I never intended this to be a blog about my life adventures — so far I’ve more just put poetry and essays here and so only showed my life in things I was thinking about.
Aside — sometimes I’ve wanted to switch that common question: “What have been doing lately?” to “What have you been thinking about?” A lot of times it’s easier for me to think of the philosophical puzzle I’ve been working on then actually what you might call actions. I suppose society has a good reason for keeping that pressure on us all to be able to give an answer of something we’ve been doing.
But here I go with the life blogger thing: I’m traveling in Switzerland right now! I’m doing it through Workaway and right now I am staying in the stunning Lauterbrunnen valley.
I’ve found Switzerland inexpressibly beautiful both in what God wrought in nature and in the craftsmanship in the cities and towns of men. Also, the whole set up of villages and farms is very inspiring. It makes me want to build a cheesery (English for Käserei) right in the Oregon forest land, and then get a bunch of people to have dairy farms around it and build a community.
A lot of people in America don’t like the putting up of new buildings in rural and wilderness areas. They don’t like “development.” But I think a lot of the cause of this is just because the way we “develop” in America is so ugly. It demoralizes people to see lovely fields and forests turn into strip malls and blah housing tracts.
But wouldn’t people be more friendly to development if it meant the building of beautiful new towns? (Maybe the anti-development attitudes I’m thinking about are more prominent in Oregon than other parts of the America — I’ll keep on talking about the area I know.)
I think the towns we built here in the northwest around the turn of the last century were lovely and what I’d call “Human friendly.” What prevents us from building some more?
Now, (to answer the objections I imagine from my fellow Oregonians) I love the beauty of our forests and our wildernesses, but as Bob Ross famously said looking at such a scene “Maybe we’ll have a happy little cabin?”
Let’s develop Oregon beautifully. What are the economic pressures or regulatory obstacles that need to be overcome to develop beautifully? Who has the vision?
Another aside — related to this — I took a hike this morning out of Lauterbrunnen up to Wengen. In Oregon we also have good steep hikes but typically they are mere loops with no town at the end of trail.
I have to say I like the feeling of a hike that goes to a town. I filled up my water bottle at the town fountain in Wengen and rested a while in its church building. In Oregon I love the Crown-Zellerbach trail that goes all the way from the Columbia slough, through Scappoose and then almost all the way to Vernonia. It’s best if you have some friends in Vernonia and a happy meeting and dinner’s found at trail’s end.
In America if a valley as beautiful as Lauterbrunnen were discovered (imagine that there’s a great warming and under a glacier we find one) it would be totally protected from any development. But I think the village of Lauterbrunnen does not hurt the beauty of the valley — on the contrary.
I’m not against any wilderness existing but I thinks it’s time Americans need to stop thinking so much about how to “Leave nothing but footprints and take nothing but pictures” and instead think about how to leave this earth a more beautiful place than they found it, and how to develop it in the best way possible. We don’t have to mimic Switzerland — we can have an American beauty. (One of the coolest community centers in the Portland area is the Alpenrose dairy little league field/velodrome/theatre/replica western town — the dairy has Swiss roots but the style is American.)
Actually as long as our development is as ugly as it is now I’m somewhat sympathetic with the “Don’t touch anything” directive. Keep the Alpenrose dairy (it was just in danger of being closed down! Thankfully it looks like it has been saved!) and don’t build anything ugly.
The architecture of Dairyville is nice, but I don’t just bring it up for that — I’ve enjoyed community events there and part of what I’m thinking about in terms of beauty in our buildings is how conducive they are to community.
The thing is, the wilderness movement goes under colour of facilitating people enjoying the beauty of the land. The actual effect, however, of such extensive wilderness protection and “spotted owl” sanctuaries in Oregon has been to alienate people from the land. The land shouldn’t just be a place you leave the city to see occasionally (assuming it’s even accessible to you at all) your daily life should be knit to it. People should have jobs that interact with it. And in this communities can be built.
(Aside — I think this is part of our current problem in poetry writing — people don’t have connections to “place” and community to give inspiration to their work. They don’t really know the humors, and smells and contours of their place.)
Before I was here in Lauterbrunnen I was in the Emmental working on a farm. It’s obvious how tied to the countryside the Emmentalers are. They know their pastures for their cows; they know their forests for their fuel; they know the fields that supply the hay. And on top of that there is an interconnected community as the dairy farms work together to supply Käsereien with milk (the cheeseries that make the famous Emmentaler cheese — exported all over the world) and trade their skills and products among themselves as well.
Now I don’t want to descant too much on the greatness of Switzerland with whom I’ve only just begun my acquaintance, but it is inspiring to see the towns they have built and the way of life they’ve negotiated with this incredible geography. (Also, striking for me to think about: how many Swiss people in history do you know about? I don’t know of even a handful. Yet they built this culture and way of life for their children.)
Really as beautiful as Switzerland is, my mind — as you can tell from this post — is still very much back in America.
It seems that though I thought I would start writing some travel blog post about myself I’ve just ended up writing another little essay of my thoughts. So I guess the question is ‘what you been thinking about lately?’