Reflections on change

A new way of life has slowly been emerging, as people from the cities are buying up properties to renovate. New buildings are emerging – part of a current desire to move from the towns and cities to rural areas in order to live less stressful lives. This is bringing a new socio-economic dynamic to rural areas, not just in the Ticino.

City dwellers buying up property in villages can increase the cost of local properties to prices that local people can no longer afford. Weekend and holiday visitors rarely integrate and benefit the local community.

Increased migration from the cities to the land is beneficial for nature only to the extent that newcomers cultivating a sustainable way of life, actively assist nature.

In 1994 I had a conversation with a business man during a short flight. He told me that he spent eighty percent of his time in the air, flying all over the world to top companies in order to update their IT equipment. “If I thought about what I am doing, I would have to stop.” he said. When I asked him why, he answered that he was putting thousands of people out of work. “But” he continued, “making money is the most important thing, and I admire people who make lots of money”. We continued to talk about the world situation and shortly before landing I asked him, whether he did anything just for the simple pleasure of it. He was quiet a while, and then with a rather sheepish smile he said: “Yes, I go diving under the ice cap of the North Pole.” On further prompting he told me that there was utter silence there, nothing man made, and the ice fish were translucent, you could see right through them. He went on to describe his profound experience of the beauty under the ice. As we landed, he curtly said goodbye and rose abruptly.

Some seek renewal in diving under the ice cap, others in the cleanness of the desert, by the sea, or in the density of the Amazon jungle, but many cannot escape the cities and are unable to renew themselves – or their contact with nature.

Traveling back to my home city, I was left with these questions: “How does work undertaken to bring more of nature into our cities benefit us, our mental and physical health? How can each of us bring the benefits of a ‘translucent ice fish experience’ into our daily lives without adversely affecting the natural environment through doing so?“

© Rhea Quien