Opinion | Experience the Great Outdoors From Prison

Incarcerated men and women watch nature videos
on loop in a mental health program.

Incarcerated men and women
watch nature videos on loop in a
mental health program.

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By Merete Mueller

Ms. Mueller is a documentary filmmaker.

Years ago, I read about an exploratory program that showed nature imagery to people in prison to improve their mental health. During allotted downtime and in high-stress situations, individuals could request to visit the “blue room” to watch nature videos. Prison administrators hoped that these sessions would offer alternatives for people who were struggling emotionally, many of whom often ended up in solitary confinement.

In the short documentary above, I document their experiences in the blue room. It was a privilege to be present with each person I filmed. I hoped their perspectives might shed light on our relationship to nature and the effects of being held in an environment that is, by design, largely cut off from it.

This film invites audiences to slow down, become quiet and experience the contrast between the stark, industrial environment of prison and the natural world that exists just beyond its walls.

Merete Mueller is a filmmaker based in New York. She directed the Op-Doc “Dangerous Curves.”

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