Thursday, October 17, 2019

Interview at SHIFT Jackson Hole

This series of questions was asked of Dr. Tidball,  a member of a panel dealing with the topic of Nature as a Social Determinant of Health - Applications and Implications for Active Duty Service members at SHIFT 2019.

  • From your perspective, what is the Department of Defense’s interest in Nature Rx as a function of readiness?

First, there are 11.4 million acres owned by DoD - this can be thought of as a giant “pharmacy” at their disposal. Secondly, Total Force Fitness acknowledges environment as a factor, but in a somewhat negative way - positive, asset-based approaches are needed, and can be documented, towards servicemember effectiveness and lethality. the same is true for Military Families.

  • How could outdoor recreation provide social support structures for active duty service members and their families? How could it contribute to family readiness? 

    There is a DoD funded program that deals with this question, called the Military Families Learning Network. Within it are a number of concentration areas, one of which I am the director or PI. Its called Community Capacity Building and for 5 or so years we have been working on this question. There are many webinars, blog posts and other resources there. In particular, there is a community capacity inventory and a community capacity building training series. In those, there is explicit acknowledgement of the outdoor setting, and importantly, being IN IT - recreating, meditating, eating - as a component of community capacity, which is the indicator of robust social support structures for service members and their families.

    • What mechanisms drive the therapeutic outcomes of intentional outdoor-based programs for military service members and their families?

                There are a number of them - 

    • How can outdoor Rx contribute to suicide aversion?

     Suicide comes from places of hopelessness and despair. Nature-based therapies and antithetical to hopelessness and despair. Observe the struggle of even the lowly ant. No ability to relinquish the desire to be alive, to stay alive. Even when doom is near. For the ant, life persists, demands to continue. EO Wilson and Stephen Kellert worked with me to refine Biophilia thinking, the affinity we humans have to other life, to LIVING.  Urgent Biophilia is this force that must be tapped into. Urgent Biophilia is a complex system of values, motivations and behaviors that give rise to life affirming actions, that lift us from hopelessness and despair, on the wings of other life.

    • Can you talk about citizen science, and its place in this nature-based exercise work? 

    In my work, citizen science is a great “rally point” - it provides tight focus on task and purpose, but does so in a redemptive rather than destructive way. As an Infantry guy, the mission, the job description is “close with and kill the enemy.” But balance is needed. Can those skills and talents, those mindsets be brought to bear for LIFE? Citizen science opportunities for veterans and service members provide evidence that they can. This is therapeutic.

    • Can you talk about the importance of breaking down this work into its pieces (e.g., social aspect—solitary or group; exact environment—forested vs. water; type of activity; exercise duration and intensity)? 

    I think of it as a three-legged stool. First, the importance of group work, at least initially, cannot be overstated. The “small unit camaraderie” analogs and the host of shared experience interaction types are bedrock “pieces” if you will, a leg of the stool.

    A second leg is setting. Water lends a certain kind of context, but so do forests, mountains, deserts, etc. The key is awe, and the potential to re-frame the self in a living system. This is also critical.

    The third leg is Task & Purpose (achievement helps, but isn’t critical). To feel meaningfully engaged, up to the task, prepared, essential to mission - these are all baked in to the soldier, sailor, airmen or marine. 

    Later, after multiple evolutions, participants who have regained or restored an identity as a “competent operator”, they move into more solitary modes ,improving upon mastery, but still relying on the communal base of their fellows.  The penultimate evolution is mastery of the outdoor recreation type - but the ultimate evolution is actualization, of the transfiguration of recreation into conservation, when the two become indistinguishable. We no longer see legs and a seat, we see a stool. 

    • Are there special considerations for active duty or vets? If they are different, how?
    I really don’t know. I think the theories I have laid out hold, but certainly there are unique considerations. The edge cannot be lost for warriors, and they are not yet suffering the dislocation of being removed from the “small unit cohesion” dynamic and the Task and purpose dynamic. I want to get into this area further. 

