The figs have fallen and the birds and flying foxes have flocked off …are you feeling the pangs of solastalgia?Professor Glenn Albrecht’s website ‘psychoterratica’ offers an explanation to what you might be feeling. The following has been excerpted from his writings
Despite the importance of connections between environmental or ecosystem health and human health (physical and mental) in many cultures, we have very few concepts in English that address environmentally-induced mental distress, or conversely, environmentally enhanced positive mental health.
Solastalgia is the pain or sickness caused by the loss of, or inability to derive, solace connected to the present state of one’s home environment.
Solastalgia exists when there is recognition that the place where one lives and that one loves is under physical assault.
Solastalgia is a form of homesickness one experiences when one is still at ‘home’. Any context where place identity is challenged by pervasive change to the existing order has potential to deliver solastalgia.
One feels solastalgia where there is the direct experience of negative transformation of the physical environment by forces that undermine a personal and community sense of identity, belonging and control.
Witnessing the removal of much loved trees for new development in an urban environment can be the cause of a profound distress that can be manifest as intense visceral pain and mental anguish…solastalgia
By acknowledging and confronting the effects of solastalgia there is potential empowerment. This can renew a commitment to engage in action to cooperate with and support distressed people and heal distressed environments which is itself a profoundly healing act.
In Australia, voluntary land care groups have formed to offer mutual support for each other and engage in direct action to restore and repair of distressed environments. It is clear that good human health (mental and physical) is intimately tied to ecosystem health.
Fortunately the new Toronto Streetscape will reinstate a green avenue over the next few years. In the meantime you might like to try landcaring in the local area, along the Greenway, at the Lions Park or in Kilaben Bay. The Landcare Resource Centre has contact details for all the groups, ph 4921 0392.