A couple of months ago, to mark World Environment Day, Ruskin Bond posted a poem on his Instagram account lamenting the destruction of the beautiful hills where he has spent most of his life and situated many of his stories. The words and emotion were reminiscent of Joni Mitchell’s 1970 environmental anthem Big Yellow Taxi, where she sings, They paved paradise/ And put up a parking lot.
It’s an emotion we have all felt—that curious tug of heartache, nostalgia, sorrow and helplessness when we realise a beloved corner of our neighbourhood now exists only in memory. There’s a word for it—solastalgia— and it’s the emotion we are exploring this week in our cover story.
This feeling of estrangement from a beloved place that’s changing, not necessarily for the better and faster than one can keep pace with, has inspired artists, writers, musicians and activists, who hope their work will serve as a wake-up call not just for planners but also for ordinary citizens who are often disconnected from nature. Development that’s not inclusive also deprives a number of communities, often the most marginalised, of their livelihoods and long-established ways of life. It’s not just for artists to document this grief though; unless we understand and recognise this emotion and our connection to the natural world, we are not going to make the effort to reclaim these spaces, or demand as well as practise more sustainable ways of living.
Humans are resilient beings and can find solutions—whether to solastalgia, environmental destruction or to more commonplace problems, and our Business Lounge profile proves that. It’s because he felt he lacked enough reading material in Hindi that Ranjeet Pratap Singh banded together with his friends to start Pratilipi, an online storytelling platform where creators self-publish their work for readers. An equally inspiring story in this issue is one about the women potters of Jaintia Hills keeping alive their clay working traditions. And as usual, we have recommendations for what to watch, read and listen to this weekend.
Write to the Lounge editor firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @shalinimb
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