    Tuesday, July 9, 2019

    Tidball a guest on Zombified Podcast

    From the Zombified website:

    Keith Tidball has seen it all, from war to disaster to real-life zombies. In this episode he talks with us about how chaos can hijack us, how disasters affect human behavior, and how to keep your sht together when you’re in the red zone. Looking for psychological conditioning tips to increase your survival odds in the zombie apocalypse? Better listen to this one.

    Saturday, January 20, 2018

    Wednesday, November 1, 2017

    WSB: Tapping into locavores as potential hunters

    As hunter numbers continue to decrease in the United States, researchers looking for ways to recruit nontraditional hunters may have found a group to tap into — locavores, or people who prefer to buy and eat local foods. 

    In a new study published in The Wildlife Society Bulletin, researchers surveyed subscribers of “Edible Finger Lakes,” a magazine in the Finger Lakes Region of central New York oriented toward the local-food movement, to determine their interest and involvement in hunting. 

    “Initially, my colleagues and I had this hunch based on gray literature such as newspaper reporting and books that were published,” said Keith Tidball, a senior extension with the Department of Natural Resources and the assistant director of the Cornell Cooperative Extension and coauthor of the study. 

    Since locavores prefer food that’s grown, raised, produced and harvested locally, Tidball suspected some of them might be interested in hunting. 

    The researchers submitted a grant to determine three things regarding the locavore movement and hunting: recruitment and retention, how food preparation plays a role in their interest, and the nutritional component of wild game and how this plays into conservation. This study focused on recruitment and retention. Read the rest of the story here. 

    Friday, October 27, 2017

    Tidball meets w Secretary of Interior and Agency Heads to Discuss Hunting and Fishing Access for Veterans

    Tidball, who is conducting research on how park and outdoor recreation promotes physical activity and both preventative as well as therapeutic health benefits among US Military veterans, was invited to participate in a roundtable discussion with Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, Deputy Director of US Fish and Wildlife Service Greg Sheehan, and high-level representatives from the National Park Service, the US Geological Survey, and the Bureau of Land Management. Tidball, a veteran and avid outdoorsman himself, was glad to be able to share some of the results of his USDA NIFA funded research at the roundtable. A press release regarding the event is available from the Department of the Interior here.

    Short documentary film tells a different kind of Hurricane Sandy story

    Short documentary film tells a different kind of Hurricane Sandy story

    Thursday, March 16, 2017

    Eight ways to get ready for the next big winter storm

    Eight ways to get ready for the next big winter storm

    Winter Storm Stella, a nor’easter that blasted across the Northeast and Midwest, claimed several lives. At least some of those deaths were a result of physical exertion from snow removal.
    Keith Tidball, an expert in emergency response at Cornell University, recommends eight things to do immediately to prepare families for future storms, disasters and emergencies.

    Friday, January 20, 2017

    Article in Danish newspaper Kristeligt Dagblad about nature healing wounded veterans

    In today's Kristeligt Dagblad, a Danish newspaper published in Copenhagen, Denmark, an article appears detailing how nature helps injured veterans heal. In this article, my work and a quote or two appear. A companion piece to the news article can be found here.

    Here is a Goggle Translate generated translation of the original article.

    Natural Therapy Helps Injured Veterans
    It relieves symptoms and can cause permanent resources that bring the wounded soldiers on in life, when nature is part of their treatment, concludes professionals. The US has already hundreds of associations for veterans with nature as the focal point.

    Veterans who are disadvantaged of their experiences in the war, you better when they stay and in working with nature. The experience from both Danish and foreign projects with so-called nature based therapy.

    Keith Tidball researcher at Department of Natural Resources by the American Cornell University and editor of the anthology "Greening in the Red Zone "on nature and green work healing effect when a life is turned upside down by war and disaster.

    "People who participate in nature-based therapy, reports the extraordinarily high levels of satisfaction, improved health and reduced hypervigilance and other PTSD symptoms. I say not that nature is a green pill you can take and then Feel better, but it sets apparently a number of mechanisms
    in time, "he says.

