• “I am a Leaf”
  • Interacting with nature,
    rather than merely capturing it
    allows us to develop deeper
    intimacy with our surroundings.
  • I’ve found writing to be a good method for me to do so.
  • Two stories
    • I went on a Creative Retreat this fall
      • top of a hill overlooking the lake
      • the breeze – not quite autumn, but crisp
      • hear the birds
      • hear the tide
      • hear the leaves
      • hear katie making noise next to me
      • warm sun on my face
      • cold wooden chair under me
    • I went to Vail this summer

      • Friend showed me everything
      • so much to do so little time
      • no chance to reflect or soak it all in
      • somehow able to post updates to snapchat and instagram
      • all those photos are gone now
  • Society tells us it’s popular to see nature in one way, but I’m telling you that there’s so much more to “see” if you look with your heart in addition to your eyes.



  • Our society’s response to something beautiful is often to share it with someone
    • We want to share that we’re going to beautiful places, doing cool things, and having a good time.
      • By searching some popular hashtags we can see how many people decided it was important to share what they were seeing
        • I searched a number of different hashtags (optoutside, neverstopexploring, adventure, among others)
        • As broad as I could get: #nature had almost 200 million photos in the category.
        • I wonder if any of the people who took these photos got anything out of the moment they were in
    • I have not yet met anyone who does not have some desire to be “liked”
      and it is easy to seek that sense of validation by posting photos on Instagram. I do this too.

      • As part of my research I went to Garfield Park Conservatory
      • I took over 200 photos on my phone but they were just
        quick snapshots of cool colors or interesting floral patterns that caught my eye
      • When my phone died I resorted to sketching
        which took much longer but allowed me to reflect in the moment.
      • While it may be thought of as simply another poor attempt at recreating the scene visually, it’s more about the process of relishing in that moment and connection.
    • I don’t want you to mistake this as a bash on photography, I see its merits
      • Photography can inspire
      • when posted online it is infinitely more accessible
      • But it may be limiting.
  • If you are “living in the moment” through a viewfinder,
    there’s a chance you aren’t in the moment at all.

    • To some degree, when we take pictures, we are disconnecting from what is going on.
      • I went to the Shedd Aquarium to see nature that I don’t usually have the opportunity to encounter which I was pretty excited about.
      • Instead, I saw a lot of people taking pictures.
      • I expected to see people marveling at the animals caged within the glass, instead they were simply caging them within their own glass.
    • The response/interaction becomes more about having a well-composed photo or absorbing what you’re seeing as quickly as possible so as to be on to the next one
    • By disconnecting from the moment, we can miss out on the true beauty of it
  • As an alternative, I intend to create an avenue for a user to engage with more personal responsive techniques

    • Personally engaging in your surroundings as an individual roots you in that moment, deepening your connection to it
      • It becomes something you can look back on in REFLECTION rather than simple remembrance
      • It becomes more about how you feel rather than simply what you see
      • This could look like writing, sketching, praying, songwriting, dancing, or any other “heart response”
    • These are opportunities to connect with yourself as well as with God
      • See how much care he puts into his creations
      • See ho much he cares for you
      • See how everything has a purpose
    • This personal response is nothing that BEGS to be shared online. In fact, it’s not something that needs to be shared at all
      • Sometimes, knowing that someone else will be reading what you’ve written or hear what you’ve composed may be less inclined to be fully honest and expressive in that creation.
      • Knowing it will be shared affects the quality of the response


  • So, even though it may be popular to share nature from your viewfinder, it can limit the ability to engage and connect with the moment. Instead, I’m encouraging the exploration of more emotional, personally invested response techniques
  • Interacting with nature and its creator is more beneficial than simply capturing the moment in a glass cage
  • After all, I could tell you a lot more about the connection I had to the moment at the Creative Retreat than at Vail because, well, there actually was a connection.