In the dawn of life on Earth people were dependent on their environment to survive. The acquisition of knowledge, especially in the last two centuries, led to the development of technology that often disturbs the natural functioning of ecosystems leading to schizophrenic landscapes, as Kolen and Lemaire (1999) describe them, i.e. landscapes eradicated from their genius loci due to the simplification of their matrix, homogenization, destruction of their historical diversity and uniqueness.
The facility to use some materials, such as concrete (Figure 1) drives changes in landscape which are not only regrettable from an esthetic point of view but also for the destruction of habitats for the different species, as explained in a previous work (Firmino, 2015). Antrop (2000, 31) mentions stonewalls as one of the numerous signs in the landscape where genius loci manifests itself. However not every person understands “this mysterious language of the landscape” (idem, 31) which has often little value for the local people. An attempt to raise awareness among villagers to keep using stone occurred in 2014, during the Petrarca Conference in Almeida (Portugal). A set of 16 postcards with images of local stonewalls (Figure 2) was offered to the Socio-Therapeutic Association of Almeida (ASTA), which will benefit from their sale. Simultaneously, an exhibition with pictures of local landscapes by Luisa Ferreira (author of the postcards with me) was shown at the Historic Military Museum in Almeida. Both activities were aimed at calling people’s attention to the beauty of these “soulscapes”, true healing biotopes with a high touristic potential.
Day (1990, 113) emphasizes the role of materials as “raw ingredients of art”, which affect our emotions.
Rudolf Steiner, in 1920, during a meeting with the first teachers at the Waldorf School in Stuttgart, acknowledged that “teaching and education in the Waldorf School have arisen out of the recognition that human beings must begin to tackle spiritual activity as such, rather than merely tinkering with a theory” (Freunde der Erziehungskunst Rudolf Steiners, 2001, 8). Institutions adopting Waldorf Pedagogy are today participating in the UNESCO Associated Schools Network engaged in a program for International Cooperation and Quality Education all over the world. They use art as an educational tool, since “artistic activity challenges the imagination and brings out creativity while developing a sensitivity for qualitative differences” (idem, 2001, 21).
Little initiatives can make a difference. A “bugs hotel” in a school can contribute to putting children working together (Figure 3) and at the same time show them how the trophic chain works. Placed in the garden, it may contribute to controlling pests. It offers a habitat for species that is often missing in cities.
These children will hopefully be the adults who tomorrow will make the difference, for landscape’s sake!
Antrop, M. (2000) Where are the Genii Loci?, in Pedroli, B. (Editor) Landscape – our Home, p. 29-34, Indigo, Zeist, Freies Geistesleben, Stuttgart, Germany;
Day, C. (1990) Places of the Soul, The Aquarian Press, Harper-Collins Publishers, London, UK;
Firmino, A. (2015) Stones: Functionalities and Sustainable Landscapes, in Carpathian Journal of Earth and Environmental Sciences, August 2015, Vol. 10, No 3, p. 189 – 196
Freunde der Erziehungskunst Rudolf Steiners (2001) Waldorf Education Worldwide, Freunde der Erziehungskunst Rudolf Steiners e. V., Berlin, Germany
Kolen, J. and Lemaire, T. (1999) Landschap in meervoud. Perspectieven op het Nederlandse landschap in de 20ste/21ste eeuw., Uitg. Jan van Arkel, Utrecht, Nederland.