This term is not an unprogressive ecology. Instead, it is rather a eco-humanism, – an awareness of humans improving and being part of nature at once, when they act responsibly through reasoning and science. It does not portray nature as an out-of-touch island, but as a bridge that links us to the universe, that we are a part of; a fully astounding and mysterious universe, embracing a tiny flower, the immensity of the sea and the brightness of stars on equal terms. It is as if nature, our home, has been waiting for the right moment where our culture and progress have become sophisticated and harmless that it allows humans (by no longer being a threat) to become a part of nature again. There are three areas within this ‘Rural Renaissance’ that have furthered this new environmental awareness of getting back to nature: [a] ecotourism (experiences); [b] renewable energy (sustainability); and [c] bioproducts (slow food, health, quality of life, food sovereignty).
Language determines our way of thinking, and blinds our good judgment with prejudices and labels. In this way, the words ‘countryside’ or ‘agrarian’ sound rustic, a mixture of wild, obsolete and poor. A connotation of backwardness, dust and dirt underlies in the eyes of the sterilized (and sterile) synthetic urban growth. To those people with a romantic view, backwardness means charm, picturesqueness and bucolic, but to most people, the ones living in a developed society, merely indicates tedium, isolation and lack of comfort. These are felt as unattractive and derogative ideas, that slow the actual awareness and the idea of making the countryside into an alternative way of life down: this negative view has historically been taken on by the city and its civilized proud. City/countryside opposes in the same way as progress/backwardness does, like positive/negative. Thus, referring repeatedly to tradition or the past might pose a burden, a dead weight. For nature is acultural, oblivious of time, and may be defined by its freedom, innovation and progress, quite the opposite.
The challenge lies in altering that image, emancipating nature from the cultural ties and a merely agricultural function. To that end, art and its industry (literature, cinema, TV) may help by recovering the ethical and aesthetic charisma of those ancient cultures, which are highly connected to our current interests (freedom, health, experiences, feelings, quality of life, and the surprising and mysterious gaze of science before Cosmos). Our big chance lies in the use of the new and current technologies at our disposal. Thanks to them, the myth of ‘rural isolation’ disappears and cities might be now considered noisy, decadent, dirty or sterile. There are contamination, stress, bad eating habits and population increase that contribute to disseminate the idea. Instead, the rural world becomes more productive, more civilized, up-to-date and healthier. It has been too long, that the ‘countryside’ has been related to old age and lack of culture. For a long time, rurality has been looked down at by the snobbish gaze of the cities -prisoners of themselves. Agriculture should be no longer diminished, since it is a heroic profession, and the main support of the human ecological and eating survival. The countryside opens new doors in our future by means of new technologies: in science research, architecture (e.g. permaculture, bio-construction), culture… Instead of a dirty, boring and old-fashioned rurality, it may become a healthy, dynamic, modern and youthful one.
Author: A. Pereiras, Tesouros de Galicia
Translator: Carlota de Cesero
Images: Provided by Tesouros de Galicia