4 d’ag. 2011

El pes que portem a l'esquena (II)

My supervisor Martí Boada was born in the town of Sant Celoni ten years after the end of the Civil War. He was son and grandson of humble forest workers who provided him with 'very different ways to understand the forest than those given in the academic boxes' before entering the University as late as in the 1990s. As he writes in his PhD dissertation 'when I was a child I travelled across low Montseny’s and Montnegre’s forests with my mother, to do an activity that was a punishment for the women of the humblest families: to gather acorns'. When they arrived to town at twilight, her mother carrying a sack of sixty kilos in her head, they sold the acorns at a derisory price to a pig dealer. Olzinelles valley, located a stone’s throw away from Sant Celoni, was for him a 'school of nature'. At the beginning he went with his father to fell firewood or to capture an appetizing water vole in the stream. Later, he started studying its linked social-ecological system focusing particularly in the interaction between humans and the rest of animal species, from the vantage point of being an insider and living in Ca l’Agustí, one of the farmhouses of the valley bottom.

It is an early summer’s day of 2004. Martí Boada leaves Sant Celoni and enters AP-7 motorway making his way towards Matadepera. At his back, a completely different Olzinelles from the one priest Pascual knew in the 1930s. No peasants are working their lands and forests. Instead of them, government employees manage 'nature' under the protection of a natural park. Some developments sprawl in the hills of the old municipality. After one hour Martí arrives to Matadepera, where I have been living for more than twenty years. Luxurious mansions have grown in former vineyards, and the rural town of the 1930s is now one of the wealthiest municipalities in Catalonia. Watered grass lawns cover about the same area as the remnants of farm land, saved from aggressive urbanization thanks to a natural park that 'protects' about 60% of the municipality. Martí, former professor of mine in the Bachelor’s Degree on Environmental Sciences, is meeting me and the well-known local eldest Pintoret. Pintoret is going to be our guide in a field trip across Matadepera, planned to prepare the course on landscape change that Martí and myself will give in the Summer University of the town. I have just finished my Bachelor’s Degree and I am about to start with my PhD.

Photographs by N. Valldeperas (2010)

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