5. Personalities
Throughout history all cultures and societies have manifested their attitudes, values and beliefs in the personal imagery of literature and art, the creation of which was often influenced by particular places. In the context of Christianity, Francis of Assisi bonded with nature by distilling personal attitudes towards spiritual devotion from natural phenomena he encountered in the wooded hills of Umbria, and the mountain of La Verna in the heart of the Apennines. Seven centuries later, Charles Kingsley was influenced by boyhood memories of meres and dykes in fenland, and the pools of Devon's rocky shores, when he attempted to reconcile his devotional life with science.
To the likes of Victorian thinkers, such as Charles Kingsley and John Ruskin, who were seeking spiritual readings of nature's signs, bonding with nature meant coming to terms with science. Ruskin wrote as a prophet of worse to come when he spoke of Alpine mountain streams, that in his lifetime had become polluted through the impact of railway tourism. Of the two,Kingsley is the better educational model for today. Not only did he take up the new ideas of ecology, which he termed bio- geology, but he also conceived a practical value system for care for the environment, which we cannot improve upon today.
Kingsley's life was suffused with notions about nature, and his classic book, 'The Water Babies', is a parable of notional values for children growing up in an overcrowded world. Within the general message of 'be kind to efts', he expressed the moral of his story as a notional expression of the ecology of aquatic ecosystems threatened by unthinking people.
    • In a similar vein of creating care-systems for nature, the 19th century witnessed a gradual turning away from killing wild birds for pleasure. This is particularly exemplified in the writings of local naturalists at the turn of the century, such as Arthur Patterson of Yarmouth, who became sickened by the senseless slaughter of wildfowl on Breydon Water.
At this time, important scientific notions about the workings of nature were the product of local naturalists. The natural environment of East Anglia was a stimulus for these amateurs, and a high proportion of them, with the requisite wit or leisure, influenced national developments in the biological sciences . The minimum necessary to make a 'start with people' is to discover a local personage, and answer the questions about who the person was, what they did, and why their ideas about nature should remain interesting.