Suffering from... solastalgia?

Found yourself yearning for greener climes? Then check out this diagnosis...

by Helen Kirwan-Taylor - helen@kirwantaylor.com
Last Updated: 08 Nov 2010

Missing the good old days? Solastalgia is the yearning for the way a place used to be before the world was overcome with toxic fumes, noise pollution, global warming and volcanic ash.

Coined by Glenn Albrecht, professor of sustainability at Murdoch University in Australia, the term was first used to refer to farmers whose land changed forever because of droughts, monsoon, earthquakes or hideous property developments.

The term combines the Latin word solacium (comfort) and the Greek root algia (pain), which Albrecht defined as 'the pain experienced when the place where one resides and that one loves is under immediate assault... a form of homesickness one gets when one is still at "home".'

So how does this affect someone not working on an Australian plain? For some, it may be having a park nearby to sit in while eating a sandwich at lunch. So when a corporation decides to move from a leafy part of town to an inner-city former warehouse overlooking a parking lot to cut costs - and offers a plant as a sad excuse for nature - workers develop symptoms of solastalgia, including anxiety, despair, powerlessness and grief.

The answer? After you've designed the break-out space, meditation pod, solarium and gym, staff cafe, creche and parking lot, consider adding a butterfly meadow garden complete with a stream. The more solacium you offer employees, the less of an algia they'll be.

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