An Expression of Understanding Nature

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Autumn at Rosslyn Chapel in Scotland
Autumn at Rosslyn Chapel in Scotland
Autumn at Rosslyn Chapel in Scotland

We’re kicking it up a notch here in Edinburgh.

Suhee Kang arrived from South Korea a few days ago, and we’re now preparing both a gallery show and panel discussion for the Final Straw documentary project, set to take place at the end of November at Tent Gallery in Edinburgh.

The show will feature a selection of work-in-progress content from the last two-and-a-half years of research and filming, and also a panel discussion centered around the importance of the human and nature re-connection in society.

In thinking about what exactly ‘connection’ with nature means, and why it’s even relevant to us, I’d like to recount one of the moments from my time in Japan last year, standing in the middle of a jungle-esque looking natural farm on the island of Shikoku.

Okitsu Farm in Tokushima, Shikoku, Japan
Okitsu Farm in Tokushima, Shikoku, Japan

It was here that I asked the small-statured smiling farmer, Okitsu san, “why can’t people just understand the idea that nature is something to be cared for, revered, appreciated. Why does no one get it?” Okitsu san’s smile turned to a straight, contemplating face. He lifted his head and stared out, as he tends to do, for what seemed like several minutes. Then he corrected my statement “We do. We all do already. Every time we stand in nature, every time look up at the sky, or the tree, or the wheat plant, we feel joy in that simple moment, we smile for no apparent reason other than the fact that we are here on this earth. Everyone has these small moments. Everyone gets it. Even if we don’t realize it on the surface, we understand it inside ourselves. We just need to cultivate that understanding. And don’t you see, the way I cultivate food, it’s just my own expression of this understanding.”

Mr. Okitsu's Natural Farm in Tokushima, Shikoku, Japan
Mr. Okitsu’s Natural Farm in Tokushima, Shikoku, Japan

I realized at this point, that after 24 months of visiting farms, it was I who didn’t fully get it. I didn’t get the fact that nature is perfect. That leaves with holes in them are perfect. That true beauty is indeed what we see in nature each day regardless of how aesthetically ‘ugly’ it may look to our culturally-trained eye. And most importantly, that this mindset is something which we must constantly be reminded of because it can truly inform and inspire us as human beings, to act in ways which will preserve this most important of relationships for the future. For our future, that of our children, and of our little planet.

Human:Nature Symposium in Megijima, Japan, Summer 2013
Human:Nature Symposium in Megijima, Japan, Summer 2013

Hopefully our actions here in Edinburgh, the show, the dialogues we are creating, and eventually the release of the Final Straw film this summer, will help further this mindset to the point where people can carry it into their daily actions.

If you’re around Edinburgh, the show is Tuesday, 26 November. You can now RSVP at: http://www.finalstraw.org/edinburgh-2013/

If you’re not around (I know most of you are living in other places) keep a look out for a visit to your neck of the woods, and please visit finalstraw.org and take the time to share what we are doing with those you care about!

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