    Gardening, farming, walks or to sit for hours in wait for a stag hunting tower In this connection all
    nature experiences. "Man as a species was born in the wild, and here we have evolved. With or without war, we have made our best to remove us from this natural home with technology industry and by living separated in society. Many longing for cohesion and and in particular, those which
    obviously lost touch or life due to violence and war. It takes in the nature. I think it here rediscovered cohesion and the experience of discovering routes back to an earlier self is the main ingredient in what is at stake, "says Keith Tidball.

    In military hospitals after WWI worked veterans with shell shock, forerunner of PTSD diagnosis, in gardens and greenhouses as part of their treatment. IN Today in the US, according to Keith
    Tidball "hundreds" of organizations and groups with in order to rehabilitate veterans through outdoor activities. But the anecdotal evidence from hundred years experience and recent results from smaller research projects yet to be backed by solid clinical research on long-term studies, he says.

    In Denmark wrote Assistant Professor at the Department of Earth Sciences and Nature Management at Copenhagen University Dorthe Varning Poulsen, Ph.D. sore eight PTSD-affected veterans benefits of nature-based therapy in a North Zealand forest garden. She also found that veterans saw an improvement of their condition, as for everyone he also found a year after that the project ended, including because the men found ways to overcome their symptoms, which also acts, when they get home. This might dampen anxiety to sit up a large tree, where his back is covered and allows clear, explains Dorthe Varning Poulsen: "We also know that monotone movements like walking or woodcutting can bring body in a flow mode. Many mental states as PTSD or other stress-related
    diseases linked to bodily responses, and when working with the body through structured activities in nature, falls symptoms calm down, "she says, now planning a larger study of 40 veterans together with Kolding Municipality.

    At the same institute has Project Niels Overgaard Block out the project Veterans in the Faggrønne. 12 veterans lived for 10 weeks training center Skovskolen by Gribskov in North Zealand and were taught among other things, forestry and nature conservation.
    All stood outside the labor market, as the project began. Before, during and after the effect mapped among other with interviews, observations and logbooks. Ten veterans conducted Stay, and six of them are in work or training day, two in progress with actual nature education and another got a part time job, even if he were granted disability pension. Two others got no job, but was given the strength to change their life in crucial ways: One came out of its protracted isolation in an allotment, the second inserting themselves in the Recognizing that he had Need more help. "They used the stay as a
    Impetus for change. The magic is that veterans through learning and activities in nature can regain self-esteem and community, so they can better break with resignation and acceptance of a bad life. The feel again, they are life-competent and thrive, "says Niels Blok Overgaard.


    Monday, October 17, 2016

    WWIA – To Honor. To Connect. To Heal.

    Continuing the work with Wounded Warriors in Action Foundation to document the value of outdoor recreation as therapeutic for  wounded combat veterans. Tidball at 3:57.

    Saturday, September 17, 2016

    Wild Harvest Table Project Receives a Pair of Awards from the National Extension Association for Family and Consumer Sciences

    Keith Tidball, Senior Extension Associate in the Department of Natural Resources (left), and Moira Tidball, Nutrition Resource Educator in CCE Seneca (far right) along with Paul Curtis (not pictured), Extension Wildlife Specialist, also from the Department of Natural Resources, received the National and Eastern Region Program Excellence Through Research Award.
    The team was recognized for the College of Agriculture and Sciences and Cornell Cooperative Extension research and extension project, The Wild Harvest Table: Leveraging the Locavore Movement to Increase Hunter and Angler Recruitment and Retention.

    Monday, February 1, 2016

    CCE Summer Internship: A New Orion – Locavore, Hipster, Hunger Games Survivor? Who are the next generation of hunters?

    As a part of ongoing research on changing demographics among hunters and anglers in the US, I recently worked with an intern via the Cornell Cooperative Extension Summer Internship Program to conduct a popular media literature search using the internet. Not surprisingly, we found quite a large conversation on the World Wide Web regarding the topic of the next generation of hunters and anglers and their relationships with local food movements. Thanks to summer intern Lauren Poindexter and the efforts of CCE Educator Moira Tidball of the Wild Harvest Table, a better understanding was gained regarding the way the world is talking about the next generation of hunters and anglers and the various social movements of our time.

    Lauren Poindexter, CCE Summer Intern explaining our research to Cornell U. President Garrett

    Our internet Google search produced some interesting results.

