Today (May 18, 2020) there are 4,589,526 million CV19 cases reported, globally and 100,078 new cases. While some countries like New Zealand are relatively CV19 –free; the US surpasses 87,100 CV19 deaths, and eases strict “sheltering in place” measures that proved effective in the early CV19 days in bending the transmission curve. Are we really ready to make the move? Impatience could literally kill us, but immobile economic and social activity could cripple us, as well. As we feel the real economic backlash of COVID19 and cramp up inside home; many feel that we are damned if we open, but damned if we don’t. Dr. David Nabarro cautions us to beware of false choices. Economies can only thrive when people and the environment are healthy and well. We are all motivated to navigate the changing behavior and spread of the virus to reduce its impact on the economic, social, physical, and mental state of our communities. The key to our success as a global society vs CV19; will be our ability to communicate, collaborate, and coordinate our community efforts from the ground-up and leadership-down; and to adapt our behavior to support the common good. Listen Here

According to Dr. Thomas Frieden (former CDC director under Obama) to open properly we would need 30-40% more trained contact tracers and 100x more testing and a $1.5 billion USD budget to burn per week.  That said, the good news is that masking (even with less than N95 grade masks) is more effective than virologists originally thought. Thus, back outside in the great urban outdoors, if we mask in solidarity and we don’t let down our guard before the second wave strikes; then it might not be the largest wave in the set, as was the case for the now often compared Spanish flu in 1918 that killed 50 million (reported) people. While we re-open our communities, we can keep numbers of new cases low, if everyone respects that this is a dangerous, highly contagious virus and remain diligent in our physical distancing — social masking protocols when in close contact during this next now Phase II-bring on the COVID-ready, steady state. In my interview today with Dr. David Nabarro, Special Envoy to COVID 19 for the World Health Organization (WHO) we discuss in more detail HOW to open safely, and WHAT changed behavior looks like to ensure that both our economies and our health ecologies build greater and greater resilience against this persistent virus. SEE HERE!

According to Laura Spinney (science journalist and author of Pale Rider on the 1918 influenza) over the past 500 years, humans have experienced 15 flu pandemics. The more recent flu viruses; the Asian flu in 1957 and the Hong Kong flu in 1968 that took the lives of 2 million and 4 million people, respectively are not much discussed, but are hopefully more in line with our final CV19 experience opposed to the Spanish flu. That said, the Spanish flu happened during a world war, so people were on the move either in combat or seeking asylum or in refugee camps, homeless… Although we are not at war, we were traveling globally for over at least a month while the virus began its globe-trot. So, as we open it’s a super good idea to follow the WHO guidelines and health safety precautions as the virus continues to lurk about in global hotspots.

Nature’s Reflection Photography 2020

So, what’s the key to keeping safe and keeping CV19 case numbers down as we come out of our safe homes to interact in society and engage in local commerce?

Dr. Tedros, Secretary General, World Health Organization

The theme of this past week in UN circles with the launch of the UN Global Humanitarian Plan to CV19 is solidarity at home, in the workplace, among businesses, within members of our communities, and throughout national governments. The hope (but sadly not the reality in many countries and across the US) is that city and state leaders are basing their decisions to open pandora’s economic box based on science, facts, credible insights, models, and trends. The problem is you have a federal leader in Washington DC “fomenting domestic rebellion” (Gov Inslee, Washington DC)– inciting public riots against governors in states like Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in Michigan, Gov. Tom Wolf in Pennslyvania, Gov. Gavin Newsom in California, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo in New York trying to force them to open without all the health checks in place in order to breathe oxygen back into our US economy. Dr. Tedros, Secretary General of the World Health Organization reiterated today during the UN Press conference that three questions should be asked before safely re-opening:

  1. Is the epidemic under control?
  2. Is the healthcare system ready to handle a resurgence?
  3. Are public health surveillance systems and testing established?

I do not believe that any state is prepared yet to answer yes to all three questions, but hopefully will be soon. Meanwhile, for those states and nations whose leadership are making decisions to stage a gradual opening and requiring CV19 adapted protocols for employee protection and retail business transactions (like curbside pick up and physical distancing while shopping); the hope is that the general public will adapt in step and solidarity with leadership to avoid a spike in cases. What does it mean to act in solidarity with our fellow human beings during this crisis?

It means to respect that the CV19 virus is a highly contagious virus and can be spread easily human–human if droplets containing the virus in saliva passes one person to the next? It means that we understand the risk of contact (and contracting CV19) increases the longer one remains within the 6ft range of an infected person (exhibiting symptoms or not), especially without protection. It means to be compassionate with those who have the virus, to maintain virtual social contact and support. It means to share our common stories of suffering, loss, frustration, and strategies for adaption (see my shared home remedies below) for what looks to be a longer period of transition to a new normal social, economic paradigm. It means to recognize that those living in closed quarters, under sub-optimal sanitary conditions, and/or given their livelihoods, more exposed to more people-points of contact for the disease, or now unable to work and without money struggling to feed their families—WOW, that we have great compassion for the most vulnerable in our communities. It means that where and when we can– we invest heart, energy, resources to sustain our extended family in the communities and bioregions where we live. It means that leadership, leads by example and combats this socio-economic, health crisis caused by CV19 with swift, decisive, clear, and compassionate decisions; as many of our female leaders worldwide have done.

