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Green space in Chongqing

Popularity 1Viewed 2180 times 2014-5-29 08:01 |Personal category:Chongqing life|System category:Life

I originally wrote this piece for Chongqing News, an English-language news website based in Chongqing.  I was given the topic of the environment to write about and came up with this.  I hope you all enjoy reading it and find it applicable to your own lives.

When I was first driven back from the airport into the city of Chongqing proper almost two years ago, one of the first things that I noticed was the natural environment of the city: the two rivers, the surrounding mountains, the hilly streets and the jutting peninsula.  This visible natural environment is at the core of the city's identity and deserves to be celebrated.

The trees that line many roads in Chongqing and the parks and private gardens, big and small, help the environment.  There are small gardens on rooftops and balconies, sometimes nothing more than a few pot plants, but still significant.  Gardens and allotments can also be found in Chongqing underneath bridges, by the sides of the rivers and under monorail lines.  They contribute to the absorption of carbon dioxide emissions and encourage the presence of  wildlife.  Some of these creatures are noticeable, like birds, but just as significant, if not more so, are the thousands of insects and other small animals that we don't see and matter so much to our ecosystems.

In addition to their contribution of absorbing emissions and encouraging wildlife, green spaces contribute to our mental well-being.  The unsymmetrical and imperfect natural shapes of trees and plants break up the rigid and strict forms of modern buildings.  Natural colours counter the starkness of chemical paints and the flat shades rendered on computers as they are softer and more nuanced.  These shapes and colours attract our eyes with their differences and appeal to something very basic and human in our nature.

Recently I visited E Ling Park with a friend on a warm and sunny day.  We sat in the shade under some trees, drank tea and studied Chinese together.  This was an incredibly enjoyable time, not just for the pleasure of the company of a dear friend, the satisfaction of improving my Chinese, nor the excellent tea, although these were all important, but because the surrounding natural environment in its peaceful greenery contributed significantly to my happiness.

My childhood encouraged me to appreciate nature.  I grew in the countryside in North Yorkshire, seeing young livestock thrive in the spring, fields lit up by golden sunlight on long summer evenings, the pavement covered with copper-coloured leaves in autumn and my front lawn covered with frost and occasionally snow in the winter.  I ride my bike around the quiet country lanes with my father in summer and also enjoying sitting in my garden filled with birds and plant life quietly reading.  Since I turned eighteen I have lived in only cities: Sheffield, Singapore and Chongqing, but luckily for me all of these cities are places where it is easy to get in touch with nature, through parks and green space.

The Chinese author Lin Yutang wrote a book called My Country and My People in 1935 in which he sought to present his meditations on the character and habits of Chinese people to a foreign audience.  Parts of his book seem very dated now, as you would expect, but others remain remarkably true.  He extols Chinese people's love of nature, from its centrality to their high arts of poetry and calligraphy and to their daily habits such as taking a walk in the park.  It is certainly true that contemporary China's environmental record is poor and pollution is a primary concern for many citizens across the country.  Nevertheless, from private gardens to public parks, green space in Chongqing is not only visible but used thoroughly.  Parks are meeting places for old friends, venues for music and somewhere to read or play chess.  All parks in Chongqing are hives of activity, full of people consciously or unconsciously interacting with nature.  The expansion, development and maintenance of green space in the city should be encouraged.  It benefits people's physical health by improving air quality and giving them a place to exercise but also their mental health by providing somewhere they can reflex.

There is plenty of green space in Chongqing, from simple benches under trees to the giant Expo Garden, you just have to go out and enjoy it.  Read a book quietly there.  Catch up with a friend you haven't seen a while.  Play a game of chess or cards.  By spending time in these green spaces I guarantee you will feel more relaxed, at peace and in touch with nature.

(Opinions of the writer in this blog don't represent those of China Daily.)


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Reply Report zhangran023 2014-5-29 16:59
Chongqing is my hometown.welcome!

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