March 8, 2007
Fresh growth – A natural development

by Vonnie Roudette 08.MAR.07

The price of development on any natural landscape is shockingly expensive in terms of loss of trees and vegetation, the loss of fertile soil, the loss of life and colour- nature itself is banished from the lives of those immersed in consumer culture, industrialisation and modern development.

Here in St Vincent we continue to take nature for granted. Since 1992 our rainforest has diminished from 45% of its original area to 25%. At this rate the forest will disappear completely in another 15 years leaving us with a barren landscape, insufficient water supply and infertile land. Becoming totally dependent on imports, we will have thrown our natural resources away and life will be very different from what we know now. {{more}} Civil unrest is directly linked to lack of resources so we would see an increase in aggression and crime. Evidence that this is the way we are heading abounds and yet we seem completely ignorant of the hardship that awaits us due to unwarranted massacre of flora and fauna.

The eradication of greenery in Kingstown reflects our disinterest and disconnection from nature as does the desertification of coastal areas, creeping inland with environmentally irresponsible building and development plans that exclude nature.

How much more evidence is needed to realise that we must reverse this trend by immediately implementing reforestation programs, renewable energy systems, land regeneration and water conservation projects starting within the communities. All of us should be mobilised in this effort as it concerns everyone. We should all be responsible for planting trees and building up the diversity of plants in our communities.

Only a decade ago, it was customary to get plants and herbs from neighbours in rural communities, but with the trend of buying food in a supermarket the range of plants in our communities has decreased dramatically. Few people have kitchen gardens despite the rising cost of living.

The preservation of our environment and human life itself now depends on the attitude of the youth towards resource management and the lifestyles they choose. Therefore they must be at the forefront pioneering changes in the attitude of their peers.

A group of students at Community College have been working on an art and ecology project. They study the complexity and beauty in nature through using drawing as an investigative tool leading to discoveries that have transformed the way they see their environment. They now recognise the wealth of information stored in natural forms and patterns, and how that information can be used to create powerful and effective designs of all kinds from architecture to textile design, patterns that apply to agricultural systems and even lessons in community building. But the most powerful lesson for them is that preservation of the natural environment is key to survival and we must act immediately to protect it.

They notice that compared to the beauty of the natural world, the man made world is badly designed and does not function well.

Through their creative studies they are getting to know what nature has to teach us, so that we can instinctively understand what needs to be done-and what must not be done-to work in harmony with its processes. So inspired by this realisation are they, that they intend to use their creativity to enlighten others on matters of grave concern, by organising presentations to student groups, producing a weekly radio program, and presenting their work and ideas in the upcoming Vincy Nature show on April 22.

These youngsters realise that creative artists can no longer sit idly by preoccupied with their own self-image. Social and environmental problems are so acute that creative energies must be channelled productively into socially responsible actions.

With the dawn of the environmental age comes the practice of socially responsible acts. These youngsters are to be commended for their selfless mission- reflecting a shift of awareness from self-absorption to an exceptional vision of service to society.

As nature itself welcomes new growth and makes room for it in the natural order, we must welcome these transformative actions of the youth, and allow them to fulfil their course for present and future generations. By isolating and marginalising them we are going against natural processes and social order that was practiced by indigenous cultures who left us the legacy of an unspoilt environment.

It is obvious that their values of the older generation conditioned by the industrial age have failed through environmental destruction. It is time to construct enabling conditions where creative thinking of the youth can follow its natural course.

Let us not wait until our island looks like a death land of the industrialised north. As protest songwriter Bob Dylan once sang:

“The old road is rapidly ageing. Please get out of the new road if you cant lend your hand for the times they are a-changin. “