Konferenca IZS

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Heritage and Challenges of Sustainable Integral Development: From Anthropocentric Attitude towards the Environment to Cooperative Relationships

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ANIMA MUNDI, Institute for Integrated Development, Slovenia Križ 156, 6210 Sežana, Slovenia

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Keywords: heritage development, green tourism, geomancy, vital energy properties of physical space, sustainable holistic development, teaching through heritage.

1 Introduction

Over the centuries, European culture has developed an anthropocentric approach to the world that places man at the centre. By evaluating the world from the standpoint of human needs, nature and the environment are given a secondary role.

Viewing the world through the lens of satisfying human needs and benefits has led to the instrumentalisation of nature. Despite the urgent environmental problems facing us, and the creation of constructive political agendas to combat them, this way of looking at the world continues to generate development that is not inclusive.

The development of heritage is an important part of European policy, and encompasses all three dimensions of sustainable development: environmental, social and economic.

The development and conservation of heritage is an important challenge to the way we identify and evaluate environmental potential. Heritage, natural and cultural alike, reveals to us the identity of the landscape, and provides a wealth of knowledge for learning and innovating, as well as a basis for developing green tourism.

It means the challenge of raising the local population’s awareness of the need to recognise the potentials of the environment and to become actively involved in local development (the ‘bottom up’ principle), project, with promoting changes to policy (‘top down’ principle) as shown by the example of the ‘Heart of Slovenia’ region.

2 Heritage development

2. 1 Wisdom of Heritage

Cultural heritage is the wealth of knowledge created and passed down to us by our ancestors. It has been formed over centuries. Nature heritage is the treasury of natural wisdom, which has developed effective forms of living across epochs of Earth development. Creators (inventors and scientists as well as artists and thinkers) have always known how to identify and use this treasury of knowledge. Their work is frequently marked by precise observation and deep ways of seeing.

Heritage is a witness to those times when man still knew how to (and could) feel a bond with nature, which meant that he was also able to listen to it.

In today’s post-industrial society, we regard exile from nature as freedom. Nature no longer supplies us with life; instead, we look at it as a kind of mechanism. In contrast to traditional societies, society today is teared out from the essential oneness of the world.

Our relationship to natural heritage is usually based on a division between living and non-living nature. However, modern science is engaged in shifting the boundary of what constitutes ‘living’ nature. The quantum physics of the 20th century recognised the effect of consciousness on the sub-atomic level of material reality. A syntropic perception of the world does not establish a sharp boundary between the living and non-living world. It allows the possibility that ostensibly ‘dead’ matter has the ability to organise itself and to develop complex forms that show some of the basic characteristics of living organisms. (Detela, 2014)

Every place is marked by the natural and cultural heritage typical of it. This encompasses material and non-material heritage and stretches from mythological tradition to useful objects and typical architecture.

The heritage of Europe and of Slovenia is rich with traditional models of living (the planning of Etruscan cities, for example). These models were organised in an environmentally sustainable way and with an awareness of the burden that the environment can take if life is to be sustained.

In their planning, ancient cultures took account of the fact that physical space had a vital energy, a spirituality, thereby ensuring the flow of vital energy and the health of the landscape. This method of planning settlements was already in use in Europe in the Middle Ages. By examining the course taken by streets, and the siting of buildings and of churches as places of worship within the organism of the landscape, geomantic research into old city centres continually reveals to us the sophisticated knowledge that planners had regarding the subtle dimensions of landscape.

For the old European traditions, space was a living organism, full of vital energy. Just as man has a spirit, so space has a spiritual dimension too. The spirit of a place, the genius locus, was worshipped by the Romans. Roman houses had a special place dedicated to it in the form of an altar. In this and similar ways, old European cultures cultivated contact with the spiritual dimensions of space.