Jacinda Ardern, New Zealand Prime Minister, Waking Up SDGs

PM Jacinda Ardern shut down New Zealand from travel after 6 cases discovered in her country. Now they are preparing for a full domestic opening with zero cases. Taiwan’s Tsai Ing-wen still has only 6 deaths and has a surplus of masks to send 10 million to the US. Germany’s Merkel early on warned that 70% of the German population would likely be affected; so to take the virus seriously to keep the numbers down. Iceland’s Katrin Jakcosdottir has free, universal testing for the entire (small) country and spread the message through social media; while Norways’ Erna Solberg invited children on TV to talk about their fears. It means that the concept of the potlatch—the rise of a giving-sharing culture permeates mainstream media opposed to heated stories of governors vying for ventilators or PPE (personal protective equipment) for their over-burdened healthcare system and healthcare professionals. Indeed, we need more good news stories everywhere, all the time of restaurants offering free food or communities hosting potlucks or hotels opening their doors as homeless shelters or conference centers popping up as temporary hospitals or entrepreneurs figuring out new business models to get hospital-grade masks made and regular CV19 testing models developed and rapidly deployed.

And if most of us can just hang in there and shelter in place—save for the essential outdoor exercise and family errands, a little longer; then our waiting will not have been in vain. And for those still required to shelter at home; do we understand why local leadership is requesting us to follow the Five WHO guidelines and State rules to #StaySafe #StayHome #SaveLives? Doesn’t it make most sense to now ride out the slower summer months with reduced contact; rather than risk a peak wave and have both CV19 and a weak economy in September?

White-Tailed Deer, Pixabay 2020

That said, everyone is feeling the call of the wild and bursting at the seams to “just get out”… and it’s healthy to be outdoors, exercise, and be exposed to the environment to keep our immune systems up to snuff by also connecting to the good flora and fauna and bacteria and fungi outside. Interaction with the environment will keep us strong. And once we are able to establish the correct infrastructure for rapid, repeated testing; being in contact with one another will also help keep our immune systems agile, adaptive, and more resilient. And, as more than 50% of the United States is slowly re-opening; it’s super difficult to remain sheltering at home. It’s like some of the parents at school have now decided enough is enough— I’m now willing to take the risk and allow my children to play on the jungle gym again before the new protective padding is in place to buffer my children’s fall. These parents put the other, more prudent and cautious parents in a tough spot because the likelihood of the more cautious parent’s child obeying his parents 100% plummets as he watches his peers playing again. Social pressure or social pull will likely lead the best back onto the urban jungle gym…. Now, maybe no child will fall from the jungle—but that’s unlikely. Without the appropriate protective gear in place, someone is going to get hurt.

Nature’s Reflection Photography 2020

In the case of COVID-19; despite our greatest desires to burst forth from our homes and break all the safety health rules and just rebel… Governor Gavin Newsom said it straight: “ This virus does not take a break on the weekend. “ We can’t re-open too fast and too furious; or too flippantly… the virus does not discriminate. The virus can still kill me, you and those we love—even the innocent who are doing their part to stay safe. What happens if we don’t listen to health professionals and epidemiologists who are closely studying the virus and tracking the trajectory of the virus spread? Do we risk riding multiple larger waves in nature’s set? Could the warmer summer weather play a role in helping us reduce the survivability of the virus; that if we just waited a little longer we could really beat the virus down? Who is to say that if we ratchet open businesses and restaurants to physically welcome customers that they would even come?

Those recently surveyed in the US: 70% would NOT go to a live event; 80% would not fly on an airplane; and 80% would not go to gyms or restaurants.  (Sustainable Brands May 10, 2020) The confidence isn’t there…and virtual concerts, business webinars, zoom calls, E-commerce purchases, and take-out meals have been very successful pivots for retail companies, from the perspective of the consumer getting basic needs met and businesses based on intellectual capital and prepared for the Digital world we live in to be able to survive.

The good news is that we have a choice to adapt our lifestyles and businesses- to pull out the innovative spirit that lives within each of us and pivot, hustle, problem-solve a way to ride out these next successive waves without jeopardizing ourselves, our families, or our communities.

If 1 reported case of CV19 death in the US on March 1, 2020 has led by May 1, 2020 to 67,000 deaths in the US only 2 months later; how can anyone believe at this juncture that we have mastered this virus by any means, such that we can afford for a moment to let our guard down? We may have reached a quasi-apex for a brief second; but everyone, everywhere around the world could still contract and communicate this virus human-human. IF we loosen our grip on reality and try to return to business/life that we remember as usual (or even choose to wear our mask in crowded public spaces only 50% of the time, wash our hands only 50% more, keep less than 6 ft distance)… that’s like re-opening the floodgate again to successive waves of CV19. Who can predict that the subsequent CV 19 waves won’t play out like the Spanish flu– spread even wider and become even more lethal? Reasonably frustrated, local political leaders are starting to slowly open the floodgates this week for businesses… and their ability to keep them open will depend on us – the citizens of our communities to prescribe routinely, religiously, rigorously, respectfully to the healthcare guidelines set out by the World Health Organization (WHO) from initial open.

Nature’s Reflection Photography 2020

I just watched a short clip in Norway about a restaurant owner who designed outdoor glass encased 2-top and 4-top dinner tables at his establishment, and instructed serving staff to deliver meals on long boards through what looked like a bank telling window. As earlier this morning, zoom conferencing with Dr. David Nabarro and health professionals around the world, we learned that according to the WHO, the CV19 could be with us for some time and a vaccine could likely be even 2 years away. The call was about adapting to life through this COVID-19 phase of our lives and on how to integrate sustainable COVID-19 readiness practices into our communities worldwide. Here are David’s key points. CLICK Here

Open Business, Open Hearts

PHYSICALLY Distance; but definitely SOCIALLY Connect

The virus is new. It is highly contagious. It spreads quickly and infection is exponential if we don’t take measures to limit and stop transmission. We don’t yet understand its pathogenesis. We are learning every day; so we must all remain agile and open to new information and knowledge sharing in real time. Keeping the COVID-19 virus at bay until we have universal vaccination (or herd immunity; not encouraged by the WHO) is central to our success in mitigating viral spread. Key to that mission are PEOPLE.

