The story begins with a simple idea. Nature is beautiful. And its effect on a.c.e. Nature’s founder, Clive Walcott was nothing short of transformative…
When Clive lost his job in the backwash of “America’s darkest day,” September 11, 2001, he was sucked into a vortex of despair. Jobs in the financial sector had been under stress for some time – the dotcom bubble had burst and was exerting a steady downward pull on the economy. The Street was already in turmoil. The terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center were simply the nail in the coffin. America’s mood, and the market’s optimism, spiralled downward, and with it went Clive’s prospects.
In a matter of months, Clive went from being a Wall Street economist on the rise to being Mr. Mom to his two young children. When he passed the role of Breadwinner to his wife, our Founder slowly descended into a vortex of despair and disappointment. He had been a happy guy, inclined toward optimism. Everything had been going so right!
The Park Bench Moment
Taking both of his girls to school in the morning was his new job. After that, Clive would head to the park and kill time before returning to pick the kids up. He’d grown familiar with park benches all around New Brunswick Township in Northern New Jersey, and over time, had countless park bench moments in solitude.
But then there was this one.
One spring morning, a flock of goldfinch swooped in and took over the space where he sat on a bench by the Raritan River, running the loop through his mind: “How did I get here?”
That question really meant, “Why me? What did I do to deserve this?”
But the finches startled him out of his daze and mesmerized him. They were bright yellow sparks of color, flitting in and out of a butterfly bush topped with purple buds. Their song was deafening – but delightful.
For the first time in months, Clive forgot about himself. The despair fell away, and his soul settled down.
The Big Pivot
Although the moment was brief and the relief was temporary, he would remember it years later as the moment that set him onto a new path. Or, more accurately, set him back on the path. “How did I get here,” turned into “How did I get here,” and “How did I wind up here on this planet, a sentient being, and clearly part of the plan?”
The next time Clive flopped down on a park bench, he noticed his gaze focusing outward, not inward. He started to see everything around him. Not just the birds and the flowers – but the abundance of life! The incredible diversity of plant and animal life. The air, the clouds. Everything. And, most importantly, he found that the relentless focus on himself could be eased when he was outdoors. His curiosity had been awakened!
Clawing His Way Out of Despair
Clive began what would become an intensive study of the natural world. His study spanned books, films and documentaries. He got familiar Sir Richard Attenborough (Our Planet and many other timeless documentaries and books). He obsessed over the work of J.R.R. Tolkien, whose “Middle Earth” in the Lord of the Rings, is based on one of the most spectacular landscapes in the world. (Most of those films were actually shot in the remote, incomparable landscapes of New Zealand.)
He began to study the universe, the tale of which he now refers to as The 14 Billion Year Old Story - the greatest story ever told. And he began to understand that, regardless of anything that happened to him in this plan, he was not an accident. He recognized his place in that Story.
He began to study the concept of biophilia, and the work of writers like the journalist Florence Williams – who documents the science behind his return to wellbeing. Nature heals.
He eventually took up the great game of golf, devoted himself to it once he realized that it gave him permission to spend long afternoons out of doors. There he communed with other outdoors folk. Sports enthusiasts and wanderers. Hikers and water paddlers.
Then he wanted to do more.
Nature is Beautiful and a.c.e. Nature
In 2018 Clive founded the brand Nature is Beautiful, to encourage people to focus on the wonder of nature and the benefit to themselves of getting outside. NiB started as a community of forest bathers, meditators, and people who appreciate the “soft fascination” that nature creates in us.
The concept of a.c.e. Nature started as the hashtag, #ACEINGNATURE. But it grew into its own brand and ultimately absorbed Nature is Beautiful’s initiatives, as well. It was launched in 2022 and also appeals to adventurers, wanderers and nature lovers who are so comfortable outside they could basically live outdoors. It was aligned with a social purpose, from inception pledging to fundraise aggressively for other nature-focused organizations that get people out into the natural world to admire, connect, and explore.
a.c.e. Nature’s mission is to promote getting outside often(whether alone or together) to deepen our relationship with the natural world: to admire its beauty, to connect with its majesty, to explore its great expanses – and get happier.
Our hope is that the next time you feel a spark of curiosity about our planet, its nature and its story, that this curiosity evolves into a conscious desire to go a little deeper and learn a bit more. One thing will lead to another, and before you know it, you may find yourself in a community of like-minded folks like The a.c.e. Outsiders Club—our budding community!
How do you “a.c.e.” nature?
The bottom line is that Clive experienced so many positive changes once he realized that he is part of a larger, greater story. A beautiful story, at that. And that recognition came to him-–and has come to him at any time—in nature.
It’s not always easy, but it’s simple. Admire. Connect. Explore. Try it!
And remember that you can a.c.e. nature, anywhere! When you aren’t able to physically get outside, check out our blog, where our team of authors deliver practical, and fanciful, ideas on ways to a.c.e. nature. Quick and easy tips for natural living and outdoor fun!
Find us on social media, too! We’re on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Wherever we meet, let’s honor the long arc of our universe’s history, from the Big Bang (approximately 14 billion years ago) to now. Let’s find peace, inspiration and fulfillment in the story that we are all a part of.
Because this is the greatest story ever told!