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De burgerlijke ongehoorzaamheid van Olifantenpaadjes

Humans are the laziest species I know. They are also the most stubborn species I know:

why do things the hard way when you can just do as you like?

Our advantage over animals is that we can reason, think and plan ahead. That advantage becomes our weakness when we start to think for others.


One of the fields where this becomes apparent is in city scaping and landscaping. Not in the way houses, offices, shops and parking lots are pinpointed, but in the way our public planners connect the dots:

* Walking back from the meeting to your car the official route to the parking lot seems to give you the grand tour of the company site.

* At the mall -shopping bags filled- you can see your car so close and yet so far, because you are obliged to follow the designated pedestrian walkway.

* From the bus or train station eager to go home first you have to go along the fence... to the stairs... over the road... along the other fence... through the gate etc…


But do you have to follow the rules? Is the carefully planned and laid out path the only way between B and A? Is mankind obliged to be led by others? A closer look shows that the solution lies in chaos and self-regulation.


A beautiful demonstration of this self-regulation is the so called 'desire line'. You've probably come across them and most likely even use them without knowing these convenient short cuts even had a name. But to me the desire lines (or directly translated from Dutch: elephant paths) are eminent examples of collective stubbornness and laziness. And that's a fantastic way to go!


Research showed that the beneficial gain of the short cut varies from 1,5 meter to over 100 meters. In the first case the 1,5 meter gain is pure laziness, most of the times. But in the latter cases laziness transforms into practicalism bordering on anarchism, where the city scaper was clearly dismissed and send back to the drawing board.


So, why regulate when you can liberate? Learn from nature!

Let the free minds do their work and rely on chaos to sorten things out!


Deze blog verscheen eerder op de website van Ron A.F. Jacobs, auteur van oa. "Ik zie ik zie wat jij niet zegt".

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