“We are what our environment makes us,” said Rudolph Schindler in 1936, “and if our environment is such as to produce excellent health, beauty, joy and comfort, it will reflect immediately in our lives.”
Schindler was an architect– a contemporary of Frank Lloyd Wright. Last month, I spent two weeks living in a FLW house on twenty wooded acres around a small lake. Living there was something beyond the experience of getting out of the city. The quiet had a substance beyond a simple lack of sirens.
For some time now, a particular thought has been haunting me: If it matters if you do it, it matters if you don’t. Since returning from our FLW time, the specter has shifted hue: If it matters if you have it, it matters if you don’t. The ‘it’ in this case being trees, silence, a daily rhythm clocked by the sun’s rise and set.
At the 2.5 million dollar price tag, I can’t afford to have this particular ‘it’. The relationship that access to nature has to class and privilege is not lost on me.
But again, If it matters if you have it, it matters if you don’t. We are part of the natural world. We were created– by whatever means you may believe in– as part of nature.
“If our environment is such as to produce…” Schindler says, “It will reflect in our lives.”
What’s reflecting from the pond of your life? What is your environment producing? In your body? In your spirit? Do you like it? Do you like it enough to bequeath it to your children?
Your statement about the relationship that access to nature has to class and privilege strike me as odd. What does this mean?
Thanks for your question, Erin. I’m thinking here of both access and meaning, actually. On access: Clearly there are people of all classes and resource-levels in all geographic locations. But in general, I think access to nature– in terms of acres of unmitigated land– is limited to those with economic means. Most people live in cities, which means that accessing that kind of nature requires a car, the money to gas it, and the time off to do all of the above.
On meaning, I’ve recently been reminded that even the idea of nature as a “safe, peaceful haven” might be the result of my own privilege. A friend of mine was recently told by a member of her church: “The KKK was in the woods. This idea of going out to enjoy nature is something you white folks think about.” It’s been food for thought for me.