Sir Tim Smit and the Eden Project!
If you fix it, they will come.
So says Sir Tim Smit, in our latest Green Interview, released in March. Sir Tim is the creator of Britain’s Eden Project, which transformed a monstrous, devastated clay quarry in rural Cornwall into an enormous educational theme park dedicated to exploring people’s complete dependence on plants. Eden is home to the world’s largest indoor rainforest and a massive Mediterranean garden, both containing thousands of plant species. The Eden Project is now Britain’s top eco-tourism destination, judged “the Best UK Leisure Attraction” by the British Travel Awards in 2012.
Sir Tim is not surprised. When one restores and rejuvenates a derelict, sad place, he says, “people will like it and they will come.” Even better, “people who had hope and ambition that had been cowed because they thought, ‘Bad luck haunts this land,’ will suddenly say, ‘Bad luck doesn’t haunt this place. Look at that beauty. We will invest in it!’” Hotels and restaurants appear, visitors come, and the “bad luck”—which was never real to begin with—vanishes.
The Eden Project is a spectacular demonstration of how a wasted and ravaged industrial landscape can be converted into a site of great beauty – fascinating, alluring, bursting with life. Its vast collection of plants brings more than optimism, hope and beauty: the plants show us how to evolve in a creative, efficient way that can help us deal with collapse and climate change.
And because Eden draws hundreds of thousands of visitors, the project is also a powerful demonstration of social entrepreneurship, showing the capacity of art, entertainment and education to rejuvenate economies in thoroughly depressed areas.