Sunday, 5 July 2015

Papal encyclical emphasises need to reach out to each other living in community

The recently published Papal encyclical on the environment has much to teach about the way we treat the planet and each other. Pope Francis emphasises the importance of community and stewardship of the earth for future generations. The document has much relevance for  the community in which we live in Wanstead.

It is striking here that there seems to be a contrast between those interested in looking outward, embracing the environment and building community and those set on a more insular approach involving incessant building upward and outward whilst adopting a distinctly inward looking personae. The latter group do not seem concerned with anyone or anything beyond their own front doors.

So there are the environmental activists who grow their own food in gardens and allotments. They seek renewable energy sources like solar and PV panels to provide their energy. They encourage bees with the planting of flowers around tree basins. They support sustainable transport systems and enjoy our green heritage in the form of parks and gardens. There is an emphasis on the common good of the community as evidenced in activities like those of the Wanstead Playground Association with its effort to raise funds for the playground area on Christchurch green.

Then there are those seemingly totally devoted to a materialistic path that really has little concern for anyone else. These people pollute with incessant car journeys. They have no regard for the integrity of the built environment, seeing their own dwellings as at best a shelter from the outside world, at worst simply an investment opportunity. They build up and out or totally rebuild altogether, regardless of anyone else in the vicinity.

Yet in this area we have a great environmental balance with green spaces in the forms of parks and public greens, bordered by, for the most part, buildings that match the architectural heritage passed on by past generations. There is strong community. It is a great heritage with which our generation has been trusted. The duty now falls to us to be true guardians of that heritage, building an environmentally sustainable community that can be passed on to our children and children’s children. Let’s not squander that heritage in the name of short term material gain

* Wanstead &Woodford Guardian - 2/7/2015

* Ilford Recorder - 25/6/2015

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