Whole Earth?

Brockwood Park Student Ying-Ji attends the European launch of Students Organising for Sustainability (SOS) at the Eden Project

by student Jing-Yi

Eden Project Tropical Biome

The Eden Project is a visitor attraction in Cornwall, England. Inside artificial biodomes are thousands of plant species collected from all around the world. The Eden Project presents environmental education focusing on the inter-dependence of plants and people, with each dome emulating a natural biome.

'You have the potential. It is up to you' is hammered into us from the moment we step into the Eden Project’s small conference room. Tables are round so that when we gather to sit there is nobody at our table that we do not have a good view of. It invites discussion; forces people to look at each other rather than turn to look solely to the speakers up on the stage.

We’re here because this is the European launch for Students Organising for Sustainability [SOS], an international alliance of student organisations and initiatives with an emphasis on social responsibility and environmental sustainability. The launch which we are attending is built around photographer Mark Edwards’ book Whole Earth? which, as its title suggests, shows us that perhaps we are somewhat lacking as a species in being one with our planet.

I’ve been to the Eden Project several times before, yet this time it’s remarkably different. It may have something to do with the fact that instead of seeing a great variety of tourists wandering around, I’m meeting a variety of people who are here because of their shared interest in sustainability, in the environment, and in the future of the world we’re living in. Brockwood Park is the only school present at the launch, but there are many university students, campaigners and college faculty members from a variety of places both local and from abroad.

Two workshops are offered, one on student activism, and the other on the reformation of the curriculum. Although the workshops impressed me and helped to cultivate an atmosphere revealing our potential and our ability to make a difference in the world, what made the biggest impression upon me was when we were all let loose into the Eden Project after dinner.

The Eden Project normally closes before nightfall, so daytime visitors aren’t able to glimpse the biomes as night envelops the place. The lights along the dome paths are dim, and they reflect off the ceilings of the domes, mimicking starlight. At night, unable to see outside the transparent dome walls, it really does feel as though you are in another world. It’s a shock in some ways to walk from the Mediterranean biome to the Rainforest biome, and then back outside into the distinctly British outdoors. The three worlds seem so completely unattached to one another. Yet the speed with which you enter and depart each one makes you think. Sometimes it really does feel as though we live in completely detached worlds from one another, yet Eden’s biomes, co-existing so peacefully beside each other, are merely a miniature example of our own planet. All our worlds are so inter-connected, so easily accessible, especially in the age that we live in. Yet we cordon off the planet into ‘ours’ and ‘theirs’.

One of the speakers at the conference raised the point that we are all microbes living upon one giant organism; and as such we are entitled to care for our planet; in fact, more than entitled, it is our responsibility, especially in the wake of the destruction we are leaving behind as our legacy. If we were to look at the planet as a whole rather than separate it into borders and countries that make it ‘their problem’, then perhaps it would be easier to understand that we all belong to the same world. We are born to live on this whole earth, so why do we limit ourselves to seeing only a small part of it?

To view some of the photos from the exhibit Brockwood attended click here

Eden Project Winter 2008 showing Bruce Munro field of Light

Eden Project Roof