A whirlwind weekend in Barcelona, mostly cafe’ing, restaurant’ing, brrrr’ing aaand getting to have fantastic conversations, idea mixing etc with like minded brains.
Prior to a few weeks of seriousness of world changing plans I met up with lojology, a fellow nomad, Barcelona was our meeting point. We were taken on a blitz tour of the city by Joaquin, her pilot buddy and intellectual curiousiter and Ivana, Barcelona expert, from Argentina.
Over the course of the weekend we went into 1 store, yes only ONE to browse, and it was an indigenous/arty place. Lojo was reading a compilation of Native American ’12 truths’ posted on a door. The last one read something akin to when one stays away from nature, his heart will quickly harden. My immediate response: New York.
We are now around Pontevedra, which reminds me a lot of the Sydney landscape, with its invasion of Eucalyptus trees and all (no koalas to be seen…yet 😉 ) but also of the role nature has for us.
Living in Ankara the past few years, Bilkent is an oasis – an artificial one at that. All the trees were planted before any buildings went up, on some days, you could easily believe, that mini-forest has always been there. The rest of Ankara, largely has a lack of green spaces, trees cased in concrete on the sidewalk and the concrete pastel, quick to build but character-less building predominate. As UNICEF and others consider their programming with the government, I wonder, do green spaces, places for playing factor in? What is the role of nature and the environment in education? What did Turkey contribute to the Copenhagen talks, and what did it get out of it? I fear Turkey is on the side of ‘we must consider our economic development and take measures accordingly’ approach. Apparently the Turkish government and cohorts plant millions of trees a year. I don’t see any of those campaigns going up, unless trees is code for “new apartments/apartment blocks”. Living in the capital city, one should be able to see some tokens of effort or at least publicity? The natural world, symbiosis is just not considered. For a city with bountiful sunlight, where are the solar panels? Where are the water collection tanks at places like universities, gyms to recycle the water? The city ran out of water 2 summers ago, and has now tapped a water supply to last 20 years. Incidentally that water supply was found to have higher than safe levels of arsenic. People are drinking this water. There are a number of small dirty, algae and rubbish loaded canals next to abandoned work spaces. Where are the efforts to reclaim the environment? I don’t see any.
Reycling bins were put around the Bilkent campus in the within the past 5 years. A good effort but we all know effort counts for only so much. I was impressed by the large recycling bins places on seemingly every block or so in Barcelona and citizens of all ages use them. There were not garbage sorters in the hotel we stayed at for instance, versus the measures at Vieurmaki, Finland, where every room has a multi-compartment trash can for paper, plastic, non-recyclable etc. There, it’s a rule and rules are respected. People follow the rules because they make sense. Barcelona was spotless, I was impressed. On an early Saturday morning run were teams of street sweepers, keeping that spotlessness to a tee. Where is this ownership and pride of place in Turkey? Does this have something to do with short term thinking and lack of long-term vision. Starting this post with a reference to an indigenous expression, I’ll close with one too.”In every deliberation we must consider the impact on the seventh generation…even if it requires having skin as thick as the bark of a pine.” – Great Law of the Iroquois. Its this lack of long term thinking that contributes to my frustration of living where I do.
Where is nature in the dialogue here? For those of you who live close to the natural world, please consider yourself lucky.