The Linden Centre is cradled in a golden sea of Oryza sativa. 150 days ago, seedling by seedling, this rice was planted at the start of our rainy season and now proudly prevails throughout the Dali valley. The passing of time, so evident to all of us while watching a young child grow, is even more profoundly experienced when living in rural China. Rice is life in China, and, for that matter, in most of Asia. Over 90% of the world’s rice is produced in Asia, with nearly one-third of that coming from China. Most of Yunnan Province is blessed with a temperate climate which, even at altitudes of 2,000 plus meters, allows us to grow two crops per year. Rice, specifically the japonica subspecies, is planted during the monsoonal summer season and, outside our complex, rapeseed is grown from November through May. Most experts agree that rice was first cultivated about 1000 kilometers east of here in the Pearl River delta. Archaeological evidence suggests that this cultivation may have started 13,000 years ago, with the first rice/farming tools showing up 8,000 years ago.
As more Chinese leave the fields to find work in cities, veneration of the land disappears alongside this migration. The environment, rather than being a source of livelihood and pride for communities, is viewed as nothing more than a resource to be exploited to meet the needs of the greatest number of consumers. The Linden Centre was inspired by our desire to create a less exploitative approach to China’s resources. The German philosopher, Heidegger, believed in a concept of sorge– ‘to care for’- that asks us throughout our experiences of Da-sein (being) to incorporate values such as stewardship and sustainability. By pursuing such values, we, too, will see that our being is inseparable from our environment, that our evolution can only occur by understanding our symbiotic relationship with everything around us. We value the environmental, social and cultural because, through them, we can better steward the evolution of our Da-sein; we can better understand our being-as-such. We believe that we are nothing more than modest stewards of China’s noble traditions; yes, even including the ripening rice that marks the passing of our days here in rural China.