Thanks to a lot of writing, and thus thinking, about energy and climate, I am paying a lot more attention to the waste we create. This new found interest has led to some interesting questions. A question I pondered recently was – what happens when you flush waste down a toilet?
It goes under the ground of course.
But, where? To underground sewage systems.
Modern cities are made possible by these sewage systems. Until the mid 1800s, it made no sense to stay in cities because they weren’t designed to handle so many humans in close proximity. That was until the city of Chicago figured out that they could create sewers underground by raising the entire city by 10 feet. Other cities around the world followed suit.
Today, cities are supported by underground cities – subway systems that connect the city, sewer systems, electricity and internet cables, water, foundations of skyscrapers, etc.
And, it turns out that the quality of life in a city, i.e. above the ground, is directly proportional to the quality of its underground or invisible infrastructure.
This principle is applicable in multiple places. Great farmland is made possible by the water table underground. And, tall trees need roots.
This is just as applicable to our lives as well. Our invisible infrastructure constitute our motives, values, mindsets and processes. We, too, are only as good as our invisible infrastructure.
That, then, leads us to a question to ponder – when was the last time you took stock of this invisible infrastructure?