Friday, October 7, 2011
Towards a Green Life
At the age of sixty, reflecting back on my life, I draw satisfaction from the fact that it has been a wonderful life. For sure, there were extended periods of grave difficulties interspersed with extended periods of Joy. However, without the difficult and challenging times, life would scarcely have been worth it. In retrospect, the difficult periods although unpleasant at the time, have made life interesting. Within them were lessons that were of immense value as an education for the soul. An earlier post about the purpose of life mentioned that for me the purpose of life is an evolution of the soul. It takes place through an education of the soul. The soul also evolves through helping others – all life – evolve. I hope that I have been able to make some humble contributions in that direction too because of my pursuits as an educator.
Although life provided most of what I have desired deeply in life, there are some ambitions that have not yet been met to my satisfaction. These would have to wait for another round. After all, it is not possible to get everything in one life.
One of the things that I missed sorely in this life from time to time is living in fully green surroundings. To me fully green surroundings are a solace for the soul. The greenest areas involve greenery at all five height levels – trees, bushes, herbs, grasses and moss – with flowering creepers running through them, that one can look out on from one’s window and on the paths that one has to walk on daily. My childhood was spent in precisely such a green place in the beautiful town of Nainital in the Himalayas. Since then, education and profession has caused me to stay in various other parts of the world, some green and others arid. I have lived for many years in somewhat arid Delhi and presently my home is in the arid zone of India in Jaipur. Over the years I have succeeded in making the surroundings of my home very green with trees, bushes, creepers and flowers but one has to venture away from home from time to time to confront the dust and dry areas amongst a jungle of cement and concrete that many cities around the world including Jaipur has become.
To compensate, I make trips into the Himalayas, even for extended stays whenever opportunity permits, but then one has to return to ones home again after the trip is over. It feels nice to return but soon a yearning for green fields and hills returns. I have debated a permanent change over to a green Himalayan town but eventually hesitated for practical reasons. One practical reason is that the same green Himalayas become very cold in winters and I am finding that with age cold is increasingly uncomfortable. Central heating is neither available nor practical in India. The second reason is that much movement in Himalayan towns takes place by walking up and down the hills. That is becoming less and less comfortable with age. Over the last few years, I run out of breath easily on a climb and a climb down a hill path causes the leg muscles to ache. This is very different from when I was younger and could walk up or down the hills for days, trekking in the Himalayas. One such trip to a beautiful valley called the valley of flowers that is above the tree line involved a thirty kilometer trek from the nearest motorable road. That trip inspired me to write a lovely fictional story called ‘Mystic and the blossoms’. It was published as a Novella. If that title is googled one may find links to reviews, kindle, ipad, ebook and paper editions of that book.
Before building my home here in Jaipur, I debated if I should instead acquire a farm and live on that. It would have permitted acres of greenery. That is something I still yearn for. However practical consideration once again compelled me to reject that option. The difficulties one faces in agricultural areas are a lack of facilities that are available easily in urban areas. There is also social isolation because farmhouses are spread across vast areas. In an earlier post it was mentioned that the agricultural option may be considered by some urban persons in future because of a shrinking economy and lack of urban jobs in the developed world, especially in countries such as USA that have vast land resources. Incase a younger person considers that option they would face the same difficulties as mentioned at the beginning of this paragraph. Certainly such difficulties can be minimized if rural agricultural areas are properly planned and if they are located no more than an hour away from a town or city that one may depend on for urban services. There has been much work on urban town planning in the world but little on rural planning. It is time governments got involved with such planning and formulated appropriate regulations for the same. Here are a few regulations worth considering for rural agricultural areas.
1. Rural farms must have aspect ratios (length to width ratio) of more than ten and the width along a hundred feet wide approach road must be no more than 200 feet.
2. All residential and commercial construction must be confined to a depth of two hundred feet from the road. The remaining depth may have construction for such agricultural purposes as animal sheds (cow sheds, chicken coup etc.) and minimal construction for pumps or wind power generators etc.
3. Commercial enterprises such as restaurants, shops, motels etc. can be set up besides homes without licenses as required in urban areas but these too must be constructed within the specified two hundred feet depth from the road.
The idea of these regulations is that it will cause rural homes on farms to be set up within close vicinity of each other. One could reach ten homes within a walking distance of four hundred feet on the road and if there were annexes for farm workers besides homes than the number of home one could visit within minutes would be larger, all while living right on one’s farm The fact that the density of homes on an approach road is large will make it easier to provide services such as piped water, electricity lines, postal services, public transportation, shops etc. on the same road. Thereby some of the major disadvantages of rural areas such as social isolation and lack of services will be reduced and one may enjoy a green life along with a social life and modern services. The adjoining figure shows how such an agricultural area would look from the sky.
It is not suggested here that urban areas cannot be green if they are planned for greenery. It requires setting aside at least fifty percent of urban land aside for green areas such as small forests and parks. There is a design for that too in the present blog called the Green Hybrid city. You will locate it easily by using the search box on the top right corner if you wish. However, there are not many towns or cities like that around the world anymore. Human greed prevents the establishment of such towns. Urban land is expensive and city planners would rather sell that for homes and businesses to raise more money.