About the Author

Miranda Andersen, 13, lives in a village near Vancouver, B.C. She is one of five subjects of a new book, “Amazing Canadian Kids.” She has created several short films on important issues, including one about endangered coral. In October, she’ll give a TEDx speech on nature-deficit disorder in Canada. She is also working on a film about nature-deficit disorder.

Miranda and the Apocalypse

Recently I was lucky enough to interview Richard Louv about nature-deficit disorder. At the end of the interview, he turned the camera on me and asked some questions that really made me think about what the future might look like.

He started by asking me about the new kind of books kids my age are reading. They are called “dystopia” novels. They talk about the future and how awful the world becomes and how young people struggle to survive.

Richard asked me if I ever read or watch anything that shows a better future. A future where we can do more than just survive – we can also thrive. Surprisingly, I realized there isn’t a lot out there that talks about anything other than survival – at least for kids my age.

So what could writers write about that shows an alternative future? A future that’s not just about overcoming to survive but overcoming to actually create something better? As Richard reminded me, it’s not enough to just survive. I think we need more books and movies out there to kind of inspire us to make a positive future happen. But in some ways the dystopia books are good because they scare kids about what the world might look like and then scares them into doing something to make the future better. Maybe writers could also inspire them with images of a better future.

That still leaves the question of what that future might look like. Can’t we build our lives around nature and with nature rather than bulldozing nature?

How about creating a way of life that turns endangered plants or animals into a never-ending supply? Then maybe there would be hope instead of despair.

I can almost picture houses in the future built only out of windows. A place where parking lots are turned back into natural wilderness or made into green spaces or at least having green spaces inside of them. Schools where you learn outside and with the roofs that are gardens and with rainwater collected to flush toilets. Places where people can grow their own food. A place where happiness is more important than money. Where everyone has some access to some kind of nature. Where we all find a way to survive and still share and renew resources.

Why can’t we still have struggle and conflict but survive — because we learn from our mistakes? Many people dream of a better future but the images that writers or TV or movies show can help us dream, can help us have hope. But if we don’t ask for those images and don’t demand them, they won’t be given to us. Are they not being provided because bad stories are more entertaining?

Can’t we have bad stories with good endings? I think we can be entertained and still be hopeful. So let’s dream the dreams and try to make them come true.

Wouldn’t it be great to be inspired?

Note: Earlier this month, Miranda Andersen, age 13, and her mother, Patty Andersen, flew to San Diego from their home in a village near Vancouver, B.C.., to interview Richard Louv. Miranda is making a film about nature-deficit disorder, and in September, she’ll give a TEDx speech on nature-deficit disorder in Canada. After she interviewed Rich, he mentioned that a book editor had recently told him that novels about dystopia — a post-apocalyptic world stripped of nature — are the hot new trend in young adult fiction. Miranda said she likes those books. Later she sent C&NN a short essay and a YouTube link on that topic, which we’re pleased to share with you.

 

 

Miranda talks on camera about
how she views the future.

More about Miranda and her films.

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Comments (23)

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  1. Miranda, you are ONE SMART GIRL! Keep up the great investigative work. I am so glad that there are kids like you in this world, who want a bright, happy future complete with an ample supply of natural resources, kids who want to spend more time in nature and get back to basics…kids who want a happy ending, and are willing to work for it.

    If you have a chance, check out my book, One Child, One Planet: Inspiration for the Young Conservationist. I believe that children DO want to be inspired, and that’s what I aim to do. My next book is due out this fall, will be along the same lines — about children being happy with less stuff and turning to the great outdoors for peace, and some fun too! Take care!

  2. Denise Dahn says:

    Miranda, I am thrilled to read about your thoughts and your vision of a future world. As an artist and writer, I know that the first step in creating something is to visualize it. And as artists, we must share that vision with others to inspire them as well.
    I am so glad there are kids like you out there. I will be watching to see how your work in film develops. Best of luck to you.
    (and of course – I have a book series in the works as well – so stay tuned)
    Occupy Nature!

  3. Caithlin Meave says:

    Miranda there is a writer in Australia who writes brilliant books for children of all ages that offer positive futures… she has a picture book and a series for older readers (we all loved them)… I think it was called the metal men….. she even has ‘how to books’ for all ages on self sufficiency, and she’s been writing for years (with dyslexia!)……
    there is so much positive in the world, glad to know you’re there X

  4. amy butler says:

    Miranda,
    Thank you for your work and vision. I wish you well in all that you set out to do. If you ever travel east please consider visiting Montpelier, Vermont. They are many like minded young adults like yourself here that would love to share their stories with you!

    best,
    Amy Butler

  5. Don Jones says:

    Miranda, I am currently writing for publication a series of children’s stories about the subjects you mentioned. My wife Jane and I also have a foundation called Magical Earth Retreats where we reconnect children with nature. This is our second year and it is an incredible adventure. Much peace and love to you. Don Jones http://www.magicalearthretreats.com

  6. [...] Here, is a link to an interesting blog about now the most popular teen and pre-teen books are ones that paint a bleak picture of our future.  Most teen books depict young people in nature-less societies, struggling to survive.  Fictional plots set in beautiful, nature-filled communities are few and far between.  I don’t know if I can name one… [...]

