Karla Sanders

Our Better Nature


our better nature


This piece is inspired by Hidden Brain’s story “Our Better Nature: How the Great Outdoors Can Improve your Life.” Many of us intuitively know that time in the forest, mountains and sea makes us feel good, but have you ever wondered why that is exactly? This story dives into the science and explains many reasons why and how a close bond with nature improves our physical and mental health, decreases crime, and improves the overall quality of life in societies.

As you all know I am in love with birds and the concept for my piece came to me on a morning run going up a set of stairs I sometimes include in my route. The top reveals a beautiful view of the sea, and I always have a great sense of relief when I reach that view, like I have left the city below and entered into the embrace of clouds and all things fresh and free. I can see birds soaring the wide expanse of blues and grays, and on one particular morning I was listening to Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Free Bird. It’s a song about endings but in my mind also new beginnings, and that’s what we need; new ways of living integrated with our natural world. This is where I connect southern country rock and hard science:

I’m interested in biomimicry and think we have a lot to learn from the patterns of nature, so for this piece I integrated the bird’s wing into the stairs, the literal stairway to a healthier nature-based way of life.

After all, didn’t we learn to fly from the bird?

German engineer, Otto Lilienthal was the first person to design a glider that could fly a person and was able to go long distances.

Based on his studies of birds and how they fly, he wrote a book on aerodynamics that was published in 1889 and this text was used by the Wright Brothers as the basis for their designs. One example of many.

We tear trees down to build concrete blocks, an artificial way of existing, and this is very new in the history of our existence. It does not bring health or connect communities in the long run. The lone tree on a busy street is not a inanimate object but a vast system full of free birds, life, and within them, solutions we have yet to discover.

What we must focus on goes deeper than the technical lessons nature provides. Have you ever felt the scent of pine needles brush your skin, that cool crisp touch of something marvelous? It lifts the spirit. How is it the sight of an owl fills our hearts with joy?