     Note that the inclusion of search terms “fishing” or “angling” dramatically increased search result hits. Also note that the proportionally larger search result for “women hunting for food,” likely a result of imprecise and/or multiple search terms, does not appear in the pie chart.

    We found that there are overlapping yet distinct categories of what we might think of as the next generation of hunters (and anglers); (1) new levels of female participation; (2) the growing trend of hunting among so-called “hipsters” and “millennials” (undefined herein, intentionally); and (3) the expanding locavore, food/environment issues driven hunting trend.  Academics, myself among them, are busy attempting to understand this complex mosaic representing the New Orion- the Next Generation of Hunters. Stay tuned for the results of that work.  

    Meanwhile, we've compiled a reading list of 15 articles found in the popular press dealing with these issues within the last ten years  There are 5 from each of the categories mentioned above, organized and color-coded for easy reference.  They are hyper-linked under the heading “Source”.  

    Wisconsin aims to put more female fingers on the triggers
    More Women Give Hunting a Shot
    The Professional Women Who Hunt, Shoot and Gut Their Dinners
    ICYMI: All The Cool Girls Go Hunting For Food
    All the Cool Girls Hunt Their Own Food
    The Rise of the Hipster Hunters
    Hipsters Who Hunt: More Liberals are Shooting Their Own Supper
    On Hipsters and Hunting
    Hipster’s are Going Hunting
    A Profile of a Hipster Hunter, the Next Generation of Conservationists
    The Changing Culture of Killing for Food
    Locavore movement takes to deer hunting across US
    The Meat-Eater Revolution
    Locavore, Get Your Gun
    The Hunt to Table Movement

    There are many articles to explore this further, as our search results described above confirm.  These, however, seem to most completely capture the complexities of the issues, and preserve the nuance of each category, while providing a reasonably comprehensive lay understanding. For a more academic treatment of this subject, see here

    In an effort to further understand, from a textual analytic standpoint, what the popular press is saying about the next generation of hunters and the links between local food movements, I entered all 15 of the above articles into a textual content analytical tool and generated the below word cloud.

    The words that seem most prominent are Hunter, Food, Meat, Hunt, About, People, Deer, Women, More, and New. Though mostly what one would expect, the word About is unusual, perhaps alluding to the difficult-to-meet need of the New Hunter seeking More Food in the form of Meat to learn About hunting and how to process and prepare Meat. Stay tuned for a forthcoming paper addressing this and other salient topics.

    Friday, December 18, 2015

    5 Social Mechanisms of Resilience

    During my dissertation work, I took up the challenge presented by Berkes and Folke to identify additional social mechanisms that contribute to social-ecological system resilience. In that and subsequent work, I have identified at least 5 mechanisms that contribute to resilience, especially in times of crisis like disaster or war, or what I have called Red Zones. These mechanisms were discussed in depth during a lecture I gave for the Civic Ecology MOOC. Below is a video of that lecture.

    Tuesday, November 3, 2015

    Tidball presents NY Extension Disaster Education Network at NYCOM Fall Training

    At the 2015 Fall Training School for City & Village Officials hosted by the New York State Conference of Mayors and Municipalities (NYCOM), Tidball presented the NY Extension Disaster Education Network to clerks and municipal leaders.  See the presentation here.

    Friday, September 18, 2015

    Tidball Awarded Certificate of Appreciation from USDA for work as a Visiting Scholar in the Philippines

    Tidball has been awarded a Certificate or Appreciation from the USDA National Institute for Food and Agriculture for his work in helping the Philippines replicate the successful Extension Disaster Education model he works with in the United States and in New York.  Tidball served as a visiting scholar at USDA in 2014 where he authored a USDA White paper containing policy recommendations for expanding the US EDEN project to international partner nations, available here.