Only we can break the CV19 fever and get everyone breathing freely again. What will it take? It will take a global culture operating consistently in solidarity – wearing masks in public; keeping the physical distancing protocol of 6ft (2m), being diligent about washing our hands, averting any condition for over-crowding, re-designing work and the workplace to limit exposure and transmission. It will take special effort to protect the most vulnerable and to ensure that they are in high social (virtual) contact, but low physical contact with others. It will take universal, frequent testing, and immediate isolation, as well as, contact tracing and again testing for everyone identified.  And the ideal scenario is that to the extent we are able, we continue to “shelter at home”—and find peace and joy at home. To this end—I have added my favorite strategies for continuing to celebrate home life in place. (see below) Also, here’s our first 1.5 minute piece we produced for the World Health Organization to help you—Awaken Nature Inside (play music video) and the series I wrote for Thrive Global, The Tree’s Truth: How to Be Still (read series)

Celebrating Our Home, Our Sanctuary

Nothing has contributed more to our realization that we are global citizens-intricately tied to one another in a global ecosystem than the COVID-19 pandemic. We are clearly part of a global family and the earth is our home.

Our shared shelter and our real dwelling, is our planet Earth. And she is getting a real, overdue, deep cleanse.  While some say we are celestial beings and come from the stars… nonetheless, as a species and life form, Homo sapiens (wise humanoids) live here on Planet, Earth … and we can’t biologically live in our current organic bodies as a species in any other place in the universe. Our biology, our DNA, our naturally selected selves are born out of a 3.2 billion year legacy of natural evolution here on earth. And, 100’s trillions of microorganisms– foreign to our bodies still live within us, driving most of our bio-physiological processes. These microscopic living beings also all originate here. They are important to our health, wellness, and immunity strength; so it is important that we stay connected not only to our close kin, but also to nature during this CV19 period. We are from Earth. We are of the Earth. Earth is our home.

Our health is tied to this planet’s health. And this great insight should give us great joy and relief because even as we are experiencing the pain and torment of this microscopic virus’s wrath; nature is cleaning up our home and regenerating herself. We’ve all heard about the dolphins coming back to the canals in Venice, Italy. Most of us have seen the air quality satellite image comparisons for China; pre-COVID-19 and 1 month after the epidemic and declaration of a lock-down government measure. The Himalayas are visible from the valleys in northern India as not seen in over a century; and I hear my beloved Mt Blanc in my home Valley de Aosta is shimmering.

Even if you are under a rigid lock-down order in your home and country; chances are you can taste the sweeter, cleaner air; see the stars shine more brightly at night; witness the presence and sound of more sound birds or little critters running freely around in the neighborhood. I live in a place surrounded by nature; but even I have noticed many more accounts of foxes, raccoons, skunks, voles, raptors, deer, wetland birds, migratory geese, and whales spouting closer to shore. I even saw a bald eagle yesterday launch from a high perch on the eucalyptus and soar right over my head. The coyotes howl at night and the community joins in, adding their voices to the calling out to the moon. The frogs chirp away every night their evening symphony–seeking springtime mates. It’s a wonderful world. And if you are now in a home where you can’t now physically experience these places; then there are alternatives to bring you to that place of joy and release…. in the meantime. There is so much beautiful photography in the world; and as an old professional photographer, I invite you to my Nature’s Reflection website. Enjoy.

And imagine what a spring our world will celebrate (whatever season we truly re-open from CV19) and appreciate and truly enjoy when we emerge from our home cocoons. And lastly, isn’t it a wonderful thing that what many of us miss and crave during this lock-down, shut-down-temporary pause on our work-a-day world…. Is Nature.  If you read to the end of this article, then I’ve a special reflection on what it will take for us to soon be able to truly break free from our houses and enter again our Earthly nature home.

Meanwhile, our individual family homes have become our sanctuaries.  And, treating our havens as such—keeping our rooms clean, adding personal touches, removing the clutter, re-designing environments, shifting around furniture, stocking the kitchen with healthy food, updating the positive soundscape, bringing nature inside to optimize the Feng-Shui- positive energy and welcome the light… All these home health improvements will only enrich our CV19 experience. In the section below I share a few of the things I have been doing in my home to maintain a positive spirit and use this time and experience as one for reflection, growth, regeneration, and preparation for realizing the world we now visualize post CV19. So, whether you are alone in a small apartment in an urban COVID-19 hotspot or a neighborhood home with a full family of five plus a dog, a parrot, and a gecko; there are many ways to awaken nature inside.

