By Leaves We Live - Patrick Geddes 1854 -1932
Today is National Poetry Day, and I share with you the blog today from the Independent Republic of the Canongate (see blogs list), a campaigning group begun by concerned local people who love their city, the World Heritage Site of Edinburgh.
The blogging members of SOOT have decided to repeat the piece by Patrick Geddes, Scottish genius, a line from which is in the entrance to the Scottish Poetry Library:
This is a green world, with animals comparatively few and small, and all dependent on the leaves. By leaves we live. Some people have strange ideas that they live by money. They think energy is generated by the circulation of coins. Whereas the world is mainly a vast leaf colony, growing on and forming a leafy soil, not a mere mineral mass: and we live not by the jingling of our coins, but by the fullness of our harvests - Patrick Geddes
More on Geddes:
Geddes' ideas on good civic planning, and especially 'conservative surgery' rather than wholesale destruction, are ones which are still relevant today.
The website of Save Our Old Town is at http://www.eh8.org.uk/ and details the long campaign to try to stop the Mountgrange 'Caltongate' development, which would have seen the demolition of listed buildings and a vast new 'mixed use' development of dubious architectural and social merit.
Such was the furore, first local, then national, and finally international, the campaigners created that UNESCO eventually called and said it didn't like what was planned either, and Mountgrange went bust. The two things may or may not be related. Let's hope what is now a major gap site (with several empty handsome historic buildings going to waste on the perimeter) finds a new buyer with more on their minds than simply maximum profit; someone who will help the World Heritage Site remain a wonderful place for those who keep it alive and authentic by choosing to live in it, not simply for those who wish to profit from it.
Two previous blogs which include a great deal more on this
The war is far from over, although at least a few battles have been won. It shows, however, what can be done if you have enough determination and the cause is just.
Each social formation, through each of its material activities, exerts its influence upon the civic whole; and each of its ideas and ideals wins also its place and power - Patrick Geddes
But a city is more than a place in space, it is a drama in time -Patrick Geddes
Geddes and his ideas and ideals need to be more widely known and read.
To all those campaigners fighting to save something precious to them, whatever it may be, that will bring greater good, I say - don't give in or give up. A world without ideals and idealists would be an impoverished place.
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