Our urban nature

Another post connected to our recent Vancouver trip – the last in a short and unplanned series! A piece including vague thoughts and mumblings about urban environments, as well as photographs showing Vancouver is quite lovely if you have to spend time in a city.DSCF4824

The outdoor education conference and time we spent in Vancouver has really got me thinking about cities and the natural world. More and more humans will be living in urban centres, and the trend towards huge cities with fast paced population growth is set for the next 50-100 years according to speakers at the conference.

This leaves me in two (or more) minds. If most humans live in cities, does this mean the spaces in between will be left alone? Probably not. Will mass exits on weekends, high days and holidays be the norm? Vast roads cutting into “wilderness” areas, creating problems of crowding and spoiling the character of these wild places? (I admit I’m exactly one of those city dwellers heading out whenever possible to play in the big outdoors…) Or will people stay inside the city, leaving large expanses outside to be farmed organically and ethically, with other areas left to develop as wild spaces? So many questions…IMG_20170418_133717

Clearly, I should stick to teaching and let others be futurologists. I have woolly (but friendly) notions about how our planet could be a greener place, and how we could manage the apparent conflict and contradictions between urban needs and a healthy, vibrant environment in and out of cities.

Making concrete interesting? They tried…

I daydream about a future where citizens love their city, they frequent large natural spaces in the city, and make visits – long and short – into the surrounding countryside and wilderness. They meet the food producers growing and rearing wonderful produce. They hike and camp (leaving no trace, always showing consideration for flora, fauna, and fellow campers/hikers…) and paddle and fish, and paint and photograph and play and then I stop daydreaming because all I want to do is head out there when I’ve a mountain of paperwork to do, report cards to write, and data to produce to prove students might be learning things I’m teaching. Phew, run on sentence. Easy there, old boy. How early can an early retirement be? That’s another daydream. I’m often amazed I get much of anything done at all.

Well, if you have to live in a city…

Focus, PlaidCamper, focus. Cities shouldn’t be ugly or difficult places to live in. Housing, transportation, education, recreation and healthcare should be available and affordable. Vancouver, like other cities, scores well in some, but not all, of these measures. Like other perceived as desirable cities, it is an expensive yet beautiful location. The beauty and economic opportunity draws people to the city, and this in turn increases pressure on services and raises prices. What is the solution? Can we reverse the inflow to cities? What will it mean if more people elect to live and work outside cities? Can we find positive and better than sustainable ways to dwell in wilder areas? Do people wish to live away from cities?  Will I stop typing questions?

Could you lower a rope please?

As I said at the start, these are a few of the thoughts (or daydreams) and questions that have been bouncing around in my head the past week or so. Pleasant environments nurture and encourage pleasant citizens. Care about the local, and you’ll treasure the global, city dweller or not. Oh, woolly old me…

I could be tempted

Thanks for reading, feel free to chip in with a thought or two, and have a wonderful weekend!

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I am a would be outdoorsman - that is if I had more time, skills and knowledge. When I can, I love being outdoors, just camping, hiking, snowboarding, xc skiing, snowshoeing, paddling a canoe or trying something new. What I lack in ability, I make up for in enthusiasm and having a go. I'd never really survive for long out there in the wild, but I enjoy pretending I could if I had to...

18 thoughts on “Our urban nature”

  1. Although it is a serious topic, I giggled throughout the reading of this entire post, PC. Your ramblings reflect my thoughts and ponderings too; and yet how serious do we have to be? When we get out in nature, it balances our thoughts, and that is always my goal. Enjoy your weekend, and have a great time outdoors while it’s still there.


    1. Thanks, Jet! I do end up puncturing my serious self with humour whenever it gets too heavy…evidence of my short attention span and butterfly mind.
      Yup, you’re right about nature helping us find balance, and we should enjoy it as we can.
      Thanks again, and I hope your weekend was pleasant, and your week is off to a great start!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. You pose a lot of important questions for a thinking person to ponder as the world evolves into a planet of some eight billion people with no end in sight for population growth. I especially like your “Pleasant environments nurture and encourage pleasant citizens.” Cities like Vancouver pose some hope for balanced living but without self-imposed controls for our own growth, I won’t hold my breath for technology or any “isms” to pull us through in the long run. For now though, such insightful ponderings as you pose are a good place for a lot of us to start with and to run on!


    1. Thanks, Walt! I do wonder how current human population growth and current human resource extraction can remain as is. Let’s be honest, we already know it is unsustainable. It’s an unholy mess our children and grandchildren are inheriting, and at the risk of appearing a Luddite, I suspect old(er) technologies and ways of living are likely to provide the best answers. I also suspect they won’t be vote getters or conventional thinking in what remains of our lifetimes.
      In the meantime, let’s get out and fish, hike, paddle and play while we still can…


  3. Well, I’m not at all a city girl….so I may be a little bit biased. I’m also a little cynical, I think. I would like to think that these city dwellers will just leave the outside world alone, but they won’t. They will find ways to expand beyond the city limits and turn the “outside world” into more city. Even state park are a part of this as they raise rates an fees to build “education” centers and other buildings that benefit the tourist. Your questions are questions I’ve pondered myself in some fashion…and my day dreams of the future scare me. It becomes hard to be hopeful that these lands, this beauty will stand. Alas, I keep on trying. Have a beautiful weekend.


    1. You’re quite right! Nature, wilderness, or call it what you will, is often seen as just another commodity, instead of the stuff of life that sustains us in all our ways. I try to be hopeful, to think that humanity will correct the current course, but there isn’t much evidence, at least in present day big leadership.
      Thanks for your thoughts, and I hope your week is off to a good start!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Hold onto those day dreams PC. I share many of your sentiments when it comes to preserving our wild places and enjoying our cities. It’s all about finding and appreciating balance in our lifestyle. Nice post.


    1. Thanks, Miriam. As ever, it often comes back to balance – we just need for many, many more of us to work towards that, in all aspects of our lives!
      I hope your week is off to a good start!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Hi PC, although the future is impossible to predict perhaps humans will all live in a few mega cities with high rise farms. Said “humans” will experience “nature” via virtual reality machines without ever leaving home thus leaving life outside the city to proceed at its’ own accord. However one day one of those humans will break free of the connected human reality and find life outside of the virtual reality machine just a bit more real.


    1. Thanks, Mike, for your comment here. I do worry about how so many people find connections through virtual reality, and how they’re prepared to take virtual experiences over real world experiences. Seems strange, and none too healthy…
      I hope your week is off to a good start!


      1. HI the week off to a fine start. It does seem strange and unhealthy however the designers of those virtual experiences know what they are doing and how to ping just the right areas of the brain. Kinda like junk food does and a god comparison in my book.


  6. Great photos and so many great thoughts to ponder. Vancouver looks like a beautiful place to live, but, like you mention, many cities have become so expensive. As the rebuilding process continues in Detroit their is great excitement about the changes in the city, but many of the changes are occurring in limited areas and generated by the corporations. The highways are still full of commuters driving to the city to work from the suburbs and then on the weekends going up north to enjoy nature, but it does appear the city is attracting people that stay downtown after work hours and return on the weekend. They are building another new stadium and by fall all of our major sports team will be located in the city. I really enjoyed the post and daydreams and hope your having a great weekend.


  7. Thanks for your great comment! Detroit is a really interesting example of how city planners are having to think about regenerating and revitalizing downtown areas after economic decline. Solutions aren’t easy or inexpensive, but they need to be found if city dwellers are to live lives with dignity and a sense of purpose.
    Thanks again, and I hope your week is off to a great start!


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