The Distinguished World
July 29, 1994. The Board of
Directors of the World Peace University, a United Nations
Non-Governmental Organization, today announced that World Peace
University Professor Michael J. Cohen, Ed.D. is the recipient
of the 1994 Distinguished World Citizen Award. This award honors
his extraordinary 35 years as a founder of nature-connected education
and mental health programs. His applied ecopsychology methods
and materials catalyze global awareness and personal, social
and environmental responsibility by producing conscious sensory
contact with strands of the web of life.
The following is an transcript
from Taproots, Journal of the Coalition for
Education in the Out of Doors edited from a telephone interview
with Dr. Cohen (MJC) by Harriet Kofalk (HK), Associate
Editor of Talking Leaves magazine.
HK: Dr. Cohen, you say that your nature connecting
work teaches people how to culture their kinship as children
of Mother Earth, that this improves their relationships with
themselves, society and nature. What do you mean by Earth kinship?
MJC: Even though you and I may never meet, we are
psychologically connected. We share a beautiful nurturing home,
our living planet, Earth. We enjoy the same migrating birds,
whales and butterflies. We desire to breathe the same air, drink
the same water and love our sweet land. Webstrings
in Nature connect us. We are kin.
HK: How is that kinship
useful in helping us achieve more balanced and responsible relationships?
MJC: Have you ever sat near a roaring brook and felt
refreshed, been cheered by the vibrant song of a thrush or renewed
by a sea breeze? Does a wildflower's fragrance bring you joy,
a whale or snow-capped peak charge your senses? Do you like pets,
house plants or heart to heart talks? People learn dramatic new
ways to culturally reinforce and sustain those feelingful webstring
relationships and thereby let nature further their lives.
HK: How do your techniques
MJC: In natural areas, backyard to back country,
I develop and teach applied ecopsychology activities that create
thoughtful nature-connected moments. In these enjoyable non-language
instants as many as 53 inborn webstring attraction senses safely
awaken, play and intensify. Additional activities immediately
validate and strengthen each sensation. This emotionally empowering
process feelingly connects, fulfills and renews our inner nature
with the natural world's beauty, wisdom and peace.
HK: What results from doing this?
MJC: We feel rejuvenated, more colorful and thankful
and these feelings give us support. They nurture us, they satisfy
our deepest natural wants. As we satisfy these wants by co-creating
with nature we remove stress and dependencies that cause our
disorders. The process triggers critical thinking that values
natural sensory relationships. It regenerates natural connections
and community within ourselves, others and the land. We become
more knowledgeable, more environmentally and socially responsible.
We feel better.
HK: Why do your nature-connecting activities
focus on senses and feelings?
We neither learn nor earn our ability to sense, feel and enjoy
natural sensations. Rather, we inherit this gift. It is a biological
survival function of, by and from the web of life process. For
example, imagine working hard on a hot day, the sweat dripping
off your forehead, your throat parched. All that you can think
of is your thirst for an ice cold glass of water. To urge us
to drink water when we need it, nature created the sensation
we call "thirst". It makes us aware of the dehydrated
state of our being and attracts us to water. When we drink water,
we connect with part of nature. It flows through us and we feel
enjoyably unstressed, rewarded, quenched, fulfilled. Similarly
connecting each of our 52 other natural senses with nature achieves
the same results and makes perfect sense. It unstresses and enjoyably
fulfills us. We feel connected.
HK: What are these 53 inherent natural senses?
What roles do they play in our lives ?
MJC: The natural webstring senses include the distinct
attraction sensations of: color, smell, trust, taste, community,
touch, nurturing, place, play, belonging and thankfulness as
well as reason, language and consciousness. In congress, these
many attaction sensitivities sustain our inner nature's integrity
just as natural attractions sustain the integrity and vitality
of wild populations, for example: wolf communities, ant colonies
or forests. (The complete list of senses and research on them
is in Chapter Five of Reconnecting With
In natural areas or in caring
interpersonal relationships, our natural senses are nurtured.
They come alive in us as feelings and joyfully resonate and self-regulate
with their natural counterparts. The result: we feel good and
relate in naturally balanced ways.
HK: It sounds like we each inherit a natural
harmonic integrity. How do we lose it in our culture, while in
other cultures it increases as people mature?