Keep On- Keep On Living Well Inside-Outside the Home-Office Box

  • It’s definitely time to cycle more, drive less. As travel has been restricted in many places to local transport; our bicycles are our best mode of transport and allow easy, safe physical distance. As well, now that the streets are not buzzing everywhere with cars; we can more safely ride around our towns. Governor Gavin Newsom and the mayor of San Francisco decided actually to reclaim some of the more scenic roads in and around San Francisco for bike and walking paths. And this week, President Macron announced a slow re-open and encouraged bicycle transport throughout Paris and other French cities, even providing a stipend for people to fix their bikes and lessons to ride bikes. Don’t you just love the world, innovating?
  • By all means if visual media and story continues to stimulate your creative mind, incite your imagination, allow a brief escape, and makes you happy continue to tune into your favorite programs. The creative industry loves you. Entertainment is key! Of course there’s streaming videos, movies, and bing-watching TV to no end. And, entertainment on large-screen TV’s that dominate many family living rooms is an obvious go-to. But aren’t you hungry for other home activities; also to the extent you can, explore your outdoor neighborhood?
  • Jon Giegengack (Hub Research) presents really interesting results from people watching (TV, movies, Livestream etc). His research suggested that more people concerned about personal economics are subscribing to online platforms as an austerity measure during CV19 to replace other forms of entertainment. And of course, as everyone is inside more; it’s natural to go to the big screen to expand your horizons and enter into different story worlds. … But beware–don’t spend too much time in that TV (Tell-A-Vision) worm hole; or you may not ever surface back to your own authentic personal reality. You don’t always want to live in the matrix anyway, do you?
  • Digital Concerts are now a Livestream phenomena—and amazing fundraising tool for supporting the Solidarity Relief Fund with WHO and UN, leading out with Lady Gaga’s Together at Home Concert on April 25th with Global Citizen and WHO. That concert was trailed by a beautiful Shine Your Light Concert on Earth Day 2020 as part of the Earth Day Network program, led by Grammy-award winning Ricky Kej and other luminary world musicians. The concert interspersed few messages about regenerating our agricultural systems, land use, ocean protection measures now and as the next normal post CV19. We supported this creative effort at Natural Intelligence with our Awaken Nature Inside music video, featuring Ricky Kej’s music. If you are feeling depressed and deflated, turn our video on for a good pick-me-up!!!
  • Digital conferences. Most of the environmental conferences that I normally attend and contribute to have been shifted forward 6-12 months; but since Earth Day 2020– the 50th Anniversary couldn’t be moved; the Earth Day Network got creative super fast; and Earth X—a digital conference to follow this weekend created a multi-tiered program event. I just love that when put to the test; innovative and creative people rise!!! And the good news is if you missed any program; they are all still online virtually. The Climate Action Summit as a lead up to COP 26- the annual climate conference is now online—the program streaming periodically. The World Economic Forum, Sustainable Brands, Greenbuild, the CODE, DEW, and DLD in my creative and climate-nature sphere have pivoted similarly. I am sure it is the same for you in your universe. And the good news is that it makes content and programming more assessable to more people. The bad news is that it is hard for the organizers to monetize and there is now SO MUCH content online; you just really can’t participate in everything. And, as we are uber-social beings; I must admit I will be thrilled to meet in person again. I know our children feel the same way about school. E-learning was cool and new at the beginning; but now zoom classes seem to be more and more a bore from the testaments I’ve collected by children in my community.
  • Why not sprinkle into your Smart TV watch-cycle- concert-conference stream schedule with a few superb nature programs to lift your spirits and to balance whatever news reports you are following to keep yourself informed? BBC Earth is always my very favorite… and Our Planet was epically produced just for this time. Sir David Attenborough is also coming up with another series soon, so stay tuned. Nat Geo, Discovery, BBC Nature, History Channel all have brilliant nature programming too. Warning: just watch out for titles that look aggressive and dark. I am finding these past years– a greater proliferation of dark, deadly, devastating, dangerous-type nature programming. Nature is not just dark and deadly… and you may find yourself now needing a bit more color and life and light and spring joy.
Eurovision News and Events, Sadguru 2020
  • Indeed it’s super important also, as you know, to continue to keep informed as the CV19 saga continues for this summer season, programming. And, I am sure you have your favorite newsbeats, podcasts, programs already well established by now, but hopefully not set in stone. I believe its super important to keep open to new perspectives on the CV19 pandemic, query different resources and vested interests for holding specific views, remain super critical of everything you hear, check references, talk with peers, and ultimately make informed decisions for you and your family with compassion and consciousness for the larger community that make most sense to you. I find myself that it’s easy to become mesmerized by a certain media tones-drones-moods-tempo; especially when you’re feeling anxious, overwhelmed, or jaded. My advice; don’t lose your happiness gene or hopeful edge. And when you find yourself diving too deep into the murky waters of media; know you have the agency to turn it off, take back your energy and control; so as to keep yourself from drowning emotionally. Also, as spring begins to turn to hot and summery; I am seeing emerge more and more the good news stories in the midst; resolution, respect, and resolve for adapting to the CV19 change in our lives; and, as well, more extremely exciting and creative conversation on post-CV19 next now brilliant futures we really can manifest.
  • My strategy for sanity, while keeping updated with the news is to set a short timer to scan headlines prior to the daily UN press conferences. Then, I choose my feature content to focus on the future regenerative end game narrative. I am drawn to media about COVID-19 at the UN-WHO source, reading/listening to content from those on the front line who are actually involved with dealing directly with the COVID -19 crisis, locally and globally. The WHO homepage and dashboard is ground central for information, globally. Dr. David Nabarro, Special Envoy to COVID-19 at WHO and I are hosting a series with Eurovision News and Events called: “Combatting COVID-19 with Compassion” and David is writing a Narrative Series, as well. You might find these resources valuable.
Marin County CV19 Model Testing
  • I also shifted from following just global news to global AND hyper-local news. The good news is that more good news stories are starting to emerge and change the desperate tone to heroic. Solid state and local leadership is giving me greater hope to a CV19 end game despite the US federal leadership vacuum. But still isn’t it insane that we don’t have yet a good system for universal testing, contact tracing, and deployment of masks to everyone. I am happy for the federal stimulus check; but couldn’t it have come with 20 USD less and a mask?
