This image is quite old, but I still like it.
It’s taken in one of our former capitals of industrialism. Decades ago, huge steel plants, coal mines and similar factories in the montan industry gave thousands of workers an employment. But, they also destroyed the environment by polluting the air and the water.
In that time, there wasn’t much green in the cities. No parks for the kids to play. Freshly washed laundry hung up outside for getting dry, was already gray when fetched from the washing line.
These two guy playing football inside a former steel plant. The thick framing walls once were the outside of two huge coal or ore storages.
There were many changes during the last 30-40 years in our region: less factories, less pollution, less options for employment, many unemployed people and many serious problems for the governments to solve.
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We’re back at Monochrome Madness 🙂 Welcome back, Leanne!
When looking back at my last post, you can see a very similar image. Both images are taken from the same balloon flight. Germany has a very long culture in cultivating the soil for growing food or for ranges (beside the high density of population). You won’t hardly find any area, where the nature is really natural. Wilderness is extremely rare. Every part of the land is formed by men for centuries. Even the forests are used for growing wood. During the last 40 years more and more people recognized, that we are driving in the wrong direction and overusing the natural resources. They started to think ecological and organized many, many demonstrations. More and more these ideas got into the minds of the common people. It was (and still is!) a long and hard process.
We now have quite strict laws protecting the environment. Air pollution by factories or cars, throwing waste or wastewater in the rivers, lakes or forests is under high punishment. Especially here in the Ruhr-Area we have had a huge problem with air pollution because of the high amount of steel plants, coke oven plants and coal and ore mines. Nearly everyone tries to reduce waste or at least tries to give the materials for recycling. The collected resources are paper, glass, clothes, metal, plastic, batteries or other electronic devices. You’d be surprised, how many different waste-bins we have at home and in public places for collecting the materials.
In the 1970s even private people got paid for bringing paper and glass (bottles) to collection stations. Nowadays, these (used) materials are still worth their money, but only the local governments and specialized dealers earn money with it. They set up big collecting boxed in the public and the common people bring the used bottles or paper here to throw it in.
I don’t want to go deeper into the recycling business, ’cause it’s Monochrome Madness today and not a lesson in ecological living. If anyone is interested in some more details, drop me a note. Maybe it could be the topic for a post on its own or I answer questions vial email.
More and more people move in the big cities. Since the beginning of the industrial revolution in the 18th century, cities tend to be more attractive, than villages or towns. People hoped for easier lifes. Ok, a factory workers life is more constant, than the life of a farmer or a ranger. Farmers are dependant of well-meaning weather conditions: good weather at blooming time, sufficient rain during growing-time and dry weather at harvest time. Rangers instead, pray for healthy livestock and enough rain for good growth of grass to feed the animals. Being a worker instead of a farmer/ranger seemed for many people in those times a much better option to make their living. Although, they also have had to work very hard and often struggled about the different difficulties and depletion, more and more people fled in the big cities to make them even bigger.
Although, machines made the work of farmers and rangers easier, the big cities are still very attractive for many, many people. But, this time the cultural facilities are the attracting things: more cinemas, theatres, restaurants, pub, discotheques and so on. Young people move to the cities, despite the enormous high rents and the high rates of unemployment. They are more likely an unemployed citizen with only little money, than living outside the cities, but with some spare money. On the other hand, the smaller cities around the bigger (attractive) ones, are also quite expensive and the radius is bigger, the bigger the city in the middle is.
Poverty is not only a topic in small towns and villages. It’s much more important in an urban environment. Work is limited. And, the more worker offering their manpower, the lower the wages employers are willing to offer. The lower the income, the more jobs an individual worker has to accept: acquire a second job, work overtime or apply for benefit payments. A government might try to face this by proclaiming minimum wages, which also might result in a higher unemployment rate.
I still live in a small town of about 25.000 citizens (after downsizing from a 200.000 citizen city 24 years ago) and commute an hour twice a day to and from my office location in one of the big cities here in my region. But, I live outside the noise and the pollution. I like, not having to use a car for every errand. Even mid-size cities have so much air pollution caused by cars and trucks, so that many important city roads are closed for vehicles with too high off gas emissions. I’ve made my decision, and I hope, I can stand by it for the rest of my life.
You know, I live in the south-east corner of the Ruhrgebiet (Ruhr area). This area is, according to wikipedia similar to Île-de-France (Paris), Moskow, Greater London, Randstad (Netherlands) and Istanbul one of the regions with the highest density of population: about 2100 inhabitants per square-kilometer. There are living more than 5.1 million people in the inner part of the Ruhrgebiet (4,435 km²) and more than 10 million people in the wider area of about 7,000 km². Our state has 17.6 million people living in 34,110 km² and our country 81 million people living in 357,340 km².
The inner part of this area consists of 11 cities and 4 counties (with 41 small and mid-sized towns). The area spreads 116 km in east-west direction and 67 km in north-south direction. Because of the cities are so big and no city limit is noticeable, this area is also called as a Metropol Region: the cities are melted together and appear as one huge city, although all of them are independent.
The Montan industry was the main industry in the Ruhrgebiet: coal mining and steel production. Unfortunately, there were huge changes in the past decades. Most of the mines are closed and the remaining 2 (out of about 300) mines are being closed by the end of 2018. Over the centuries, about 3,200 coal mines were built, but many of them were carried to end quite soon after their opening. Also the steel production decreased dramatically. More than 1 million jobs got lost since the late 1950s and made this region to be a poor house with the highest rate of unemployment in the whole country. Luckily, the tides were turning. Although the rate of unemployment is still very high (~ 15.3% in Ruhrgebiet, while 6.3 % for the whole country), many new jobs were created in other industries.
You might wonder, why I’m writing this essay about living in urban environments. Leanne Cole asked us for this weeks Monochrome Madness for a themed photo, again. This weeks theme is, you might guessed it, “urban”.
I picked a photo taken at dawn while flying with a balloon over our region. You can see the illuminated streets lancing the city just like veins in a (human) body. And, even the meaning is similar. Main roads branch to smaller roads and end in narrow paths. Goods and people are transported and distributed by using these urban veins. All these streets provide the cities with goods, just like the veins in a body are transporting oxygen and blood plasma through the whole body to keep the body alive.
Btw. you can click on the photos, to see them in a bigger resolution. And you can see them here in a color.
Today’s photo is a little bit older, but has a story. When I saw a photo a few minutes ago taken be a friend on G+,this photo came up to my mind.
You know, I live south of the Ruhr area, that part of Europe, where the industrial revolution started centuries ago when a shepherd boy found coal by incident. In the middle of the last century, the mining and the steel industries went worse. Many plants and mines had to be closed for economic reasons. It was much cheaper to by coal overseas and ship them elsewhere, then digging it from the ground here in Germany. The same with steel plants.
The photo below is taken in a former steel plant. The enormous walls are the walls of the coal and ore bunkers. That plant is open to the public as a park. It’s a paradise for photographers. Every now and then I already published photos taken there (i.e. here).
When you’re in my area and want to visit that park, drop me a line.
I developed this photo in bw from the beginning, because it has, in my opinion, a distinct mood for monochrome. For this challenge I reworked it by using Tonality Pro.
This is my contribution to Leanne Cole’s Monochrome Madness.
(as always: click on the photo to see them in a bigger size)