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Project NatureConnect
What We Do

Cooperative learning online graduate degree and college courses: nature-connected, psychological web of life and nature love education and jobs.



Reuters, 9/22/99:
A Millennium Challenge:

Time is running out for natural systems, report warns; new threat is found.

On Planet Earth four billion years ago Nature became an intelligent, self-organizing, community process that supports life sustaining relationships. Left undisturbed, the web of life creates an optimum of life, diversity and balance without producing garbage or contemporary society's destructive abusiveness to people and places.

Although we are part of nature, contemporary society has taught us to think and relate separated from the process by which the web of life works. Our unbalanced thinking is uncontrollably deteriorating Earth and its people.

A newly researched nature connected thinking process brings people into conscious sensory contact with nature. It enables an individual to psychologically become sensitive to the web of life found in natural areas and people. It helps a person think and relate in balance, like nature works.



Reconnecting With the Web of Life:

A Thousand Words for the Next Thousand Years

Michael J. Cohen ©1997

From the 1997 PROCEEDINGS of the International Conference of the North American Association for Environmental Education, Vancouver, BC, Canada



We are part of nature, the balanced, ancient, web of life that communicates within itself through non-verbal attractions. Our nature separated society trains us to live, on average, less than .000022% of our lives in conscious contact with the web.

This estrangement tears our psyche from its nurturing origins in the web.

To dispel the pain this incurs, our psyche removes from our awareness our hurt, inherent 53 natural sense way of knowing life's balanced guidelines and rewards. Our injured senses become subconscious. To reduce the sensory void and sadness this creates, too often we crave and psychologically bond to destructive gratifications. We want; we become greedy for when we want there is never enough.

Through newly researched sensory nature activities, the Organic Psychology of the Natural Systems Thinking Process helps us genuinely, safely, reconnect our mentality with the web of life. It enables us to replace our destructive bonds with constructive passions and responsible attitudes. Balanced personal, social and environmental relationships result.



 "Oh, what a catastrophe, what a maiming of love when it was made personal, merely personal feeling. This is what is the matter with us: we are bleeding at the roots because we are cut off from the earth and sun and stars. Love has become a grinning mockery because, poor blossom, we plucked it from its stem on the Tree of Life and expected it to keep on blooming in our civilized vase on the table."

- D. H. Lawrence

"By thoughtfully learning how to become conscious of 53 hidden natural senses we reattach our ability to love to its roots in nature. This restores love to its fullness and heals our bleeding."

- Michael J. Cohen


The unbalanced way we learn to think in our nature conquering culture produces personal, social and environmental abusiveness along with war. Although we despise these evils, they don't readily change for, subconsciously, we have psychologically bonded to the ideas and values that produce them. Without appropriately addressing these destructive bonds we and Earth remain dangerously unbalanced.

Biologically and psychologically we are part of nature and vice versa. However, we learn to live in physical and mental disconnection from nature and its balanced ways. This severance from our inherent fulfillments in nature produces a void in our psyche. It triggers cravings that we must gratify artificially, no matter their ruinous effects.

Our artificial fulfillments often color and distort our thinking while they provide emotional and monetary rewards that fuel our economy. Unthoughtful development, consumerism and disorders result. Despite excellent evidence to the contrary, very few of us think that we can satisfy our cravings by thoughtfully reconnecting to nature. Such denial is typical of addiction.

We have become so bewildered (wilderness separated) that we try to resolve our problems using the same nature disconnected thinking that produces them. The good news is that a social invention has been researched that breaks this psychological vicious circle.

Experts accurately portray nature and the web of life by gathering a group of people in a circle. Each person is asked to represent some part of nature, a bird, soil, water, etc. A large ball of string then demonstrates the interconnecting relationships between things in nature. For example the bird eats insects so the string is passed from the "bird person" to the "insect person." That is their connection. The insect lives in a flower, so the string is further unrolled across the circle to the "flower person." Soon a web of string is formed interconnecting all members of the group, including somebody representing a person.

Every part of the global life community, from sub-atomic particles to weather systems, is part of this lifeweb. Their webstring interconnectedness produces nature's balanced integrity and prevents runaway disorders. Dramatically, people pull back, sense, and enjoy how the string peacefully unites, supports and interconnects them and all of life. Then one strand of the web is cut signifying the loss of a species, habitat or relationship. Sadly, the weakening effect on all is noted. Another and another string is cut. Soon the web's integrity, support and power disintegrates along with its spirit. Because this reflects the reality of our lives, it triggers feelings of hurt, despair and sadness in many activity participants. Earth and its people increasingly suffer from "cut string" disintegration, yet we continue to cut the strings.

Natural beings relate while in contact with the whole of the web through webstrings. As part of nature, we are born with this ability. Pulitzer-Prize winning sociobiologist Dr. Edward O. Wilson, of Harvard, affirms that people have an inherent biological need to be in contact with nature. He says Nature holds the key to our aesthetic, intellectual, cognitive, and even spiritual satisfaction.

Recently, I asked some web of life activity participants if they ever went into a natural area and actually saw strings interconnecting things there. They said no, that would be crazy. I responded, "If there are no strings there, what then are the actual strands that hold the natural community together in balance and diversity?"
It became very, very quiet.
Too quiet.
Are you quiet, too?
Pay close attention to this silence. It flags the missing link in our troubled thinking, perception and relationships. The web strings are a vital part of survival, just as real and important as the plants, animals and minerals that they interconnect, including ourselves. The strings are as true as 2 + 2 = 4, facts as genuine as thirst.