In the Slovenian tradition as collected by various authors, we encounter numerous examples of the way in which space and nature were understood holistically. In his critical study of Pavel Medvešček’s most recent book, Iz nevidne strani neba (From the Invisible Side of the Heavens), Andrej Pleterski writes: ‘The decisive connection with nature was self-evident to them. They learned from it, lived with it, felt with it and therefore also listened to it. This connection is perhaps best expressed in the Resian proverb that states that “They used to say that the forest talked. When someone went to cut down a tree, the tree would say: Not me, cut another one down!” Once upon a time, everything talked.’ (Recorded by Milko Matičetov, 1964 in Lipovec/Lipovaz, Italy: Dapit, Kropej 1999, 9) (Pleterski, 2015). According to the testimony of witnesses of the past, nature has still other dimensions – ones which modern society long ago eliminated from its consciousness.

The rich tradition that our ancestors passed from generation to generation has retained ancient knowledge of the interconnectedness of everything, which in modern times is revealed and confirmed by contemporary cognitive science. The perceptions of the world and the universe afforded by myth, which throughout the centuries have frequently been denied and subject to persecution, therefore feed into the latest scientific findings. (Peruš, 2000)

2. 2 Innovative development model

Integrated ecology or geomancy, which has been years ago established and recognised as a discipline in Germany and is being used around the word, defines different levels of physical space in great detail. The basic paradigm of geomancy is that physical space is intelligent and sentient. This means that the legitimacy and knowledge of the living matter with which we create are a great deal more complex. The earth is a living organism imbued with universal energy that encompasses the entire living environment in which we live. Physical pace is multi-layered and, in addition to geographical forms and the biosphere, also encompasses the essential tissue of space, comprised of energy fields, flows and focal points. (Lavin, 2014)

Through our Anima Mundi Centre for Integrated Development we have introduced an innovative development model for generating various forms of sustainable development, taking into account the vital energy properties of physical space. We work in close cooperation with different professions in the spirit of environmental and social responsibility.

We regard the physical environment as a living organism, meaning that we can work with the landscape as an intelligent and sentient being. The basic guidelines for development in the landscape or in a company can be discerned in the energy underpinning the environment and in the consciousness of space – the ‘genius locus’.

After we were introduced to geomancy and collaborated with Marko Pogačnik in the mid-1990s, we developed our own approach, which has since further evolved through various activities and projects in Slovenia, Croatia, Italy and Austria.

It is an approach to designing sustainable development that includes the vital energy potential of physical space based on our experience with the geomantic planning of settlements and individual constructions (Project 8 Domžale neighbourhood, the village of Planina, the settlement of Visoko pri Ajdovščini, Vid Nova Gorica private medical centre, the Costella water bottling plant in Fara and čŒešminov Park in Domžale).

In Karin Lavin`s works the field of art was expanded into the area of individual and collective consciousness. Project results range from new methods of teaching through heritage to labyrinths and graphic and industrial design which incorporates the energy function of forms.

At the local level, the municipalities are those that define guidelines for the development, construction and purpose of use of locations in their municipal plans. By taking into account the vital elements of the landscape when planning and identifying areas that are particularly sensitive, and therefore crucial to maintaining environmental vitality and balance, we secure the health of the landscape.

We have compiled a detailed analysis of the area earmarked for expanded settlement for the municipality of Domžale. Domžale was the first municipality in Slovenia to include an energy study of a location envisaged for settlement expansion in municipal spatial planning documents.

In geomantic research into the environment, we have, in recent times, been confronted with the pathology of the ‘environmental vacuum’. This arises when local community stakeholders are too inactive in, or indeed absent from, the process of protecting and developing the heritage of their own environment as the root of living. Negative external global trends therefore enter this vacuum.

In summer 2015 Robi Lavin examined a map of the Mediterranean, diagnosed the state of that region of the world and identified the clear problem of environmental vacuum. In an application to the international MED tender, he wrote that the foundations of European culture were under threat and, within the project group, demanded that a substantially greater level of environmental responsibility be assumed and that heritage be regarded as an asset of protection. This was seen as radical. At that time, the dramatic migration-related events had not yet occurred and he did not know exactly what would arise in the field. Through an examination of the map, he identified, at the Mediterranean’s energy level, a serious spatial problem of wider dimensions, when he detected the entry of negative forces through the gap within the European organism in Greece, via the Balkans and up.

The memorised spatial points of heritage are passive when the memory of our ancestors’ wealth of knowledge is lost. Modern man has lost almost all its ability to engage in extrasensory perception. Feelings have been attenuated and our connection with nature has deteriorated. The artificial exclusion of intuition from consciousness has put a halt to society’s spiritual growth.