MJC: As a twig is bent, so grows the tree. Western
authorities, from our parents to presidents, teach us to spend
an average of over 95% of our lives indoors, cloistered from
nature. Collectively we spend less than one day per person per
lifetime in tune with natural areas. We live well over 99% of
our adult lives knowing Nature through detached stories and pictures,
not through the sentient pleasure of experiencing webstring connections
with our natural and spiritual origins in people and places.
With respect to authentic nature, we are as crippled and bewildered
(wilderness disconnected) as a person born and raised in a closet.
Our detachment traumatizes, prejudices and estranges us from
Mother Nature and each other, from natural love, community and
balance. This frustrates or injures many senses.
HK: Since nature connecting
activities promote personal and global integrity, why don't more
people use and teach them?
MJC: Most people don't recognize the grave underlying
cause of our problems. Our greatest problem is the numbing effect
our nature-closeted lives have upon our thinking. We grow up
unaware that most personal, social and environmental problems
result from our excessive separation from nature. We learn to
conquer and injure, not embrace, nature's wisdom and sensations
within and around us. We lose the benefits of nature's restorative
HK: So you see reconnecting with nature as a
major solution to our problems?
MJC: Dramatically, educational nature-connecting
activities have shown to lastingly reverse our sensory estrangement
and its adverse effects. The activities relax tensions by re-bonding
our inner nature to its supportive biological home, the natural
world, a form of "higher power". This restores the
natural self-regulation lost by our disconnection. Our runaway
non-sense changes into common sense, into ethics and stress management.
We act from a supportive balance of natural loves and this promotes
unity, confidence and self-esteem. Best of all, anybody can do
and teach these activities. Therein lies hope.
HK: Where is your applied ecopsychology process
MJC: The nature connecting techniques enhance personal
growth in self-help programs and the fields of counseling, education
and science teaching. They also contribute to spirituality, peace
and environmental studies. Professionals in education, recovery
programs and mental health use them. Some Native People call
the process "Indigenous Peoples' Science" and "Awakening
the Great Spirit within".
HK: Do people have to attend your classes
to learn how to use your methods?
MJC: No, most people learn the techniques through
my home study training books, our email courses on the Internet
or my local workshops and internships.
HK: I see that parts of
Well Mind, Well Earth won an award for excellence and that Vice
President Albert Gore used the Connecting With Nature portion
of it in his book Earth In Balance. How may people contact you
or obtain your self-guiding training manuals?
MJC: Most of our descriptive material is available
at our web site, or you
can write me, Mike Cohen, at P.O. Box 1605, Friday Harbor, WA
98250 (360) 378-6313 or by email.
from the Assistant Secretary General of the United Nations, Dr.
Institute of Global Education
An Associate of the
United Nations Department of Public Information
Portland, Oregon 97220
January 3, 1995
FROM: Dr. Robert Muller
VIA: Dr. Richard Schneider
Dear Friend of Planet Earth
and its People,
In recognition of his 39 years
as Assistant Secretary General of the United Nations, his establishment
of the University for Peace and development of global education
schools, books and curriculums, Dr. Robert Muller received the
Albert Schweitzer Peace Prize and the UNESCO Prize for Peace.
Today, as Chancellor of the University for Peace, United Nations,
Dr. Muller says:
"We must not shy from
new opportunities to relate more responsibly to each other, spirit
and the environment. For this reason I urge people to become
involved with the remarkable grassroots learning program of Project
NatureConnect. It offers an environmentally sound, hands-on educational
process whose sensory nature connecting activities reduce apathy,
catalyze peace and promote mental health.
"My warmest congratulations
to Dr. Michael Cohen, director of Project NatureConnect, for
receiving his well-deserved Distinguished World Citizen Award.
I perfectly understand what he advocates. All the basic laws
of optimal living are right in front of us in nature but, to
our cost, we are taken away from them. The natural senses that
Dr. Cohen shows we inherit are wise, unspoken, non-material attraction
forces that have no name, yet Nature within and about us principally
lives with them all along.
"I am familiar with Dr.
Cohen and his ecopsychology work. It fulfills our personal and
economic needs, deeper ideals and spirit. His self-guiding materials
and courses deserve the attention of every person who seeks to
reverse our troubles."
Dr. F. Richard Schneider, Chancellor
Institute of Global Education
responds to 32 critical life relationship questions. They are
answered by enabling you to enjoy and then share online ten authentic,
sensory, Nature connected attraction experiences over a 12 day
to 5-week period.
Sign the Earth
for Peace on Earth Through Peace With Earth and put to use the
|After you obtain
information about the Project NatureConnect program from this
web site by using the Navigation guide (left 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.