Marisa Morby marisa morby

Design & Nature Reimagined: Connecting with nature through sound

Nature helps us through sound

Numerous studies have shown the benefits of listening to nature. It reduces stress, lowers blood pressure, and reduces our flight-or-flight response. But we are at a risk of losing this connection to natural sounds, because they're being drowned out by human made noise: cars, planes, helicopters, gardening tools, machinery... so much noise and distraction. One effort in the Hoh Rainforest is trying to preserve natural sounds by protecting just one place, ONE that doesn't have any human made noise. (This was also brought to my attention by Jonathan, mentioned below!). And if you want a good cry, check out this podcast episode where they talk about their work. It's very beautiful and very sad.


Listening to the forests

So this brings us to efforts people are making to encapsulate the sound of nature in different ways.The first up is tree.fm. This was sent to me by a friend and co-worker @JonSpeek. I loved this because of it's simplicity. You click a button and it gives you the sounds of a random forest. You get to see a picture of the forest and see where it is. Plus, there's an option to donate and plant trees, which is wonderful!


Listening to the wildlife

This collaboration involves conservation, which is near and dear to my heart. It's a way for us to do so much but simply doing nothing. By not disturbing areas; by just letting them be. Thinking about that, it's important for us to not only see what we have to lose, but also hear it. Millions of species throughout the world are in serious danger from climate change (and yes, humans are one of those species). This Sounds of the Parks initiative works to record sounds in different national parks and help us connect with the wildlife so that we can recognize that these animals are in danger and we can start making different decisions.

In a similar vein, you can listen to bugs, bats, birds, emus, and so much more wildlife around the world in their natural habitats. This is a collective effort of over 90 recordists who wanted to start bringing sounds of nature to others. As the project is growing, there's also an opportunity for others to record and submit their sounds to the projects as well.

Collaboration can bring us closer to nature and to each other

Next up are sounds of woodlands and forests all around the world. This collection shows the power in working collaboratively. Look at what we can create when we work individually for a collective whole! These sounds were compiled from individuals around the world who wanted to participate in something larger than themselves. The next phase for this project includes a music and camping festival. If this is done sustainably and respectfully, what a beautiful way this could be to appreciate nature.

You've made it! Now listen to one of my favorite nature sounds, the black-capped chickadee. They are frequent visitors to my yard, and I love listening to them chatter back and forth. Also, note the human made noises in almost each recording. I can't not hear it now. Listen to the chickadees (not my chickadees, but still cute!).

A photo of a black-capped chickadee sitting on a mossy branch

Black-capped Chickadee, photo by Mick Thompson. Shown on Portland Audubon: https://audubonportland.org/go-outside/black-capped-chickadee/

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