Our world is becoming more and more urban. Over 50% of the world now lives in cities, and the trend will continue. In Australia the proportion of urban dwellers is an extraordinary 90%. In China they are building massive new cities of huge size, seemingly overnight. The human migration to the cities is simply overwhelming (both us and the world), with almost all the stuff we buy, consume, or do, having its root in the material world. So along with the human migration, we have an extraordinary migration of nature (in the form of embedded soil, water, forests and dead animals) to the city where they are transformed into waste products.

As well as being homo citicus, there are figures showing that we spend more and more time inside – inside our cars, inside our workplaces, and inside our homes. Some figures show we spend 90-95% of our time inside, often in toxic and artificial places. Are we all suffering from something akin to ‘cabin fever’ due to our addiction to being inside all the time? Are we becoming fearful of being outside?

While city dwellers sometimes seek solace and renewal in natural places, this often involves driving for hours to get some quiet in a national park or a forest somewhere, and then battling the traffic to return to roar of the city.

I believe that we need to establish a new relationship with the earth around us, and in particular a relationship with the place where we live (and also the places we affect), whether this is in the city or the country. So how does an increasingly urban population do this? How does one connect to nature when we live in places where humans, and human artefacts, are so dominant, where nature is a long forgotten backdrop to our lives?

Is it possible to connect to nature in cities? The answer is yes, but it requires developing an awareness that above the cities is the sky (blackened by pollution), the sun is always shining (through the haze), and the air we breathe envelopes (and poisons) us. And yes, there are birds, animals and plants to become aware of, even though they are generally domesticated.

It’s time to slow down. We need to get out(side) more! And walk in the forests (or parks) along beaches (or local streams), and also on our local streets among our neighbours. And listen and connect to each other and the land (or footpaths), and reconnect to our places, whether in the city or the country.

But I still believe that being in wild places more often will be better for our souls.