I grew up in a city. In the words of Culcha Candela, I am Munich-City-Girl. Compared to mega cities, it might not be the biggest of the biggest, yet with roughly 1.5 million people, Munich is the third biggest in Germany.
In fact, one of the things I so love about Munich is that, whilst being considered “big”, you never notice it. Munich, somehow, has maintained some of its “just-a-big-village” flair.
Not only can you swim in the main river, the Isar, transforming the city into a big outdoor pool in the summer, you also have the mountains and lakes just around the corner. Munich is a real role model for me, when it comes to integrating green spaces into the city landscape.
Yet, it remains a city. For me, that meant taking the bus and the subway to school, having supermarkets everywhere, and an incredibly well-thought infrastructure. I know, the trains might come late, but seriously, you never need more than half an hour by metro to pretty much everywhere you want to go! I could go to museums, to science exhibitions, to classical concerts, to fairs, to the botanical garden, … everything. The perks of living in a big city is that there is always something cool going on.
Nature and green spaces are truly everywhere, but they are green spaces of a city. You don’t have corn fields right in front of you, but bus stops. You don’t see a lot of cows or horses, you see more cars and street signs. Nature belonged to the weekend, to day trips, to holidays.
The circle of food production might not be fully visible, or fully joined, since you go to the supermarket and have everything neatly displayed on the shelves. Meaning, there is no milk man (or woman) you get your milk from and you don’t see his cows on the way to school, no bakery and you know where they grow their crops; you don’t have a fruit stand and know where your own apples grow at. In a city, it is easy to forget how dependent we are on nature.
I think, the result of living in a fast-paced-city is that, obviously, you lose a bit of this proximity to nature. Nature can become detached from mundane everyday life. Having many supermarkets available everywhere and at all times, it becomes very easy to just live alongside nature, rather than recognizing the joints of the food production.
The value of the world beyond the supermarket is something I discovered a little later on, although I am sure as a kid I probably wouldn’t have appreciated it as much as I do now anyways.
Now, I think, it could make a real big difference, if we thought of ways how to avoid detaching nature from everyday city life.
It could probably change many habits, damaging ecosystems and eventually, our own air we breathe and food we eat, for the better. Is it possible to somehow close the gap between nature and city-life?
Can we think of ways how to, despite being in a city, live alongside nature, or more close to it, and not in a parallel world?
Maybe, by closing that gap, we could enhance the awareness for making more sustainable choices. Also, having everything available at all times, makes you less vulnerable to changes in temperature. It might become very difficult to understand that, in other regions, changes in temperature have serious consequences. A city can be a “safe bubble”, in which the consequences of choices are not that clearly and immediately visible.
Maybe we could start by constructing cities that are built for people, not for cars. Having headlines about air pollution in mind, London being a very recent example, I think it is high time to change. Thinking of Munich and the many bike rental services, bikes could be a first and very popular step to promote using alternatives to a car. Also, more and more bio-supermarkets are seen everywhere around the city – here is a list – not to mention the all-time-favourite Hofpfisterei , a bakery I always make sure to get a bread from before leaving the city. Ever since they have made sustainability the number one priority and produced bread ecologically, and now also CO2 neutral.
Creating more sustainable habits is probably, as many other things, a bottom-up movement just as it is a top-down-movement. The good news is: we can start today, right now, to think about how we can integrate sustainability in our own everyday lives, regardless of where we are.
What do you think? What are your experiences living in a city, or beyond the rush of city life? Also, do you have any experiences living in Munich, and any insider tips where to find the best market or bio ice cream parlor? Looking forward to hear your thoughts! If you’ve liked this article, feel free to share it with your friends, or all other city-nature-lovers you know!