The Tipping Point for The New Nature Movement

In his national best selling book “The Tipping Point” author Malcolm Gladwell discusses a few reasons that some products and ideas become huge success stories and others do not. Mr. Gladwell argues that at some point in time "an idea, trend, or social behavior crosses a threshold, tips, and spreads like wildfire."  Successful products or ideas that spread over a wide demographic do so not because of the direct actions of their creators but because they happened to catch the attention of certain key people. In his book Gladwell states that “the success of any kind of social epidemic is heavily dependent on the involvement of people with a particular and rare set of social gifts. These key people can be summarized into the following three categories; Connectors, Mavens and Salesmen. Gladwell describes these 3 types of people as follows.

Connectors are people with a special gift for bringing the world together. They are those people that never meet a stranger. They are at home in any given situation. They can and will readily engage into conversation with people with all walks of life.  To put it simply “Connectors simply know lots of people”. They have mastered the skill of socializing.

Mavens are people that collect information for no other purpose than to be able to share it and help others. The word maven means to accumulate knowledge. Mavens in this sense are not just passive collectors of information; once they acquire a critical piece of information they seek to share it.  Mavens have information a bout a lot of different topics and seek to initiate discussions with other lay persons and respond to requests. These are the types of people that not only answer your questions; they offer to help you with your dilemma.  They offer to take you shopping and show you how and where to get a really good deal. Mavens do not attempt to persuade anyone their goal is to educate and to help.  As Gladwell puts it,

"A Connector might tell ten friends where to stay in Los Angeles, and half of them might take his advice. A Maven might tell five people where to stay in Los Angeles but make the case for the hotel so emphatically that all of them would take his advice."

 

Salesmen are just what the term implies. They are those charismatic people that speak fluently and effortlessly.  They are persuaders.  Salesmen attempt and are often successful at convincing you to purchase or use a specific product or idea.  They are able to establish a level of trust and rapport with others much easier than most people. They are skilled communicators. They have mastered their own body language and voice patterns. They can easily recognize whether or not someone is attuned to their own personal rhythms and adjust their own behavior to meet the “needs” of the person they are attempting to engage.

The New Nature Movement is a movement in which organizations and individuals are attempting to reconnect people with the natural world.  Some organizations are focusing on connecting families to nature, some focus on young adults while other focus on teenagers and younger children.  Even though the methodologies may be different, the goal is the same: to reconnect people to nature. The New Nature Movement is happening all across the United States and the world. Many great strides have recently been made here in the US and abroad. One such event is the Obama administration’s 2010 initiative, America’s Great Outdoors. Just a little earlier this month Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar signed a Secretarial order establishing the America’s Great Outdoors Program in the Department of the Interior.  However the tipping point for the movement has not yet been reached. For this we need people that possess the characteristics of the 3 types of personalities that Malcolm Gladwell talked about. 

It would be unrealistic to think that everyone that you encounter will automatically want to experience the natural world. There will be some people that don’t want anything to do with the natural world. There will be some people that are already curious about the natural world but for various reasons have never taken the initial step to reconnect with the natural world.  And then there are those that don’t really know what to make of the natural world.  To them the natural world can be a frightening place with danger lurking behind every tree and under each fallen log or rock.  It is here that Salesmen are crucial.  Salesmen may have the ability to persuade those that are against having anything to do with the natural world to reconsider their position.  They may be able to convince those that are curious to finally take that first step and go on a short hike through a local forest.

Mavens are also needed. People that love the natural world, have a lot of knowledge about different outdoor activities as well as knowledge of “hidden gems” in their local areas are crucial to the New Nature Movement. These people are needed to help others discover the natural world in their own backyards and be able to get to know and enjoy it. As humans we have to get to know and understand something before we grow to love it.  How can we expect anyone to love the natural world if all that they know about it is what they see on television? Such romanticizing of the natural world is not an actual love of the natural world it is a desire to do so.

What good would Salesmen and Maven be without actual people to connect with.  Sure they have their own social circles in which to interact with people; however, it is through Connectors that the Salesmen and Maven become truly effective. With their ability to engage virtually everyone that they meet in conversation it is much more likely that Connectors would be able to identify those with a desire to interact with the natural world and in turn connect them with someone that would be able to assist them in doing so.

It is through these natural leaders that the New Nature Movement will finally arrive at its tipping point and begin to reach an ever growing number of people and be able to serve more numbers than ever before. Many organizations such as the Children and Nature Network, Outdoor NationOutdoor Afro and the Outdoors Alliance for Kids are working nation wide to help achieve the goal of the New Nature Movement in one way or another.  Still many more local and regional organizations such as We Love to Hike, Hike 4 LifeSelkirk Outdoor Leadership Education (SOLE)Wild South and many, many more are working in their local areas in an effort to get people outside and reconnected with the natural world.  These are the Connectors, Mavens and Salesmen of the New Nature Movement; however, many more are needed. The health of our planet, its plants, animals and even the human race depend on it. Become an outdoor ambassador and lead your friends and family into the natural world and into new experiences and memories that will last a lifetime!

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