Allen: Exemptions, spring provide reason for optimism

By |  March 25, 2020
Photo: Clint Allen, CRH


As a result of the recent coronavirus pandemic, there are many concerns and possibly lasting changes to our culture.

Likely, every American has been affected by at least one of the following: self-quarantines, social distancing and shelter-in-place orders. This pandemic has affected everyone. Many people have lost loved ones, and some are sick themselves. Others have lost their jobs, been furloughed or aren’t able to go to work because of school and daycare closings.

Fortunately, there is reason for optimism. In the midst of many shelter-in-place orders, our industry is often one of the few exempted as a critical or essential industry. A good example of this is the March 20 shelter-in-place executive order from Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D-Illinois), exempting road construction, utility construction and the associated mining as part of “essential infrastructure.”

Nature therapy

If social distancing and all of the uncertain news has you down, consider getting outside to look for signs of the new growth of spring and give yourself some nature therapy. If caution is taken, being outside is very safe and there are a number of studies that explain how being outdoors can improve your health and mood.

A number of studies and related articles have given us new terms and buzzwords in recent years – terms such as nature therapy, green exercise, green care, eco-therapy, urban green space and outdoor campus. Here are just a few examples of articles discussing these studies:

• “Spending time in nature for your health – How outdoor activities improve wellbeing” (

• “How nature is good for our health and happiness” (

• “Stanford University study says spending time in nature benefits mental health” (

• “Nature is good medicine for stress and depression: report” (

• “How walking in nature changes the brain” (

“A year after 911: The rediscovery of the city’s parks” (

After Sept. 11, 2001, visits to parks and green spaces spiked. It was people instinctively wanting to heal by getting back in touch with nature and what matters most. This healing phenomenon of connecting with nature is nothing new. Consider the following famous quotes about nature throughout history: 

• “One touch of nature makes the whole world kin.” – William Shakespeare

• “Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

• “An early morning walk is a blessing for the whole day.” – Henry David Thoreau

• “Look deep into nature, then you will understand everything better.” – Albert Einstein

• “There is not a sprig of grass that shoots uninteresting to me” – Thomas Jefferson

“Our task must be to free ourselves by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty.” – Albert Einstein

• “In the spring, I have counted 136 different kinds of weather inside of 24 hours.” – Mark Twain

Keep in mind: As fears begin to subside, people shake hands again and America emerges from isolation to find a new normal, being outside in nature is not only safe, but good for your health and happiness.

Also, consider your friends and co-workers. Reach out to them by phone, email or text to offer encouragement and look for ways to help them in their time of need.

Clint Allen is senior environmental manager of the Midwest Region at CRH Americas Materials.

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