here to plan places to visit along the great migratory flyway in Michigan.

Some days I’ll keep it simple, and just walk my two basset hounds around the neighborhood. That always takes way more than 10 minutes, at their pace.

April 22, Earth Day. Make it a personal day of commitment. I am much more confident that this is a resolution I can carry through on. Be accountable for reconnecting with nature, and connecting others. Help a child average higher than ten minutes a day outside. I believe our future, and that of Michigan and the Great Lakes, depends on it.

Helen Taylor lives in Lansing, and is state director for The Nature Conservancy in Michigan and a Great Lakes Commissioner. Her favorite brunch dish is yogurt, fruit and nuts, although she’s been known to drive 75 miles for bacon. The views and assertions of guest columnists do not necessarily reflect those of Bridge or The Center for Michigan.

2 comments from Bridge readers.Add mine!

  1. Bill Fullmer

    Thank you Helen Taylor. You’ve got it right. There’s beauty around every corner and every bend of the trail or river. It is enriching to be in nature. It is spiritual, peaceful, dramatic, energizing. Skip the gym once in a while and walk or run through a woods or around a lake. It’s different every time.

  2. Maureen McDoanld

    Thanks for a good reminder Helen Taylor. I moved to Southfield for the abundance of nature trails and I’ve allowed myself to get fat and frumpy this winter while plunking on the keyboard. Earth Day is a perfect day to commit to getting out of doors again.

Leave your comment...

Your email address will not be published.

Currently on Bridge

An Earth Day pitch: When you hang up the phone for good, toss it the right way

Michigan’s roads affect everyone, so a 'yes' vote on Proposal 1 makes sense

‘Diplomacy Begins Here’ conference aims to illuminate international relations

What NOT to post on Facebook: Jokes about prison rape, when you’re in charge of preventing prison rape

A program to give young offenders a second chance is sending many to prison

Similar accounts in suit over alleged teen prison rapes pose challenge to state's defense

‘New fish’ ‒ One teen inmate’s account of alleged sexual assault

Early learning summit in June could impact Michigan’s children

Money Smart Week: Be penny wise, and pound savvier

Plan B or no Plan B, here’s what happens if road proposal fails

The political tale behind the selling of Proposal 1

A Bridge primer: Untangling the pothole promise of Proposal 1

Who supports, and opposes, Proposal 1

Let's rebuild Michigan through its greatest asset: its water

Could a public boarding school model work in Detroit?

Coalition supporting Detroit schools a step in the city’s road back

Chasing fads? Today’s schools are struggling too much for that

For one Michigan legislative staffer, an hour or two in the spotlight

A cull is a kill, and it’s an overreaction to deer ‘problem’

Lack of college guidance keeps poor and rural students from applying

Those who can, do – and get their hands ‘dirty’ in the process

For one Detroit mom, a complicated path to employment

Detroit by the numbers – the truth about poverty

Michigan should require dental screening for all children entering kindergarten

Where in the world is the Center for Michigan?

After two years, hard to call ACA anything but a success

Bridge’s Academic State Champs emphasizes all the wrong measurements

A graying population poses challenges for Up North counties

Up North, isolation impedes health care for seniors

Enbridge oil pipes and the Straits of Mackinac: Too risky to ignore

Not bigger government, but better services when Community Health and Human Services merge

Two Michigans gaze across a widening gap

In northern counties, workers and business find each other lacking

Hidden poverty stalks a Pure Michigan setting

Postcard: How a git-’er-done spirit helps one rural school district

Postcard: When elk is for dinner

Postcard: Luxe life at Bay Harbor reflects changing economy

Postcard: A roof and a bed

Invest in non-partisan journalism.

Donate to The Center for Michigan. Find out why.