  • Meanwhile, State Governors are now forming right alliances to share information, research, and resources to mitigate the socio-economic stress of CV19 on our states. For my foreign friends if you haven’t heard, our California Governor Gavin Newsom and his counterparts Gov. Kate Brown from Oregon and Gov. Jay Inslee from Washington are coordinating efforts to enforce the lock-down and are currently, slowly rolling out re-opening plans—according to public health recommendation based on the best scientific fact and research available… let’s say, to best of their political ability. The tension and threat of rebellion is strong; as exemplified by Elon Musk’s refusal to shut down Tesla’s Fremont plant. Last week, The West (California, Oregon, Washington) and the East (NY, NJ, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Delaware, RI, and Massachusetts) States developed decision trees to coordinate the timing of facilities, schools, and businesses re-opening — safely, securely, but plans are pivoting daily. Mayor Coumo also announced that there may be a light at this CV19 tunnel as the transmission numbers have plateaued and declined in some parts of the US, including NYC. We can for a moment feel good about most people doing their part as good citizens to keep physical distance, adhere to proper hygiene –- respecting life and the lives of those in our communities. And some communities are taking pro-active measures to protect their citizens and others. My community initiated, funded, and drove an innovative UCSF COVID19 community testing operation in our town and in an inner city San Francisco neighborhood as a model for community proactive testing. See this Marin Good News Story.  That said, we are not out of the virtual woods yet. The Mercury News reported that California parks and beaches were crowded the past weekends when Governor Newsom finally conceded to open them. And today, California records the second deadliest single day since the virus appeared with 2,030 new (recorded) cases- now totaling 76,845 cases, and 3,156 total deaths. According Dr. David Nabarro, he told me in our last discussion that we are just going to have to dance with this virus; ride this red tide that will likely come in sets, re-open and close as we need; remain agile and ready to pivot when necessary.
Awaken Nature Inside Music Video
  • Looking at the sunny side of life is also a healthy strategy for survival during these CV19 days. Indeed, there are many, many stories about nature’s regeneration this spring; as our human imprint on earth systems has slowed dramatically. These are beautiful times for our natural ecosystems to revitalize themselves; so when we do go outdoors again—what a sensory feast we witness, right? I trust that you are savoring these moments and memories as I am. That said, the message should not be that we need to shut down our global economy to recover a right relationship with nature. The right message for right now is that we now have the opportunity to reset and redirect those massive recovery funds from CV19 to re-build bio-based economies and develop in green ways that have the added benefit of supporting our planetary health because now we can appreciate how a healthy planet positively benefits our own health.
Nature’s Reflection Photography 2020
  • Also, I see a positive CV19 benefit as being our greater consciousness about our health and wellbeing. I would encourage taking this time out alone and with family-friends for learning how to optimally maintain our innate and environmental health from the inside out. This goes beyond hand washing; but building our best immune defense against CV19-here and now. And, what also can we do to reduce/eliminate the toxins in our home environment? According to Dr. Anne-Marie Fine, Naturopathic doctor/VP of the National Association of Environmental Medicine; 99% of the CV19 deaths in China and Italy reflect individuals suffering from one or more chronic diseases-diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease, asthma, allergy. As chronic diseases have increased in parallel with greater exposure in our indoor/outdoor home/work environments to harmful chemicals, plastics, agricultural herbicides/insecticides, heavy metals, PCBs, detergents, chemicals (e.g. the deadly dozen); we can expect that our immune systems are compromised more than we realize. Dr. Fine suggests that many home indoor environments may even be 5-18% more toxic than outside our home. Solution?
  • Take this time-out to do an environmental home evaluation and deep clean. Why not do a complete re-assess of the water, food, light, air, potential environmental pollutants (in paint, carpets, veneers, toxic detergents) you bring into your home? It’s the opportunity to do an internal-external environmental check on personal health and home. Time to detox. Contact me for references to Wellness practitioners whom I know and trust. As well, ensure that you are eating nutritiously, staying on top of an outdoor exercise routine, feeding your mind healthy, positive affirmations. In my next conversation with Dr. Nabarro tomorrow I am going to ask about how we keep our immune system active and energized; while keeping our exposure to each other and CV19 reduced.  Stay tuned!
Awaken Nature Inside Music Video
  • In my Combatting COVID-19 with Compassion interview series with Dr. David Nabarro, special envoy to COVID 19 for WHO, we discuss the fact that finally after decades of working to educate people on the importance of personal hygiene; now most everyone around the world is taking heed and practicing better hygiene. I say fun for the family might be to create something of a treasure hunt or game or competition for enlisting (literally) everyone in the household to optimize hygiene and enlisting new higher personal-family health protocols.
  • Realize that our food is our medicine and remember that we are what we eat; so now’s a very good time to slow down, know your food and learn where it comes from.
Nature’s Reflection Photography 2020
  • Now beyond news, virtual concerts, favorite programs… there are also so many ways to use that audio-visual portal to the world in your home called the TV. A friend converted his TV to an art gallery of images that he’s collected in his travels to museums and other cultural adventures. I now do the same, and love to create rolling streams of my nature and culture images from travels on loops to soothing music when making dinner. Imagine also looping family vacations or trips with loved ones! What a way to recapture the magic of those moments and start planning the next post COVID-19 adventures, right?
  • Certainly oodles of content live on Disney Plus for children and there is now interactive programming on NatGeo@Home, as well, a cool Safari at Home project NatGeo produced for Earth Day 2020. Some public libraries are hosting entire day child programs and activities during CV19. Check out your local library… And it’s all virtual; so feel free to cruise over to Marin Public Library. They have a program. Of course the virtual gaming community is having a hayday as more people are Ready-Player One traveling with their avatars to virtual games and experiences in other dimensions and story worlds.  
  • Speaking of multimedia and story worlds, I am really enjoying the classic art of reading a good, solid book again. I’ve blazed through a number of books I’ve had on my reading chair and by my bed. It’s a wonderful feeling to be filled with new knowledge and rich story worlds that your creative mind has to interpret from words on a page. Why not allow yourself the luxury of even 30 minutes a day to just immerse in a good book…and yes, an actual physical, tangible book? Yes, I also have 100’s of books on a kindle. But, aren’t we tired of screens after a day of virtual zooms and work. Even if you do have a UV/blue light spectrum glare-reduction filter, like me, to protect our digitally-damaged eyes from more exposure; wouldn’t’ you want a break in the least to a new room environment sans electronics? That said, whatever brings you into a story world and a place of joy- do that.  Also, audio books on the run (with or without dogs) is something I enjoy normally, but I am finding that my outdoor time is quite precious; so I am more interested in being present and awake to the nature, people, world around me now when I am outside. You?
Awaken Nature Inside Music Video
