Every lover of green space can only admire the lofty and lush green parks in the City of Glasgow. Her well manicured green parks and gardens interspacing this city, makes it a unique place to behold. The city of COP26! Glasgow lives up to its popular nickname, the ‘Dear Green Place’. The parks do not only attract Glaswegians and tourists to them, but there are also ideal play grounds for children. In the mild sunny days, one cannot hide to admire the bounteous joy and the bonding that these spaces forge between children and their parents or guardians. Dog walkers also have their fill of the paradisiacal atmosphere that offer these parks. Since these parks have become a place where children are taken to have a swell time, an added value could be given to these spaces. They could be more than just recreation spaces but a didactic green environment or better still, a ‘Green Book’ where children can ‘read’ the park to learn about the environment around them.
The Glasgow Council committee in charge of the parks and gardens could also plant in the midst of green trees, some few fruit trees that are compatible with the Scottish weather. Easily come to mind are trees like apples, pears and plums which are optimal in the weather conditions that Scotland offers. At their maturity, nursery and primary school children could be brought to the parks to show them that fruits do not grow in ‘Tesco, Sainsbury, or Lidl’. This could be a great discovery for many children. Some could even be given the opportunity to harvest and eat some. This could be a great opportunity to instil in them the love for nature and the need to care for nature, insisting on why environmental protection is crucial. Just imagine their mesmerisation.
From the pedagogical point of view, this could also be moment to let the children know that other kinds of food like coffee, cocoa and tea also do not grow in the supermarket but they rather do in an environment akin to their parks though with a different climatic condition. Unfortunately, there is so much environmental destruction, burning of hectares of forest to grow coffee, cocoa in the Southern hemisphere. And at times, children their age are exploited in the planting or harvesting process and that the farmers or cultivators of these products do not even have the leverage to decide the price of their produce. Rather foreign countries and multinationals render very low the price of these crops compared to labour input, thus perpetuating or creating slavery and poverty in these regions.
Such a pedagogical endeavour will make children grow up with the consciousness that in as much the protection of the environment is a necessity and an obligation in their country, it should also be same elsewhere especially in regions in which they rely for cocoa for their chocolate, coffee for their cappuccinos, tea for their breakfast and tea-breaks, need also environmental protection. This is called ecological justice.
Children growing up with such consciousness will realize how much injustice in the world is caused by ecological degradation. Land in Africa, in the Amazon is destroyed for coffee, and worse, the rightful owners of the land cannot even decide on the price of their produce which are heavily consumed here in the West, creating more poverty in the Southern hemisphere which is one of the root causes of forced migration, which has become the magic word for politicians and media. This implies that planting some fruit trees in the Glaswegian parks would not be a far-fetched idea. Tomorrow these children will become policy brokers or policy makers and good decisions can change the world to a better place. Can one imagine a morning in the West without coffee in the morning, birthday without chocolate cake or a tea-break without tea? Environmental consciousness is not a fantasy!
This one step for Glasgow’s Dear Green Places can be a giant leap for humankind. This in the long run will make the world a better place and a “common home” where apples of the North are enjoyed in the South and coffee of the South enjoyed in the North in an atmosphere of ecological and environmental justice and equity!
Why not try it?
Mathew Bomki is a PhD student at Edinburgh University, studying Biblical Sciences (School of Divinity)