Home Institution

Claremont McKenna College

Publication Date

Fall 2016

Program Name

Brazil: Public Health, Race, and Human Rights


The objective of this community service project (CSP) was to study how a community’s location, specifically within nature, influences their well-being. I hoped to see how the community’s location, within Chapada Diamantina national park, influences the many ways health is promoted, and how these ways are affected by their location within nature. This project was built upon a review of the literature, which found that there is a theoretical basis for the notion that contact with nature is beneficial, a term deemed Biophilia. There is a robust body of academic research that highlights the health benefits deriving from contact with nature. Yet as climate change diminishes the conditions of the environment, preservation of the natural environment becomes exceedingly important in order for humanity to continue to enjoy the health benefits resulting from contact with nature. The study was conducted over four weeks at Lothlorien in Vale do Capão, in the interior of Bahia, Brazil. I participated in a work exchange at Lothlorien, which is a center based around principles of spirituality, personal growth, and respect towards nature. I had the opportunity to paint a mural at the center, as a way to give back to the community that hosted me for four weeks. Participant observation was conducted over a three-week period in Lothlorien, in order to gain a greater insight into how Lothlorien’s principles influence well-being. In addition, I interviewed 10 individuals from the greater Vale do Capão community, 3 people born in Capão, and 8 others that moved to Capão within the past 30 years. In talking with people of varying professions and years spent in Capão, I was able to gain an understanding of the various ways in which people use aspects of nature to promote their well-being. The study found that the most common way the people of Capão use nature to promote their well-being is through gardening, as both a means of therapy and a source of nutrition. This study also shed light on the necessity of preserving our environment in order to preserve the wellness of the human population.


Community-Based Research | Environmental Studies | Family, Life Course, and Society | Latin American Studies | Life Sciences | Medical Humanities | Medicine and Health | Medicine and Health Sciences | Place and Environment



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