Technology will continue to get better, but that also means the need for green space everywhere will continue to be important. Green space could be a park, a wooded area or any place where nature is a part of the area.
One person acutely aware of this predicament is Chris Gajewicz, the Nature Resources Coordinator at the BG Parks and Recreation Department. Gajewicz has been working in this position for 19 years. His job is to manage Wintergarden/St. John’s Nature Preserve and Simpson Garden Park.
Due to Gajewicz’s time in this position, he has also seen the shift in technology and how it’s affected going into nature.
“I think that people are worried for the future, that young people don’t enjoy being in the outdoors,” Gajewicz said. “I don’t necessarily think that’s true, but I think that we as the older generations need to guide those younger people into the forests, into the fields and into the environment so that they can say, ‘Hey, listen. This is not a scary place. It’s a good place to be. It’s a healthy place to be.’”
Gajewicz has also said that technology has not caused less attendance than one may think, but rather the opposite. Social media, such as Facebook, which Gajewicz specifically mentioned, has allowed the parks to advertise themselves and some of what they offer to the community. One of those aspects was birding, which Wintergarden/St. John’s Nature Preserve advertised heavily in the pre-Facebook era.
He also said that technology can help those who are going out into nature. For example, he said bird watchers don’t carry around bird books, or those who need to use a map and compass don’t need to have those; all they need is their phone.
“That phone can be as useful to you as it is a distraction,” he said.
Along with that, Gajewicz said that technology is part of the culture now.
“I think that people have a love-hate relationship with technology, and you get to a point where you all, I mean, we all need our phones,” he said. “We have them, we need them. It’s just a way of life. It’s not like it’s an optional kind of thing anymore.”
Technology’s rise has also led to the belief mentioned above that people won’t be going to nature as much.
“I don’t think we can ever get away from technology,” he said. “I just don’t think that it’s possible. So, we have to learn to embrace it and utilize it for what it is. We can get over the top with it, but do I think that we need more green space, yeah. Every day I think we need more green space. I mean, the more that we have the better because I think it’s a healthy place for us to be. It’s good to get outside. It’s good to get fresh air. There are thousands of studies at least, I want to say millions just because it sounds better, but thousands of studies at least that have been done on what takes place when the human mind is in nature. And it is always a positive thing”
Gajewicz didn’t talk like technology is taking away from those visiting, just that the way they interact with the environment has changed.