As part of nature we are born with the natural ability to know webstrings but we learn to neither recognize nor exercise this ability. Without seeing, sensing or respecting the strings in nature and our inner nature, we break, injure and ignore them (1). Their disappearance produces a void, an uncomfortable psychological emptiness in our lives that we constantly try to fill. We want, and when we want there is never enough. We become greedy, stressed and reckless while trying to artificially regain webstring fulfillment. We place ourselves, others and Earth at risk for with respect to the web of life there is no substitute for the real thing (2).

With the exception of humanity, no member of the lifeweb relates, interacts or thinks through the webstring sense of verbal language. Nature's web is a non-verbal, preliterate experience consisting of webstring attraction loves, not words that abstract, meaning pull apart (4). A bird's love for food (hunger) is a webstring. So is the tree's attraction to grow away from gravity and its roots attraction toward it. The fawn's desire for its mother and vice-versa are webstrings. Every atom and its nucleus consists of, expresses and relates through webstring attractions. All of nature, including us, consists of these attractions. People inherently experience those needed for our survival as 53 or more natural senses. As we learn to ignore them, our webstrings end up hurt and frustrated in our subconscious mind (11).

Today, newly researched nature reconnecting activities enable people to sensuously bring webstrings back into our lives and thinking (3). Their presence helps reinstate balanced personal and environmental relationships (10). Genuine webstring contacts in natural areas help us sentiently reattach the strings within us to their origins, the strings in the web of life (6). We feel, enjoy and trust this thoughtful connection.

Webstring connection activities also help people translate webstring attraction feelings into verbal language and share them (9). In this unifying way, our sensory connections with the web feelingly express and validate themselves in conscious thoughts and words that help us guide our reasoning and relationships (12). They enable us to think like nature works. We enjoy nature's balanced wisdom as it enters our relationships. Webstring support replaces destructive exploitation, competition and greed, recovery occurs (7). The natural world, backyard or backcountry, becomes a remarkable classroom, library and therapist that we treasure (8). It helps us peacefully co-create a future in balance with ourselves, each other and the global life community (12).

* * * * *

The most effecient way to learn to use and teach the webstring process is by taking a short, online Orientation Course: The Psychological Elements of Global Citizenship



1. Cohen, 2000, Nature Connected Psychology: creating moments that let Earth teach http://www.ecopsych.com/natpsych.html

2. Cohen, 1997, Reconnecting With Nature: Finding Wellness through restoring your bond with the Earth, Ecopress, Corvallis, Oregon. http://www.pacificrim.net/~nature/newbook.html

3. Cohen, 1994, The Natural Systems Thinking Process

4. Cohen 1995, Counseling and Educating With Nature http://www.ecopsych.com/counseling.html

5. Cohen 1993, Well Mind, Well Earth, Roche Harbor, WA, World Peace University Press

6. Kofalk, 1994 The Distinguished World Citizen Award

7. Cohen, 1996, Study and Survey of Participants http://www.ecopsych.com/survey.html

8. Cohen, 1996 Nature Psychology Courses and Degrees http://www.rockisland.com/~process/

9. Cohen, 1996 Psychological Elements of Global Citizenship

10. Cohen, 1997, Journalized Findings of Participants http://www.ecopsych.com/millecopstrand.html

11. Beyond Addicted Thinking: do this activity. http://www.webstrings.org/webstzbutton.html

12. Cohen, 1995, The Global Wellness and Unity Activity

for additional references visit

About the Author:

Applied Ecopsychologist Michael J. Cohen, Ed.D. founded and coordinates Project NatureConnect and the Natural Systems Thinking Process. They are continuing education workshops, distance learning courses and degree programs of Greenwich University, Portland State University and the Institute of Global Education. Dr. Cohen chairs the Department of Applied Ecopsychology/Integrated Ecology on San Juan Island, Washington and initiated the 1995 National Audubon conference "Is the Earth A Living Organism?" For 33 years, he has founded and directed degree granting environmental outdoor education programs for the Trailside Country School, Lesley College, and the National Audubon Society. His many books and articles include the award winning "Connecting With Nature: Creating Moments that let Earth Teach" which is included in his 1997 self-guiding book "Reconnecting With Nature" (Ecopress) and "Well Mind, Well Earth: 97 Environmentally Sensitive Activities for Stress Management, Spirit and Self-esteem." Dr. Cohen is the recipient of the Distinguished World Citizen Award.



After you obtain information about the Project NatureConnect graduate school and college cooperative education program from the web site by using the Navigation guide (right column), a free, helpful 15-minute discussion by phone with a faculty member is the most efficient way to customize the program to your goals.

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Receive inspiring nature-connection quotations by email weekly. Send a blank email to naturequote@aweber.com





Special NGO consultant United Nations Economic and Social Council

Readily available, online, natural science tools
for the health of person, planet and spirit

P.O. Box 1605, Friday Harbor, WA 98250
360-378-6313 <email> www.ecopsych.com

The Natural Systems Thinking Process

Dr. Michael J. Cohen, Director

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All programs start with the Orientation Course contained in the book
The Web of Life Imperative.



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