Mar. 23, 2023

New Model of Multiple Methods of Participation

Green Earth Volunteers Eco-Water Tour:
New Model of Multiple Methods of Participation

Written by Lina Wang
Photos by Yongchen Wang

Time: July 3 (Saturday), 2010
Activity: Beichanghe to Tuanchenghu (end point of the South-north cross-country water transfer project), a total distance of 5 kilometers
 In contrast with the traditional and notorious routine in which experts explain the entire way, many new aspects have been added to today's Happy Water Tour. Yongchen Wang, the recruiter for Green Earth Volunteers, is very experienced but likes to ask questions just like a student. Chen Zhou, a well-known and qualified historical scholar, recounted many historic events, traditional stories, ancient poems, and articles and anecdotes about celebrities that were related to the river. We also invited Xiao Nie, a doctor of plant molecular biology, to help us distinguish among the plants living along and in the river and to tell us how the plants reflect the conditions of the river. A participant in the activity who studies architecture acted as a temporary expert today and gave us a wonderful explanation of river landscape planning in architectural terms. He said that the city used to have lots of soil and plants which, like sponges, would absorb a great amount of water. However, the present city has been hardened by cement, and the ground became similar to a waterproof plastic plate, preventing rainwater from combining with underground water. As a result, the rainwater either evaporated or flowed outside of the city, disrupting the natural process of water circulation and preventing underground water reserves from replenishing themselves. This causes a shortage of underground water and a drop in the water level. Additionally, he told us many never-before-heard tips to protect the environment. For example, we could add wheels to our refrigerators so that we can move it close to the wall when we’re in the house and move it away to release heat when we are out or at night. We can also install a sun visor on the window and a short curtain on the door to save energy. This man, who loved to dispute for its own sake, brought much fun to this activity.

There exists a clear dividing line in today's water course. The river on one side of this line is lined with concrete, and there are fewer kinds of plants on its banks, making it look quite clean. On the other side, however, the plants are more diverse. The trees cast a pleasant shade, and the weeds grow in wanton profusion. It has become rare to see such wild beauty within cities. The contrast also calls to mind two types of beauty. One is found in the delicate and well-dressed lady in the expensive office building, the other is in the country girl wearing no make-up who works hard in the field. The delicate and decorated beauty and the crude and natural beauty represent two different aesthetic standards of industrial and ecological civilization.

When we reached the end of the path, we all found a patch of shade to rest in, lingering over the scenery and sharing our viewpoints on the tour and on the environmental issues. Through the statements of the people, I, as a Green Earth volunteer, find that the meaning of Happy Water Tour is not just confined to enjoying the beauty of rivers and recording their pain. It is more like a seed rooted in every member's heart. One day, the seed will sprout and grow into a healthy plant that bears different flowers and colorful fruits.

What moved us most was how a boy just entering primary school brought his mother to participate in the activity. She said that it is difficult to change the minds of adults, but the influence they have over children is tremendous. The best education for children is for their parents to bring them close to nature. At the same time, she hoped we could work together to change the present situation and save vital resources for the next generation. Her words really moved everyone on the spot. Protecting the environment is the best way to express love.

A postgraduate from Beijing Forestry University researching macro-environmental policies told us that the activity gave him a good opportunity to experience and absorb knowledge instead of just sitting in the classroom, passively learning from textbooks. So many friends sharing the same interests and goals gathered here, giving her hope instead of melancholy and warmth deep in her heart. More importantly, the activity made her know more about the present situation, greatly benefiting her research in macro-environmental policies. Many other students present shared the same feeling. A postgraduate from Beijing Normal University said she majored in environmental engineering as an undergraduate and in environmental science as a graduate. She thought basic scientific research was more meaningful. However, reality let her down. Her postgraduate project involved recording data and calculating parameters. She had very few opportunities to do any hands-on research. In the process of participating in the environment planning and evaluation of environmental influence, she felt that the present operation of some cases was false and unscientific. In fact, I think students ought to take part in as many activities like this as possible. Experiencing nature via outdoor activities can train them to combine their knowledge of every subject together effectively to comprehend and solve problems in reality. It will also help them establish a system to stimulate their learning interests and thoughts on research. For example, a student majoring in mechanical engineering from Beijing Industrial University expressed his wish to consider the possibility of environmental protection when he worked on designs in the future. Nowadays, so many graduate students and doctors are separated from reality, and their thoughts and horizons are badly limited. As a result, the more research, the more depressed and confused they will be.

Among the members there are two white-collar workers. They told us environmental protection released them from the pressure imposed by LV and Chanel and gave them a free and happy life. At this time, I think of Wenshi Pan, a professor at Peking University. He likes to stay in the wilderness all year long. Sometimes he protected pandas in SiChuan, and sometimes he went to GuangXi to protect golden monkeys. In an interview, he said that nowadays scientists are making great effort to publish essays and do programs in order to purchase large mansions and expensive cars. However, he believed he did not lack anything. The simple statement shocked me. What are we really missing?. We may think we lack many things, but what we truly lack is a spiritual homeland.

A student who had just finished the College Entrance Examination said she saw the advertisements for the Happy Water Tour on TV and came along out of curiosity. Now, she was really moved by the academic atmosphere: vivid but professional, serious but lively. What left the deepest impression on her was the debate over whether the deep creases in reed leaves were originally in the leaf structure or created by physical phenomena after its formation.

Thank you very much for your approval of Green Earth. We all think Green Earth has a rich cultural ambiance and gives us great hopes for the future. From perception to rationality then to action, Green Earth will carry on its activities and try hard to improve itself all the time in order to make its actions more powerful.

Finally, I would like to make a conclusion with Yongchen Wang's words. Everyone can get close to nature. Everyone can find an opportunity to realize him-or-herself. Everyone can feel the happiness of exchanging views with like-minded friends. We welcome people in every field to our group, and we will help them understand environmental problems from a comprehensive perspective. We hope to find some meaningful things that we like that are related to environmental protection, and and we will take action to make contributions to environmental protection.

Translator: Yafeng Cui
Proofreader: Judy Chiang

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