“The planet is being destroyed, unless we have a generation of kids who care about it”
Concerned about the disconnection perceived on their children with nature, he undertook a project that ended revolutionizing his family, the British city of London, the documentary film and the world. His goal is clear: reconnect children with the incredible sensations of nature. To do this, he conducted a marketing campaign in the English city, documented this in the film Project Wild Thing and keeps it today through an online network. A conversation with David Bond, director, father, producer, Marketing Director of nature, writer.
What has inspired you to undertake Project Wild Thing?
I’m the father of two sons. As they began to grow, I started to observe and compare their children with mine, and then I compared mine with the one of my mother, and theirs with his grandmother… something had changed. My mother ran in childhood by a large space, I did that then in a smaller space and my children even in a lower one. I wanted to understand this change and, as I started researching for the film, I wanted to also begin to reverse it.
How would you describe the project?
It’s difficult to define. This is a movie and, within the movie, there is a campaign. That campaign, then, continues to this day in the outdoors. It is a campaign about how to reconnect kids with nature. However, when we thought we were going to fail, the answer from people surprised us. People began to connect and engage with the idea, and the movement grew. I must admit that, while it was something “silly” to be the Marketing Director of Nature for the documentary, I enjoyed it (laughs).
As your experience and research, why it is important to reconnect us with nature, the wild?
There is overwhelming scientific evidence about the benefits of the link with nature. There are really good and different type of arguments. For healthy reasons, it is proven that a hospital room with windows on green spaces contributes to improve the immune system of patients. And even if you do not want a source of health, but economical one: 80% of the successful British entrepreneurs have planted trees during their childhood. That is, if you want your child to be successful, also plant trees today with him.
How did we get to this point of such disconnection with nature?
We are at the worst moment. Children dedicate more time to screens and less time to the outside, as has never been seen before in the history of humanity. The problem is huge, is very present, and very urgent. But the good news is that it has stopped worsening. Why? Because people began to talk about the problem, because parents began to ask questions about their children, because there are actions and campaigns in this regard. It is complex and will take a long process of reconnection.
So complex as that moment of confusion in your documentary because you realize that the laws of the capitalist market would continue wining you?
There was a point in the project in which I wondered myself: “What am I doing?”. We live in a world with selfish values that seek to fill with selfish things. I like to think that I must first change those values of the parents in order to then communicate with them. You have to meet people where they are, as affected by marketing.
The large powerful companies of the industry will continue to win. But we have to keep fighting to make the change possible. We did not win, but today anyone in the world, including in Argentina, can join the network. We started talking with parents, and themselves began to consider that perhaps they don’t need to spend money to make their children happy. The film was only a beginning. The network will represent the real change. The planet is being destroyed, unless we have a generation of kids who care about it.
How does the project continue through the network?
On the one hand, the network came up with the purpose of facilitating adults the fact of spending more time outside with their children. On the other hand, we developed an application that offers ideas on what activities can take place at the outside. Today we have a map that locates those places where you can interact with nature in the UK.
What is the reaction of the people against this proposal to reconnect with nature?
Some people say they have no time. Other say I’m giving them one more activity to do in their routine. What I always say is: you can make a very small change. There are people who told me how leave the car a little further away from the school and make the journey on foot together have changed their lifes. Even the children themselves, protagonists of the documentary, have been transformed by the experience. Today they reconnect with nature promoting local farms and devoting more time to the outside. London is a city with many green spaces. The reconnection with nature doesn’t mean having to go to live to the middle of the forest. You can also connect with it between the concrete with plants, flowers and more green spaces. And if you are concerned about all aspects of the problem, go outside… everything starts to improve.
What is the role of the school on this process?
Education is vital. The problem is that we have young teachers who grew out of the natural world, with a life inside. Children spend much time in front of computers at school and then they return to their homes, and continue in fron of computer. We need to teach the teachers about the outside, and we must do that outside the classroom with children.
What about the media?
The media reflect the fears of adults by the “dangers from the outside”, that are amplified by the headlines that say the world is a dangerous place. I’m not saying to stop publishing horror stories, but that they could start writing about how dangerous is that the kids are all day in front of the screen, and how dangerous it is that they don’t connect with nature. Journalists are the perfect Marketing Directors of Nature.
What would you say to our readers, children, young and not so young?
It is very easy to be swayed by the fact of having the next cellphone, the next computer or the latest release of a film. But you must learn that time in nature is the best time you can devote your lives. It is free, it has no cost and is really good and positive for your physical, mental and emotional health.