This post follows on from ‘Return to Cry for our Beautiful World: Part 1″
Of the 316 young people that submitted pieces to the book ‘Cry for a Beautiful World’ I managed to track down only 11. These people come from Argentina, Australia, Barbados, Bermuda, Belgium, Canada, Ireland, South Africa and Trinidad. Several of these were firsts for me as I’d never met anyone online or in person from Barbados, Bermuda or Trinidad. They were all surprised by the idea, and many were interested in contributing to the article.
The responses I received back from my questions were from:
- Helen, a teacher from Ireland
- Libby, a forest scientist from Australia,
- Bodie, an Australian astrophysicist living in England,
- Jane, a teacher from South Africa,
- Nada, an architect from Canada, and
- Jeremy, a chemistry professor from Belgium.
They were all very helpful and I thank you all greatly!
“The woods have vanished in our country, the fields are no longer green and the sea has been polluted. What then is left of Greece that was famous for its many beauties? I, too, raise my voice and demand this great favour, do not destroy beauty.” Macris Lena, Greece
“Because I dislike everything new around me I would rather try to bring back the old life with its horse crabs and picnics, as we see it in the books.” Sotoria Leotsakou, Greece
Who was your role model in 1985? Why did they inspire you?
Libby: Bob Hawke/Paul Keating (Australian politicians) -strong leaders who could think above petty party politics and make decisions Roth longstanding impacts. Beyond that I can’t remember well -Midnight Oil (Australian rock band) and other musicians who sang about politics and environment. Bob Brown (Australian politician) for his strong environmental convictions who showed me that emotional and social responses have as much validity as scientific responses.
Jeremy: Nobody, really. I think for this piece, we were encouraged by our teacher (who was a good English teacher, in a multi-national school in which native English speakers were taught English in a separate, small, class) to write something suitable for this book.
Nada: I do not think I had one. I was in a profession of men. At the time I did the painting (about 12 years old) I remember reading Madame Currie’s biography and being very impressed that an individual can make a difference.
Jane: My role model was always my mother. She was a very strong woman who went out to get what she wanted. I have always wanted to be like her.
Bodie: Carl Sagan (American scientist). He was a very good science communicator, and shared the wonders of the cosmos with millions of television viewers in a lyrical, almost poetic way.
How has the environment of your hometown changed between 1985 and 2015?
Bodie: My hometown (Canberra, Australia) is a designed city that incorporates large tracts of native bushland within the city structure. I don’t think that has changed much in the last thirty years, except that the city has grown larger. As I recall, in 1985 the issues were more to do with wildlife and introduction of foreign species, whereas now there are also concerns about climate change. This doesn’t seem to have affected the city noticeably though.
Libby: The environmental debate [in Australia] has changed from saving rivers or individual patches of ground to more of a debate about landscape management and societal values, about ways of getting broader societal involvement.
Jane: The issues [in my hometown] are largely the same, as we have an ongoing problem with water in South Africa. There are huge problems with electricity, which means that there are more initiatives with regard to alternative power sources than there were in 1985. I think, generally, people are more aware of the environment and the ongoing issues now.
Jeremy: Broadly I would say that Western cultures have paid a lot of attention to the environment since 1985, and that the environment is on balance in better shape. I now live near where I did back then (Belgium), and the environment here seems equally or more appealing than then.
Nada: I lived in Toronto [Canada] when I did the painting…There is more media attention on the environment these days but I am not convinced that more is actually being done? The internet has helped people to become more educated about what is going on out there.
Helen: In 1985, my hometown (Sligo, Ireland) was struggling under the weight of recession and 2015, it’s still struggling; in fact I would say the current recession is more severe; many services are being cut back – e.g. the local library is under threat of closure. In terms of the environment, a lot has changed for the better; the council has improved the locale and opened new parks for recreation. A lot has been done to attract visitors to the beautiful amenities in the town and its environs. However, important elements of the town were destroyed during the Celtic Tiger [ a period of rapid economic growth in Ireland between mid 90’s to mid 00’s] huge office developments were allowed to proceed and ruin the medieval core of the town and are now sitting idle.
“In a technological sense, man has become very advanced, but man himself has not matured.” Brendan Crowe, Australia
Did your interest in the environment as a child influence your career choices?
Jane: Not particularly. I am a teacher, but of Drama and English.
Helen: No, but my inclusion in the book did! I did a degree in English and worked in publishing for 10 years.
Jeremy: Only in part. I have always been very interested in the natural world, and that is reflected in the fact that I am now a scientist. But not primarily occupied with the environment.
Libby: Yes. I thought I could save the forests by becoming a forester. When I realised that wasn’t the case I became a forest scientist.
Nada: I would have to say yes…I became an architect and architectural educator. I deeply care about the environment and feel that until we change the way we “design and built” the human world there will be little change.
“Men of the Earth, don’t have a lot of children unless you’re sure that you can bring them up in good conditions.” Kafih Mohamed and Mouahid Mohamed, Morocco
If you have children, how much is their education about the environment important to you?
Helen: It’s very important. I try to bring it into everyday activities. When shopping we look at ingredients and discuss things like palm oil and how plantations are destroying the rainforests. Moreover, children need to experience the outdoor environment as much as possible; it’s vital for all aspects of their development, physically, intellectually and spiritually. I think an appreciation of the environment is not so much a luxury as a necessity.
Libby: Very. We spend a lot of time talking about these issues.
Jeremy: I do have children. I am very keen that they should learn about our relation to the environment.
Bodie: It is “moderately important”. I think they need to be at least made to understand the issues and presented with scientific facts, so that they can draw their own conclusions.
Jane: I have 4 children. We own a family farm and go to the bushveld regularly, so they have been brought up with a sense of the environment and why it is important to preserve. Their father is a Geography lecturer and an expert in noise pollution, so issues about the environment are close to all of our hearts.
Nada: Very important. My daughter has taken it upon herself to become involved in things like “Envirothon” and the “sustainability committee” in her high school…these didn’t exist back when I was in school so I suppose there have been some improvements…this generation is far more aware and conscious of the environment and things that destroy it.
All book quotes and images are from ‘Cry for our beautiful world’ (1985), (Ed. Helen Exley), (Heinemann Publishers, Richmond)