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27th May 2013: A Walk Through Colinton Dell by Alex Dunedin

Edinburgh Colinton dell

Unfortunately there was a change of plan for the 27th of May walk on the Water of Leith.  Juliet Wilson was not be able to take us, however I took everyone on a walk through the Dell so we could have a conversation about the landscape and think about sustainability education.

Everyone was invited to come along and enjoy a walk, socialise and share what knowledge they have about the nature we encounter.  Susan Brown who is running Ragged Sustainability could not make the walk but did provide some thinking tools to stimulate how we are percieving the landscape around us and start to realise what is missing from it.  The following are notes drawn together for the walk…

Change can be good or bad depending on your perspective. What is not good from any perspective is a landscape devoid of diversity.

Mono landscapes, landscapes dominated by one feature, fields of mono crops, conurbations of tower blocks, chain shops sell the same goods, landscapes where vernacular skills and the vernacular language that accompany these have disappeared, all of these deplete diversity.

The notion of conservation, whilst it can be a powerful one, particuarly in terms of ensuring habitats for endangered species, is insufficent.

Sustainability is an exercise in enrichment. Such an exercise takes knowledge, knowledge which is accessible, close to hand, fizzing within any locale.  It takes creativity, a willingness to explore, to experiment and to innovate.

The trick is to discern the artefacts of bygone ages and what can nourish our understandings of current landscapes and our visions of the future.

These are thoughts drawn from existing thinking which is helping me think through my forming conceptions of sustainability. The starting point I have taken is trying to look at the landscape and understand what I am seeing, what is missing.

As I explore this more, developing an understanding by observing my connection through. As an exercise it would be good to share thoughts on the landscapes we are encountering and discuss how we can realise a deeper understanding of what we are a part of.

Ways of Perceiving Landscapes:

  • Sound
  • Visual/Aesthetic
  • Touch/kineasthetic
  • Historical/crafted
  • Ecological
  • Storied landscape

We walked and talked, and shared our thoughts and observations to build up a picture of the landscape as it was, how it is and discussed how we can put values to what we were encounter.  This is the beginning of a transformative process for me, as an urbanite, who had not given great thought to my actions and interactions with the world around me.  I hope to learn from the interdisciplinary thinking out there and distill some contribution to sustainability education

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