We are all, in a sense, local stakeholders. We may understand this sickness of modernity at the level of the ecology of the local community and personal ecology.

In order to achieve environment-friendly development, we need an integrated approach to the elements of the landscape – one that enables the environment and its inhabitants to development sustainably. In our institute’s project work, we deploy an approach that allows us to identify the potentials of the landscape at the same time as activating the potentials of those that live in it. Through education and advice, we help people to develop their own personal potentials.

To achieve an active integral-oriented active society it is important to express one’s individuality and the recognition of one’s creative potential, which arises from inner self or that person’s heart intelligence. (Schieffer, 2016)

Education is crucially important for developing an integrated approach to the environment, with the emphasis on developing a sensitive approach to the environment, developing integrated thinking and actions, activating intuitive thinking, using of feeling as a tool for perceiving and seeing the world, and developing creativity and innovation.

Heritage is the wealth of knowledge and presents a learning challenge for children and adults. Outdoor learning methods bind us to the environment and lead to an active search for knowledge and challenges for learning. For a number of years we have been developing methods for teaching through heritage in a variety of projects and education programmes for teachers, pre-school teachers and other groups.

Through the flexible organisation of lessons in an open learning environment, educational institutions are connected to various stakeholders within the environment, such as heritage experts, informal education professionals and societies. Parents and the general public are also involved in the learning and teaching process. This encourages the flow of knowledge, experience and practice (intergenerational learning) and the functioning of an interconnected community. Schools and nursery schools therefore become part of the local community and active co-creators of values within the environment.

A special set of education sessions for educators (teaching through heritage) is being provided at various locations around Slovenia: in a multi-year collaboration with Slovenska Bistrica and Nova Gorica nursery schools and as part of various projects in Domžale and Gorenjska (the Forest and Countryside project, which offers an open learning environment and outdoor learning for young people, the ‘Living Landscape’ international project at the University of Primorska, and more.

3 Conclusions

In recent years we have brought together our experiences in the fields of spatial planning, business consultancy and education in various green geomantic tourism projects (Vas near Fara, Kosovelje, Rifnik and its surroundings, Labin and Zagorska Sela in Croatia). In accordance with European sustainable tourism guidelines, we are developing tourist programs that educate the public and provide visitors with deep and authentic experiences.

The KRRES Geomancy project at the archaeological site in Rifnik and the surrounding area, with its added value of spiritual and energy dimensions, involves an integrated and innovative approach to spatial and social development. The use of intuitive knowledge, which is woven into the working methodology of the project, provides a multifaceted contribution to the well-being of the environment and of people. It introduces a newly integral (natural, cultural, social and economic) model of development that signals co-existence, co-living and an expression of the deeper potentials of individuals and the landscape. This heralds a modern-day solution for various environments elsewhere in Slovenia and the world.

As the world’s first green destination, Slovenia with Integral Green Slovenia presents a development model that incorporates all the potentials of the environment and of people in an integrated manner.

With a dynamic approach, The Integral Green Slovenia encompasses all aspects of life, from the environment and heritage to science, the economy, culture and the spiritual dimension. All aspects are focused on the moral core. The process that began in Slovenia, with its integration of content and power of cooperation, must be continued outwards into the rest of Europe.

A renaissance of mankind is not possible through external means. Our relationship to the environment and to our fellow human beings is required. The dignity of man and respect for all dimensions of the planet and of nature must be re-build.

We need development that includes man and the environment as a whole and, in any basic point of departure, places the principles of equality, co-existence and co-creation between people and with nature at the heart of our basic approach.

The heritage of Europe constitutes the roots and spiritual capital of European regions, European countries and the entire continent. The mosaic of landscapes and contents from which we can, under the holographic principle, discern characteristics and identity as the basis for the construction of a common culture and common values.

The geomantic approach allows us to preserve heritage actively within the landscape’s vital-energy network. In connecting nature, culture, tourism, urbanism and spiritual heritage with the people’s internal authentic creative power within the environment. For natural and cultural heritage protection and the transformation of superficial urbanism, tourism and education to cooperative relationships with the environment.

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