A few days ago I attended in Tarragona the presentation of the Yearbook 2015 for a new culture of the territory, prepared by the Center for Territorial Sustainability (CST). This book brings together a series of reflections and experiences around the concept of the new culture of the territory, the struggle to defend it, cases of success (and failure) and brushstrokes for the future. Certainly the contributions of the different authors of the Yearbook transport us to an imaginary that we may baptize as new, but that most likely comes from far away.
I’ll explain. By new culture of the territory I would understand that it is that management of what is common to us, like the earth, the energy, the air, the water and the rest of natural resources, under criteria of a rational, sustainable logic and who knows if decreasing. Beyond this, the new culture of the territory would also be based on the idea that the general interest is not development in itself, but that this development should be accompanied by a conciliation with the common good, the well-being of existing and inevitable people and ecological boundaries. So, those who today claim this concept, whether the CST or multiple entities and platforms in defense of the territory around the world, do so under a new concept or we could simply say that we have baptized it as a new culture because we have managed to influence society?
I think, very sincerely, that the answer to the question I posed is that the new culture of the territory is not as new as we think, but what traditional ecology and territorial scientific knowledge has worked for so many years, now it has its translation in the form of culture. And good cultures say they study, spread, and drag followers. Don’t you think we are in this situation with the new culture of the territory?
I often take for granted the struggle for the Bracons tunnel, a movement that led to the creation of the CST, as it is an example of the struggle against a concept of divergent territory with everything that shelled before (common good, welfare of people, rational logic, etc.). With the addition that time has given the right to opponents and now this infrastructure is oversized, it has a landscape impact more than remarkable and serves as a hypothetical excuse to justify more roads and unnecessary variants from the perspective of rationality.
What during the Pujol and post-Pujol era was baptized as the “culture of the no”, now turns out to be the culture that would have led us to a balanced and concerted territory with all the agents. Isn’t the so-called “culture of the no” what we call today the new culture of the territory? It won’t be that new, will it?
Nevertheless, although we could say that the new water culture is well rooted in Catalan society, as evidenced by the frontal opposition to certain hydrological policies, the considerable reduction in water consumption per capita and the improvement (slow but progressive) of the quality of our rivers, we cannot say the same of the new culture of the territory. Because otherwise today we would not have on the table debates about splits of communication routes, on Bcn World and other macrocomplexes of leisure and consumerism, on new quarries in broken territories, on increases in the number of cruise passengers in collapsed cities for tourism and a long list of territorial conflicts that do not start from a new culture of the territory.
In any case, whether this culture is new or not, it is the one that we will continue to defend and the one that will continue to give us the reason every day that passes in this era that some have already baptized as the Anthropocene.
Joan Pons Solé
Head of the Environmental and Territorial Action Area of INSTA