    Tuesday, September 8, 2015

    Community-Based Agricultural Initiatives for Transitioning Rural Veterans - V.A.'s Office of Rural Health & HSR&D Center of Innovation on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (CINDRR)

    Growing Veterans in Washington State is working with the V.A.'s Office of Rural Health to determine their efficacy for helping with veteran well-being & reintegration as a "community agriculture initiative." The Advisory Board for this project includes Experts in the fields of food security (David Himmelgreen, PhD – University of South Florida), environmental anthropology, community-based agriculture (Rebecca Zargar, PhD – University of South Florida), civic ecology, socio-ecological system resilience (Keith Tidball, PhD - Cornell), therapeutic horticulture (Elizabeth Diehl – University of Florida), Occupational Therapy (Consuela Kreider, PhD – University of Florida) and Veteran-based community agricultural initiatives (Steve Wahle - The Mission Continues).


    Tuesday, July 14, 2015

    Tuesday, March 3, 2015

    Book notes: Humans increasingly heal, and are healed by nature

    In their new book, “Civic Ecology” (The MIT Press) Natural Resources Professor Marianne Krasny and Keith Tidball, senior extension associate in Natural Resources, come together to tell the stories of this emerging grassroots environmental stewardship. They also offer an interdisciplinary framework for understanding and studying civic ecology as a growing international phenomenon.

    Book notes: Humans increasingly heal, and are healed by nature

    Civic Ecology and Resilience | SESYNC

    Civic Ecology and Resilience | SESYNC

    Civic Ecology and Resilience

    Award Year: 2014

    Principal Investigator:

    Marianne Krasny, Cornell University

    Keith Tidball, Cornell University

    Associated Program:

    Propose a Workshop


    Civic ecology practices are community-based, environmental stewardship actions taken to enhance green infrastructure, ecosystem services, and human well-being in cities. Examples include tree planting in post-Katrina New Orleans, oyster reestablishment and dune restoration in New York City, community gardening in Detroit, village grove restoration in Korea, and natural area stewardship in the Cape Flats, South Africa. These practices often emerge in communities after a major disaster (e.g., Hurricane Sandy) or following long-term disinvestment and decline (e.g., Detroit). From a social-ecological systems perspective, they represent small-scale, self-organized efforts that address multiple stresses, including poverty, crime, flooding, pollution, and limited open space.

    The goal of this workshop is to better understand such practices and the insights they provide in planning for future stresses related to climate change. The workshop will bring together ethnically-diverse community leaders engaged in civic ecology practices and academics from universities, NGOs, and government to address the following questions:

    Wednesday, February 4, 2015

    Friday, January 16, 2015

    Need-based giving in Disaster - Tidball Presentation at ASU

    Recent presentation at the Need-based transfers in water management and disaster recovery workshop 

    Hosted by the Human Generosity Project and the Decision Center for a Desert City at Arizona State University.

    Wednesday, December 10, 2014

    Forthcoming book

    Civic Ecology | The MIT Press

    Civic Ecology

    Adaptation and Transformation from the Ground Up


    In communities across the country and around the world, people are coming together to rebuild and restore local environments that have been affected by crisis or disaster. In New Orleans after Katrina, in New York after Sandy, in Soweto after apartheid, and in any number of postindustrial, depopulated cities, people work together to restore nature, renew communities, and heal themselves. In Civic Ecology, Marianne Krasny and Keith Tidball offer stories of this emerging grassroots environmental stewardship, along with an interdisciplinary framework for understanding and studying it as a growing international phenomenon.
    Krasny and Tidball draw on research in social capital and collective efficacy, ecosystem services, social learning, governance, social-ecological systems, and other findings in the social and ecological sciences to investigate how people, practices, and communities interact. Along the way, they chronicle local environmental stewards who have undertaken such tasks as beautifying blocks in the Bronx, clearing trash from the Iranian countryside, and working with traumatized veterans to conserve nature and recreate community. Krasny and Tidball argue that humans’ innate love of nature and attachment to place compels them to restore nature and places that are threatened, destroyed, or lost. At the same time, they report, nature and community exert a healing and restorative power on their stewards.

    About the Authors

    Marianne Krasny is Professor in the Department of Natural Resources and Director of the Civic Ecology Lab at Cornell University.
    Keith Tidball is Senior Extension Associate in the Department of Natural Resources and Associate Director of the Civic Ecology Lab at Cornell University and State Coordinator for the New York Extension Disaster Education Network.