  • The best interactive entertainment to create social cohesion and connection is to in fact call a friend or family member on the phone. My mom is now a wiz on Facetime and getting better on Skype. Zoom and Teams seem to be the virtual meeting spaces of choice. I love to change my backgrounds on Zoom. I just wish the AV was broadcast quality; so we could use zoom for interviews… maybe I’ll switch over anyway. And if you find yourself needing a humor break, just Google “hilarious zoom calls during the first days of CV19”. I am sure some TV writer’s stall has figured out a few good sitcom program ideas. If you hear of one, write me back. I’d love to be writing on such a show!
  • A very social creature, my mother has decided to call one friend in her rolodex (literally paper rolodex) every day during CV19… And, when she gets tired of that routine or needs a break, she suggested that she might just randomly dial a few local numbers within her prefix. When my great grandmother was restricted to a wheelchair later in life and homebound; she would randomly call numbers in her area code and just invite a conversation. I love that way of spreading positive good vibrations. Today, I was also invited to connect on LI by someone I did not know in my network… He explained to me that he decided he would meet and greet virtually 5 new people a day… That’s a lot of new friends and colleagues to add to the mix each day; and what a great idea.
  • Speaking of neighbors, have you already connected to your neighbors on Next Door or created a Neighborhood What’s Up group? Our local conversation is quite lively on Next Door. We even have a local bi-weekly paper that’s really hyper-local news just for our small 1,200 person town.
  • And what about hosting a spontaneous creative collective event? Have you done that yet? Remember the Italian opera balcony singing? Note that this type of spontaneous social event is not restricted to crowded apartment complexes where people share similar national pride and anthem songs. I live in a rural community that’s also a wildlife sanctuary. We love animals and treat them as our neighbors. So, every night at sunset everyone on the mesa in our community belts out a “gratitude howl”- yes, neighbors, children, dogs, and wildlife. Indeed, the coyotes join in. It’s really quite fun and extraordinary. And when the coyotes initiate the real howl at the full moon light; everyone lights up the sky with a twilight symphony. Yes! Sing to the mountains. Sing to the stars. Sing to the ocean. Sing to the fields and plains. Sing to the neighbors next door. Everyone by now is going stir-crazy; so it’s a great time to unleash the call of the wild.
  • On that howling note, do you have a healthy form-way-norm of “freak-out’ release??? First things first, turn off the news…maybe a nice hot shower and scream…? Running as fast and furious as you can in place and scream? Jumping jacks, push-ups to loud music (maybe with headphones) and scream? Maybe just trail that with one small bowl of ice cream. A curator for Edvard Munch’s The Scream did a super cathartic activity for visitors, recording them screaming and interviewing afterward. Apparently, it was super powerful for everyone. Now beaches and some open spaces are starting to open up…so soon we will all be able to really run free and enjoy nature again.
  • Meanwhile, also check out our 1.5 minute video for WHO– Awaken Nature Inside for good ideas about bringing nature inside; as we will likely go through a few pulses of open-close-re-open-close over the next year, at least; and good indoor release strategies are important for our mental health and collective sanity.
Awaken Nature Inside Music Video
Awaken Nature Inside Music Video
  • One Minute. The Bramha Kumaris have traditionally been active in praying in the UN HQ while the UN assembly is in session to create a positive vibration that travels throughout the building maze. They have this 1-minute prayer they do every hour to keep an intention or remembrance that day floating in the ether.  It’s like the Catholic Hours or the Muslim’s 5 prayers/day. And now that it’s Ramadan, our friends in the Middle East and everywhere are in a solemn prayer mode. Regardless of religious background or beliefs, we are all human (Pope Francis Laudato Si). It’s a super idea to build a moment of silence for the COVID 19 losses and gratitude for the life today we have every day, maybe even around a lit candle in the evening as a family. I am also a big fan of the Oprah/Deepak meditations. Omvana, Insight Timer, Gaia media, NuCalm, and others have great meditation resources too.
Awaken Nature Inside Music Video
  • Adorn your home with affirmations. You can find wonderfully, inspiring quotes everywhere on the internet. Or, ask your friends to share favorites on FB. We definitely need a bit more light in that COVID19-overrun space. Also, sticky notes, sidewalk chalk, or special pens for glass or whiteboards, notes on the refrigerator… all work supremely well I’ve found to start the day with a smile. If you ever find yourself in the XPrize HQ women’s bathroom in LA or Creative Visions HQ in Santa Monica; thre you can find all kinds of positive affirmations to spark your imagination. Love it! Oh, and keep that affirmation dialogue fluid; change up your favorite quotes every now and again.
  • Until we are all able to obtain a good N-95 mask; I imagine you already by now have few favorite designer masks… But I wanted to alert you also to the bandana mask, if you don’t know about this origami-made-easy bandana mask if you are ever in a pinch. Here’s a great YOU TUBE video to make a bandana face mask. Super easy. And if you find that you really like to make masks; there are a number of start-up mask-making groups, donating to local medical workers. As well, you might just think to watch a YouTube on oragami or even advance to kite-making; something to give you hope and aspiration for the day when you can hug your friends and fly free again.
  • Subscribe to my Naturally Intelligent by Design podcast and take a moment in the morning together as a family (or just post the animal daily inspiration somewhere in the family commons). Every day that I post a new animal, inspiration, reflection, and activity you will receive an email with our featured animal for the day. My 8-year old and 10-year old niece and nephew are my quasi-reliable editors.
  • Speaking of family, I am sure by now that most of you have established some sort of periodic family (across the country or world) check-in. We have this; but it got me thinking, how can I take advantage of mom now on Facetime to connect in a new way.
  • So now, every (well almost) day, mom and I do Dr. Zac Bush’s 4 minute work-out.  It’s excellent for all ages and super-easy to do. Everyone has 4 minutes you can spend with mom, each day. Thanks Zac!!!! And, there are many more workout options for every level, as hopefully you’ve already explored… Please share your favorites.
  • Speaking of workouts, Yogaworks has now over 1300 online yoga classes and 100-livestream class per day. That’s a lot of yoga. I know I really used my subscription when I was traveling. I ebb and flow with doing these online classes…. Think it’s time again to flow. They have free Livestream classes this coming week.  #YogaWorksLive And there are 100’s of core-training, 5-10-20-30 minute killer abs, stronger legs, healthy heart, deeper breathing exercise every muscle in your body in place online courses.
Awaken Nature Inside Music Video
  • I am sure any avid cyclist also knows that if you can’t go outdoors, these rollers are a great substitute. When I used to race I used mine all the time. Then you’ll be ready for the long country road ride and inspired when we are let loose to really enjoy our local natural world again.
  • Now to working out your mind, body, spirit connection and find peace in this COVID 19 storm; one of my favorite and gracious places on the planet; Spirit Rock, is offering all their retreat programs Livestream too for the next few weeks. I imagine other spiritual retreat centers are offering similar programs. This is quite a gift and the programs are powerful. Thank you!
Awaken Nature Inside Music Video