  7. Joel says:

    I am really impressed with all you’ve done. The Children & Nature Network is great too. Can you name the children’s books to which you refer?

  8. Miranda, Thank you for sharing your interview and thoughts on Nature Deficit Disorder! My husband is currently in the process of publishing children’s books about saving our planet. They will be published by June or so. We have also created a 501c3 public charity called Magical Earth Retreats. Through this charity we are reconnecting children with nature through art, music, dance, crafts, journaling and exercise. We are in our 2nd full year with after school programs, summer day camps, birthday parties, family adventures and much more. Our tag line is “How nature nurtures creativity”.

    It is awesome to see you people like you take a positive stand on this very, very important subject. Thank you for your inspiration.

  9. Cathy says:

    Miranda it is wonderful to hear young people like you voicing your vision. Your comment about the lack of books with positive messages is a pertenent one. I have just been reading a picture book to my children that does carry a positive message. This book is designed to get people of all ages to think about the big questions that you are asking. See if you can find a copy and enjoy. It is called ‘Unos Garden’ and is by Graeme Base.

  10. Darris says:

    Hi Miranda! What a breath of fresh air you are girl! In watching your interview I couldn’t help but think there’s a book inside of you waiting to be written . . . not the doomsday experiences that are so popular but a book that is adventurous, captivating and hopeful. Maybe a recipe for how it can be done. I think you have a lot you could teach us Miranda. I’m looking forward to reading more . . . all the best to you!

  11. Darris says:

    OH, and best of luck with TED talk! Cannot wait to watch!!

  12. Wow…..Miranda! You are a girl after my heart.

    I want you to watch the DVD on my website about my art exhibit. I am trying to accomplish exactly what you wrote about! My goal is to get people to GO OUTSIDE and PAY ATTENTION! Nature is so precious, and she is calling to us!

    From what you wrote in your interview with Richard Louv, I can tell you will love a story I wrote …a piece that will be in my exhibit, that you will absolutely connect with. If you will email me, I will send it to you, but I don’t want to post it on this board.

    It’s a story about the history of the creeks and the land where we live, as told by the fairy folk who inhabit the woods here in this rural part of Georgia.

    Or if you prefer, I will send it to your Mom first for her review. I recently read the story I’m talking about to a group of home-schooled boys and girls about your age called “Wild Intelligence Institute” (Check out their website…super cool) and those kids loved the story. Those children and others like you are the very definition of hope for the future of this planet.

    I want to make an additional DVD/movie out of that story, similar to the one I want you to see on my website. I can’t wait to see what you think…

    Anyway…the dvd about the exhibit is only 13 minutes long and you will love it.
    http://www.mechanted.com

    One more thing…you mentioned turning parking lots back into nature spots. I wanted to tell you about this AMAZING place near Savannah, Georgia. http://www.fws.gov/harrisneck/

    Get this…it used to be a World War II airport. Asphalt and concrete runways and hangars and planes and soldiers everywhere….but now it’s a wildlife refuge and one of the biggest bird sanctuary’s in Georgia! The wax myrtles and the wildflowers and the grass are just completely taking over all that pavement with no problem. It makes me so happy to go there and see that happening! Mother Earth can not be held back, kiddo. She laughs at our asphalt!

    With high regard for such a smart young lady who is obviously paying attention…and kudos to the parents who taught this to you….

    Melissa Steele
    706-255-8528

  13. Dear Bridget,
    Thank you very much for your kind words. My Mom ordered your book and we just received it. You did a great job on it and I love that you’ve directed it to younger kids. The photographs are amazing. They remind me a lot of the nature in Vancouver. It’s a simple message with a really big impact. Thank you.

  14. Hi Denise,
    Thank you for your comments. I’m an artist too and love to paint. If you’d like to see my work you can visit my website at mirandaandersen.com. I hope you’ll let me know when your book is out. Nature inspires me all in the time in my painting and my filmmaking. It’s really great to be able to network with people like you who feel the same about nature.

  15. Dear Amy,

    Thank you for the invitation to Vermont. I hope I make it there some day, I have always loved to travel.

  16. Dear Don,
    I hope there are more people out there doing stuff like what you’re doing – it’s very important. It’s also very sad that we have to do things like what you do in order to get kids outside.

  17. Hi G2G,
    Thanks for putting up a link to your blog. I will definitely follow it.

  18. Hi Joel,
    The kinds of books I’m talking about are dystopian books. Some of the ones I’ve read include the Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins and the Mazerunner by James Dashner (and there’s two more in each trilogy). They are my very favourite dystopian novels.

  19. Cathy, thanks for the tip. Graeme Base books also have amazing illustrations in them.

  20. Hello Darris,
    I would love to write a book one day. I keep a journal of ideas as they come to me and maybe one day I’ll have enough to write a whole book. Thank you for your comments.

  21. Dear Melissa,
    Thank you for the link to your production. Art is a great way to introduce nature to people and inspire them to protect it. I have a good friend who used nature as a kind of therapy for some health issues he was having and believes that it was the combination of art and nature that helped him get better. I really appreciate what you’re doing.

  22. [...] Andersen Speaks on Nature-Deficit Disorder Miranda and the Apocalypse: another C&NN guest blog post by Miranda Andersen. Learn About C&NN’s Natural Leaders [...]

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