Perceptions of Nature Among People Experiencing Homelessness
This research is a phenomenological exploratory study conducted with people experiencing homelessness and food insecurity to determine their perceptions of nature, both positive and negative. This study utilized the theoretical frameworks of biophilia, ecological systems theory, social-ecological model, and risk and protection factors to understand the human-nature connection and the importance of nature to human wellbeing. Grounded theory was utilized to investigate how people experiencing homelessness and food insecurity’s lived experiences influenced their views of nature. Data from semi-structured interviews was transcribed and coded to identify specific themes that supported the theoretical frameworks of the study. The overall findings showed that people experiencing homelessness and food insecurity do have both positive and negative perceptions on nature. They use the positive perceptions to help them create protective factors for themselves, and they use negative perceptions of nature to be aware of the risks of being out in the elements. Findings also showed that this population is aware of the environmental risks of land, water, and air pollution, and they take direct action to remediate this issue by engaging in conservation behaviors, such as picking up litter. The implications of this study include the possible utilization of nature in targeted mental health interventions for people experiencing homelessness and food insecurity. Based on data collected about how participants use nature to heal themselves, shelters could create nature-based mindfulness activities for this population to help them heal from their physical and mental health challenges. The implications rom this study also support exploring the possibility of this population being a conservation workforce resource. This way, they could receive income for conservation efforts they already do, which would help them escape homelessness and better care for themselves while using the skills they built while living in nature or experiencing homelessness.
Lindsley, C. (2023). Perceptions of nature among people experiencing homelessness (Unpublished thesis). Texas State University, San Marcos, Texas.