  • And on that spiritual note, if you are an avid church-temple-mosque goer; then you might appreciate a virtual mass. I know my mother is finding great joy in switching from the broadcast from her local church to St. Peter’s and the Pope in Rome. The Catholic Church in Rome organized on Good Friday—meditations on the Stations of the Cross, written by people in prison and their families. It was very powerful and still online to listen (I think its now translated into English, too.) There is a lot of wisdom there from people who have spent years in confinement. Now we are getting a little taste and insight to their plight. My local church is small enough that we are actually doing interactive zoom calls at our mass time… and we are now thinking of ways that we can have church outside in a safe, physically distanced way.
Awaken Nature Inside Music Video
  • I have always listened to biurnal beats and natural soundscapes while working and writing at the computer. Now, I also start my day with a few of my most inspiring, uplifting, sing-a-long songs; oftentimes to a quick, 15-minute core strength workout. Nature’s music and natural sounds can be so soothing and healing and centering. Especially if nature is not nearby for you; just calling the audio-visual nature forward through our digital devices does help stimulate one’s natural resonance. The Earthtones created a special COVID19 music mix; and our friend, Ricky Kej has also produced a number of new world music hits.
  • Indeed, it’s certainly not a bad time to fill our time and home with light and sound and new creative gear to explore and expand our creativity… as an obvious outlet for anxiety and fear. Add some great music, and all of the sudden, joy appears. I know some of you are taking the opportunity to learn a new language, pick up a new instrument, and art form. I created a watercolor corner in my studio and finally starting again to play with different base palettes and overlays to some of my photography work.
Nature’s Reflection Photography 2020
  • Now for the moment we can exercise, visit the beaches and ride our bikes; locally- wonderful. And when the restrictions on outdoor movement come again; as they likely will; this time prepare your home space with nature inside. We know that when we can’t go outside, then the next best thing is to imagine being out there. I know there are a few virtual nature experiences available. And as many of you know, it has been one of my NI dreams to produce and to share a few immersions and collections, so let’s see what the future holds.
  • And if you can’t go on vacation, the next best thing is to plan a post-COVID 19 family vacation. My goodness, there are supremely fantastic rates for flights abroad now. Making that a family project and really doing the research together; assigning different logistic roles to different family members, can be super fun. Here is where having an informed travel agent to help curate a safe, enjoyable family vacation might be helpful. I have a few suggestions; if you are interested. WRITE HERE
  • Friends and colleagues I know are hosting themed Digital Lunches- discussions and interviews. A few sprinkled throughout the week I have found to be a great social, education-oriented break.
  • Speaking of socials, I’ve heard of virtual pub-crawls and birthday parties…. And now we have Easter and Passover celebrations. The good news here is that the money you save from NOT actually buying a gift or a drink; you can now (if you choose) donate to those medical professionals and on the front line. If you listen to Episode III: Combatting COVID 19 with Compassion; you will learn where your money goes. WHO Relief Fund
Awaken Nature Inside Music Video
Awaken Nature Inside Music Video
  • Many of us may not have a lot of space to move around in; but even if you have to look out the window, most everyone should have access to the sky—night and day. This is a glorious gift because it means that you can watch the clouds and literally “daydream”-imagine what stories and messages are hidden especially for you in the wisps of white during the day. Then at night, hopefully you are able to see the stars… and if you can’t there is a really cool APP called Sky Guide that guides you across the night sky with a beautiful entrancing music backdrop that shows you where the constellations are in the sky. There have been some really stellar nights this past month. The Lyrid meteor shower right before Earth Day was a great example…and there are more to come.
  • It’s a beautiful thing when you go to the garden store and you learn that you can’t find new gloves or a spade. It’s a super Sunday when the fruit trees and plants are cycling out of the nursery at record speed. Everyone is in their garden planting these. Whether you have a windowsill herb garden or a colorful potted plant porch or a small vegetable garden in the backyard or an entire rose nursery or fruit orchard; you are lucky to have decided it was important to maintain your connection to plant life in your home. And if you’ve never had a garden, but want to start one… here’s a good garden grow reference.
Awaken Nature Inside Music Video
  • Every week I am going to the market to collect fresh flowers. I am really enjoying arranging them in vases every week; having them in my space over the week. I then appreciate that they then start to wilt and discolor at the end of each week. There is something about teaching me impermanence and appreciation of beauty in every moment in this new ritual I have recently integrated into my life. I’m also thinking that if I picked up a few more flower; I could pick an elder buddy in town and gift a bundle of color to them. Imagine if everyone in the world starting doing small acts of kindness.  
  • It was March 17th and St. Patrick’s Day when we were grounded in Northern California; and already then I was due for a haircut. Today, I saw my hairstylist in town picking flowers along one of our favorite neighborhood trails. We stayed 6 ft apart and brainstormed ways she could cut my hair, while being physically distant…Already, many of you know that there are stylists giving lessons online, offering virtual haircuts to teams of people sheltering together. Are we creative or what? And, I’m in the lucky position that my long hair is just getting longer; so I can probably hold off another month until those bans are lifted… or?
Awaken Nature Inside Music Video
  • Bring Out the Homemaker: I can already see the flowers of the blackberry bushes in my backyard and in the neighborhood start to blossom; so I am thinking jam. The lemons and oranges on the trees have been wonderful; but soon it will be time to move onto the figs and blackberries. Meanwhile, I’ve made enough sauerkraut to last for a year…Ginger, sauerkraut, and Echinacea are super for building our immune system. I’m soon going to move along to mixing herbal teas and tinctures. A good friend of mine has become a master baker of homemade breads and treats… and sharing his secrets and recipes online. I know a lot of people are enjoying the time to  really develop their cooking skill and take the leap to try and recreate their favorite restaurant meals. And those of you who stress out about cooking; there is always Blue Apron as an alternative to take-out.
Awaken Nature Inside Music Video
  • Why not take some time to surf around online and find a citizen scientist activity or a community service volunteer opportunity to become a part? There are so many; and now especially around CV19. One I can share again from my last article is the Bee Recovery program with Google and Perfect Fungi where the bee feeding mix includes sugar water and anti-viral medicine essentially for the bees to help their populations come back from near annihilation in many places.
  • Finally, I hope this quiet time alone (or with small family) has been one to not just “do” fun, novel, entertaining things; but also to just “be”… and contemplate our living reality and our universality.
  • Please share your ideas for celebrating the Home! I am learning more and more ways to live better from you; every day.

