Monday, July 21, 2008

The Disappearance of Open Green Grassy Spaces

Recently I went back to my old university campus. They have an annual tennis tournament there, and I took in the event with my dad.

I’m not much of a tennis fan, I don’t even play the game. But I was excited to be going to an event I hadn’t been to before, and to see my old university again.

I go to most of the alumni events for my old school, and I hear about all the wonderful things going on. New buildings, new faculties, more research projects.

As we approached my old school, I grew all the more excited. I had spent some of my most memorable and enjoyable years on that campus. I grew-up on that campus, from a kid fresh out of high school, to a young adult, ready to tackle the world.

But all was new again. Sure, much of the buildings were there – but there was so much that wasn’t there before. There were even whole streets that hadn’t existed when I was a student.

It was like coming home, but not home. I recognized some of my old hang-outs, but then there were all these new funky places in the way.

I am proud and pleased to see my alma-matter grow. But in some ways, it was somewhat sad too – because much of my memory was no longer real.

Also, with new buildings, means fewer open green grassy spaces. Although my minor was environmental science, I’m not going to launch into a tree-hugging rant.

I’m merely thinking in terms of university life. When I was a kid on campus, part of the ritual, the routine, the right-of-passage, was to fill those open green grassy spaces with riddles, debates, philosophical thoughts, and concrete ones too. After lectures, I’d go with my fellow classmates (and occasionally the professor would join in) to the pub, grab a couple of drinks, and then wander over to one of the many open green grassy spaces to sit under some tall tree, and debate the issues of the day. It is an event not all that uncommon on university campuses around the globe – that’s why so many universities have green grassy spaces, lined with trees, benches and backpacks.

Ah, the sign of student life – the backpack. I remember everyone everywhere had one when I was on campus. Filled with textbooks, papers, pens, and that student agenda freely given to students by the student association, but never really used.

Backpacks would dot the open green grassy spaces, indicating that this space was taken. It’s like the “Occupied” sign on the bathroom door in an airplane, alerting you to take up another spot.

Taking up another spot wasn’t all that hard, there used to be many open green grassy spaces.

But with all the new buildings which went up, all those open green grassy spaces have started to disappear. So finding your own spot of green to discuss and debate may become a huge task.

Which is sad, because student life shouldn’t be about find a spot to be – it should be about finding people to discuss and debate – because that’s where great leaders come from. Those willing to discuss and debate under the open, freedoms which universities encourage, take those debated ideas, and upon graduation have a whole new way of making our world work.

By taking away those big open green grassy spaces, you limit the potential of our future generations, and in the end, destroy more than just a green space.

No comments:

Post a Comment