No matter where you live, whether it be a city, a suburb, or the boondocks, you live in a bioregion! The place you call home is alive with plants and other animals. Ecosystems are thrumming with life all around you, which is why it is both exciting and important to get to know them better!
How you go about doing that is up to you. Your strategy will probably vary depending on what kind of environment you live in, but the overall process is pretty much the same everywhere you go:
Get out into your environment and look at what is growing and living around you. Even if you live in a city, these places abound with native plants and animals, as well as invasive and/or highly adaptive species (ahem, rats and raccoons). Notice where these organisms make their homes and observe their habits, if you can. Take note of the weather patterns and seasonal changes in your area. Try identifying what wild native edible plants that grow in your area, or try gardening yourself to discover what grows best!
Additionally, if you live in a city, you can also try to venture outside of it to a natural area to experience something else. If you do this, note any similarities and common inhabitants between this place and the city. Also, if you live in a populated area, get to know the human inhabitants as well! Humans are animals, after all, and observing their habits (aka people-watching) can be quite entertaining and interesting. So look around your neighborhood, introduce yourself if you feel able, or just observe from afar, and see how each person contributes to the social and biological ecosystems of your bioregion.
Even when you're trying to get more into nature, the internet can be your best friend. Look up all kinds of stuff, like what plants and animals are common in your area, or what the population of your town is, or what the average yearly precipitation is, etc… If you see something out in the environment that you don't recognize, try identifying it either through the internet or through a field guide (they're quite handy!).
While researching, it can be good to write down some findings in a notebook, which you can also use to write observations in when you are in the field, and even draw pictures if you're fancy!
3. Ask and Answer Questions
What do you want to know about your bioregion? About the patterns of nature happening around you every day? Try to draft a list of questions and then go crazy answering them. If you need inspiration, I love this Bioregional Quiz. Try taking it before doing any research and then taking it again later to compare your scores! Ask yourself about your neighbors, about whether the stars were out last night and what planets you can see in the sky, what threatens the ecosystem of your bioregion, what some of the defining geographic and biotic features of your bioregion are, and what the history of the land is. Ask, answer, and become aware of the natural world that surrounds you.
4. Reap the Benefits
You might wonder what you have to gain from learning so many things about your bioregion. Besides wonderfully useful knowledge about growing seasons, edible plants, and ecosystem threats, you will also reap the psychological rewards of increased nature connection. I literally wrote an entire ten page research essay about this phenomenon, but long story short - the closer you are with the nature around you, the greater your feelings of vitality, mental and physical health, and creativity will be, just to name a few things. So learning about nature is good for you! You will also probably increase your enjoyment of and appreciation for the place you live, and be able to impress your friends with all your knowledge. You are also more likely to be more invested in your environment if you know more about it, making you a great conservationist and environmentally conscious person! And you know who benefits from a cleaner, healthier, more diverse environment? Every single member of the human race, including you, that's who!
In case you were wondering, both of these photos hail from my own bioregion, the Santa Cruz Mountains! I'm working on preparing a bioregional lowdown on the area in an upcoming post for all my Santa Cruz readers, and even if you're not from around here, you might want to read it just for some inspiration!
Alright, that's all for now. If you really liked this topic and want to read more about it, I recommend reading this essay about natural history, which has a lot to do with what I've discussed here today! Now get out there and learn some stuff about nature!! Have fun!