Dr. Catherine Cunningham, PhD, Natural Intelligence Media is committed to awakening Natural Intelligence in the World. She produces multimedia content — books, films, and podcasts with her creative companions that aim to inspire everyone, everywhere to live a happy, healthy, naturally intelligent life.

Visit our Natural Intelligence Website HERE.

Participate in our “Combatting COVID-19 with Compassion” Heart Campaign HERE

Listen to my Naturally Intelligent by Design Podcast, featuring strategies from animals in our world to adapt to disruptive environmental change. HERE

Listen to our Natural Intelligence Worldwide Podcast HERE.


  • Catherine Cunningham, PhD

    Mission Possible: Awaken Natural Intelligence in Our World

    Natural Intelligence

    Dr. Catherine Cunningham, PhD is an ecologist, anthropologist, writer, filmmaker, and media host producing films, interactive experiences, and online multimedia for international clients who are focused on positive economic, social, and environmental win-win-win solutions to global conservation and climate change.

    Catherine has travelled, written, photographed, and filmed in 70 countries, producing creative films and music videos in support the UN Global Goals and the human+nature planetary health narrative. Visit Natural to see where her work has premiered internationally. Over 20 years, she has interviewed hundreds of global thought leaders to promote sustainable solutions to climate change and conservation in creative ways. Catherine has written numerous articles on climate change, nature, and regeneration. She’s currently writing two books: “Naturally Intelligent by Design” — a fine art science and culture book for families and “Natural Intelligence”— a guidebook for well-navigating a post COVID-19 world by following nature’s principles. Partnering with Eurovision News and Events, Catherine is also an independent media host— producing content on nature, climate, and regeneration; syndicated globally by EuroVision’s News Direct. She is a regular contributor to Thrive Global and Medium. She currently produces communications for the Prince Albert II Foundation and participates in programming @ the World Economic Forum on Climate Change, Nature, and Biodiversity. As an university educator, Catherine taught undergraduate and masters courses in corporate sustainability communications at Arizona State University; global sustainability at Chapman University; biology, ecology, botany, and environmental science at Denver State College and Front Range College. In 2016, she designed one of the first university courses on the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (also online), contributing to youth action on the UN Global Goals. She also created a post-graduate program with UNESCO on the MAB (Man the Biosphere) reserves. Catherine earned her PhD in Ecosystem Science at ETHZ in Switzerland, studying climate impacts on mountain ecosystems. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Cultural Anthropology and International Peace Studies from the University of Notre Dame and a Masters degree from Utah State in Ecology. Catherine speaks fluent English and conversational Italian. She loves creative collaboration, media production, mountaineering, outdoor sports, yoga, wellness, and travel.